I read Tony Grossi's Mock Draft on Cleveland.com this morning and my heart dropped. He has the Browns taking Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn at #3. This follows Oakland taking LSU QB JaMarcus Russell at #1 and Detroit taking Wisconsin OT Joe Thomas at #2. Then in an apparent attempt to kill me, he also stated that Phil Savage would be more than happy to trade up to get JaMarcus Russell.
Let me preface this by saying I think JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn are going to make above average quarterbacks. Maybe even better that that. But are these guys can't miss franchise QBs like Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer or Matt Leinart? I can't say that with any certainty. They could be more Tim Couch and Aliki Smith for all we know. Russell had one good year in 2006 (like Akili Smith) and capped it off by having a monster bowl game against Mr. Quinn's Notre Dame squad. Quinn has gaudy numbers generated by playing sub-par talent and has a habit of not showing up in big games. He does have an advantage in that he did play in Charlie Weis' pro-style system. But to say that any of these guys is a sure thing is a stretch at best.
We need to hope Detroit is throwing the NFL a smoke screen and takes Brady Quinn or someone else and hope Joe Thomas falls to us at #3. If he doesn't then I hope Phil Savage is throwing the NFL a smoke screen in an attempt to trade down and acquire some much needed extra draft picks. And if that's not the plan then we better take Adrian Peterson at #3.
Here's why I think we need Joe Thomas. For the Eric Steinbach to mean anything we need to draft Joe Thomas. It will give us a left side of the offensive line that we won't have to worry about for TEN F%CKING YEARS! No more whining about the OL. No more wasting second day draft picks on unathletic, grunt linemen. It's done. You throw in the fact new OG Seth McKinney is also an athletic big guy, Hank Fraley is pretty nimble (despite his resemblance to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man) and I think Ryan Tucker is an above average RT when his head is screwed on straight and maybe, just maybe, we have a line that we can say; "These guys ain't so f%cking bad." Throw in depth with Rob Smith, Isaac Sowells, Lennie Friedman, Kelly Butler and Kevin Shaffer and an added bonus if LeCharles can ever come back and we have SOLVED A PROBLEM. The Browns OL has been so slow, unathletic and soft since 1999 it's been a joke. A sick, sadistic joke.
We have so many problems (including QB and RB) that I think we need to fix the most pressing one and work on the others later. We can work on the Defense in the rest of the draft and maybe we get a sleeper RB in there, too. But we don't need to ruin another QB like Tim Couch or Charlie Frye because he doesn't have time to throw a pass and becomes gun-shy because he has to run around after 1 second in the pocket.
Listen, barring a miracle, the Browns are not going to be good in 2007. But if we lay a solid ground work in 2007 they could breakout in 2008. Joe Thomas is the keystone to that foundation.