Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Will Cleveland become Berryland?

The big question circulating around Browns Nation the last few weeks centers on what club President Mike Holmgren and General Manager Tom Heckert do in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night.

Both men love to draft linemen on either side of the ball and there will be some very good ones from which to choose when the Browns go on the clock with the seventh pick. But there is one vital area that needs to be addressed pronto and it does not involve the line of scrimmage.

It has been way too long since the Browns have had a playmaker in the secondary, someone who can make a difference. And that someone will be there at a the top of the first round.

Eric Berry, if the scouts and personnel people around the NFL are to be believed, radiates with the kind of football talent that arrives in the scene as often as the 17-year locust. He is a game changer and would be a perfect fit in the Cleveland defensive backfield.

He's the kind of safety defensive coordinator Rob Ryan would salivate over as he envisions resurrecting his father's famed 46 defense of a quarter century ago. He could be what Troy Polamalu brings to the Pittsburgh Steelers or Ed Reed to the Baltimore Ravens. It wouldn't be shocking to learn that Ryan has already lobbied Holmgren/Heckert and probably even coach Eric Mangini to make Berry a Cleveland Brown. Give him uniform No. 46 and turn him loose.

What we don't know now is how much Holmgren and Heckert covet Berry. What we do know is that Berry's name has not been bandied about by either man as the pre-draft rhetoric ramps up to ridiculous heights. That could be a good sign. The less a first-round talent like Berry is talked about, the more likely he is being strongly considered.

What we also know is there a very good chance Berry will be off the board at No. 7 with either Kansas City and Seattle (at 5 and 6) poised to pounce. However, both teams need more help along the offensive line in order to keep their quarterbacks from getting beaten to a pulp and could move in that direction. But is that a risk the Browns are willing to take?

If Berry is the Browns' main objective and there is even a shred of uncertainty regarding his presence at No. 7, it would behoove the club to move up a couple of notches to No. 5 and remove all doubts. Gift the Chiefs the draft pick they acquired when they shipped Braylon Edwards to the New York Jets last season and get the deal done. It'll be worth it.

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