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News » Catching an earful over trade discussions


Catching an earful over trade discussions


Catching an earful over trade discussions
ABOUT THE Browns . . .


Here's what I'm hearing a week away from the NFL Draft:

1. An NFL executive told me he's not heard much discussion about quarterback Brady Quinn being traded, but trading receiver Braylon Edwards remains a real possibility. He believes the Browns want to draft Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry (no secret there), but he's not sure they will take Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree if Curry is gone at No. 5.

"There are some good receivers who will go late first and in the second round," the executive said. "I really like Hakeem Nicks [North Carolina]. He could slip into the second round because he runs only a 4.55, but I like his size, his hands and he's the kind of guy who would fit with the Browns because I believe he's close to NFL-ready."

2. Nicks is 6-1, 212 pounds. He supposedly was up to 225 pounds after the season, but is now back to 212. The Browns talk about "Football players," guys who know how to play the game and have achieved at a high level - more than just pure speed guys or athletes. That's Nicks, who set a school record for receptions in three years at North Carolina.

He caught 12 TD passes, including three against West Virginia in a bowl game. He is very good in the medium-range passing game and is supposed to be able to catch the ball in traffic, and is not easy to tackle in the open field. Boy, do the Browns need a guy like that.

3. Assuming the Browns obtain the 29th pick from the New York Giants in a trade for Edwards, don't be surprised if they grab California center Alex Mack at that spot. Or at No. 36, which is the Browns' second-round pick.

Keep in mind that in his first draft with the New York Jets, Browns coach Eric Mangini took two offensive linemen in the first round of 2006: left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson at No. 4 and Ohio State center Eric Mangold at No. 29. I can see Mack being Mangini's new version of Mangold, who has been a strong center with the Jets. The Browns' Hank Fraley had a difficult season at the position in 2008.

4. It's doubtful the Browns will be able to trade down. Most teams want to trade down, not up, because there are few - if any - sure superstar picks, according to most scouts. I keep hearing there are "a lot of good players" in the top 50, but it's hard to know who really belongs in the top 10 - or the top five.

5. It's very possible the Browns will go with Brian Orakpo at No. 5. General Manager George Kokinis indicated he believes Orakpo can make the switch from a defensive end at Texas to an outside linebacker in the Browns' 3-4 defense. The Browns need someone to get to the QB, and that is Orakpo's specialty.

The thinking for taking him would be to throw Orakpo into the OLB mix with Kamerion Wimbley and Alex Hall, hoping two of those guys could bring pressure on the passer.

6. Alex Hall played less than 20 percent of the snaps last season, but he was third on the team with three sacks. Only Shaun Rogers (4.5) and Wimbley (4) had more. That screams about the need for a pass rusher.

7. The Browns have spent a lot of time talking to USC coaches as they continue to evaluate the linebackers. I would be stunned if they took Rey Maualuga at No. 5. He is an inside linebacker, and when the Browns signed free-agent linebacker Eric Barton to play next to D'Qwell Jackson, it seemed like they'd be interested in a pass rusher when they make their first linebacker selection.

I sense they'd love to get Clay Matthews III in the second round. He's the kind of overachieving "Football player" they talk about. He comes from a Football family, he plays with passion and also would be very good on special teams. That's also why he may rise into the first round.

8. Percy Harvin is listed as a wide receiver, but the Florida product is a bit of a running back, a bit of a slot receiver, a special teams guy. Could be wrong, but the Browns already have someone like that in Joshua Cribbs.

9. It's a rumor that has been floating around for weeks. The Browns will trade Quinn for a first-rounder, then use their No. 5 pick on QB Mark Sanchez from USC. It seems like a big mistake, using that fifth pick on a rookie QB who probably would play behind Derek Anderson - and has not proved anything more than Quinn. It also denies the Browns a chance to use that No. 5 pick for an impact player at receiver, linebacker or on either line.

10. Here's one of the problems with taking a quarterback high in the draft - he can only be a QB. When a high pick such as Robert Gallery failed at left tackle, he was moved to guard and became a starter there. Other position players can at least help out on special teams, even if they are only so-so starters. An extra defensive back can come off the bench in passing situations. About all a backup QB can do is be a holder for the kicker.

11. There are several players who interest the Browns, but they are expected to be taken in the 10-25 range. LSU's Tyson Jackson would be an excellent defensive end in the 3-4 as he is especially strong against the run. Missouri's Jeremy Maclin is an intriguing receiver prospect. OSU's Malcolm Jenkins would be ideal in the defensive backfield as he can play safety or cornerback. He's more than 6-foot, and the Browns need a taller cover man. Watch if any of these players slip.

12. Scouts Inc.'s Steve Muench wrote that OSU's cornerbacks do very well in the NFL. He mentioned Shawn Springs, Antoine Winfield and Nate Clements, who have played a combined 30 years and have been solid to excellent starters at some points in their careers. He added that Chris Gamble (20 interceptions in 62 starts) was worthy of his first-round selection by Carolina in 2004. Yet another reason that scouts who dismiss Jenkins for his lack of speed will be surprised by his pro success.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 21, 2009

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Ryan Pontbriand Name: Ryan Pontbriand
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Position: C
Age: 28
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