1. Drafting for Need is So Tom Heckert
It seems too convenient to casually assert that the sixth pick in the draft must be a cornerback – at least based on the Browns’ overall need at the position and the team’s relative lack of either success or effort in landing a big ticket free agent. Given the easy tendency to slot draft prospects based on team needs, Alabama’s Dee Milliner makes sense on a surface level. Obviously, Milliner is clued in to most mock drafts, as he recently suggested that he and Haden would form a formidable duo.
Of course, the recent memory of a Joe Haden-less Browns’ secondary proves the necessity – as well as the Browns’ historical inability to adjust to a passing-dominating league. However, one look at the recent history of first-round cornerbacks shows that Milliner is far from a safe pick. If Milliner is the sixth pick and succeeds at the NFL level, he would become the best first-round corner since Haden four years ago. Otherwise, the Browns could probably benefit from finding similarly-talented corners later in the draft – assuming that the sixth pick is used on a proverbial “best player available.”
2. Doing Things Twice is So Cleveland Browns
Until last April, the Browns under Heckert almost executed a very simple, yet necessary task: they managed to not use their first several picks of any drafts to double up on any one area of the roster. That was at least until Trent Richardson was taken with the third overall draft pick – which effectively scrubbed away the 2010 Montario Hardesty selection. And of course, in eternal tortured Browns’ fashion, Heckert jumped on Brandon Weeden to replace Colt McCoy.
Consider the following picks:
-2010: CB, S, RB, QB, G
-2011: DT, DE, WR, TE
-2012: RB, QB, T, DT
While I’m neither a huge proponent of Mike Lombardi nor a die hard Heckert supporter, it appears that this “do-over” trend will continue this year. Regardless of Weeden having been drafted just last year and/or despite the lack of top quality pro, there’s a great chance the new(est) front office regime puts their own stamp on the QB position – possibly after the first round. And in another nod to our first truth, it’s possible that if a prime defensive tackle such as Sharrif Floyd or Star Lotuleiei is still available with the sixth overall pick – or at another spot, the Browns could go in that familiar direction.
3. Last Year’s Mitchell Schwartz Is This Year’s First Round Pick
I realize this is one of those dead horse issues that only the likes of myself continue to pursue. However, a result of last year’s need-based draft was the selection of Schwartz – a good but far from great right tackle. At the time, the Browns badly needed an upgrade at the position – especially given that Tony Pashos and John St. Clair were each considered real fixes by various personnel people. And to this point, Schwartz far outperformed both veterans – simply by being both efficient and healthy.
However, there could be upwards of four offensive tackles taken in the first round – with a possibility of three Top Ten picks. Of course, an argument in Schwartz’s favor is that the Browns didn’t have to spend a first round pick to fill a right tackle need. But then again, we’ve probably seen most of Schwartz’s potential – a level that probably doesn’t compare with Lane Johnson, Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel (a possible first overall pick).
4. Chance Warmack is Not a Sixth Overall Draft Pick.
Yes, the Browns have a void at right guard and yes, Warmack is a massive load of human beef. However, it’s really hard to justify spending such a high draft pick on a guard – especially in a league where John Greco played about as well as anyone else would have. If this need continues into the future, the Browns would probably be better suited to scour the remains of free agency and look later in the draft for a long-term replacement.
And yet again – for the hardcore fans out there – I get to say the following: Right Guard hasn’t been the same since Billy Yates got hurt in 2010.
5. Dion Jordan is Really, Really Good (Or Was That Aldon Smith?)
This is a really obvious statement, but then again the prospect to real pro comparisons that occur this time of year also qualify as such. In Jordan’s case, NFL people are reminded of San Francisco’s Aldon Smith – a player who is emerging as the league’s most unique pass rusher, if not the best overall. Of course, to get to Smith’s level, Jordan has to pack on some muscle and like any other NFL player, simply has to get smarter and stronger.
This last point – another obvious statement – isn’t without some explicit meaning. In recent years, there has obviously been a trend towards faster and faster pass rushers. On paper, speed is both necessary and great; however, top tier NFL pass rushers are the ones who can harness their talents and implement the skills of pass rushing. Otherwise, these players quickly become first round busts. Yet, in Jordan’s case, there is some amazing potential – the kind that makes you forget about some unfortunate NFL reality.
We’ll cover the next five truths next week. But in the meantime, how about one Bonus Truth?
Bonus Truth 1. Walter Stewart Is the Real Deal….Only He’s Basically Retired.
Some of you may have never heard of Stewart, who played for the UC Bearcats – along with John Hughes. However, those who have already know that Stewart was about as natural of a pass rusher as you could found. Stewart has great height and a huge body, played nasty but also had a kind of smooth, easy glide around an offensive tackle. A couple years ago, I would have projected Stewart as a first or second round draft talent – or maybe as one of those brilliant later round steals.
However, injuries have essentially robbed Stewart of any tangible NFL hope. Still, it seems appropriate to mention the caliber of player Stewart could have been – something that even NFL draft kingmaker Mike Mayock has previously suggested.