The draft is one month away, so what do the Browns need? by Shawn Catalano
As a life long Browns fan, I’ve grown accustomed to looking at each draft with anticipation and excitement that we may turn this around this season.
In ’99, it was a bright new franchise, finally rid of the stench of Modell’s cowardice. We thought we had a franchise QB, up and coming WR, and plenty of veterans who could help us win quickly. RESULT- Boy, I wish Dwight Clark had taken Ditka’s call and deal.
In ’01, we were looking at a RB named Ladainian Tomlinson and having visions of Jim Brown pt.2. Then Butch “Panic Attack” Davis took Gerard Warren to build his defense. Hey Butch…you know Richard Seymour could have helped too!!
In ’07, we finally got our franchise LT, even if it meant giving up on Adrian Peterson. And then, in a bold move, we moved back up to take Brady Quinn (who many had us taking at 3). I was pumped to see the Browns being aggressive to get us out of the AFC North basement. Thomas is still amazing, and I still think Crennel ruined Quinn by making him sit behind Interception Anderson.
Now we’re in 2012. Our new regime has had two solid drafts. Pro Bowl caliber corner, solid DE and DT, potentially solid QB, and a slew of picks in this years draft (13 now, including compensitory picks) to build this thing the right way. Where do they go??
The Browns have 3 of the first 37 picks at this moment. Tom Heckertt has been quoted as being willing to move down from 4 for more picks, but probably not past #8 (Miami). They have 4-5 guys they like (possibly 6 if Minnesota passes on Kalil). 2 of these 3 should be on offensive playmakers! Justin Blackmon or Trent Richardson should be their first pick. If they stay at #4, Blackmon should be their guy. If they trade back, Blackmon may be gone, and they should take Richardson, and then target a WR like Jeffries or Hill.
They have needs at the OL, especially the revolving door of RT. If they haven’t addressed this in FA before the draft, look for them to address it in round 3 or 4.
Morris Claiborne is the only defensive player I could see enticing the Browns if they stay in the top ten. He’s a game changing CB, and with Haden, could give Browns fans a chance to see a CB duo that they havent seen since Hanford Dixon left for San Fran 20 years ago. I can’t see them taking Claiborne at #4, not with the offensive holes they have. Taking a defensive player this high will have Browns fans ready to storm the stadium.
The Browns have defensive needs (DE, OLB, and S), but will probably address these in round 2 and later, and in FA.
Heckertt believes in building a team through the draft, so it won’t be a shock to see the Browns trade down, and even more than once since they own 2 1st round picks. I don’t expect them to trade down too far from #4. They could hold Miami hostage for an extra 3 this year, possibly later round pick next year, so the Phins can jump up and get Tannehill. The Browns have been rumored to be interested in him, and the Phins have struck out on their two top QB targets this offseason. If they miss on their 3rd target, owner Stephen Ross could have to go into hiding.
At #22, they have several options. Because of the compensatory picks they recieved, and if they receive a few from trading down from 4, it’s feasible that they could do some moving and shaking here with this pic. They could trade up to snag a WR if they don’t get Blackmon. They could stay here at get Adams from OSU to play RT. Or, and this may be more likely, that they could entice someone to trade up to #22 and stockpile picks. Maybe get another #3 if a team like NE or SF want to come up for a player. Or maybe really hit the jackpot like last year’s deal with ATL. Find a team in the top of round 2 who wants to come up for a player (Colts maybe?? WR to go with their new QB) and move down 10 spots and gain an extra 3 and 4 this year, and a 2 next year? Who knows!!
This could be the draft where Browns fans can point back to and say, “That’s where our team was built”….or it could be another story in Cleveland, where another new coach, GM and regime will point back and say, “see, they blew it that year so it’ll take more time to rebuilt”. Either way, the Browns are in a very advantageous position in the 2012 Draft, let’s hope Heckertt and Co see that as well.