It is starting to be that time of year when Mel Kiper, Jr. begins dominating every football fan’s thoughts. His expertise and insight is so coveted around the United States that he might actually hold more power than any deity known to man. He recently spoke about two linebackers that would adapt well to the Browns’ 3-4 defensive scheme:
The first two names he mentioned in another question related to Wimbley-type players who might become outside linebackers in a 3-4 NFL defense were Auburn’s Quentin Groves and UCLA’s Bruce Davis. He said outside linebacker and running back are the two positions that historically make the quickest transition to the NFL game.
Many people would love for the Browns to add another linebacker to complement Kamerion Wimbley. The pass rush is a yearly concern that will most likely be addressed in full this offseason. If Phil Savage could completely retool the offensive line, who is to say the same cannot happen to the defense, specifically regarding the front seven?
- Quentin Groves is projecting as a second or third-round pick, and he is an athletic, fast, and reliable tackler. While he remains undersized, he uses his speed to his advantage. His technique leaves something to be desired but, like Kiper said, he should be able to adapt well to the NFL. A player’s speed will always be one of his strongest assets, and as long as he has that, he will find a way to make up for the rest.
- Bruce Davis also happens to be slightly undersized, but he is known for being an excellent pass rusher. He also contains a great deal of speed, making him a project worth taking on.
As the Draft grows near, the list of linebacker prospects will continue to grow. One should also take notice of the NFL Combine, where players routinely come out of nowhere to impress teams. Groves and Davis are just two potential options, but they represent a list of players that could be available to the Browns even if they don’t make a move to get into the first round. While the best case scenario would be to obtain a first-round pick, there is great talent to be had in many of the later rounds.
The defense has to be addressed early in the Draft, unless some moves are made in free agency. Surprisingly, the Browns’ defense was beginning to improve without ever getting any pressure on the quarterback. Addressing some key needs for the front seven will go a long way to improving the defense. The secondary is another story, one that, at the moment, is not in crisis mode. In fact, it showed signs of gelling and will be expected to become a stronger point in 2008.
In other words, an improved front seven means there will be some national pundits calling the Browns the trendy pick of the AFC.