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News » Draft grades a 'B' for 'better' get more help


Draft grades a 'B' for 'better' get more help


Draft grades a 'B' for 'better' get more help
Talking to myself about the Browns' draft.


Question: So how do you grade the Browns' draft?

Answer: I hate stories like that, where drafts are graded.

Q: But it's your story, you are talking to yourself. Why ask the question, if you don't want to answer it?

A: OK, I give it a B.

Q: B? What do you know about the draft?

A: Not much, but I'm in good company. People paid to follow the draft and to do the picking admit they really don't know. They take their best guess - so here's mine . . . grade B.

Q: So you don't like it?

A: Just the opposite, I like most of what they did. I like how they made many teams think they had an interest in USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. I like how they traded out of the No. 5 pick, turning it into three possible starters in Abram Elam, Kenyon Coleman and Alex Mack. I like how they won't have to guarantee a player more than $20 million - Sanchez will get more than that - because that takes a huge bite out of the salary cap, preventing the team from making other moves.

Q: But a center in the first round?

A: Len Pasquarelli of ESPN.com wrote an excellent story about how three centers were selected in the top 50, with Louisville's Eric Wood (Buffalo) and Mack being picked in the first round. He wrote that since 2000, the only first-round centers were Jeff Faine ( Browns , 2003), Chris Spencer (Seattle, 2005) and Nick Mangold (Jets, 2006) - until this season. The reason? He believes it's the rise of the 3-4 defense. Now there will be 12 teams (including Pittsburgh and Baltimore) playing it. That defense puts a huge nose tackle right over the center - and more stress on the center to block him.

Q: Do you agree with CNNSI.com's Peter King, who wrote that Elam was the key to the trade and a possible Pro Bowler?

A: Elam had to be a part of the deal because the Browns need a safety. But let's not turn a guy with 17 career starts into a Pro Bowler. The good thing is the Kent State product is a playmaker, made the NFL as an undrafted free agent and he knows Browns coach Eric Mangini's system.

He was important to the trade.

Q: What about Coleman?

A: The Browns now have depth on the defensive line with Shaun Rogers, Robaire Smith, Shaun Smith, Corey Williams and Coleman, who all have started a lot of games. C.J. Mosley is an experienced backup, while Ahtyba Rubin and Santonio Thomas are younger players with some ability. Nothing wrong with building up the line.

Q: Will Mack start right away?

A: Hank Fraley will have another opinion, and he is one of the team captains. But it seems Mack is destined to start. The offensive line now is stronger with Pro Bowler Joe Thomas, Eric Steinbach, Rex Hadnot, Floyd 'Pork Chop' Womack, Ryan Tucker (if healthy), Michael St. Clair and Fraley all as experienced starters. They are building from the inside, adding to both lines.

Q: Since you sound so positive, why only give a grade of B?

A: The second round bothers me. I was left with the sense the Browns played it conservative, that they could have reached for an impact player - USC linebacker Rey Maualuga or someone else. Obviously, there is something wrong with Maualuga or he would not have dropped into the second round. But there still were other defensive players who may have been able to make an impact. Instead, they took two receivers in Brian Robiskie (No. 36) and Mohamed Massaquoi (No. 50). They certainly could have grabbed Maualuga at No. 36 instead of Robiskie, and I bet Robiskie still would have been there at No. 50.

Q: But they need receivers, so why so critical?

A: I would have preferred to sign a veteran receiver, add Robiskie and maybe take a shot at another receiver lower in the draft. Maybe Kaluka Maiava (No. 104) will surprise at linebacker. USC is so loaded, their backups can sometimes play in the NFL. He may have slipped because he's only 5-11, but he is promising. I guess I wanted more than that. Same with David Veikune (No. 52), a defensive end from Hawaii who has to play linebacker. A good way to judge the Browns' scouting is to follow Maiava and Veikune, let's see if either develops into more than a special teams player.

Q: What about the Browns adding those sixth-rounders?

A: I thought it was a "So what?" when they picked up a pair of them by trading down twice before selecting Mack at No. 21. But then they took James Davis at No. 195. A friend who has worked for several different teams in scouting and has been part of drafts wrote me this about the Clemson running back: "He's one of my sleepers. The Clemson O-line was awful this year. He split time with C.J. Spiller, who could be a first-rounder next year. . . . Davis has good feet, some tightness . . . excellent value for the sixth round."

Q: What about the other sixth-rounders, Coye Francies and Don Carey?

A: All I know is both are cornerbacks. I have no clue if they can play. My friend thinks Francies will help the team and eventually be able to play in passing situations.

Q: From all that, you came up with a B?

A: They acquired more picks and more veteran players than I expected when the draft began. They have kept Brady Quinn, who I expect to start - no matter what the team says right now. They also still have Braylon Edwards, who could be traded in August for more picks or players. They are much stronger now than a week ago, but still need more impact players.

To reach Terry Pluto: terrypluto2003@yahoo.com, 216-999-4674

Previous columns online: cleveland.com/columns



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 30, 2009

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