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Friday, April 28, 2006

Cleveland Browns NFL Draft Preview

Cleveland Browns Draft Needs
The Browns are going to be looking at mostly defense in this draft, and certainly in the first round. With the 12 pick, prognosticators are expecting Cleveland to select an interior d-lineman to help stuff the run or a rush linebacker to sack the quarterback. Given the Browns roster, I can't argue with this thinking. See the scenarios below.

Scenario 1: The AJ Hawk
The scenario that most Browns fans would like to see is also the one that's probably the least likely to occur. For this scenario to play out it's going to take some luck, and a trade up. It's very doubtful that the Browns can trade all the way up to the #5 selection to get Hawk. If Hawk slips a couple of spots though... who knows. Here are some things that would need to happen in this scenario.
  • Reggie Bush and Mario Williams go 1-2.
  • The Titans, who are definitely going QB at #3, listen to their front office rather than their coaching staff and select Vince Young.
  • The Jets are unable to pass up on Matt Leinart, who should make a fantastic pro.
  • The Packers take DeBrickishaw Ferguson to bolster their weak O-line.
  • San Fran takes Vernon Davis to give Alex Smith someone to throw to.
This means that the Raiders would be sitting at #7 with only 1 guy from the defensive side of the ball off the board. Would the Silver and Black consider moving down as the Browns make desperate attempts swap picks, so they could select the perfect guy to play next to Andra Davis? Browns fans surely hope so.

Scenario 2: The Buffalo Second Option
The Buffalo Bills have the #8 pick this season and smart money has them selecting either massive NT Haloti Ngata or Florida State DT Broderick Bunkley. The Browns could use a beefy run-stopper like Ngata to serve as an apprentice to Ted Washington for a year or two. Bunkley who played DT in college would translate well over the a DE in Romeo Crennel's 3-4 scheme. In this scenario the Bills would select either Ngata or Bunkley, and the Browns would bolster their D-Line by selecting the other at #13.

Scenario 2b: The Ohio Swap
Scenario 2b rolls into motion if the Browns take Ngata at the #12 spot. Having strengthened the D-Line Romeo Crennel will be looking to bolster his pass rush. The Browns could wait for their second-round pick where they could have a look at Penn State or BC DEs Tamba Hali or Mathias Kiwanuka. I think Crennel would rather find a rusher for the OLB spot oposite newly aqcuired Willie McGinist.

This is where the Bengals come into play. As discussed in my Cincinnati Bengals Draft Preview, the Bengals don't have any immediate needs, and are looking to add depth. Would Cincinnati be interested in trading their #24 pick for something like the Browns 2nd and 4th round selections?

If NC State DE/OLB Manny Lawson is on the board at this spot the Browns would certainly be interested in trying to work something out. I doubt Cleveland gives up their 2nd and 3rd rounders, but if they can swing a deal adding another 4th or 5th rounder for Jeff Faine I could imagine that Phil Savage would be willing to part with a 4th rounder if it meant finding the pass rushing LB that the Browns defense so sorely lacks.

Scenario 3: The Pass-Rushing OLB
Romeo Crennel's defensive system makes use of 1 or 2 pass rushing linebackers on the outside, which is why DEs are often moved to OLB in the 3-4 defense. In this draft, Florida State DE Kamerion Wimbley looks like the perfect candidate to play that role. Wimbley has a great motor and should translate into a pass-rushing deamon from the OLB spot in the NFL.

Taking everything that I know and am hearing about the Browns into account, I think Scenario 3 is probably the most likely, especially if Savage plans on keeping all of his picks. It's no secret that the Browns covet a pass-rushing LB and Wimbley would fit the bill wonderfully.

While it's possible that Cleveland could trade down and add picks, while hoping to select NC State's Manny Lawson, I don't think that they could move very far for fear of someone grabbing Lawson ahead of them. All in all, should be an interesting day for Browns fans as Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel work to add talent and depth, especially to Cleveland's defense.

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