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Monday, May 01, 2006

Cleveland Browns: 2006 NFL Draft Picks in Review

The Cleveland Browns put together what I consider to be a very good draft class. Several major sports outlets are in agreement as the Browns draft is rated as a B by Mel Kiper, a B+ by CBS Sportsline, and an A by FoxSports. Below you'll see my in-depth analysis of each player selected by the Browns in the 2006 NFL Draft.

1st Round, Pick #13( 13) - Kamerion Wimbley - OLB - Florida State
This was the direction that Cleveland had been rumored to go for weeks, and no surprise that the Browns took Wimbley with their first rounder. Although he lined up at DE in college, Wimbley will play OLB in the NFL. With his superb lateral quickness the Browns hope that Wimbley will be able to help a defense that was very deficient rushing the QB in 2005.

Note: In trading with the Ravens to move down one spot, the Browns added a 6th round pick, and still managed to grab the player that they wanted.

2nd Round, Pick #2 (34) - D'Qwell Jackson - ILB - Maryland
The Browns traded up 9 spots in the second round to select D'Qwell Jackson. ILB was a position of incredible weakness for the Browns in 2005, and a position that they were not able to shore up through free agency. Jackson lacks elite size and speed, but makes up for it with some intangibles. Speficically, he has good recognition skills and takes good angles to the ball. Even if Jackson will challenge Matt Stewart and Chaun Thompson for snaps at ILB next to Andra Davis. He'll also be solid on special teams.

Note: The Browns traded Jeff Faine to New Orleans to move up in the 2nd round. According to the NFL pick value chart, it would have taken about a 3rd round pick to move up this far in the 2nd round. Chalk this down as another poor pick from the Butch Davis era.

3rd Round, Pick #14 (78) - Travis Wilson - WR - Oklahoma
It wouldn't be a draft if the Browns didn't select a WR on the first day. In selecting Wilson, it's obvious that the Browns are worried about Braylon Edwards' rehabilitation (he may be out until October or November) and that they know Frisman Jackson can't get open enough to be a satisfactory 3rd receiver in this league. Travis Wilson has good size and is strong, but probably lacks the elite speed of a top receiver in the NFL.

Wilson played his sophomore and junior seasons in the shadow of Mark Clayton, and didn't take advantage of becoming the primary target his senior season. That said, Oklahoma was breaking in a new QB last season, which could have accounted for some of Wilson's struggles. Wilson is sure-handed enough that if he can get into camp early and impress, he has a shot to earn some time on this Browns team with Edwards out for the forseeable future.

4th Round, Pick #13(110) - Leon Williams - ILB - Miami (Fl)
Leon Williams in a LB prospect with elite size, at 6-3, 245 lbs, and has been called one of the most physically gifted linebacker prospects in the draft. That said, Williams is somewhat of a project who lacks a lot of instincts and fundamentals, especially in coverage. It's obvious that the Browns selected Williams as a project with tremendous upside. Thankfully, as opposed to past regimes, Savage/Crennel chose to select a project on Day 2, rather than Day 1.

5th Round, Pick #12 (145) - Jerome Harrison - RB - Washington State
Jerome Harrison is the change-of-pace back that Phil Savage has been coveting since he arrived in Cleveland. Harrison is a shifty, quick type of runner who comes in the same mold as former Brown Jamel "Track Meet" White. Harrison was an accomplished runner at Washington State who gained 1,900 yards in his senior season.

Harrison also showed the ability to make catches out of the backfield, showing that he can serve as a decent 3rd down back in the NFL. Many boards had Harrison going in the late 3rd round. The fact that he was still on the board when the Browns picked in Round 5 was probably too good a deal to pass up. This could spell the end of Lee Suggs injury-riddled tenure with the Orange and Brown.

5th Round, Pick #20 (152) - DeMario Minter - CB - Georgia
Minter has the skill set that you look for in a good DB. He has good size with great speed and quickness. Minter is a good tackler and a smart player who rarely gets beat deep and has the quickness it takes to stay with even the shiftiest receivers in the NFL. The one knock against Minter is his ability to play the ball. He had 0 INTs as a Junior, only 2 as a senior, and is said to lack big play ability.

Minter probably should have come off the board by the end of Day 1, but he was suspended for two games in 2003 after being arrested for marijuana possesion, so character concerns probably kept him around for as long as he lasted. Minter could be an instant contributor as a sub-in for Nickle and Dime packages. Also, he should be an instant playmaker in Special Teams coverage.

6th Round, Pick #11(180) - Lawrence Vickers - FB - Colorado
The Browns didn't have a major need for a fullback, but as Lawrence Vickers was thought by many to be the best FB in the draft, Phil Savage and Co. just couldn't pass him up at this spot in the 6th round. Vickers has good size, and the body frame to be able to bulk up even more, which is good because he still lacks the elite strength and power that he'll need to compete in the NFL. Vickers has good speed and agility for the position as well. If he hits the weight room hard, he could be a starter at FB in another year or two.

6th Round, Pick #12 (181) - Babatunde Oshinowo - DT - Stanford
Oshinowo is a big-bodied NT prospect. The Browns were very high on him, having him rated as one of the top 3 or 4 NTs in the draft. Oshinowo has the requisite size and strength to play the NT position, although he needs to improve his speed and mobility. Hopefully learning from Ted Washington for the next two years will help him learn when to disengage from blocks, how to play the run, and when to penetrate upfield, because this guy definitely has the body to play NT in the NFL.

7th Round, Pick #14 (222) - Justin Hamilton - S - Virginia Tech
Honestly, I don't know a whole lot about Justin Hamilton. The Cleveland Browns last pick in the 2006 draft was Justin Hamilton out of Virginia Tech. The Browns took a flier on Hamilton as an athlete who played running back and wideout for V-Tech before moving to safety in '05. He's a heady player who called the defensive signals for the nation's top-ranked defense. The Browns expect him to play special teams and serve as backup safety.

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