Wednesday, January 19, 2011

An Intro to the Draft: Cleveland Browns

In honor of Mel Kiper Jr.'s first mock draft of the year, let's take a quick look at the upcoming draft and where the Browns stand. It's commonly understood around Cleveland that one of the Browns' most glaring needs is a big-play, talented wide receiver. Fortunately, or unfortunately if you had to sit through every Browns game this season, the Browns own the 6th overall pick in this year's draft. Putting two and two together, it's not rocket science to anticipate the Browns selecting either Julio Jones, wide receiver from Alabama, or A.J. Green, wide receiver from Georgia, with that 6th overall pick. These two players both have NFL size and big-play ability, which goes along well with their exceptional levels of talent. As the draft approaches we will be going into more detail about each player, as well as others that may have an effect on the Browns' draft.

Without going into too much detail, Mel Kiper Jr., draft expert, had the Browns taking A.J. Green in his shiny new mock draft. This would certainly be popular around Cleveland, however, there's certainly a chance that he won't be there by the time pick number 6 rolls around. Just for reference, here are the top six picks in the draft this year:

1. Carolina Panthers
2. Denver Broncos
3. Buffalo Bills
4. Cincinatti Bengals
5. Arizona Cardinals
6. Cleveland Browns

None of these teams are known for having an exceptional receiving corps, and a prodigiuos talent such as Green or Julio Jones would certainly help any of these teams. However, since they are all picking very highly in the draft, it is safe to assume that each team has many glaring needs that would take priority over a wide receiver, which is typically seen as a bit of a "luxury" pick. This year's draft is particularly loaded at the top with defensive linemen, and Kiper predicted three to be drafted in the first six picks. With so many talented linemen available and so many more pressing needs, hopefully that will leave A.J. Green or Julio Jones to the Browns at number six.

Currently on the Browns' roster at the receiver positions are Mohamed Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie, Chansi Stuckey, Josh Cribbs, Carlton Mitchell, Demetrius Williams and Jordan Norwood. Massaquoi and Robiskie were recent second round draft choices of the Browns two years ago, but neither has shown much ability to play receiver in the NFL. Stuckey is a small, quick receiver who thrives on short throws and gaining yards after the catch. Mitchell was a late round draft pick who was taken because of his upside, but he is very raw and cannot be relied upon yet. Cribbs is probably the team's most dynamic offensive player, but his skills are not as well-adapted to the receiver position as some would hope.

Clearly, there is a spot on the team for a receiver that can fill the void left by the departure of Braylon Edwards. While I'm sure we are happy he is gone, it cannot be denied that having a player with that level of talent opened up the field for other players and stretched defenses vertically, something that was sorely lacking on last year's team. A young quarterback, such as Colt McCoy, would also appreciate having a reliable go-to guy that he can target in critical situations and trust that he would move the chains. Last season that guy was TE Ben Watson. While Watson is a skilled pass catcher, he does not have the big-play ability that a player like Green or Jones would bring to the table.

As the draft approaches you will see more in-depth analysis of the Browns and their needs on the field. We will also be keeping a close eye on the Browns' coaching situation, with several spots still open. Bill Musgrave, quarterbacks coach of the Atlanta Falcons, has interviewed for the offensive coordinator position. Dave Wannstedt, most recently the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh, will soon be interviewing for the defensive coordinator position.

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