Sunday, April 30, 2006

Browns draft: Day 2

At least on paper, Browns GM Phil Savage is making good on his professed desire to build a dominant defense. Or at least a deep defense.
The Browns have made selections with all six picks they had in rounds four through seven. Combined with Saturday's first three picks, the Browns used six of their nine selections on defensive players.
Keep in mind that at the time I am writing this, the draft has not yet ended, and trades are still possible.

Fourth round

What happened: The Browns selected Miami (FL) linebacker Leon Williams at pick No. 110.

What this means: Linebackers are the heart and soul of a 3-4 defense, and the Browns are acknowledging that, selecting linebackers with three of their first four picks.
Williams is an inside linebacker like D'Qwell Jackson. While Williams is bigger than Jackson, he's probably not as advanced skillwise, but many scouts seem to think he has a boatload of upside. He'll probably spend most of his rookie year proving himself on special teams.

Fifth round

What happened: The Browns selected Washington State running back Jerome Harrison at No. 145 and Georgia cornerback DeMario Minter at No. 152.

What this means: The selection of Harrison would seem to indicate an imminent housecleaning at running back. Undersized at 5'-9" and capable of catching the ball out of the backfield, Harrison would seem to be the change-of-pace back the Browns have been looking for to back up Reuben Droughns. The days of William Green and Lee Suggs in Cleveland are probably numbered.
Scouting reports say Minter is a polished enough defensive back to contribute in nickel and dime packages in his rookie year. One has to wonder what Minter's selection says about last year's selections of Brodney Pool and Antonio Perkins, neither of whom impressed much.

Sixth round

What happened: The Browns selected Colorado fullback Lawrence Vickers at No. 180 and Stanford defensive tackle Babatunde Oshinowo at No. 181.

What this means: Vickers' selection further solidifies suspicion that Green and Suggs are going to be shown the door. Current fullback Terelle Smith might be gone by next offseason. Vickers is a lead blocker who can also carry the ball, though the scouts seem to think he's not athletic enough to develop into a feature back. He might become an ideal third-and-short muscle back, something the Browns have never really had.
Oshinowo is the first bit of attention the Browns have paid to their defensive front in this draft. Ironically, he was selected with the pick the Browns acquired from the Ravens in the deal that allowed Baltimore to move up and draft stud nose tackle Haloti Ngata. The scouts say Oshinowo lacks the athleticism to shine in the NFL, and probably won't be much more than a space-holder for an interior defensive line. He might develop into a capable backup nose tackle, but the Browns probably haven't found their apprentice for Ted Washington.

Seventh round

What happened: The Browns selected Virginia Tech defensive back Justin Hamilton at No. 222.

What this means: You have to admire a guy like Hamilton. He achieved draft prospect status through hard work and perseverance. He did whatever was asked of him at Va. Tech, playing receiver, running back, cornerback and safety in his four years.
Ideally, Hamilton will settle in as a special teamer, but be able to step into multiple roles, making a tackle here and a catch there. He could be valuable as a change-of-pace player, or if a rash of injuries hits. And if you follow the Browns, you know how hard the injury bug bites sometimes.

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