It seems fairly ridiculous to try and grade a draft class immediately after the fact, because the true impact of those drafted is usually not felt until a few seasons later. However, people love grading drafts and, more importantly, discussing a team’s picks. And hey, so do I, so here we go:
So, what can be said about the Browns’ 2009 draft class? There was rampant speculation as to what the Browns would do with the fifth overall pick and, as many people had hoped, Eric Mangini and Friends traded down not once, not twice, but three times before making their first pick – C Alex Mack out of California. Mack brings about as many varied opinions as you can imagine; after all, he is a center drafted in the first round. However, the opportunity for him to make an immediate impact is there and in all honesty, there were not many players in this year’s first round that were “must-haves.” The trade out of the fifth pick also brought three more ex-Jets to the Browns in DE Kenyon Coleman, S Abram Elam, and QB Brett Ratliff. In other words, this team is going to look completely different next season and one has to give the new regime some credit for attempting an overhaul and doing away with a lot of the old, underachieving parts (still miss Joey J, though…).
As far as the second round goes, it at times leaves me both excited and perplexed. With three picks in the second round, the Browns selected two wide receivers – Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi – with their first two picks. Many, including me, thought a linebacker would be taken with one of these picks – Rey Maualuga, anyone? – but I want to say his character issues might have had something to do with it. The third pick of the second round was LB David Veikune out of Hawaii, a defensive end who will undergo the transition to linebacker with the Browns. It’s no secret that the receiving corps has been ravaged in the past year for a variety of reasons, and Robiskie and Massaquoi will most certainly help remedy that. As of now, I don’t see Robiskie or Massaquoi as #1 receivers just yet, so these picks will work out in a much better way should Braylon Edwards still find himself with the team next season.
The later rounds, particularly the Browns’ sixth-round pick, were interesting, as Cleveland was left with one pick in the fourth round and three selections in the sixth round. In the fourth, the Browns selected LB Kaluka Maiava from USC. He wasn’t the USC linebacker that everyone expected, and he is a little undersized, but he was able to hold his own in that talented group of linebackers for the Trojans last year. The sixth round saw the Browns select DB Don Carey (Norfolk State), DB Coye Francies (San Jose State), and RB James Davis (Clemson). Davis was an excellent pick, as he gave the Tigers major production for four years, something that has become a bit of a rarity in today’s college game. That experience should not be overlooked, and he should be able to learn quite a bit playing behind Jamal Lewis.
So what should one think of the Browns’ 2009 draft? If nothing else, one should consider this a “safe” draft for the Browns, as the team was able to improve one of its most important parts in the offensive line. While the defense was not addressed quite to the extent that many people had hoped for, the receiving corps is about to get a huge boost from one very reliable guy (Robiskie) and one that could develop into a solid #2 or better (Massaquoi). After the debacle that was the 2008 draft, one has to respect the Browns for pulling a Belichick by wheeling and dealing for more picks and solid players that will not require outrageous contracts now given to first-round “superstars.” For all of this, I’ll give the Browns a solid ‘B’ on a draft of solid role-players that will do much for the Browns in terms of offensive and defensive depth.