The countdown to the 2012 NFL draft can now be measured in mere hours, and there is still no clear idea as to what the Cleveland Browns will do in the first round. It will make for exciting television, but Browns fans everywhere are anxious to see what happens after months of speculation and rumors.
In this edition of Dawg Bites, the Dawg Pound Daily staff considers the Browns’ many possibilities in the first round:
Jimmy Weinland: Everyone is talking about the fourth overall pick, so on that topic I am worried. I have finally gotten on board with Trent Richardson, and that makes me think, with the way this offseason has gone so far, that he will be stolen away by another team. Something that’s never mentioned about him is how wonderful a face he has. The Browns not only need playmakers, but that identity and franchise face to attach to their team. Richardson is a home run here, too. He not only has that good smile, he simply looks cool, like a futuristic bounty hunter from a sci-fi movie or something. He’d sell tickets and restore faith in the front office. Okay, now I’m starting to think the Browns need to trade a pick to move up for him if need be.
What I am expecting is the Browns to NOT pick an offensive lineman with No. 22. In fact, I think they’re getting a defensive player in those first three picks, Richardson or not. What we tend to do is find the worst areas on the team and fill those needs in order in our mock drafts. The right side of the offensive line was horrible last year, but that doesn’t mean the Browns spend a high pick to fix that. The defense isn’t perfect and general manager Tom Heckert has a history of loading up there. Only Browns fans would say their best unit, with two Pro Bowlers (Alex Mack and Joe Thomas) is an area of need. That’s two first rounders there already, and Tom Heckert basically said as much last week. Don’t be shocked if the Browns take another linebacker, safety or defensive lineman very early.
Kevin Nye: With the fourth overall pick, I think the Browns will actually use it. I think they’ll go ahead and hang on to it, knowing that there are about five players that are worth having on the team who will all be available at No. 4. Endless lies and rumors are being tossed around because that’s what teams do right now, so there’s no telling whether Matt Kalil, Trent Richardson, Morris Claiborne, or even Justin Blackmon will be taken at No. 3, but I personally don’t really see why fans should be concerned. Any of those four are instant contributors for the Browns. Furthermore, I’ve said for a while that I think Michael Floyd will be an absolute stud in the NFL, so if something weird happens with him, I’m cool with that. It sounds like Kalil will go third and Richardson will be the selection at No. 4.
I’m resigned to Richardson. He’s kind of a monster, as seen here. If for some reason he goes third, then I have to believe Kalil is there at No. 4 and he becomes the pick, providing another beast for the offensive line, turning them into a high-end group. I don’t really envision it being anyone other than those two. But hey, I’ve been wrong before. I did not expect Kamerion Wimbley in 2006.
Jordan Marks: Despite mocking Richardson at No. 4, I think that the Browns’ philosophy on drafting points toward Morris Claiborne being the pick. I know Browns fans will be mad that this doesn’t address the need to improve Cleveland’s pitiful offense, but this is the Browns’ chance to have an element of the team that is legitimately elite compared to other NFL teams. With two stud cornerbacks, the entire defense will improve, as it allows more blitz packages and will increase the amount of coverage sacks. Claiborne has the playmaking ability in the secondary that Joe Haden seems to lack.
Don’t get me wrong, Haden is a great cornerback, but Claiborne will force takeaways unlike any other player the Browns have. Trent Richardson is a monster, but a handful of running backs in this draft will make a similar impact at the position. A shutdown corner is much harder to find late in the draft, and, therefore, it is justifiable to select Claiborne with the fourth overall pick. Yet, as long as the Browns land Richardson, Kalil, Blackmon, or Claiborne, I won’t be upset by any means.