Monday, April 30, 2007

Welcome To The Dawg Pound, Mighty Quinn

The Browns’ 2007 Draft is the draft I never thought would happen in Cleveland. The whole thing reeked of logic, intelligence, foresight, and, quite frankly, balls (big, beautiful balls), qualities that have been lacking in every facet of the “new” Browns up until now. Phil Savage could have played it safe, keeping his picks and being content with Joe Thomas, Eric Wright, and a running back (probably Antonio Pittman). But he put his neck on the line, moving up using next year’s number one to steal who I feel will be the best quarterback of this draft, Brady Quinn. The trade signaled a few things: 1.) The Browns really did like Quinn, just not as much as Thomas. 2.) Savage must not have liked any QBs in next year’s class, and I agree. Early projections have Brian Brohm of Louisville and Chad Henne of Michigan as the top 2 QBs on the board, and Quinn is better than either of them (besides, if you think Brady Quinn was unpopular in Cleveland leading up to the draft, imagine the venom if Henne was projected to go to the Browns). 3.) Savage believes the Browns must either take a big step this season or face tremendous heat for trading what could turn out to be a high draft pick. This is what I really like. Rarely do you see a GM or coach stick his neck out in such a way. So without any more fuss, here’s a pick-by-pick run down of what could be the draft Browns fans are telling their kids about.

  1. (3) Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin

Thomas is the safest pick in the draft besides Calvin Johnson, and, although I had doubts about using the number 3 pick on a lineman, I was on board as soon as his name was called. There’s just something comforting about knowing that this beast is lining up for the Browns. The selection of Thomas also made every player on offense better, especially the demon seed quarterback hybrid known as Charlie Frye/Derek Anderson.

  1. (22) Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame

I wanted him at 3, but getting him at 22 is better, for more than just the obvious monetary reasons:

· Quinn will be motivated by the snub. While I never really doubted his drive to be great (you don’t appear on every single sports outlet in the United States talking about your desire for success without backing it up), there are now tangible teams that he can push himself to prove wrong.

· The drop will also help tone down Quinn’s confidence. Granted, you want your franchise QB to be confident, but Quinn comes off as borderline cocky, which may be what turned him off to a lot of fans. The humiliation of sitting for hours waiting for his name to be called may erase that edge from his personality.

· There won’t be as much pressure on him, nor will he need to be thrown to the wolves due to a high cap number. With the more modest 22nd pick salary, the Browns won’t feel like Quinn is dead cap weight while he sits on the bench and learns for a while, possibly even an entire season.

The trade to get Quinn doesn’t really appear as if it will hurt long-term, either. After the three trades Dallas and Cleveland made during the draft, this is what was actually exchanged:

CLEVELAND: 22nd pick (Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame), 53rd pick (Eric Wright, CB, UNLV), 200th pick (Melila Purcell, DE, Hawaii), 234th pick (Syndric Steptoe, RS, Arizona)

DALLAS: 2008 First Round Pick, 67th pick (James Marten, OT, Boston College), 103rd pick (Isaiah Stanbeck, QB, Washington), 178th pick (Nick Folk, PK, Arizona), 36th pick (traded in package to Philadelphia for 26th pick (Anthony Spencer, DE, Purdue))

So for this upcoming season, the Browns netted a franchise quarterback, a possible shutdown cornerback, a situational pass-rusher project, and a return specialist (presumably to handle punts, since Josh Cribbs struggles in that department) while giving up a developmental offensive lineman without a position, a quarterback who by all indications will be a wide receiver, a kicker, and parts of a package for a DE/OLB hybrid. I’ll take that any day. As for next year’s number one, I hope that it won’t be that high. Even if it is, though, I don’t really see it affecting the Browns all that much. Let’s say, for example, that the Browns are at number 3 again, and that the top 3 prospects are Brian Brohm, Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas, and Jake Long, OT, Michigan. The Browns don’t need Long or Brohm, having already acquired Thomas and Quinn this year, and while McFadden would be kick ass to have, 2008 looks like it’s going to be one of the deepest running back classes ever (McFadden; Steve Slaton, West Virginia; Felix Jones, Arkansas; Mike Hart, Michigan; Allen Patrick, Oklahoma; Ray Rice, Rutgers; Jonathan Stewart, Oregon; etc.). One of these guys has to be there in the second round, so the Browns will still get their future workhorse. Bottom line, I’d make that deal seven days out of the week.

(One more reason to like this pick: it may just push Charlie Frye into becoming a productive quarterback, ala Drew Brees after San Diego drafted Phillip Rivers. Bringing Quinn in sends a clear message to Frye (and to Derek Anderson, for that matter) that he is not the future. If Frye were smart, he’d start working his ass off so that when the reins are finally handed over to Quinn, Charlie will be a commodity that other teams would like as their starting quarterback. Otherwise, a career of holding clipboards appears to be Frye’s future.)

  1. (53) Eric Wright, CB, UNLV

I am shaky on this pick. On the one hand, Wright is said to be the most talented corner in the draft, and projects to be a shutdown-type player if he fulfills his potential. On the other hand, he was involved in a rape case, which is always a little hard to swallow. I like it more than I don’t like it, I guess because Savage seems to know what he’s doing as far as character judgment goes. I’d almost rather have kept the third- and fourth-rounders we gave up, especially since Antonio Pittman would have been available. This is the biggest risk Savage took.

  1. (140) Brandon McDonald, CB, Memphis

A converted receiver who has average speed and below-average size, McDonald projects as a dime back, which is about the only position left to fill in the Browns secondary following Wright’s selection. Assuming Gary Baxter continues to progress in his comeback from dual-torn patellas, the Browns should field a fearsome secondary:

CB Leigh Bodden

CB Eric Wright

FS Sean Jones

SS Brodney Pool

NB Gary Baxter

DB Devin Holley/Brandon McDonald

Besides, the Browns proved last year that you can never have enough depth in the secondary.

  1. (200) Melila Purcell, DE, Hawaii

A solid athlete who apparently has been known to give up on plays; hopefully being a 6th round pick will instill a little effort into him, because the Browns need someone to step up at end.

  1. (213) Chase Pittman, DE, LSU

Looks like Pittman is a run-stuffer. I for some reason think he’ll be solid because he played end for LSU. Hopefully I’m right.

  1. (234) Syndric Steptoe, RS, Arizona

Brought in strictly to handle punts as far as I can tell, as he doesn’t seem to have what it takes to be a receiver in the NFL.

All in all, I love what the Browns did. The only thing that keeps this from being a perfect draft is the team’s failure to get another running back to complement Jamal Lewis. Pittman would have been ideal, but I suppose a possible shutdown corner is harder to find than a complementary halfback.

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