The 2012 NFL Draft officially is rapidly approaching, so we are continuing with our team-by-team Mock Draft Profiles. This post will focus on the Cleveland Browns and the no.4 overall selection.
This pick will be crucial come draft day because dominos are going to fall, regardless of who the Browns eventually end up selecting. Cleveland should have the choice to draft either Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M, Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State or Trent Richardson of Alabama, three highly sought after players, therefore this pick is going to cause a ripple effect throughout the remainder of the first round.
According to recent reports, sources close to the team claim the Browns have narrowed their options down to Tannehill or Blackmon.
Tannehill (career stats displayed here http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/pi/shareit/kySQT) has been one of the most talked about players in the draft. Sources claim that team President Mike Holmgren wants to use the pick on Tannehill, believing him to be a franchise quarterback, while General Manager Tom Heckert reportedly wants to draft Blackmon (stats seen here (http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/pi/shareit/5ldXt)
Tannehill is a solid prospect, deserving of a first-round grade, he’s a tremendous athlete, even playing receiver for 2 ½ years at A&M, has good arm strength and is fairly accurate with the football. Yet, he has very little experience, starting only 18 games in college and at times struggles with his decision-making, which is absolutely critical at the pro level.
There is no question Tannehill has the tools to develop into a franchise quarterback, yet how long will it take him to do so.
On the other hand, some scouts believe Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden, is fairly comparable and that if Weeden weren’t 28 years old, he’d be considered in the same range.
Therefore, the value just is not there drafting Tannehill at no.5, when quarterbacks with starting potential such Brandon Weeden, Brock Osweiler, Nick Foles and Kirk Cousins will be available later on in the draft even in the 2nd or 3rd rounds.
Blackmon also comes with concerns and he is no lock either. He’s a good receiver, no doubt about that, yet he has just average size and lacks elite speed. He will catch a lot of passes, but will he be an explosive player in the mold of a Randy Moss type? Scouts tend to think not.
One thing is clear, the Browns need to upgrade offensively, particularly at the skill positions, where they currently do not have a reliable starter at running back and Greg Little is their top wideout.
Cleveland likes current starting quarterback Colt McCoy, who was selected by the team in the third round of the 2010 Draft.
In two seasons, McCoy has started 21 games, going 6-15. He’s completed 58% of his passes, thrown 20 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, to go along with a passer rating of 74.5 and a yards per attempt average of 6.3
McCoy’s numbers are nothing but average except his win-loss record, which just happens to be atrocious, so the idea of him being a franchise quarterback is somewhat unrealistic.
However, he’s a young player in only his third season and being forced to play quarterback without a single legitimate weapon in two years hasn’t helped matters, which is why the Browns may still believe in McCoy enough to give him another year, cause they haven’t yet seen what he can do with talent surrounding him.
The Browns could still draft Tannehill, develop him behind McCoy, and let those two duke it out for the starting job, hoping eventually that the competition churns out a franchise quarterback.
If not quarterback, Blackmon makes sense at receiver and definitely fills a need. Yet, the 4th pick seems to high for Blackmon, he’s not in the same league as a Calvin Johnson or Randy Moss and therefore should not be a top-five selection.
Even though the Browns appear set on drafting Tannehill or Blackmon, logically the pick that makes the most sense is Alabama running back Trent Richardson (stats here: http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/pi/shareit/PdmOH).
Richardson is an elite prospect and rates higher than both Tannehil and Blackmon. Richardson is a dominant runner as well as a tremendous receiver. He’s tough, explosive and versatile, he’s a three-down back, who can do it all right away and would fill a huge need.
At FantasyPPR.com, we see four elite players in this draft: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Matt Kalil and Trent Richardson, therefore, picking Richardson should be a no-brainer for Cleveland. If the opportunity to drat an elite prospect presents itself, you do it, no questions asked.
Even if the Browns draft Richardson with the 4th pick, they will still have plenty of flexibility later on in the first round and in the second rounds. Cleveland owns the 22nd and 37th picks, meaning they can look at quarterback and receiver at those spots or could potentially package them to trade up if Tannehill starts falling.
No matter how the rest of the draft plays out, the Browns can ill-afford to pass on the best player available. They must cone away with an impact player, who can contribute from day one and Richardson is the player that best fits that description.
We will have a separate Mock Draft Profile for the 22nd pick; we are going pick by pick, so at this point we don’t know who will be on the board for the Browns to take.
Check back soon for our next NFL Mock Draft Team Profile: #5 Tampa Bay Bucs.