Saturday, April 29, 2006

Browns draft: Day 1

By my estimation, the Browns could have done better today. That doesn't mean I think today was a bust, but I have to question a day in which the Browns:

A) handed a division rival a potential stud nose tackle in a trade.
B) burned yet another high pick on a wide receiver.

With that in mind, I am trying to back off snap judgments and look at the big picture of the entire offseason. I just think the Browns had a chance to have an A-plus first day of the draft, but instead walked out with a B-minus.

First round

What happened: The Browns waited until about a minute was left on the clock to announce they had swapped first-round picks with the Ravens. The Ravens moved up to 12th and selected beefy nose tackle Haloti Ngata, rumored to be the first option for the Browns should he still be on the board. Instead, the Browns selected Florida State defensive end Kamerion Wimbley at 13.

What this means: The Browns have the pleasure of facing Ngata twice a year for who knows how long. I wouldn't have had such a problem with this deal if it had been with a team outside Cleveland's division, but the Browns dropped a possible stud run-stopper into the lap of the Ravens, and all they really received in return was the Ravens' sixth round pick Sunday at No. 181.
Meanwhile, the Browns drafted Wimbley, a pass rusher who played defensive end in college and will have to make the move to outside linebacker in Cleveland's 3-4 defensive alignment. His speed and mobility should help him with the switch, but any time you are asking a player to make a position move at the same time he is making the leap from college to the pros, it is a roll of the dice.

Second round

What happened: The Browns traded their second round pick at No 43 plus center Jeff Faine to the Saints for their second-rounder at No. 34. With that pick, the Browns drafted Maryland linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, who lead the ACC in tackles each of the last two years.

What this means: Probably the best move Cleveland made all day. Faine became a spare part when the Browns signed LeCharles Bentley, so to use him to move up nine spots in the second round and nab a linebacker with a reputation as a solid tackler was clutch. Jackson could be a starter by the end of this season.

Third round

What happened: The Browns selected Oklahoma wideout Travis Wilson with the 78th pick.

What this means: Another receiver? Does GM Phil Savage know how many receivers previous regimes have selected on Day 1 of the draft? The short list includes Kevin Johnson, Dennis Northcutt, Quincy Morgan, Andre Davis and Kellen Winslow. Not to mention Savage's own selection of Braylon Edwards last year.
Wilson has some speed, but lost the end of last season to a foot injury. With a clogged receiver corps manned by Edwards, Winslow, Northcutt, Joshua Cribbs, Frisman Jackson and Joe Jurevicius, adding another receiver this high doesn't seem to make a lot of sense.
When are the Browns going to start drafting offensive linemen this high on a regular basis?

Upcoming picks

Fourth round: 13th (110 overall) and 15th (112 overall)
Fifth round: 12th (145 overall) and 20th (152 overall)
Sixth round: 11th (180 overall) and 12th (181 overall)
Seventh round: 14th (222 overall)

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