2010 NFL Draft

5 players with an outside shot at the top 10

Every year there are one or two players that sneak into the top 10 on draft day despite rarely showing up that high in mock drafts. Last year it was Darrius Heyward-Bey, in ’08 it was Derrick Harvey, in ’07 it was Ted Ginn Jr., in ’06 it was Donte Whitner… the list goes on.

So who are the candidates this? Here are a few names to keep in mind that could come off board higher than expected on April 22:

5. Rolando McClain, Alabama
McClain has occasionally shown up in mock drafts at No. 5 to the Chiefs (including ours) but Scott Pioli has shown little interest in him thus far. It could just be a smoke screen, but he appears genuine in his interest in the offensive tackles in this year’s class. If they pass on McClain, his odds go down, but Buffalo could be another option. In Buffalo he would be an ideal fit at inside linebacker next to Paul Posluszny, replacing the aging Kawika Mitchell.

4. Earl Thomas, Texas
Thomas’ top-10 hopes depend on where Eric Berry is selected. If Berry goes in the top five (Bucs? Chiefs?), then Thomas becomes an option for the Browns at No. 7. They’re looking for a replacement for Brodney Pool at free safety, and Thomas would be a perfect fit. Another option could be Jacksonville. The Jaguars may be ready to give up on 2007 1st-round pick Reggie Nelson at free safety.

3. C.J. Spiller, Clemson
Spiller is absent from the top 10 in every mock draft I’ve seen, primarily because no one in the top 10 has a need for a running back. However, numerous teams in the 10-20 range (Dolphins, Seahawks, 49ers, Steelers) could be interested. Its possible that someone will decide to trade up for Spiller – the Browns would be a likely trade partner – in an effort to jump all the teams that could snatch him up in the middle of the 1st round.

2. Charles Brown, USC
Russell Okung, Bryan Bulaga, Trent Williams, Anthony Davis and even Bruce Campbell are frequently talked about as potential top-10 picks. So why is Brown, who’s viewed as a potential 1st-rounder, left out of the discussion? Brown’s top-1o chances hinge on where the others prospects fall. But if there’s a run on tackles in the top 10, as expected, its possible that someone trades up into the top 10 to ensure they land one of the top prospects. The 49ers would be a likely candidate to do so, thanks to their two 1st-round picks.

1. Dan Williams, Tennessee
Williams isn’t showing up in the top 10 in many mock drafts, but he’s one of the most popular prospects out there. He’s viewed as a potentially elite 3-4 nose tackle who also has the ability to play in a 4-3 scheme. The earliest he could come off the board would be at No. 6 to the Seahawks. He would be a significant upgrade over Colin Cole as the space eater on their defensive line. The Browns and Bills, who both runs 3-4 schemes, are perhaps the most likely options. Browns nose tackle Shaun Rogers has been rumored in multiple trade discussions. If he’s shipped out on draft day, it could be to make room for Williams. As for Buffalo, they’re transitioning to a 3-4 defense this year and don’t have a true nose tackle on their current roster.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bills, Browns, Chiefs, Dolphins, Jaguars, Seahawks Comments Off

5 popular mock draft predictions unlikely to happen

Every year draftniks fall in love with certain predictions which, on paper, make sense. But creating a mock draft isn’t always about matching up the team’s needs with the best available player at that position. You have to understand each team’s draft tendencies and try to think like their GM (or whoever it may be that’s calling the shots).

With that in mind, I’ve set out to discredit a few common mock draft predictions which likely won’t hold true on April 22.

5. Jermaine Gresham to the Bengals
The Bengals have, hands down, the worst pass-catching tight ends in the league. So in theory, adding Gresham would make a lot of sense. However, Marvin Lewis and Bob Bratkowski just don’t seem to care. They have never incorporated the tight end into the offense and I don’t see any reason why they’ll change now. Selecting Gresham would require the Bengals to abandon an offensive philosophy which has worked fairly well in recent years.

4. Russell Okung to the Lions
Adding a young offensive tackle in the 2nd or 3rd round would be a wise decision for the Lions, but its unlikely to happen with the 2nd pick. Jim Schwartz has praised Jeff Backus, and even endorsed him as a Pro Bowl candidate this past season. With all the needs the Lions have on both sides of the ball, why would Martin Mayhew and Schwartz upgrade a position that they already view as a strength?

3. Joe Haden to the Browns
Haden is the top available player at a position at which the Browns are devoid of talent. However, a rebuilding process does not start with a cornerback. The trades of Corey Williams and Kamerion Wimbley have opened up gaping holes in the Browns front seven, which is always a higher priority on draft day than the secondary. Eric Berry, due to his elite draft grade, may still be an option, but not Haden.

2. Dez Bryant to the Dolphins
Signing Karlos Dansby left the Dolphins with just one glaring area of need: receiver. Or more specifically, a big receiver. Dez Bryant is exactly what the Dophins want, but there is no way that Bill Parcells ok’s the selection of a receiver in the 1st round. He hasn’t selected one since Terry Glenn in 1996, and that selection was actually made by Robert Kraft and was a key reason why Parcells bolted after the season. Throw in Bryant’s off-field concerns and he has little chance of wearing a Dolphins uniform in 2010.

1. Bruce Campbell to the Raiders
Al Davis has made plenty of bad decisions, but this would top them all. The thought process behind this selection is that the Raiders need a left tackle and Campbell put on a performance at the Combine that is sure to catch the attention of Davis. That said, there are enough other players with legitimate 1st-round grades that Davis can probably be talked into. Jason Pierre-Paul, Taylor Mays, Trent Williams and Anthony Davis are all much closer to receiving top-10 grades and would still fit the Al Davis profile.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Bengals, Browns, Dolphins, Lions, Raiders 1 Comment

A Mid-Offseason Grade for Mike Holmgren

On one hand, you have to give Mike Holmgren credit for putting his stamp on this team. On the other, you have to wonder: were this many changes necessary?

We’re still a month away from the draft and Holmgren has made an entire offseason’s worth of moves. With the recent flurry of transaction now complete, I think its time to breakdown the Browns moves and give Holmgren his mid-offseason grade.

Jan. 7 – Browns decide to keep Mangini
Mangini’s first season in Cleveland was nothing short of a complete disaster. True, he turned things around down the stretch, but any progress he made in those final weeks has now been undone by Holmgren’s dismantling of the franchise. You have to wonder if Holmgren isn’t keeping Mangini around just to keep the seat warm for himself.
Grade: D

Feb. 18 – Browns release Jamal Lewis
Everyone could see this move coming a mile away. Lewis wasn’t performing, and he wasn’t happy. He was due to earn $3.9M in 2010 and he just isn’t worth it anymore. It created a gaping hole at running back, which the undersized Jerome Harrison can’t fill on his own, but it was a necessary decision.
Grade: A

March 4Browns don’t offer tender to Brodney Pool; becomes free agent
Not bringing back an injury-prone safety who’s coming off a concussion walk can’t be viewed as a terrible decision, but it certainly couldn’t have hurt to offer him his 2nd-round tender and then attempt to pull off a trade. When healthy, Pool is a quality starting free safety and it looks as though he’ll get an opportunity to prove himself with the Jets.
Grade: C

March 4Browns trade Corey Williams to Lions for 5th-round pick
Aside from Shaun Rogers, Williams was easily the Browns next most productive defensive lineman over the past two seasons. He adjusted nicely to playing defensive end in their 3-4 scheme and was an anchor on the defensive line. ProFootbalFocus’ grading system rated him the 3rd best 3-4 defensive end in 2009. And all they could get in return was a 5th-round choice? Assuming that really was all that was being offered for Williams, the smart move would have been to keep him around. The Browns aren’t exactly bursting at the seams with talented defensive players, so why dump one for a 5th-round pick?
Grade: F

March 9 – Browns release Derek Anderson
This was an unfortunate, but necessary, move. It’s not easy to release a 26-year-old former Pro Bowl quarterback, but Anderson simply hasn’t lived up to expectations the past two seasons. He was due a $2M roster bonus on March 19, and it didn’t look like anyone was going to be interested in pulling the trigger on a trade for an overpriced backup.
Grade: A-

March 14 – Browns trade Brady Quinn to Broncos
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. You cannot judge a quarterback based on 12 starts. And you certainly can’t judge him based on 12 starts during which he was surrounded by absolutely no talent. I’m not saying Quinn will become the next John Elway in Denver, but he deserved another shot with the Browns. In return the Browns received Peyton Hillis (a backup FB/RB), a 2011 6th-round draft pick and a conditional pick in 2012.
Grade: F

March 14 – Browns trade Kamerion Wimbley to Raiders for 3rd-round pick
While trading your best pass-rusher is rarely a good idea, this won’t be a crippling move for the Browns defense. Matt Roth and David Bowens are capable starting linebackers and the coaching staff is also high on Marcus Benard. The addition of the 3rd-round pick give the Browns five in the top 100, which will help them retool a roster which is depleted of talent.
Grade: B

Clearly Holmgren’s strategy here is to make the Browns “his” team. If owner Randy Lerner is willing to be patient it could work out in the end, afterall Holmgren has been to three Super Bowls. However, he went to those Super Bowls as a coach. As a GM in Seattle he struggled and was eventually demoted. At this point he’s committed himself to a 3-year rebuilding project, if not longer. Its too early to give him a failing grade across the board, but its certainly possible that he’ll leave the Browns worse off than when he took over. As the roster stands today on March 15, its hard to imagine the Browns winning more than one or two games, with the distinct possibility that they go 0-16.

Overall Mid-Offseason Grade: C-

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Browns, Free Agency Comments Off

Where will Brady Quinn land?

Cleveland Browns v Kansas City Chiefs

Is Quinn done in Cleveland?

The Browns are reportedly shopping Brady Quinn. And while I personally think its ludicrous to trade a former 1st-round pick after just 12 career starts, its looks like he’ll be playing elsewhere in 2010.

Any team acquiring a 25-year-old quarterback with just 12 starts under his belt would be doing so with the intention of making him the starter and developing him as the franchise quarterback. Quinn has sat on the bench long enough, its time to give him a chance to play.

Unfortunately for the Browns, the list of teams capable of committing to a new starting quarterback is fairly small. And his trade value is further hurt by the fact that the teams that may be interested in a 25-year-old quarterback are also in position to potentially land Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen in the draft.

Let’s take a look at the teams that may show an interest in Quinn:

St. Louis Rams
The Rams are obviously in the market for a new franchise quarterback. Marc Bulger is likely to be released, creating an opening for someone to step in and start from day one. This would be an ideal scenario for Quinn, but the Rams also own the No. 1 overall pick and appear to be leaning towards selecting Bradford.

Washington Redskins
Jason Campbell was tendered at a 1st-round value, meaning he’ll likely be back in Washington unless the ‘Skins can find a trading partner. If he’s traded, they would certainly become a potential landing spot for Quinn, but a lot has to happen first. They would also have to decide to pass on Clausen and/or Bradford in the draft, as at least one of the two should be on the board at No. 4.

Buffalo Bills
The Bills may be the most likely suitor for Quinn. They’re in the market for a new franchise quarterback, but aren’t in position to guarantee themselves a shot at Bradford or Clausen in the draft. That uncertainty may lead them to address the need via trade. There have been whispers that they may be interested in Jason Campbell, but Quinn is younger and certainly has more upside at this stage in his career.

Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars don’t need a new quarterback for 2010. But Jack Del Rio hasn’t exactly expressed confidence in David Garrard this offseason. If they could get Quinn at a discounted price due to a lack of interest from others (3rd or 4th round pick perhaps) they may be willing to bring him aboard.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bills, Browns, Free Agency, Jaguars, Rams, Redskins Comments Off

Could the Browns trade up for Sam Bradford?

Now that Seneca Wallace is on board, Mike Holmgren has decided its time to part ways with his incumbent quarterbacks. Derek Anderson was released yesterday and now Brady Quinn is aggressively being shopped around the league.

Trading Quinn seems like an odd decision. Holmgren is clearly comfortably with Seneca Wallace, but he’s apparently the only one. The Browns only gave up a 2011 7th-round pick to land him, which is a shockingly low price tag for a guy who appears to be entering 2010 as a starting quarterback.

The move begs the question: what the hell does Mike Holmgren have planned?

Surely he can’t envision Seneca Wallace as his starting quarterback for the foreseeable future. Wallace has been an adequate backup to Matt Hasselbeck for a number of years, but in years past no one has even gone sniffing around Seattle to inquire about trading for Wallace to fill a starting role elsewhere.

Could this mean Holmgren has more moves planned?

2010 NFL Combine - Day Two

Could Bradford land in Cleveland?

There has been speculation this offseason that the Browns may show interest in Jimmy Clausen or Sam Bradford in the draft. However, it appears unlikely the either will fall to them with the 7th pick. The Rams, Redskins and Seahawks all have shown an interest in landing a new franchise quarterback and own picks ahead of the Browns.

The only way to land a quarterback in the 1st round may be to trade up. The best case scenario for the Browns would be for the Rams to select Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy. That would leave the 2nd and 3rd picks (owned by the Lions and Bucs, respectively) as potential slots to trade into as neither team is in the market for a quarterback.

The Browns currently own 11 picks in this year’s draft and could offer an intriguing package to either the Lions or Bucs who are both in a full-fledged rebuilding mode and could use the extra selections.

Another option would be to package some picks and defensive tackle Shaun Rogers who has been rumored to be on the trading block. Both the Lions and Bucs are expected to target defensive tackles Suh and McCoy in the 1st round. Thus, the option of landing a proven Pro Bowl tackle plus plus some extra picks would seem like an intriguing offer for either team.

Should the Browns pull off one of these trades and land Bradford or Clausen, then the trade for Wallace would start to make sense. Wallace, who has started a handful of games in his career, could keep the seat warm as the Browns groom their new franchise quarterback.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Browns, Buccaneers, Lions 26 Comments

Browns release Derek Anderson

Its not everyday that 26-year old former Pro Bowl quarterbacks get released.Then again, its also not every day that 26-year old former Pro Bowl quarterbacks complete just under 45 percent of their passes.

Green Bay Packers v Cleveland BrownsDerek Anderson went from the biggest surprise of 2007 to the biggest disappointment of 2008 and 2009 and now finds himself without a job. It won’t be for long though, as a number of teams figure to give him the opportunity to compete for a starting job. Arizona would make the most sense, but Oakland, Buffalo and Carolina could also be interested.

The more interesting question, however, is: where do the Browns go from here? They acquired Seneca Wallace on Monday, so they still have two quarterbacks with starting experience and not a whole lot of confidence in either one.

Well, I should say they shouldn’t have confidence in either one. But the fact that Mike Holmgren was willing to trade Wallace, whom he coached in Seattle, may mean he’s already decided who he’s going to force Eric Mangini to start in 2010.

For whatever its worth, I’d stick with Brady Quinn. He’s only made 12 career starts. Is that really enough time to evaluate a former 1st-round pick? Quinn has the basic tools to succeed in the NFL, but he’s struggled with his decision making. Just a guess here, but maybe that’s because Eric Mangini hasn’t allowed him to start more than six consecutive games.

Give Quinn the keys to the offense for 2010 and see how he does. If he fails, you’re no worse off than you are now, but at least you know what you have. Then take Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett in the 2011 draft and rebuild from there.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Browns, Free Agency 2 Comments

“Longshot” that Anderson and Quinn will be back in Cleveland

On Friday Mike Holmgren said what we’ve long assumed: that either Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn will be traded or released this offseason. When asked if they’ll both be on the roster this season he responded:

“I think it’s a longshot, but never say never. But I’ve gone on record saying I don’t like quarterback competitions. They did that last year. And that didn’t work all that great.”

Steelers Forces Cleveland Browns QB Anderson to Fumble in PittsburghThe odd man out is likely to be Derek Anderson. He’s due a $2M roster bonus on March 19, making it unlikely that the Browns will keep him around. Unfortunately for Holmgren and the Browns, the roster bonus means it will be extremely difficult to trade Anderson. Teams know that the Browns don’t want to pay his bonus, so if they want him they can pick him up after he is released by the Browns.

What further hurts the Browns is the number of available quarterbacks on the trade market. Jason Campbell and the Eagles three-headed quarterback monster all appear to be on the trading block and all are better options that Anderson.

Anderson has a big arm, but that’s about it. During his 2007 Pro Bowl season he benefited from playing behind a dominant offensive line and from the Pro Bowl-caliber play of Braylon Edwards. He could certainly be a serviceable starter again, but its unlikely that a team will acquire him with hopes of making him their long-term solution at the position.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Browns 1 Comment

10 Teams that Need a Quarterback

It isn’t always the deepest position in the draft. And it doesn’t always have the top prospects. But regardless of the current class, the one position that always gets the most attention is quarterback. Aside from the teams selecting in the top 10, its too early to really gauge who’s interested in who. But what we can do is analyze which teams actually need a quarterback the most.

Below are the 10 teams we’ve identified as having the greatest need for a new franchise signal caller:

Denver Broncos v Oakland Raiders1. Oakland Raiders - We’re now three years into the JaMarcus Russell era and he’s shown absolutely no improvement. For some quarterbacks it takes longer to develop, but at this point in time Russell isn’t anywhere close to being an NFL-caliber starting quarterback. It’s just about time to mark him down as one of the biggest busts of all time. That said, I’m not sure Al Davis feels the same way. I’d be fairly surprised to see the Raiders bring in another quarterback within the first three rounds in this year’s draft.

2. St. Louis Rams – Marc Bulger will likely return for 2010 and, if healthy, could lead the Rams back to respectability. But he clearly isn’t the long-term answer and the Rams will strongly consider drafting Jimmy Clausen or Sam Bradford with the 1st-overall selection.

3. Buffalo Bills – Trent Edwards, Brian Brohm and Ryan Fitzpatrick all started for the Bills this season and all three were equally mediocre. The Bills could trudge through 2010 with one of them as the starter, but they are clearly in the market for a new franchise quarterback.

4. Washington Redskins - As I’ve stated before, I don’t actually think Redskins need a new quarterback. Jason Campbell is capable of being a starter in this league. That said, his career in Washington certainly appears to be over. Given that they don’t have an adequate replacement on the current roster, all signs point to the Redskins selecting Clausen or Bradford the 1st round.

5. Seattle Seahawks – Matt Hasselbeck will be back for at least another year, but the Seahawks are already looking for his replacement. Clausen and Bradford are both options in the 1st round. However, Carroll doesn’t appear to be taking a rebuilding approach this offseason. He may prefer to select an impact player in the 1st round and grab someone like Sean Canfield in the 3rd or 4th round to develop behind Hasselbeck.

6. Jacksonville Jaguars - David Garrard made the Pro Bowl this year, but Jack Del Rio doesn’t exactly sound like he’s sold on Garrard’s long-term future with the team.

7. Denver Broncos – Kyle Orton was great for half the season, but stumbled down the stretch. He’s an unrestricted free agent and the Broncos may have no choice but to keep him around if they want to compete in 2010. That doesn’t mean, however, that he’s a long-term solution.

8. Carolina Panthers – Matt Moore played well in relief of Jake Delhomme late in the year, but he’s a restricted free agent. The Panthers have a big decision on their hands: do they pay Moore and cut ties with Delhomme or give their former Super Bowl quarterback another shot?

9. San Francisco 49ers – Alex Smith didn’t exactly look like a former No. 1 overall pick this season, but he didn’t look like the complete bust that we saw through the first four seasons of his career either. He’ll be back in 2010, but the Niners should consider taking a flier on someone in the 3rd or 4th round.

10. Cleveland Browns – The Browns are proof that having two quarterbacks causes nothing but problems. Neither Anderson nor Quinn has been able to stay on the field more than a few games at a time over the last two seasons, leaving the Browns with no real clear idea as to what they have at the position. Quinn deserves another shot, but the Browns will certainly entertain the idea of trading both and starting over.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Jaguars, Panthers, Raiders, Rams, Redskins, Seahawks 29 Comments

Browns Interested in Joe Haden

brownsBrowns beat writer Terry Pluto claims that Joe Haden is “very attractive” to the Browns, and could be their target with the 7th-overall selection in the draft. I can’t say this comes as a surprise to anyone, considering he’s the consensus pick for the Browns in most mock drafts, but I do feel the need to point out that Pluto doesn’t site any sources and it is extremely early for teams to be zeroing in on one or two prospects unless you’re the Rams or Lions.

Vanderbilt v FloridaRegardless of the credibility of Pluto’s report, Joe Haden would appear to be an option for the Browns. Eric Wright has one starting cornerback slots wrapped up, but the other side is wide open. Brandon McDonald has seen much of the playing time over the past two seasons but was benched this past year in favor of converted safety Mike Adams.

Considering that Eric Mangini selected Darrelle Revis in the 1st round in 2007, it would stand to reason that he may push for Haden. But it remains to be seen how much impact Mangini will have on the Browns offseason transactions.

Haden may be the cream of the crop among this year’s cornerbacks, but the fact remains he’s a risky selection in the top 10. Since 2000, only seven cornerbacks have been selected among the first 10 picks. And I have to wonder if any of their teams feel as though they got enough value out of that selection.

top10cornerbacks

The reason for the lack of success from teams draft cornerbacks in the top 10 is the fact that a cornerback is what I refer to as a “secondary position”. What I mean by this is that a cornerback can only be as good as the players around him. Take the greatest cornerback of all time and put him on a team without a pass rush and he’ll struggle because he can only stay with his man for so long. No matter how good the cornerback is, if those around him don’t do their jobs he will have a minimal impact on the game.

An example of a “primary position” would be an offensive tackle. An elite tackle is capable of having a perfect game regardless of the performance of those around him. He has a set assignment on each play and he is capable of completing that task independent of anyone else on the field. These are the players that are typically worth high draft picks because they can succeed in a loosing environment – unlike the “secondary” players who need others to perform their task first in order to be successful.

Applying this to the Browns situation, Joe Haden can only be so effective while playing behind a front seven that doesn’t generate a consistent pass rush. The Browns front seven improved dramatically throughout the season, but there are still holes to fill. The value might not be there for them at No. 7 but, if they can trade down, a 3-4 linebacker such as Brandon Graham or Jason Pierre-Paul may actually be a better fit for their needs and a safer pick for a team in need of a complete overhaul on defense.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Browns Comments Off

Is James Harrison the Answer in Cleveland?

4th-year running back Jerome Harrison was talk of the fantasy football world over the final three weeks of the season as he rushed for over 500 yards. But is he the real-life answer to the Browns running back issues?

While his 286-yard performance against Kansas City will forever be remembered in Cleveland, the stats seem to indicate that the Browns would be better off going in a different direction in 2010.

If you remove Harrison’s outburst against the Chiefs, he averaged just 3.6 yards per carry this past season. Even in the final two weeks – two 100-yard performances – he averaged just 3.8 yards per carry. The fantasy stats were nice, but in reality his performance this season was well below average (aside from one game, of course).

So where can the Browns go from here?

Well, whether its the right move or not, Harrison is likely to get a shot at the starting role in 2010. At the very least, he’ll probably be given the opportunity to compete with James Davis who missed nearly his entire rookie season with a shoulder injury.

It would not be a wise move to enter the season with two unproven running backs competing for a job, however, and Mike Holmgren is well aware of this. Rather than spend big money to bring in someone to start over Harrison and Davis, I would look for the Browns to sign a veteran to share the load. Current Texas running back Chris Brown would be the type of experienced backup they could be looking for.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Browns Comments Off