Friday, March 4, 2011

What Has the Combine Done for the Browns?

Julio Jones may have been one of the biggest winners from this year's Combine. If the Browns are unluck enough to miss out on A.J. Green, then Julio Jones might be the best thing to happen to the Browns in a while. His 4.39 40-yard dash and 11'3" broad jump (best in the Combine this year) are eye-popping when you consider that he is 6'3" tall and weighs 220 lbs. Wow. His numbers certainly qualify for "physical freak" status, and the fact that he did all of this with a broken bone in his foot is just icing on the cake. His draft stock right now is probably as high as it has ever been and the Browns could certainly do worse. His strength and speed mean that he should be able to get yards after the catch and he is not afraid to go across the middle of the field. This is important for a budding West Coast offense.

Marcell Dareus is another player that has helped out his own cause. In a deep defensive draft he has been able to seperate himself from most of the rest, and he could go anywhere in the top 5. His impressive size (6'3", 319 lbs.) and his athleticism (sub 5.0-second 40) have helped him, while the other top tackle prospect, Nick Fairley from Auburn, came in much smaller than anticipated and hurt his own stock. Dareus has also shown versatility in stopping the run as well as rushing the passer, which means he could be a good fit anywhere, especially next to Ahtyba Rubin in the Browns' new 4-3 defense.

J.J. Watt has not been generally seen as a high first rounder, but he was solid in nearly every drill and, at 6'5" tall and 290 lbs., has great size for a strongside defensive end in a 4-3. He has a great motor and is well-rounded as a player. If he somehow falls to the second round I believe he would be an absolute steal, but I doubt he does. If the Browns trade down in the first round he would fill a big need for a team that lacks quality 4-3 defensive linemen.

From what I can gather, Patrick Peterson helped his stock but not a lot. He was already seen as the consensus best defensive back in this draft, and he maintained that billing. He's big, fast, strong, and has excellent coverage abilities. Because he didn't blow the doors off of the Combine, he could potentially slip to the Browns at #6, but I see less of a need for him now that the Browns have given Eric Wright a second-round tender. Peterson would undoubtedly be an upgrade, but the Browns have much bigger holes to fill.

Since the Combine, Mel Kiper has updated his illustrious Big Board. After the top 5 his Big Board is Insider-only, but there was some movement in the top 5 that might reflect who might be available for the Browns at pick number 6. Patrick Peterson claims the top spot, while Nick Fairley fell to the second spot. Da'Quan Bowers, Marcell Dareus, and Von Miller round out the rest of the top 5. Some notable absences are any receivers or quarterbacks. A.J. Green may still be available, and top QB prospects like Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert might be used as leverage for the Browns to trade down and acquire more picks.

As always, we'll keep monitoring the Browns, the draft, and the looming lockout. A one week extension to the CBA has reportedly been agreed upon by all parties, so we will see what happens. Stay tuned.

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