Monday, April 7, 2014

Trying to figure it all out

OK, what have we learned so far with regard to the Browns’ first first-round choice in the National Football League’s college draft?

Well, if they want to draft a wide receiver, it will be Sammy Watkins, assuming, of course, he’s there for the taking. The recent signing of free agent Nate Burleson should not affect that line of thinking.

If it’s an offensive lineman they have their sights set on, it will be either Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson.

And there is no question that if the club is determined to improve the defense, linebacker Khalil Mack will be the choice.

But if quarterback is in their crosshairs, it should be . . .

Aye there’s the conundrum.

First of all, do the Browns want to go quarterback with the fourth pick? Or do they opt for one of the aforementioned (which would probably be the wisest choice) and snatch the quarterback with the 26th selection? Or maybe the 35th in the second round?

That’s one area shrouded in mystery. And most likely will continue in that vein until draft eve.

All that has to be hashed out between now and May 8, when the Browns begin what is hoped to be their comeback, finally, from 15 seasons of mostly dreary football.

It should be interesting when General Manager Ray Farmer gathers his scouts and coaching staff in the week leading up to the draft to determine exactly what direction the Browns will head from a philosophical standpoint.

Coach Mike Pettine of course leans heavily toward defense, so a Mack selection would not come as a complete surprise. This draft is depth laden on the offensive side of the ball, much more so than the defense.

In other words, a solid wide receiver can be had as late as the third or fourth round. Same with the offensive line.

And that’s why Mack most likely will get a hard look between now and May 8. He is arguably the best defensive player on the board. And yes, Jadeveon Clowney would argue that point.

But Clowney, as good as he is, is limited in what he can bring to a defense, whereas Mack is much more versatile and excels in more phases of the game. And he is a better football player than Clowney, who is the better athlete.

The most important aspect of this draft, however, will be how wisely Farmer and his buds draft in the latter rounds. Unearthing nuggets in rounds four through seven is an art form missing in Cleveland for too long a time.

And with 10 picks in this lottery, half of them on the third day, Farmer’s true test lies in what he does on that third day. Because of the unusual depth of this draft class, players who might have been considered early-round selections in other years have slipped to mid-round status.

Hopefully, the GM will not choose to deal off some of those choices. In this case, there is strength in numbers. 

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