by Tommy Lawlor – http://www.ScoutsNotebook.com
1 – DT Phil Taylor – 6’3, 334 – Baylor
2 – DE Jabaal Sheard – 6’3, 264 – Pitt
2 – WR Greg Little – 6’3, 230 – UNC
4 – TE Jordan Cameron – 6’5, 254 – USC
4 – FB Owen Marecic – 6’1, 248 – Stanford
5 – CB Buster Skrine – 5’10, 186 – Tennessee-Chattanooga
5 – OL Jason Pinkston – 6’3, 317 – Pitt
7 – DB Eric Hagg – 6’1, 209 – Nebraska
The Browns traded the #6 overall pick to the Falcons so that Atlanta could draft WR Julio Jones. In return Cleveland got 237 picks, or so it seemed. Atlanta paid a steep price. Cleveland was wise to make the deal. There wasn’t one player in this draft who was going to come in and instantly make the Browns a Super Bowl contender.
The Browns moved all the way back to pick 27 and took DT Phil Taylor from Baylor. Very interesting pick. People tend to think of Defensive Coordinator Dick Jauron as liking small players. He does appreciate the value of big DTs. While coach of the Bears, Jauron had a strong defense anchored by Keith Traylor and Ted Washington (only 59 years old at the time).
Cleveland had a big, athletic DT last year in Shaun Rogers, but they cut him after the season. Taylor steps in to be the center of the D-line. He is a massive run stuffer that blockers will struggle to move off the ball. Taylor isn’t just big. He has good feet for being such a massive player. He’s also quick and agile for his size. Taylor did have some weight issues in the past and was forced to leave Penn State. He was a good player for Baylor and appears to have turned things all the way around. He can be a big help to the Browns if he stays focused and in shape. Teams facing the Bengals, Ravens, and Steelers must play good run defense to have any hope of success. Taylor can clog the middle and free up other players to make plays. Matching him with DT Ahtyba Rubin will give the Browns an impressive pair of DTs to build around. Rubin is an emerging player. He’s not as athletic as Taylor, but is an excellent run defender. Jauron might start having flashbacks to Traylor and Washington.
Next up was DE Jabaal Sheard from Pitt. A funny thing happened on the way to the 2011 Draft. The stud Pitt DE went from being Greg Romeus to Sheard. Romeus had all the preseason attention, but got hurt. Sheard stepped his game up and had a terrific season. He posted 14.5 TFLs (9 of them were sacks). He also had 4 FFs, 4 pass deflections, and 15 QB hurries. Sheard was a regular force for the Panthers. And that is exactly why the Browns wanted and needed him. They are moving from a 3-4 to a 4-3 and had no proven 4-3 pass rushers on the team. Sheard isn’t explosive or dynamic, but he can get to the QB. He has a quick burst off the ball and plays with good leverage. Sheard rounds the corner tightly as he goes by blockers. He can use speed, rip moves, or inside moves to get by OTs. Excellent motor. He can play either side and has a good frame. Should be a starting DE for the Browns for years to come. Very good fit for the Browns new 4-3 DL.
With their other 2nd round pick the Browns went for Greg Little, a WR from UNC. Little was picked on potential. He didn’t play at all in 2010 because of a suspension for violating NCAA rules. He might have set the NCAA record for parking tickets by one player (problem was who owned the cars he drove and who paid the tickets?) and had some dealings with an agent. Little was an odd player prior to the off-field issues. He was recruited to UNC to play WR, but they got desperate and moved him to RB. He finally got back to receiver in 2009 and showed tremendous potential. Little is huge at 6’3, 230. He is strong, fast, and athletic. He has good hands. He can make acrobatic catches. The sky is the limit for him…if he stays focused and out of trouble. Now that he’s officially getting paid there shouldn’t be any issues, but the Browns have to be a bit nervous because Little has shown so little respect for the rules. He’s not a thug or anything like that, but you wonder what his mindset will be now that he’s about to become a rich young man. I hope all the issues are behind him because Little could develop into an outstanding NFL player. The Browns passing attack certainly needs all the help it can get.
In the 4th round Cleveland got another weapon for Colt McCoy. They took TE Jordan Cameron from USC. I really like this pick. Cameron came out of nowhere to emerge as one of the better TEs in the draft class. He had played some basketball and spent time at BYU as well as at USC. It wasn’t until midseason 2010 that he finally started to look like an NFL guy. He only caught 16 passes, but he showed NFL ability. Cameron has good hands. He is a very good athlete. Excellent size. Can be tough and physical. He looked like a natural receiver. That’s huge at TE, where we see guys with all kinds of backgrounds who go on to be good NFL players. Cameron definitely has the potential to be a good NFL TE. He can learn from Ben Watson and Alex Smith (assuming they stick around). Cameron would be a very good target for McCoy on short throws and in the middle of the field. I don’t know that he’ll be as impressive as Jimmy Graham was for the Saints last year, but Cameron has starting potential in a year or two.
The other 4th round pick was also spent on offense, but this time it benefited RB Peyton Hillis. The Browns added the top FB in the draft by taking Owen Marecic from Stanford. Incumbent FB Lawrence Vickers is set to be a free agent and the Browns must not have been interested in paying him to stick around. Marecic gives them a younger, cheaper option. He obviously isn’t a proven NFL player, but was outstanding at Stanford. Toby Gerhart will certainly vouch for Marecic as a lead blocker. And anyone who followed Stanford or college football loved Marecic because he was a 2-way player, FB and ILB. Owen ran for 5 TDs, caught 9 passes, had 2 INTs, 51 tackles, 2 sacks, and 5 pass deflections. Not a bad resume for one season. Think he’ll be a natural fit on STs? Solid value in the 4th round.
Cleveland finally went back to defense in the 5th round. They took speedy CB Buster Skrine from UTC. He is a workout warrior. Skrine ran a blazing time at the Combine and was excellent in the drills. His game tape wasn’t nearly as impressive. Solid player, but nothing like the guy from Indy who had blown people away with his showing. Skrine has the physical ability to be a starting CB, but he needs a lot of work. He’s got to develop proper technique and hone his skills. Being fast isn’t enough in the NFL. Getting a guy with his upside in the 5th is good value.
With the other 5th round pick the Browns went for OL Jason Pinkston from Pitt. He started at LT the last two years, but doesn’t have the size or athleticism to play there in the NFL. Most likely he’ll slide into G, but it’s possible the Browns could give him a chance at RT. Pinkston was a very good player for Pitt. Excellent run blocker. Tough. Good effort. Really stuck with his blocks. He’s not a gifted athlete and doesn’t have a sleek build, but the man can block. I’m surprised he slid down to the 5th round. I think Pinkston can be a good NFL interior lineman.
Cleveland spent their final pick on DB Eric Hagg from Nebraska. Hagg was one of the most versatile players in college football the last couple of years. He was moved around by situation. Sometimes he was a CB. Other times he was a S. He even was like a LB at times. Hagg isn’t fast, but has great instincts and a knack for making big plays in big games. I’m really interested to see how the Browns use him. Hagg isn’t great at any one thing. He could be a FS and use his instincts. He could be a SS and play in the box. He could be a slot corner in some situations against big WRs. I think Hagg needs a creative coach to bring out the best in him. I hope the Browns coaches are able to carve out a role. The NFL should always have room for players with good instincts. Too often we fall in love with size/speed. It will be interesting to see who has the better career, Skrine or Hagg. My money’s on Eric. At the very least, he could be a good STs player.