Off Day Tuesday - Draft Talk

TheOBR's Dave Kolonich sits down to discuss the NFL draft with Aaron Aloysius of DraftBreakdown.com.

Aaron Aloysius produces NFL Draft 2013 prospect videos forDraftBreakdown.com

DK:

Who are you and why do we care about your insights regarding the NFL Draft?

ALOYSIUS:

Like so many students of the draft, my bio could begin with "A frustrated Browns fan..."

Diehard supporters of the team are a big part of the draft community – you could hold a Browns Backers event in the bleachers down at the Senior Bowl. And it's easy to understand why: the draft's long been a major source of excitement and optimism, as well as a big reason why the team's struggled.

I began studying the draft at the dawn of the Phil Savage era. Fortunately, I quickly got over an Al Davis-like obsession with workout numbers, instead concentrating on film study. Soon enough, I began producing prospect videos in order to show others what I was seeing. Unsurprisingly, the clips of players drafted by the Browns often are among the most popular.

Now, I run the Prospect Video Vault at DraftBreakdown.com. Myself and a couple other clip-cutters have produced close to 700 videos since September. And we'll have plenty more before the Browns are on the clock, making sure that fans are as well-informed as possible.

When it comes to talent evaluation, I won't pretend to be the next Heckert or Savage, but I am one of y'all, and I'm here to make your draft geekery easier.

DK:

Most draft analysts are predicting that no quarterback is worth a high first round pick this year. Are the quarterback prospects that bad – or just not that good compared to Andrew Luck and RG3?

ALOYSIUS:

Unfortunately, there's no "sure thing" at the top of this quarterback class. Even more so than in other years, the '13 signal callers' success will be highly dependent on where they land.

For example, if you put Ryan Nassib in Chud's vertical offense or Mike Glennon behind Arizona's porous o-line, you'll likely end up with some very unpretty football. However, in the right situation, each has the potential to be a successful starting QB.

To me, Geno Smith is the best of the bunch and accordingly will go higher than he would in another class. I expect him to come off the board before the Browns pick, so the team will have to explore other options, perhaps in the 3rd Round or later. Ironically, this is the kind of draft in which you'd want to put Mike Holmgren to work looking for the right mid-rounder.

Last year, Michael Lombardi was highly critical of how the Seahawks addressed the position, but I could see the Browns doing something similar: add both a free agent and a non-first round rookie to the fold, then see who emerges.

The likelihood of finding another Russell Wilson is rather slim, but a mobile gunslinger like Zac Dysert would be an intriguing addition. After his underwhelming Senior Bowl week, you could get him at a major discount.

DK:

Mainly just for cheap page views and/or to start a rumor that will be used by the PD as a "source", construct a sentence including the words "Browns", "draft" and "quarterback."

ALOYSIUS:

If the Browns don't draft a quarterback like Dysert, Cornell QB Jeff Mathews will be a very good option next year.

DK:

Did the whole fake girlfriend thing that I ignored overshadow the reality that Manti Teo will probably not make a good NFL linebacker?

ALOYSIUS:

The truth coming out about Lennay Kekua did serve the purpose of shattering the mythology surrounding Te'o. He was a tremendous college player and should be a solid pro, but he didn't single-handedly resurrect Notre Dame's program or its defense. Many fail to note that he played behind some very good d-linemen, two of whom are future first rounders.

Also, while Te'o did improve his range and coverage ability in his final college season, he isn't the elite cover guy that those seven interceptions would lead you to believe. Though he has less imaginary off the field issues, Alec Ogletree will offer more value in that area, especially when it comes to man coverage.

The Browns would be wise to add another inside backer, but Te'o probably isn't the way to go. A free agent like Dannell Ellerbe or a mid-rounder like Kevin Reddick would make sense: both are good blitzers, an important trait in Ray Horton's attacking defense.

DK:

Now that those questions are out of the way, let's talk players. What's your take on Luke Joeckel? Do you agree with those who have suggested he's a better prospect than Matt Kalil?

ALOYSIUS:

Luke Joeckel is a tremendous prospect, though perhaps a tiny bit oversold at this point. He's in Kalil's league, but I struggle to see why some consider him a better prospect than Joe Thomas was in '07.

Joeckel will continue to improve as he gets stronger, but at this point, he can be beat with power, as Florida pass rusher Lerentee McCray managed to do early in the season. Maybe I'm biased, but issues like that lead me to believe he's a step below the Browns' franchise left tackle.

And importantly, Eric Fisher isn't too far behind Joeckel. The Central Michigan product's excellent Senior Bowl week could prove to be a big boon to the Browns if he's still on the board at #6, as a team like San Diego may want to jump ahead of Arizona to nab the left tackle.

DK:

From a figurative sense, should the Browns have waited another year to take a right tackle? How does Mitchell Schwartz size up with the 2013 draft prospects?

ALOYSIUS:

Drafting Schwartz was the right move, in my view. After picking a QB who has some issues handling pressure, the team needed to make sure they had an efficient pass blocker at right tackle. And for the most part, Schwartz lived up to the billing.

The players in this class who are often projected to right tackle, D.J. Fluker and Jordan Mills, aren't as effective in pass protection. In fact, they may be better off moving inside to guard.

DK:

One of my "new NFL" theories is that slot cornerbacks are more important than #2 corners. As such, who do you see as a top slot corner prospect?

ALOYSIUS:

If he can keep his head on straight, Tyrann Mathieu would be ideally suited for that role. And you'll likely get him at a discount due to his size and past issues.

A less well-known option would be Adrian Bushell. The Louisville corner is versatile enough to play outside or in the slot, where he also excels as a blitzer. As an added bonus, he'll provide value as a special teams' ace.

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DK:

Similarly, is there a safety prospect worth taking in the first four rounds?

ALOYSIUS:

Yes, the safety class is very strong – you could see up to ten safeties go in that range. Kenny Vaccaro's generally the most well-regarded, whereas Johnathan Cyprien is my personal fave.

If you're interested in a big, fluid defensive back who can cover the slot, Vaccaro is your guy. Unfortunately, his tackling is awfully inconsistent, and throwing some punches during the bowl game wasn't exactly a wise move. He could end up going in the top half of the first, but will be a gamble.

While not as physically gifted as Vaccaro, Cyprien has a very balanced skill set: a big hitter with good range and generally reliable tackling. After a very good Senior Bowl week, folk have gone back to the tape and realized how badly they were sleeping on him – with a great Combine, his stock could skyrocket.

DK:

If the Browns take a defensive end, they will at least land a player with a really cool first name. Who do you like between Damontre, Bjoern, Ezekiel, Jarvis and Barkevious?

ALOYSIUS:

Well, I think Cornellius and Dion are pretty cool names too. One of those could have been a good pick for the Browns, the other one will be.

In my view, the '13 pass rusher with the most impressive tape is Florida State's Cornellius "Tank" Carradine. He surprisingly outperformed teammate Bjoern Werner, who wasn't quite as consistent as folks hoped. Tank's very similar to 2012 first round pick Chandler Jones, a player Lombardi raved about before last year's draft.

Unfortunately, Carradine isn't an ideal fit for a 3-4 defense, especially after suffering a torn ACL late in the season, but the long & strong pass rusher should be a very good pro. It won't be in Cleveland; I very much hope it isn't in Cincinnati.

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If Carradine's out of the equation, the SEC products could appeal to the Browns. Jarvis Jones and Damontre Moore both were highly productive and have experience playing rush backer, which should make their transitions rather seamless. Moore would appear to be the "safe" pick, given that he doesn't have Jones' medical history (neck) or Barkevious Mingo's questionable 2012 tape, but his pass rush potential may be limited.

However, the more intriguing upside options to keep an eye on at the Combine are Ezekiel Ansahand Dion Jordan. They've drawn lofty comparisons to some of the NFL's top pass rushers, which are instructive in interesting ways.

Ansah's frequently compared to Jason Pierre-Paul, a comparison I'm not very fond of. Both had limited resumes coming out of school yet already possessed a rare combination of length & closing speed. But even though he wasn't a productive sack artist at USF, Pierre-Paul displayed the ability to beat offensive tackles in a variety of ways, including by dipping his shoulder to win around the edge. Ansah hasn't consistently displayed that ability. Without that in his repertoire, he could prove to be a fairly limited big league pass rusher.

Jordan, on the other hand, has drawn comparisons to Aldon Smith. Some analysts dislike the comparison because Smith displayed more power in his game while at Mizzou, but I do think it has some validity.

The differences between the prospects largely is a product of circumstance. Smith suffered a leg injury his last year at Mizzou, which sapped his burst; consequently, he was forced to rely on strength more than pure edge speed. Jordan, on the other hand, largely focused on winning with athleticism because it worked for him, both in coverage and as a pass rusher. However, he did flash the strong, violent hands that premier pass rushers must have. Hopefully, he'll make good use of those mitts and become a premier 3-4 OLB.

DK:

And to satisfy Kanicki, is Margus Hunt the defensive steal of this draft?

ALOYSIUS:

Hunt is king of the bowl game. Both last year against Pittsburgh and more recently against Fresno State, he put together veritably JJ Watt-ian performances. Unfortunately, the SMU product didn't consistently play up to that level. Injuries played a role, but the Estonian defensive end still needs to smooth some of the rough edges in his game. If he doesn't lower his pad level, NFL offensive linemen will put him on skates.

However, while an over aged prospect, Hunt does possess tantalizing upside. He's likely tops among a cluster of long, athletic big men who'll intrigue 3-4 squads in the mid-rounds. Michigan State's Will Gholston and Utah's Joe Kruger are two others to watch out for.

DK:

And what about one of my personal favorites, UC's Walter Stewart?

ALOYSIUS:

Stewart was one of my favorite pass rush prospects before the neck issues arose. Perhaps no prospect in this class possesses a more natural skill set for playing 3-4 OLB than the Cincinnati product. He already has plenty of experience playing linebacker and displays tremendous explosion rushing with his hand up or in the dirt. In fact, Stewart's speed & relentlessness off the edge remind me of former Wisconsin Badger O'Brien Schofield, who ended up playing the position for Ray Horton in Arizona.

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Unfortunately, like Schofield, Stewart enters the draft with injury/medical concerns. The question of whether being born without a posterior C-1 arch should forestall his NFL career is beyond my pay grade. What I do know, however, is that Stewart's the type of high character individual any team would benefit from having in its locker room. And if he is able to continue his career, the Ohio native could quickly mature into a quality starter.

DK:

Is Tavon Austin the most exciting player in this draft?

ALOYSIUS:

Yes. Probably his biggest rival is Cordarrelle Patterson, who possesses rare lateral agility for a big receiver.

DK:

Is Keenan Allen the most boring?

ALOYSIUS:

Perhaps, but more due to his half-brother Zach Maynard, who did a great job of not getting him the ball.

DK:

As a concession to Rob Chudzinski, the Browns could take a tight end. How much separation is there from Zach Ertz to Travis Kelce?

ALOYSIUS:

Ertz offers more as a receiver, but Kelce actually has a more well-rounded game. Had an injury not kept him out of the Senior Bowl, Kelce would have impressed with his determined blocking and underrated receiving skills. Instead, the Combine will be a very good opportunity for him to showcase his skills.

Ultimately, I expect Kelce to be selected in the second frame. The Browns would be wise to figure out a way to make sure the Cleveland Heights native doesn't leave town.

If not Kelce, Colorado tight end Nick Kasa would be a logical option later in the draft. His college head coach has signed on as the Browns' tight end coach, so continuing his development in Cleveland would make a whole lot of sense.

DK:

Is the overall quality of this draft as bad as some suggest?

ALOYSIUS:

The draft isn't especially rich at the top but has very good depth. Unlike, say, 2009, it's a good year to have a lot of early/mid-round picks. The Browns could use a second, though I bet they're cool with having Josh Gordon instead.

DK:

Let's finally ask the two questions everyone has been waiting for: the Browns will definitely NOT select:

ALOYSIUS:

Collin Klein

DK:

And with the 6th overall pick in the draft, the Cleveland Browns select:

ALOYSIUS:

Dion Jordan

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