The Browns arguably hold the cornerstone pick for the entire draft. It’s looking increasingly unlikely that they’ll blow on their quarterback dice and take Ryan Tannehill, but if they do then Miami’s plans at No. 8 could be drastically altered during a time when Stephen Ross is reportedly pushing for the Texas A&M passer to be his team’s first-round pick.
If Justin Blackmon gets the call, then the Rams’ hope of pairing their young quarterback with a dynamic receiver are immediately erased. And if it’s anyone not named Trent Richardson for Cleveland, then there’s a chance the Alabama running back could begin a mini tumble, and land in St. Louis’ lap to become Steven Jackson’s successor.
1. Let’s start with the same question that the Bucs are trying to answer regarding Richardson. Are you comfortable with using a top five pick to draft a running back?
Yes, yes, and yes. The Browns are not only in need of talent, but they have needs at nearly every skill position. Richardson represents an instant upgrade to the team’s running game, providing them with the best back they’ve had since Eric Metcalf. The fact that it would cost the fourth pick means very little to me — if he’s their guy, you have to take him.
2. Blackmon is also a strong possibility, but taking a wide receiver at No. 4 implies that there’s confidence in Colt McCoy’s ability to get him the ball. Since this is a deep draft at WR, would it be better for the Browns to wait until No. 22 to take maybe Stephen Hill or Reuben Randle? Or are you fine with Blackmon this early?
I am fine with Blackmon early, but would prefer the route you have mentioned, specifically with Hill. Kid intrigues me. I’d much rather go Richardson and a second-tier receiver than Blackmon and a gamble on a second-tier back. There’s a chance that neither live up to expectations. With Richardson, just show him where Joe Thomas is and tell him to follow the No. 73 downfield.
3. There seems to be an even split on Tannehill, with some saying his upside is strong enough for the Browns to take a calculated risk, while others don’t think he’s a top 10 talent. Where do you fall?
The latter. I could probably list 25 or so teams which could afford the “calculated risk,” and Cleveland isn’t one of them. This team is in shambles, and taking Tannehill at No. 4 could conceivably lead to a draft of missing on every need. Picking a project QB early means you’re ultimately pairing him with lower-quality skill talent. Load up on studs this year, and then take next season’s Tannehill.
4. Morris Claiborne hasn’t received quite as much discussion for the Browns since a running back or wide receiver are a higher priority. Could his skillset still be too tempting?
I actually strong;y believe that the fourth pick could come down to Richardson or Claiborne — especially if there’s a trade with St. Louis. I think the fact that there hasn’t been much chatter only bolsters this; everybody thinks that they’re Belichick. That said, I’d gladly pair him with Joe Haden and give the Browns what the Jets have been trying to get for years.
5. After the Julio Jones trade during last year’s draft the Browns will be on the clock three times in the first 37 picks. What’s the perfect scenario for those picks?
My perfect scenario is Trent Richardson at No. 4, the best wide receiver available at No. 22 (Floyd, Wright, Hill — in that order), and the best need-based value pick available at No. 37. I am slowly gaining momentum on Brandon Weeden here, but an offensive tackle would work just as well. Janoris Jenkins would be a close third.