Jimmy Garoppolo Turns in Solid Pro Day Effort


Jimmy-Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo put his skills on display for NFL teams at Northwestern’s Pro Day yesterday.

The 6’2″, 226-pound quarterback’s stock has been steadily rising throughout the latter portion of the college football season through to the Senior Bowl and scouting combine.  Originally projected by most to be a 3rd or 4th-round prospect, scouts are more and more impressed as they watch Garoppolo throw with his effortless quick release, and he is now being projected as a more likely 2nd-round pick with the possibility of sneaking into the bottom of the 1st round.

Garoppolo’s showing at NU’s pro day probably didn’t do much to move the needle drastically in either direction on his draft stock.  In fact, the biggest story coming out of the day has little to do with his performance, as media outlets have been focused on reporting that he had a private 45-minute throwing session with San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.  Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports was one of those who had that story covered.

You can see Garoppolo discussing his time with Harbaugh by clicking here.

It also was reported by Tony Pauline of draftinsider.net that Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien and quarterback coach George Godsey also had a private workout with Garoppolo.

When it came time for Garoppolo to work out in front of everyone (and it was reported that 31 of the 32 NFL teams were represented at the Pro Day) he was impressive, though not perfect.  Yahoo reports:

In his 36 throws on Tuesday — 14 of which were scripted, the other 22 coming at the request of scouts — Garoppolo was mostly good. His short and intermediate accuracy was terrific, with every throw on target.  His accuracy waned on a few deeper passes, including a 17-yard comeback route that wasn’t in the Panthers’ playbook.

“That one got away from me,” Garoppolo said. “That’s an NFL throw I wasn’t asked to make in college, but I have got to get it down. Otherwise, I thought I had a great day throwing it.”

Teams that were high on Garoppolo prior to his pro day likely didn’t find any reason to like him less, but they may not have found reason to like him more, either.  He still projects as a likely 2nd-round pick, although the interest shown by the Texans adds an interesting wrinkle.  If Houston decides not to go quarterback with the first overall pick it is possible that teams could find themselves wrestling with the decision to try and trade back up into the first round in order to land Garoppolo and block the Texans from taking him with the first pick in round 2.

Does that mean that the Browns would have to use the 26th overall pick if they wanted him?  Or could it even make the Browns a potential trade partner for another team that wants to move up, which might be willing to offer a future 1st rounder plus their 2nd rounder this year to land Garoppolo?  Would it be wise for the Browns to trade out of the 26th spot if they could acquire an extra 2nd round pick plus a 2015 1st-rounder, even if it meant missing out on Garoppolo?

I wouldn’t be surprised if Garoppolo becomes a huge storyline in the latter half of the first round of the draft.

Rob Magee is a lifelong Browns fan who suffered his most devastating punch to the gut when a friend recorded The Langoliers over his VHS copy of the 1993 Browns vs. Steelers game that featured two Eric Metcalf punt returns for touchdowns.  You can follow him on Twitter @robisindy.

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Don’t Chase Talent


Trading Up is a Bad Idea

Many Browns fans seem to be growing in excitement at the prospect of trading up to get Manziel in the first round of the draft this year. This is a bad idea, and it has nothing to do with Manziel’s ability or lack thereof, to succeed in the NFL. Even if Manziel turns out to be the greatest NFL quarterback of all time, in terms of draft strategy it would still be a bad idea.

I know what you are thinking. “If he wins a championship, then who cares what we had to trade to get him? You’re dumb, bro” That is true, if he brings a ring to Cleveland, then I’m all for it. The problem is, you have absolutely no idea if Manziel, or any player at any position will help win a championship. Sure scouts take a semi-scientific look at a player’s physical, mental, and emotional attributes, and sometimes they get it right.

When all that poking and prodding and evaluating is done, and all the picks are in, there are still way more future busts than there are future Pro Bowlers. In fact of the current 32 starters, only 8 of them were drafted in the top 4 overall picks in their draft year. Now compare that to the number of quarterbacks in the last decade who were selected in the top 4 and were total busts, or are about to be busts.

Those are long odds. Trading multiple picks, especially multiple first round picks to go from number 4 to number 1 (regardless of the player) is just poor math. You are basically going all in on just one guy, when statistically, and historically speaking, that guy probably will not accomplish much.

The Draft is a Lot Like the Lottery

This is even more accurate when drafting a QB. Sure there is some science to it, but there are too many variables. Rarely do you get a guy who is going to be an absolute sure thing or an absolute sure bust.

When you are trying to win the lottery you want more lottery tickets, not fewer. Trading multiple picks to move up to get 1 guy is a lot like trading multiple lottery numbers because you are quite certain you know what the winning Powerball number will be.

Great teams, teams that are well run and generally successful on the field, always seem to find themselves trading down. The Patriots for example, have a system, they go out and get the best guy available for that system or they trade down and get multiple selections thus getting more shots at winning the lottery. Sure many of those picks are still busts, but they have increased their odds of drafting yet another future Pro Bowl player.

Déjà vu All Over Again

Many browns fans seem to be certain that trading up for Manziel (or any QB) is the smart move. I understand the desire to finally fix the profound lack of stability at the quarterback position for the last 15 years. Yet the organization has tried this before and it has led to some amazingly awful moves by front office personnel whose names we still curse to this day. Remember when the Browns traded up to get Brady Quinn? Remember when the Browns took Weeden, McCoy, or even Tim Couch because they were the best quarterback available?

The organization has done this before, it has ended terribly and we as fans grew very bitter at how poorly run this team seems to be. Now many of us turn around and are champing at the bit to trade up to take Manziel (or any QB for that matter). This is not an argument for or against any one player either currently on the Browns’ roster or that may be in the future.

Great Teams Don’t Chase Talent

Simply put, wanting to get a QB just for the sake of finally having a good QB at the expense of logic and reason is precisely the kind of impatience that has led the Browns organization into one contractual quagmire after another. Admittedly, patience is hard when your favorite team finishes 4-12 every single year. Patience and sound, long-term strategy are essential in building a winning team not impulse and recklessness.

If there is a QB on the board at #4 and the Front Office is quite confident in his abilities, then go for it. If a QB is on the board at #4 but does not seem promising, then do not draft that player just because he is a quarterback or because he is the best quarterback available and you really want a QB. Jamarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf, and Akili Smith were also the best quarterbacks available when they were selected.

2014 NFL Draft Rankings by Position: The Quarterbacks


The Cleveland Browns have 10 picks in this year’s NFL Draft.  With one of the deepest drafts in recent memory, this sets the team up beautifully to be able to fill some needs without having to overdraft players at certain positions.

But where should a player be drafted?  How high is too high to take a certain player?  Well, when it comes to ranking players, it’s really a crapshoot.  But I’m going to give it a go.

These rankings are based on how I believe the players fit with the Browns.  So when I rank defensive ends, it may include some players that are denoted as defensive tackles on most draft sites because they would fit as a defensive end in the Browns’ 3-4 scheme.

So, let’s get started.  And we may as well start at the position that everyone is always most focused on, and which seems to be the biggest debate: quarterback.  I’ve watched many clips and breakdowns and also read up on these quarterbacks quite a bit now, and will continue to do so.  I suppose it’s possible that some of this could change slightly over the next couple of months, but at this point I feel pretty strongly that this is how I’d rank the prospects.

Image1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

I’ll basically repeat what I said in my mock draft, where I pegged Teddy as the Browns pick at #4.  To me, he is the best shot in this draft at finding a franchise quarterback.  He is a tireless worker, student of the game, and he pays attention to the little things: footwork, mechanics, selling his fakes.  He played in an NFL style offense that required him to make short, intermediate, and deep throws – and produced tremendous numbers in that offense.  Bridgewater’s accuracy is impressive, and he’s got a nice feel in the pocket.  He’ll stand in against the rush while looking to make a throw and makes his living in the pocket, although he has the mobility and presence to scramble out of the pocket if needed.  Concerns about his frame are, in my opinion, overstated.  He already worked hard to bulk up prior to the combine, weighing in 9 pounds higher than his Louisville playing weight, and has stated that he feels he should be able to settle into a playing weight of about 220.

Teddy is being overshadowed by Blake Bortles intriguing mix of size and athleticism and Johnny Manziel’s personality and razzle dazzle playmaking ability on film, but in my opinion he has all of the ingredients a team should be looking for in their franchise quarterback.  If he’s there at 4, he’s my number one choice for the Browns.  And in case you think it’s just me that’s sold on him, check out this article.

My draft value:  Top 5 pick

2. Blake Bortles, UCFImage

This is a tough one for me.  I have to say right now that Bortles scares me.  I think there is really some bust potential here, and I would not want to see the Browns use their 4th pick in the draft on him.  Yet, there’s a very real chance that he won’t even be available to them at 4 because another team will snatch him up before then, maybe even the Texans with the 1st overall pick.

Bortles does have a really special blend of raw talents, though, and if by some miracle he fell to the Browns at 26 it would be much harder to say they should pass on him.  Note, I’m not saying that he will fall to them there – I know that he won’t.

He does have prototypical starting QB size: 6’5″, 232 pounds.  While he has a very good arm, he isn’t the cannon-armed quarterback I think some people are making him out to be because of his size.  He has plenty of arm strength to make all of the throws, though.  His accuracy is a little underrated, although he needs to work to develop better touch on his throws and look off defenders.  Bortles did complete 68% of his passes last year.  He has a tendency to make risky throws at times, and got away with some of them last year.  He threw over twice as many interceptions as Bridgewater on 45 less pass attempts.  Bortles does possess good pocket presence and a fearless ability to stand in under pressure and try to make a play.  His mechanics get a little loose at times, and he’ll throw with his momentum falling away from the target.  Bortles moves his feet really well, and his ability to move with the football is really impressive for a quarterback at his size.  He does need to improve his ball security when scrambling.  Bortles can also be a bit of a slow starter.  7 of his 9 interceptions came in the first half last year.  He has a good reputation as a hard worker who wants to be great and will put in the effort to improve and succeed in the mental aspect of the game.

Even among those who highly tout Bortles and think he should go in the top 5 picks of this draft it is generally agreed that he needs quite a bit of coaching and tuning to get to where he will be a successful, consistent NFL quarterback.  The raw ability and tools are tantalizing, though, and in a quarterback class where many feel no one stands out above the rest it has resulted in many falling back on his size, athleticism, and strength to declare him the best prospect of the bunch.  I agree that he has big-time upside, but I think there are too many questions marks to use a top 5 pick on him with the other prospects that are available at the top of this draft.  So, while I rank Bortles as my #2 quarterback of the draft, I think there is a fairly significant gap between him and Teddy Bridgewater.

My draft value:  late 1st-early 2nd round

garoppolo3. Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois

Call me crazy, but I’m slotting Garoppolo in right here.  Yes, there are question marks.  He played in a spread offense at a small school against inferior competition.  His arm isn’t the strongest.  He holds the ball too long.

But Garoppolo has some very special things going for him.  His arm may not be a cannon, but it’s strong enough to play the position very effectively.  He sets up quickly and has a very nice, quick release and throws the ball with good zip or nice touch as needed.  His size is solid, at 6’2″ and 219 pounds.  He processes the defense quickly and makes good reads.  At times he had a tendency to hold the ball too long and take hits that he could have avoided, but that can be helped with coaching.  He has the right temperament for the position, a leader with a short memory whose confidence doesn’t sag when he makes a mistake.  Garoppolo has quick feet and can move around nimbly in and out of the pocket.  He does a good job of getting his feet set to make the pass, even after moving around.  His numbers are crazy, completing 65% of his passes for 5,050 yards, 53 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions in 2013.

I don’t think Garoppolo is a guy that should come in and start right away, so if the Browns take him it would probably mean Hoyer would be the starter for now.  But I don’t think that is a bad thing, and I believe that Hoyer is a good fit to help Garoppolo come along and learn how to run an NFL offense.  His stock is rising, as all quarterbacks seem to do before the draft.  He’s generally projected, at this point, to go somewhere in the 3rd or 4th round, but I think it’s possible that he sneaks up into the 2nd round.  If he’s there with the Browns first pick in the 3rd round and they haven’t already nabbed another QB, I think he’d be a great value.

My draft value: 2nd-3rd round

4. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&Mmanziel

Everyone knows about Johnny Football at this point.  He is probably the most polarizing player on this list, and might also be the hardest to project to the NFL level.

Manziel’s playmaking ability in college was truly off the charts.  No one can deny that he was extremely special in his two years as A&M’s starting quarterback.  He has impressive burst and speed, with the ability to squeeze out of seemingly hopeless situations in order to make a play.  His pocket presence is impressive too, as he seems to always sense where the rush is in order to avoid it.  While he is unquestionably at his best when he’s making plays on the move and getting outside of the pocket, his hard work was evident in 2013 because he made noticeable strides in his ability to make plays in the pocket.  Manziel has impressed with his ability to step up in big moments as well.  He doesn’t shy away from the limelight or back down from a challenge, he doesn’t hang his head when he makes mistakes or finds his team down, and he is a fiery competitor.  Despite his small stature, he has bigger hands than Blake Bortles, Jimmy Garoppolo, or Teddy Bridgewater, alleviating some of the concern over his ability to play in cold weather and ball-security when running with the ball.  His arm is good, but certainly not great.  Manziel’s confidence in his ability to come in and change the culture for the losing teams at the top of the draft, as well as his hard work in studying those teams, has been impressive to fans, coaches, and front office personnel alike.  His numbers are impressive:  completing 69% of his passes for 7,820 yards, 63 touchdowns, 22 interceptions, and running for another 2,169 yards and 30 touchdowns in the past two seasons.

Having said all of that, there are serious questions that exist about how Manziel will translate to the pro game.  At 5’11”, his height raises the question of how well he will be able to see the field and also how he will withstand the pounding he’ll absorb if he runs around like he did in college.  This concern could be lessened some by coaching him not to leave the pocket as often, but then that raises the question of how his playmaking ability could be slowed by changing the way he plays the game.  Manziel has a tendency to fall off of his throws, even when he isn’t under pressure, which only magnifies the fact that his arm is not the strongest.  He also has a habit of committing the cardinal quarterback sin of throwing late and over the middle, and takes a lot of risks in throwing jump balls to his receivers and counting on them to make a play.  Having the 6’5″ Mike Evans going against college cornerbacks bailed him out in some of those situations, but his risk-taking play is evidenced in the fact that he threw 13 interceptions last season – as many as Bortles and Bridgewater combined.  4 of those interceptions were thrown in goal-to-go situations, the sort of redzone mistakes that can be very costly.  Then there are concerns over Manziel’s maturity and ability to minimize off-field distractions.  While many feel that those are overblown, they can’t be totally ignored.

While the dynamic play of Manziel in college makes him very intriguing, there are just too many question marks to me for the Browns to draft him with the top 5 pick it appears it would take to get him.  If he slipped to 26 or to the 2nd round he would warrant consideration, but even there I think he is a risk.  The offense would have to be designed around his unique strengths, and if he gets injured it will require a real shift to adjust to whomever his backup would be (presumably Hoyer).  While I have confidence that Kyle Shanahan could adapt his offensive approach to get as much as possible out of Manziel, I am not sold that Manziel can be a top-tier quarterback in the NFL, and I’m even less convinced that he can stay healthy, even if he makes a conscious effort to reduce his running.  While it will be fascinating to see if Manziel will excel in the NFL, I think I’d rather watch it from a distance than have the Browns roll the dice on him, unless teams listen to Ron Jaworski and he miraculously slides to the 3rd or 4th round – which clearly is not going to happen.

My draft value: 2nd-3rd round

mettenberger5.  Zach Mettenberger, LSU

I know that Derek Carr is rated as a 1st, or at the very least, 2nd-round talent on pretty much every board.  But I just don’t like him as a prospect as much as Mettenberger.  There are several reasons, but to a large extent it comes down to how both quarterbacks handle pressure.

Mettenberger, like Bortles, possesses prototypical QB size, at 6’5″ and 224 pounds.  His results in his first couple of college seasons were mixed at best, but in 2013 he really took a huge step forward under the direction of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.  There is a lot to like in Mettenberger’s game.  He stands tall under pressure and keeps his eyes downfield to try and make a play.  He has a rocket for an arm, probably one of the strongest in the draft.  Mettenberger improved considerably in his decision making in 2013, not forcing throws as he had in the past and showing the presence of mind to throw the ball away if nothing was there.  While his mechanics aren’t always perfect, they are solid and allow him to get good velocity on his throws all over the field.  He is slow-footed, not nearly the athlete of Bortles (let alone Manziel), but that doesn’t mean that he can’t move at all.  He has demonstrated the willingness to take off and run if it is there.  Mettenberger is a gutty competitor and showed composure in the clutch last year.

Mettenberger is far from a lock, though, which is why he is likely to be drafted in the 4th round or later (although a team taking a chance on him in the 3rd isn’t out of the question).  As mentioned, he’s not the most fleet-footed quarterback, which isn’t enough to sink his chances of being a good starter in the NFL in and of itself.  However, his pocket presence and feel for the blitz needs to improve, along with his pre-snap reads so that he can process the defense quicker and make good, fast decisions that will help to make up for the fact that he isn’t proficient at escaping the rush with his feet.  He made progress in these areas last season, but still needs more development.  He also needs to work at improving his touch, tending to zing the ball when a softer throw is called for (a problem we are quite familiar with here in Cleveland).  There are also character concerns with Mettenberger.  His off-field issues include an arrest for sexual battery and alcohol consumption in 2010 and a history of recreational drug use (although he’s been clean for a couple of years).  Further, he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in December 2013 and continues to rehab from that injury.

So, why Mettenberger over Carr?  Carr’s numbers are gaudy, but a closer look shows how they were inflated by his pass-happy spread offense and the mediocre competition he faced.  Carr completed 68.7% of his passes for 5,082 yards with 50 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, but did so on 659 attempts.  That gives him a yards per attempt figure of 7.7, easily the lowest among the 5 quarterbacks we’re looking at here.  By contrast, Mettenberger completed 64.9% of his passes for 3,082 yards with 22 touchdowns and 8 interceptions on just 296 attempts, which comes out to 10.4 yards per attempt – easily the highest out of these quarterbacks.  Further, Mettenberger showed a composure in clutch situations and against strong competition, while Carr struggled when facing stronger defenses that are capable of bringing pressure.  Look at the comparison between Carr’s split stats by quarter vs. Mettenberger’s.

Carr:

BY QUARTER CMP ATT YDS CMP% YPA LNG TD INT SACK RAT
1st QUARTER 125 187 1625 66.8 8.69 75 14 0 5 164.5
2nd QUARTER 142 202 1496 70.3 7.41 68 17 2 1 158.3
3rd QUARTER 116 172 1233 67.4 7.17 59 13 4 3 148.0
4th QUARTER 67 94 666 71.3 7.09 50 5 2 2 144.1

Mettenberger:

BY QUARTER CMP ATT YDS CMP% YPA LNG TD INT SACK RAT
1st QUARTER 51 74 936 68.9 12.65 53 5 2 5 192.1
2nd QUARTER 55 86 855 64.0 9.94 52 7 3 8 167.4
3rd QUARTER 58 86 811 67.4 9.43 45 4 3 1 155.0
4th QUARTER 28 50 480 56.0 9.60 63 6 0 7 176.2

So Mettenberger did not throw a 4th-quarter interception on the season and posted his second highest QB-rating by quarter in the 4th.  Carr’s rating drops the further into the game he goes, as do his yards per attempt.

Also noteworthy is that Mettenberger threw 7 touchdowns and 0 interceptions against ranked opponents.  Meanwhile, Carr didn’t face very much stiff competition and looked completely overwhelmed by the USC pass-rush in the Las Vegas Bowl, where he completed just 29 of 54 passes for 216 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception.

For where Carr is likely to be drafted, I think the bust potential is off-the-charts.  The reports that the Browns are leaning towards him are enough to send chills down my spine.  If he was being looked at as a possible mid-round developmental guy like Mettenberger I think he’d be worth considering.  Even if that were the case, though, I’d lean toward Mettenberger and his experience under Cam Cameron playing against tougher competition and showing the confidence to come through in the clutch.

My draft value:  4th-5th round

Here is how I’d round out my top 10 quarterbacks:

6.  David Carr  –  Despite the concerns above, Carr has shown enough passing and athletic ability to show some promise.  If he could be drafted as a developmental quarterback without the pressure of being a high pick, he’d be intriguing.  My draft value: 4th-5th round

7.  Aaron Murray – Murray has experience in a pro-style offense and throws a nice ball, but his size and fairly limited athleticism are knocks against him.  He’s also coming off of a late-season ACL tear.  At minimum he should be able to carve out a decent career as a backup quarterback, while there is some potential to be even more.  My draft value: 5th round or lower

8.  A.J. McCarron – I think McCarron has only a slim chance of being a starter in the NFL because of his athletic limitations and flaws, his track record as a winner in college would make him a worthwhile selection in the 5th round or later – even if he only ever ended up being a solid backup.  My draft value:  5th round or lower

9.  Tajh Boyd – There is upside here as a 6th or 7th-round developmental quarterback.  Boyd is gifted athletically and has some skills that could translate well to the NFL, but in the end his flaws make him a long shot to be a successful starter.  My draft value:  6th round or lower

10.  Logan Thomas – An incredible athlete with a cannon for an arm, Thomas might be the ultimate example of a developmental guy.  He is 6’6″ and 248 pounds and ran a 4.61 40 yard dash at the combine, but regressed in his last couple of seasons in college and faces questions about his work ethic and desire to be great.  He has loads of raw talent, but is a long way from being consistent enough to contribute in the NFL.  My draft value: 7th round

Rob Magee is a lifelong Browns fan who suffered his most devastating punch to the gut when a friend recorded The Langoliers over his VHS copy of the 1993 Browns vs. Steelers game that featured two Eric Metcalf punt returns for touchdowns.  You can follow him on Twitter @robisindy.

Browns Off-Season Needs And Fixes


While the Cleveland Browns ended up sending six players to the Pro Bowl last year, there aren’t as many gaping holes on the teams roster as in years past.  That said, coming off another double digit loss season, there is obviously room for improvement.  As a preface, I’m going to give you primary FA targets, as well as alternates, and give you my Mock Draft 5.0 all in one giant bundle.

So, let’s take a look at the most glaring needs, ranked in order of important:

1.  Offensive Guard (2)

2.  Inside Linebacker (2)

3.  Wide Receiver (2)

4.  Quarterback

5.  Cornerback

6.  Defensive End

7. Center (Pending contract negotiations with Alex Mack)

8.  Strong Safety (Pending contract negotiations with TJ Ward)

So, we’ll go in order of the real life timeline to keep this as close to accurate/realistic as possible.  Free Agency starts this Saturday, so we’ll roll through my “best case” scenario first.

Free Agency

Offensive Guard Targets:

Geoff Schwartz, G, Kansas City Chiefs

Geoff Schwartz is Cleveland Browns Mitchell Schwartz’s brother.  Schwartz is the best Guard available via free agency, and as such will command the highest price tag.  That said, the Guard positions are in desperate need of an upgrade.  Schwartz looked great after he took over the starting role from the Chiefs Jon Asamoah halfway through the season, and he’s looked great previously, in 2010 with the Panthers.  Schwartz would provide a lot better blocking, and would fit nicely into Kyle Shanahan’s Zone Blocking Scheme.

Alternates:  Jon Asamoah, Chiefs, Travelle WhartonPanthers.  Asamoah lost his starting gig to Schwartz, but he’s still a quality player. Wharton is getting older, but he’s still a solid Guard.

Linebackers:

Karlos Dansby, LB, Arizona Cardinals

Dansby is excellent. His production somehow went unnoticed by the media last year, but he’s an incredibly versatile linebacker.  He can play inside or out, pass rush or pass coverage, run protection or zone.  He accumulated 122 tackles, 4 INT’s and 6.5 sacks last season, even taking 2 INT’s back for TD’s.  Those numbers alone should scream versatility.  Dansby would be a major upgrade at the linebacker position, and is versatile enough that he could allow Paul Kruger to move inside, or take the inside himself.

Alternates: Brandon Spikes, Patriots; Arthur Moats, Bills.  Spikes struggles badly in pass coverage, or he would be my first choice. Moats has the Pettine connection, but prefers to play outside, so again, he’d require Kruger to move inside.

Quarterback:

Rex Grossman, QB, Washington Redskins

I know. Rex Grossman right? I’m not bringing him to be the starter, so just calm down. Grossman has spent the past 4-5 years working with new Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and would be a great choice to mentor the Browns Quarterbacks on the finer points of any system that Shanahan installs.

Cornerback:

Sam Shields, CB, Green Bay Backers

For the record, I think the Packer’s are fools for not using their franchise tag on Shields.  They’ll be even more foolish to let him hit the open market, as the Browns have more cap space and are one of the teams already rumored to be hot on Shields.  Shields has a ton to like.  He’s good in coverage, extremely fast, and does not shy away from contact.  He’s pretty close to a complete corner, and having him opposite Joe Haden would be extremely tough to throw at.

Alternates:  Alterraun Davis, Titans; Vontae Davis, Colts.  Truthfully, I’d like to have any of these three names.  I’d even throw Captain Munnerlyn in as a third possible alternate. Very deep CB group.

Center:

Alex Mack, C, Cleveland Browns

Look, I’ll be blunt.  There isn’t much out there in the way of quality Center’s, either in the draft or via Free Agency.  The Browns need to re-sign Mack.

Safety:

T.J. Ward, SS, Cleveland Browns

In my ideal scenario, the Browns either tag or re-sign Ward long term.  I have to admit though, I’m starting to think it may not happen.  If that’s the case, look for the Browns to make a push for Jarius Byrd (Bills) if they want to spend, or even a guy like Chris Clemens if they want to keep their cash.

Mock Draft 5.0

Entire first round:

1  QB Teddy Bridgewater, Houston Texans

2 OT Jake Matthews, St. Louis Rams

3 QB Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

4 WR Sammy Watkins, Cleveland Browns

5 DE Jadeveon Clowney, Oakland Raiders

6 DE Kony Ealy, Atlanta Falcons

7 DE Trent Murphy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

8 QB Johnny Manziel, Minnesota Vikings

9 OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo Bills

10  WR Mike Evans, Detroit Lions

11  OLB Anthony Barr, Tennessee Titans

12 CB Jason Verrett, New York Giants

13 CB Darqueze Dennard, St. Louis Rams

14 DT Louis Nix III, Chicago Bears

15 OT Greg Robinson, Pittsburgh Squeelers

16 DT Timmy Jernigan, Dallas Cowboys

17 WR Jordan Matthews, Baltimore Ravens

18 WR Brandin Cooks, New York Jets

19 G David Yankey, Miami Dolphins

20 QB Derek Carr, Arizona Cardinals

21 TE Eric Ebron, Green Bay Packers

22 ILB C.J. Mosley, Philadelphia Eagles

23 WR Odell Beckham Jr, Kansas City Chiefs

24 OLB Kyle Van Noy, Cincinnati Bengals

25  OT Taylor Lewan, San Deigo Chargers

26  OT Zack Martin, Cleveland Browns

27 CB Justin Gilbert, New Orleans Saints

28 WR Marqise Lee, Carolina Panthers

29 OT Aaron Donald, New England Patriots

30 WR Davante Adams, San Francisco 49ers

31 CB Kyle Fuller, Denver Broncos

32 OT Morgan Moses, Seattle Seahawks

The Browns Picks:

4 WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson

Sammy Watkins is a beast, plain and simple.  Anyone who scoffs at taking him at 4 has never watched the kid play.  He’s got good speed, and is extremely physical for his size.  He has an ability to turn short passes into big gains, and would be an immediate WR2 on the Browns roster opposite Josh Gordon.  Watkins has very good speed (4.43 40 time at the Combine), and accelerates rapidly and smoothly.  Very crisp footwork off the line, he has shown that he can regularly beat press coverage.  His body control and coordination are outstanding, he has great hip control.  Very good hands, he can make catches in stride, or come back and make quick movements to avoid initial contact.  He’s a lethal catch and go receiver, much like Josh Gordon, and absolutely destroys defenses with his yards after the catch.  He’s not afraid of contact, and does a good job of lowering his level and pads and powering into defenders.  He’s taken reps out wide, in the slot as well as out of the backfield, he’s extremely versatile.  His only real down side is his size and lack of bulk, at 6’1″ 211 lbs.  He’s not well defined on his frame, and would need to spend time in the weight room.

26 OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame

Zack Martin is the real deal, and drafting him would go a long way to shoring up the Browns offensive line for the long term.  He’s versatile, got good size and speed off the ball.  I also think he would fit into Shanahan’s ZBS.

35 G Xavier Su’a-filo, UCLA

6’3″, 305 lb Xavier Su’a-filo is a tremendous talent.  He’s incredibly strong, very quick for a big man, and does a really great job leverage bull-rushers.  He’s smart, very good with hand placement, and is a starting level talent.  He would be an immediate upgrade over any of the Guards currently on the Browns roster.

71 ILB Christian Jones, Florida State

The Browns are in dire need at ILB now that DQ is gone.  Even if they sign a starter to fill his shoes, the hole created by the tandem of Chris Robertson and Tank Carder cannot be ignored.  Christian Jones from FSU is the perfect upgrade, and even though he’s likely to be available in the third round, he can become an instant starter.  He’s tall, long and fast, and has great hip and foot work.  He’s known to absolutely smother tight ends and receivers off the line, and has shown year after year to be able to disrupt passing routes across the middle.

83 WR Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin

With the power/size combination we’ve built-in Gordon and Sammy Watkins, we need a sure handed, capable route runner with great hands to play the slot.  James Abbrederis from Wisconsin is the perfect fit, and should be available in the early third round. Abbrederis’ speed is outstanding, and his size makes him elusive.  He has great hands and would be an outstanding slot receiver.

102 QB Jimmy Garoppolo, EIU

Jimmy G is my guy.  I didn’t take a QB early, and I think Garoppolo is a developmental option that could blossom into a high level starter.  Jimmy Garoppolo is likely to be selected in the 3-4th round, and he may end up being the steal of this draft class.  He’s smart, confident and a natural leader.  He’s got very good accuracy and an ability to time throws extremely well.  He’s calm, smooth and has a very short memory for bad throws/plays.  He has outstanding passing vision and a quick delivery.  He does need work under center, as he’s played (like Carr) primarily out of the spread or shotgun in college.  He lacks elite physical abilities, but compensates by his intellect, timing and quick release.  Compares closely to Tony Romo.

123 RB Andre Williams, Boston College

133 DE Michael Sam, Missouri

164 RB Storm Johnson, UCF

195 RB Dri Archer, Kent State

 

 

 

Shawn is the Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer for Dawg Pound Nation.  He’s also an Army Sergeant, married to the beautiful and brilliant @MrsStarr, dad to three and aspiring Browns Writer.  You can follow him on Twitter @ShawnMStarr or @DawgPoundNews, as well as on the Dawg Pound Nation Facebook Page.

 

Everyone’s Mock is Wrong, Even Mine.


The one thing we can rely on with any mock draft is it will be wrong. In the first two rounds of the draft we have to make as many selections as we make in our March Madness Brackets. The odds of filling out brackets correctly is an astronomical number. Since this is the case we can say that filling out two rounds of draft picks is even more unlikely. I’m guessing it would take a graduate degree in mathematics from MIT to figure out the odds of picking the first 64 selections correctly. The variables and factors affecting the draft are far more numerous than picking winners in a 65 team tournament. In the tournament we know the starting matchups. We have a set and small number of possible teams to match up in the next round and so on as you move deeper into the tournament. In the draft you have teams that have numerous needs, and numerous ways to go about filling those needs. Free agency has not yet opened. Teams will trade up and down on draft day. It’s not as simple as knowing Duke is playing FAMU in the first round.

Now, while I’ve enjoyed a lot of the mocks I’ve been reading, and I would love any of those scenarios to play out for the Browns, I thought it would be fun to go away from the norm in this mock. I wanted to put together a mock that may resemble a winning March Madness bracket after about a dozen upsets. You know, the one where the person in the office picks the winners based on how well the school has coordinated their uniform colors. Well, maybe not to that extreme, but you get the idea. I’ve mocked the draft conventionally, but I wanted to mock it with throwing a wrench into the draft. I would advise everyone who does their own mock to try this. It’s much more intriguing and fun to do. I mocked the entire first round to show that I’m just not plucking players I want and inserting them in the slots I could fill them in. Here’s what happened in my mock draft:

1.) Texans- Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

2.) Rams- Sammy Watkins, WR, CLEM

3.) Jags- Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louis

4.) Cowboys- Trade with the Browns in Jerry Jones’ effort to get the big name and big personality and keep him in Texas- Johnny Manziel

Browns give up their 1st (4) and 5th (133)

Cowboys give up their 1st (16), 2nd (47), 3rd (78) and 2015’s 1st round pick.

5.) Raiders- Jadeveon Clowney, DE, SCAR

6.) Falcons- Jake Matthews, OT, TAMU

7.) Bucs- Kahlil Mack, OLB, BUFF

8.) Vikes- CJ Mosley, ILB, BAMA

9.) Bills- Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

10.) Lions- Justin Gilbert, CB, OK St.

11.) Titans-Darqueze Dennard, CB, MSU

12.) Giants- Greg Robinson, OT, AUB

13.) Rams- Taylor Lewan, OT, UM

14.) Bears- Timmy Jernigan, DT, FSU

15.) Steelers- Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, BAMA

16.) Browns- Mike Evans, WR, TAMU.

The Browns recognized that given Evans’ 6’5” frame, 4.5 forty time, and game tape proved that he had more value at #16 (plus another 2nd, 3rd, and future 1st pick) than any of the four commonly mocked choices had at #4.

17.) Ravens- Marqise Lee, WR, USC

18.) Dolphins- RaShede Hageman, DT, Minn

19.) Jets- Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU

20.) Cardinals- Kony Ealy, DE, MIZZOU

21.) Packers- Aaron Donald, DT, PITT

22.) Eagles- Calvin Pryor, S, LOUIS

23.) KC- Eric Ebron, TE, UNC

24.) Bengals- Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

25.) Chargers- Bradley Roby, CB, OSU

26.) BROWNS- Zach Martin, OT, ND. The Browns have no choice but to take him here. It’s not like their arm is being twisted though. They get great value here getting a lineman believed to have the skill to play all 5 OL positions. This will allow them the option of determining if he will fill the guard spot, or perhaps play RT and bump Schwartz down inside to play RG.

27.) Saints- Dee Ford, DE, AUB

28.) Panthers- Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, BAMA

29.) Patriots- Jace Amaro, TE, TT

30.) 49ers- Kyle Fuller, CB, Va. Tech.

31.) Broncos- Stephon Tuitt, DT, ND

32.) Seahwaks- David Yankey, OG, STAN

Round #2

35.) Browns- Xavier Su’a-filo, OG, UCLA. The Browns complete their O-line for the long term with this pick. This will make the Browns stable at all 5 positions along the line considering the second first round pick, Zach Martin. All the pieces are in place to protect a QB and give a RB holes to run through. These will be taken next.

47.) Browns(from Cowboys)- Tre Mason, RB, AUB. Here the Browns get a great back to team up with Dion Lewis and Edwin Baker. We could see Carlos Hyde here, and while the runners have their differences, both are about equal in ability. Hyde seems to have talents spread more widely across the spectrum, in my opinion, but I think Hyde is such a popular fan pick it couldn’t possibly really happen, could it? No worries though, Tre Mason is just as worthy of a selection here.

3rd Round

71.) AJ McCarron, QB BAMA. The idea here is to go with Hoyer, and let McCarron learn the system. Pettine has already talked about how the QB is important, but there’s a lot more pieces involved in winning. This is the equivalent of saying, there’s nothing wrong with a “game manager”. While game managers aren’t exciting, if you play solid defense and special teams and run the ball well, you will win with a game manager because they don’t make mistakes. Russell Wilson didn’t have near the year Manning had, but put them head to head, team against team, and look what happened. Russell Wilson isn’t necessarily a game manager, but he’s not the guy who is going to carry a team. (Mettenberger or Murray may be taken here if McCarron is off the board. The goal this year will be to get Hoyer competition. If our roster of QBs doesn’t pan out this year, we will have a completed roster after this draft, and we will sell our draft next year for Winston or Mariota.)

78.) BROWNS (from Cowboys)- Christian Jones, ILB, FSU. This helps make up for the loss of DQ, which I believe will also be addressed in FA by acquiring Brandon Spikes. The Browns benefit from Jones’ lack of production this year. He played a lot on the edge this year and his production dropped, which drove his draft stock down. He is more effective on the inside, where the Browns will be using him.

83.) BROWNS- L’Damian Washington, WR, MIZZOU. The Browns continue the theme of BIG SPEED at the WR spot, adding another 6’4” frame running a sub 4.5 forty. L’Damian will replace Davone Bess, as Mike Evans renders Greg Little useless. Defenses will quiver, regardless of our QB. The improvements along the O-line and the WR spot, and improvements in the running game will be enough to make an average QB look outstanding. He’s a big time blocker for his lean frame. He’s all effort and a hard worker with a lot of heart. His story is told in the link below.

4th Round

102.) BROWNS- Jaylen Watkins, CB, UF. We missed out on his brother, but he will provide an upgrade over Buster Skrine. Will work mostly as a nickel for a couple years as the Browns will go after Sam Shields, Alterruan Verner, or Vontae Davis to play opposite Joe Haden. The secondary will go from the weakest unit on the defensive side of the ball to the best unit on the team with the addition of Jairus Byrd too.

123.) BROWNS- Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor.  This pick is mostly a developmental pick/special teamer pick, as Gipson will end up as a solid backup to Jairus Byrd when he is signed by the Browns. This leaves Dixon to make a living as a special teamer, for now.

6th Round

164.) BROWNS- Lamin Barrow, ILB, LSU.  We are looking for special teamers and depth within certain units from the previous pick through the next pick. Given the state of the ILB’s this should be an easy choice.

7th Round

195.) BROWNS- Boseko Lokombo, OLB, Oregon. Another decent sized, athletic, speedy guy to fly around on special teams.

This draft, more specifically the trade, may seem a bit far-fetched to some. My response to that would be to say that we all get stuck in mock draft mode where our drafts mock each others. Everyone ends up thinking nearly the same thing. There is a need to be safe and be as correct as you can. There is little risk taken. If we all keep our mocks looking similar then we will all be right or wrong together.

Is this mock a likely scenario? No, but that’s because there is a near infinite amount of variables that could affect a draft. No draft is likely. Even Mike Mayock’s mock is unlikely. The Browns could also see themselves as trade partners with Minnesota. They could end up with Jadeveon Clowney.

None of these scenarios are likely, but when you take the sum of the number of unlikely scenarios, they far outnumber the conventional scenario. In this case, the likely scenario is the most unlikely to actually occur. So, when creating a mock, don’t be afraid to throw some wrenches into the thing. Think outside of the box. Mike Mayock and Mel Kiper will both be wrong, and so will you. Have fun with it. Maybe you’ll be the old lady in the office who gets lucky and wins the March Madness pool.

Charlie’s First Ever Mock Draft


This is my first ever mock draft, and I haven’t done any extensive scouting. I’ve looked through numerous mock drafts and Combine Stats and a few draft profiles. That’s it and since I don’t think that’s a whole lot, this could be way off. But I thought I’d give it a shot and make a mock. I used the same software as Shawn and went from there.

First Round, 4th Overall — Johnny Manziel, QB TA&M

I don’t necessarily like this pick but I do think this is where the Browns are headed. I think this kid is too high maintenance, but I watched his Jon Gruden QB Camp and if he can do what he says; and give 110% to wherever he goes and play his heart out every game like this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO8miZNzyIQ) then I would love to have him in Cleveland. Along with that play, if he can make plays with his feet (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MI8TrW7vJC4) when everything else has failed, and that is an amazing ability. The main reason I don’t like this pick is because of his ego, and all the attention he gets.

Next Best if not available: Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

First Round, 26th Overall — Kelvin Benjamin, WR FSU

This guy is tall (6”5’). He’s not Dri Archer fast, but I’d take a 4.5, 40 time for a guy his size. He can run opposite of Josh Gordon and has dealt with a quarterback like Manziel in Jameis Winston. If you have a top wide-receiver being covered by a top cornerback, you’d have a tough time throwing the ball. If you have two of these tall guys, and hell you can’t forget about Jordan Cameron, it’d be impossible to stop your passing game (Unless your QB is Brandon Weeden.) I actually like this pick and am confident it’ll pay off, especially if he can do this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHlFvM2pOGU) in the NFL.

Next Best if not available: Odell Beckham Jr. WR, LSU

Second Round, 35th Overall — Tre Mason, RB AUB

When Dion Lewis comes back, I’m not too sure if he can be 100% after that broken leg. Insert Tre Mason. Tre Mason is an almost perfect combination of speed and power (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ht6qp4Pt4F8) He can bulldoze a defender and then take off to the races. Sorry Carlos Hyde fans, as much as I’d love to see him in a Browns uni, I don’t see it happening. If Mason is available at this point, I don’t see Cleveland passing on him, especially since he can do this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljM6v8fCuJY)
Next Best if not available: Ka’Deem Carey, RB, ARI

Third Round, 71st Overall — Jared Abbrederis, WR WISC

To top off the offensive overhaul we bring in Abbrederis. If this happens I see our offense looking like Denver’s. Two top-notch receivers on the outside, an amazing tight end and then secure hands in the slot. If Abbrederis can catch like this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8VT7iVYFhI) in the NFL I see this pick working out well. He has great route running abilities and with his 40 speed of 4.5 he might just be a guy Cleveland looks at with this pick.

Next Best if not available: Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU

Third Round, 83rd Overall — AJ McCarron, QB BAMA

McCarron looks like the next best pick here. You’ve drafted a quarterback who can run around, now draft a quarterback who has a presence in the pocket (i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R45rpnfAVxo). Hoyer will not be 100% coming out of that ACL injury and I’m going to be a downer here for the sake that I haven’t seen anyone else be, but I don’t think those two games Hoyer shined in was a true level of ability of him, he just got the chance to start for his hometown team, it’s a pump up, sadly nothing more. the reason I don’t take Mettenberger here is because of his ACL injury. Those are scary man.

Next Best if not Available: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, EIU

Fourth Round, 102nd Overall — Jaylen Watkins, CB FLA

Shawn picked him here a couple of mocks ago and I agree with this pick. Buster Skrine belongs in the nickelback. Draft him here and put Skrine where he fits. Watkins is a physical, tough corner and opposite of Joe Haden that’s a shutdown secondary. If the guy catches the ball, somehow through Watkins tough defense, you can bet he will try to get out of his hands,by laying the boom on him or stripping it.

Next Best if not Available: Go back to offense and nab Andre Williams, RB, BC

Fourth Round, 123rd Overall — Adrian Hubbard, ILB BAMA

After the release of D’Qwell Jackson the Browns need and inside presence. I think Hubbard fits this pretty greatly. Hubbard clocked a 4.6 in the 40 which is pretty fast for a linebacker. (http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=9990260) He got around that guy really fast and the play didn’t even have time to develop and the QB had no idea he was coming. Sure he might not be an every down player right off the bat, but if the Browns let him develop at his own pace, I can see this pick being a bit of a steal.

Next Best if not Available: Lamin Barrow, ILB, LSU

Fifth Round, 133rd Overall — DeAnthony Thomas

Thomas has somehow fallen to the fifth round in like four of our DPN mock drafts. How? I’m not too sure. He has explosive speed clocking a 4.34 40 time. That’s ridiculous! It’s only one-tenth off of Chris Johnson’s record of 4.24. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Na3HHTIPz38) In this play he runs 80 yards in about 9 seconds! That is explosive speed that the Browns need, because like I said, I don’t expect Dion Lewis to be 100%

Next Best if not Available: James Wilder Jr. RB, FSU

Sixth Round, 164th Overall — Andre Hal, CB, VANDY

Of all the mocks I’ve looked at (I’ve looked at more than 10) this is one of the only selections at this pick that makes sense. This cornerback can work with Skrine in the nickelback, and also flip-flop with Watkins that I picked in the fourth round. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzPy10HZ10E) He read this play down to it’s last period. He knew the ball was coming out quick and read the QB’s eyes. If he can do this in the NFL, he will be part of an explosive secondary, no matter where he lands.

Next Best if not Available: Chris Davis, CB, AUB

Seventh Round, 195th Overall — Jordan Najvar, TE, BAY

With our final pick I see this going one of two ways. This is the way I hope it goes. We nab this tight end out of Baylor. He’s tall and athletic just like Jordan Cameron, he could add presence if you need a safety valve, or you can throw it to him for the TD. I saw this kid take a shot as he was going for the goal line, but he didn’t give up. He barreled through the guy and got the touchdown. If you bring that to the table, you can be dangerous at any level.

Next Best if not Available: Vinnie Sunseri, S, BAMA

Recap:

I know there is a lot of ‘ifs’ in this mock, and I mean a lot. But say the Browns draft like this, maybe not exactly but close to it, I see them being playoff contenders. The Dawg Pound is hungry for wins and this is Banner’s chance to show Cleveland he wants to win.