A trade that shocked the NFL world took place barely an hour after the draft started. Cleveland sent the 6th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft to the Atlanta Falcons for their 1st, 2nd, and 4th round picks in 2011 as well as their 1st and 4th round picks in 2012. This enabled the Browns to pick up a myriad of picks to help rebuild a roster that appears rather thin.
Mike Holmgren knows exactly what he is doing by acquiring all these picks. One player isn't really going to make a huge difference for a team that is attempting to contend with the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. Additionally, the only real option they had with the 6th pick was to draft Julio Jones, leaving the door open for the possibility of another Braylon Edwards disaster.
After the jump I am going to take a look at the Cleveland Browns 2011 draft class and delve further into each player they drafted.
1st Round, 21st Pick: NT- Phil Taylor Baylor
CBS Sports Line Rank: 28 2010 Stats: 62 Tackles, 2 Sacks
Analysis: This pick doesn't make much sense to me. Cleveland already has the up and coming, Ahtyba Rubin, at the nose tackle position. Playing the 3-4 scheme, they really aren't in need of having two NTs in the game at the same time.
Another concern is Phil Taylor's conditioning, he is 355 pounds and pretty much as slow as they come. He is a space eater that can anchor the interior of the defensive line for years to come. Character issues also seem to be a little bit of an issue as Taylor was dismissed by Penn State a couple years earlier for off the field problems. Some people have compared him to Gabe Watson of the Arizona Cardinals, not really a nice comparison considering that Taylor was a 1st round selection. Grade: D
2nd Round, 37th Pick: LB- Jabaal Sheard Pittsburgh
CBS Sports Line Rank: 45 2010 Stats: 52 Tackles, 9 Sacks
Analysis: I like Sheard a lot, and was interested in him coming to the 49ers. In fact, I had San Francisco selecting him in the 3rd round of my final mock draft. Sheard stays low on potential blockers, which means that he has the advantage in 1-1 situations. He is an extremely solid outside pass rusher and should fit great into the Browns 3-4 defense.
The Browns two starting OLBs, Matt Roth and David Bowens, combined for a total of 3.5 sacks. Obviously, they needed to upgrade that position. I believe that Sheard should be able to come in and contribute immediately as a starter for Cleveland Grade: A
2nd Round, 59th Pick: WR- Greg Little North Carolina
CBS Sports Line Rank: 150 2009 Stats: 62 Receptions, 724 Yards, 5 TD (Suspended in 2010)
Analysis: Little was many of the Tar Heel players that was suspended prior to the 2010 season opener. Off the field issues seem to be a major concern as it has been indicated that Little has an attitude problem; whatever that means.
He is raw in terms of route running and didn't produce at an extremely high level in college. Cleveland did need to upgrade the Wide Receiver position, but I don't know how much of an upgrade Little is. He wont make an immediate impact in 2010 and seems to be a bit of a project. Moving forward, his ceiling is pretty high as is his "bust factor." Grade: D
4th Round, 102nd Pick: TE- Jordan Cameron Southern California
CBS Sports Line Rank: 97 2010 Stats: 16 Receptions, 126 Yards, TD
Analysis: Another raw player with a high ceiling. It seems that Cleveland were looking at a lot of projects in the 2011 draft; and that doesn't make sense for a team that needs immediate contributors. I do like Cameron's athletic ability and the way he creates separation from defenders. He is an elite athlete at the tight end position.
This is a pick that is hard for me to grade, but two more NFL ready tight ends were available here in Luke Stocker and D.J. Williams. Taking that into account I am going to have to grade down a little bit with this pick because it seemed like a reach Grade: C
4th Round, 124th Pick: FB- Owen Marecic Stanford
CBS Sports Line Rank: 152 2010 Stats: 9 Receptions, 75 Yards
Analysis: Wow, imagine Marecic and Peyton Hillis in the Cleveland Browns backfield. Doesn't it remind you of the days of the days of Kevin Mack? This is going to be an extremely bruising backfield and should provide a nice amount of protection for Colt McCoy moving forward.
Add in the fact that Montario Hardesty, who missed his entire rookie season, will be in the equation in 2011 you have to say that the Browns backfield is one of the toughest in the NFL. I absolutely love the way Marecic plays the game and am incredibly upset that he wasn't available to the 49ers later. Look for him to quickly become one of the best fullbacks in the NFL Grade: A
5th Round, 137th Pick: CB- Buster Skrine Chattanooga
CBS Sports Line Rank: 162 2010 Stats: 33 Tackles, 1 INT
Analysis: A physical delight, Skrine benched a whopping 355+ pounds at the combine. Crazy if you look at his 5 foot, 9 frame. I think that he should easily be able to hold his own as a possible nickel corner in the NFL.
CB wasn't a major need for Cleveland with Eric Wright and Joe Haden slotted in as starters, but they got a player with tremendous upside in the 5th round; that cannot be underscored. Skrine's combination of speed and size should enable him to be a real solid special teams player for the Cleveland Browns in 2011. In fact, he could spell Joshua Cribbs at times Grade: B+
5th Round, 150th Pick: OT- Jason Pinkston Pittsburgh
CBS Sports Line Rank: 137
Analysis: Some mocks had Pinkston going as high as the 2nd round, so this is somewhat of a steal for the Browns. The only real weak spot a long the Browns offensive line is John St. Clair at RT, Pinkston would actually be an immediate upgrade from the start
Pinkston is really good at pass protection, but struggles in the run game somewhat. That shouldn't be a major concern considering who the Browns have at center, Alex Mack, and a long the offensive backfield with Marecic, Hardesty and Hillis Grade: A
7th Round, 248th Pick: S- Eric Hagg Nebraska
CBS Sports Line Rank: 205 2010 Stats: 39 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 FF, 5 INT
Analysis: All Hagg did in college was succeed. He is hard hitting beast of a safety. There are concerns about his coverage ability, but big plays should make up for that moving forward. Hagg plays really well up front and has great field vision. Deunta Williams and DeAndre McDaniel were options here, but the Browns went with the hitter instead of the coverage man Grade: A
Synopsis: Keep in mind that the Browns have an additional 1st and 4th round pick in 2012, so the book on the Julio Jones trade wont be closed for quite some time now. The other day I looked at the Detroit Lions and how they want for quality over quantity; the Browns are a complete 180 from that. They reached for many players, took others that had character concerns as well as some that could be deemed "projects"
That said, I am extremely happy with the picks of Jabaal Sheard, Owen Marecic and Jason Pinkston; they bring toughness that I know the "walrus" was looking for.
Listen, the Browns do have a nice amount of talent on their team, and this draft adds to that. Colt McCoy, Joe Thomas, Alex Mack, Peyton Hillis, Joe Haden, T.J Ward and Ahtyba Rubin make up a solid nucleus. I would have preferred the Browns to have targeted a defensive end somewhere in the draft because their current starters just aren't cutting it. Final Grade: C