Passan: A Head-Scratching Draft

CB/KR Antonio Perkins

Rich offers a view on the Browns draft which runs against the grain. Offer your own take with Rich in the Subscriber Lounge!

OK, can anyone explain to me what Phil Savage is trying to do?

Like most people, I'm willing to give the new Browns general manager a wide berth when it comes to restoring this franchise.

But c'mon. This smorgasbord of a draft Savage has concocted in his rookie shot has me scratching a head bereft of most of its hair.

I just don't understand it.

The selection of Braylon Edwards in the first round could have been made by a monkey throwing at a dart board. Even though I liked Mike Williams better, I can't quarrel with Savage's nod to the Michigan wide receiver.

The Browns definitely need a wideout to complement tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. So no argument there.

Then Savage began to go goofy, picking a young safety, a quarterback from the Mid-American Conference, a punt return specialist/cornerback and a couple of defensive end/outside linebacker hybrids, a nose tackle and an offensive tackle with his next seven stabs.

I have no idea what Savage's draft board looked like – or what went into the evaluations that eventually led to the way it looked – but I have to seriously question some of the players he took in his at-bats.

He grabbed safety Brodney Pool (round two) and cornerback Antonio Perkins (round four) when he already had 11 defensive backs on the roster before the draft began, including one (Brian Russell) he signed as a free agent.

Why in the world is he taking a 20-year-old safety and a guy whose prowess as a punt return specialist most likely will make Dennis Northcutt an ex-Brown when he has 11 DBs on board and needs a pass rush badly?

Defensive ends Shaun Cody (USC), Dan Cody (Oklahoma) and Matt Roth (Iowa) were there for the choosing in round two. So were offensive tackles Khalif Barnes and Adam Terry, who would have helped in another area of need.

It's clear Savage and coach Romeo Crennel don't think highly of the Browns' secondary. Why else would Savage tap Pool and Perkins? Neither will start.

Savage said earlier that if two players were ranked close to each other, he would take the one who would fill a greater need. Well, the Browns have a greater need.

The pass rush has been abysmal the last few seasons. Teams that don't pressure opposing quarterbacks invite trouble.

So Miami gets Roth, Detroit takes Shaun Cody and Baltimore jumps all over Dan Cody, whose intense approach to the game should fit in quietly nicely with the Ravens.

Savage said there were either character or injury issues with all three. Dan Cody had a battle with clinical depression a couple of years ago and left the team for a while, but came back and performed with his normal intensity.

Roth is a similar type player who has a tendency to lose his temper. Guess that flies in the face of the Savage-Crennel mantra that they want character players.

Shaun Cody is more of a defensive tackle, but has the pass-rushing skills to move outside.

In round three, several quality quarterbacks lurked. Kyle Orton was there. So were Charlie Frye of Akron and Andrew Walter. Offensive tackle Chris Colmer and linebacker Darryl Blackstock were available.

A lot of posters on this Web site rooted openly for the Browns to select Frye, the kid from the University of Akron. So Savage made the sexy pick. Unfortunately, it was also a classic case of thinking with the heart and not the head.

Why unfortunately? Because Orton is the best of the three with Walter a close second.

Orton was well on his way to strong consideration for the Heisman Trophy last season when he suffered a pair of hip injuries that hampered his play at Purdue. As it was, he threw for 31 touchdowns and just five interceptions against much tougher competition.

Maybe Savage hopes to continue the good fortune of picking MAC quarterbacks when he made Frye his choice. First, there were Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich of Marshall and then Ben Roethlisberger of Miami last year.

But what did Frye do to deserve being picked so high? His statistics, compared to the aforementioned trio, are meager. In his last three years, he threw for just 55 touchdowns. Roethlisberger, on the other hand, threw for 83 in his three years at Miami,

Frye, whose throwing arm is average at best, threw for only 2,623 yards last season with 18 TDs and eight interceptions. And that, for the most part, was against lesser competition.

Why, you argue, are stats being thrown around? That's one quick way you can judge the value of a quarterback.

One last question regarding Frye: If he was such a hot shot, what was he doing at #67 when the Browns picked? Why didn't he go higher?

In round four, Savage inexplicably went for the return specialist Perkins when defensive end Chris Canty and offensive linemen Ray Willis and Elton Brown were twiddling their thumbs. Again, two need areas.

Savage addressed the linebacker and defensive line situation in rounds five and six by grabbing David McMillan, Nick Speegle and Andrew Hoffman before making lumbering offensive tackle Jon Dunn his final pick.

Of all the day-two selections, I like McMillan, a high motor guy, the best. A little light at 6-3, 262 pounds, Crennel probably will use him in the hybrid role of defensive end/outside linebacker in competition with Speegle. Hoffman is an undersized nose tackle. Dunn is a project.

Now I'm not one of those blind-faith people who say that no matter what Phil Savage does, it'll be all right; don't worry; he knows what he's doing.

He says he wants to hits singles and doubles. He wants to shoot par. Well, I'm sick and tired of singles and doubles and pars. I want home runs – solo or otherwise – and birdies with an occasional eagle thrown in. I want to see impact players on the Browns.

The only sure starter from this draft will be Edwards. McMillan is good enough to factor in down the line, but not right now.

That's not the way it should be. If the Browns are to progress at a rate slightly quicker than the pace of a tortoise, they must draft players who contribute in a major way now. Not one or two years down the road. Now.

Savage makes it awfully difficult – no, make that virtually impossible – not to be critical. What he did last weekend makes little sense.

I'd like nothing more than to be proven wrong about this draft. When we all revisit this draft in three years, I'd be thrilled to say, "Wow, was I wrong about Savage."

Right now, I can't say that.

In my half-filled-cup world, Savage's performance over the weekend rates nothing higher than a C. That's because it was disappointing and average at best.

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