Monday, April 28, 2008

Cleveland Browns 2008 Draft Analysis

Well the Browns had their own personal abbreviated version of the NFL Draft on Sunday. Short and sweet. Inevitably the focus will be on the 3 selections they didn't make due to the trades for Brady Quinn, Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers.

At the spot they would have selected in the 1st Round (22 overall) had they not traded that pick last year to draft Quinn, they may have been able to get a top of the line RB to back-up Jamal Lewis but the true impact OLB, DL or CB they coveted were already long gone.

They could have gotten one of the secondary group of QBs instead. Would I take Quinn over Joe Flacco? Yes. Brain Brohm? Yes. Chad Henne? Yes. I'd even take him over Matt Ryan. I would. We'll see how it plays out but I consider it basically a wash.

I think the same goes for the 2nd Round pick (56 overall) they traded for Williams and the 3rd Round (87 overall) pick they traded for Rogers. There isn't a name that jumps out at me in the range where the Browns would have drafted that makes me say we absolutely should have drafted them instead of making the trades.

The issue that gets forgotten is that they do have to pay Williams and Rogers more because they are veterans and not rookies, but I trust that Phil Savage had already weighed that into his decision. Just like if they were drafted, we'll have to wait and see how it pans out.

As for the 5 guys that the Browns actually drafted, the word on the street is that they had a big hard on for both LB Beau Bell of UNLV and DT Athyba Rubin of Iowa State. Apparently, they have been in love with Bell since they scouted CB Eric Wright before last year's draft. So much so they traded this year's 5th Round pick to jump up to get him.

A fierce attacker and solid tackler that the Andra Davis/D'Qwell Jackson/Leon Williams trio is not. They had him graded in their Top 40 but he fell due to playing in the Mountain West Conference, being injury prone and getting injured at the Senior Bowl which led to a substandard combine. In Phil we trust, so if he had him that high and all they gave up is a 5th round pick, I can live with that.

Rubin was an object of their affection due to his size (6'-3", 320) and the fact that he is one of the few pure NT in the draft. The Browns hope with the additions of Williams and Rogers along with the Robaire Smith/Shaun Smith combo (Mayor McCheese and the Hamburglar) that Rubin and Louis Leonard can develop into the younger DL they sorely need.

The most curious pick was the trading of a 2009 3rd round choice to grab Missouri TE Martin Rucker in the 4th Round. Rucker is a receiver TE that plays in the slot, exploits the middle of the field and can't really even been considered a blocker in any sense. This is curious because this is the exact description that can be made of Kellen Winslow, Jr./K2/The Soul-jah.

It's not just curious that they selected a TE but to give up a 3rd Round pick next year raises a few eyebrows. Is Winslow fully healthy after his 4th knee surgery this off season? Do they fear an Ocho Cinco-esque contract hold-out situation? Is Steve Heiden fully healthy after off season back surgery? Is it just simply a precautionary measure because they know Winslow's career will not be long due to his chronic knee problems? Whatever the reason, Darnell Dinkins should be concerned. And so am I. Dinkins won my "Ugliest Guy of the Browns" for the past two years and now I may have to search for his replacement.

Their last two picks, WR Paul Hubbard of Wisconsin and LB Alex Hall of St. Augustine's, are development players at best. Hubbard was injured most of his senior year but has the size (6'-4") that the Browns covet in WRs. The only knock I hear is that he has Dennis Northcutt hands, which is not good. Also, he wore #19 at Wisconsin. The Browns better think twice about letting him wear it for them. Hall is a Division II All-American who is a tall (6'-5") pass rushing specialist who they Browns hope to bulk up and maybe get lucky on.

It's hard to get excited about the draft just because of the lack of big name talent acquired. If the Browns have the correct read on Bell, Rucker and Rubin then you really couldn't ask for much more with the few picks they had.

Pittsburgh had a very good draft as they let the draft play out in front of them to perfection as they always seem to do. I am sure Big Ben had a giant pina colada to celebrate and I am sure Whines Hard, er I mean, The Cheapshot Artist/Evil Chipmunk Hines Ward is all pouty because Ben got what he wanted. Boo hoo, Hines. Rashard Mendenhall and Limas Sweed are both incredible talents and only make the Appalachian Inbreds more dangerous. And they always seem to find a few gems on Day 2. As I have said for years, if the Browns want to be serious contenders they need to start beating the Steelers on a consistent basis. Until then it's all just talk.

The Bengals and Ravens drafts were a little more difficult to analyze. The Bengals a good LB in Keith Rivers of USC but them took a few guys with characters issues in the middle rounds. They also drafted a WR from Coastal Carolina before some of the bigger name, higher rated receivers. You just couldn't discern any direction in their selections.

The Ravens traded down and then back up to get Delaware QB Joe Flacco. All the videos of his gunning the ball deep were eerily similar to those of Kyle Boller throwing from his knees in his pre-draft videos. That didn't work out so well for them. They drafted a bunch of OL, WR and safeties, which they needed but no one stood out and made you say wow. Although, I think Tom Zbikowski will find a way to make some sort of contribution eventually.

And if I see any "Put Flacco on his Back-o. Hines licks Big Ben's sac-o." t-shirts I want the royalties. You saw it here first.

Go Browns!


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