Browns have many options with third pick

April 26th, 2007

Can you believe it? The Cleveland Browns actually won something! Yep, you heard it right. The Browns won their much-anticipated coin toss with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win the number 3 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

The NFL ordered the coin toss because both teams had an identical 4-12 record and strength of schedule. For some reason they had to do this despite the fact that Tampa Bay absolutely destroyed the Browns when they played them last season, 22-7.

You know the state of the Cleveland Browns is pathetic when we’re actually celebrating something like this. But hey, it’s the only good thing that has happened to the maligned Browns in quite some time.

In fact, there hasn’t been much good from the new Browns in their eight seasons since returning to the NFL in 1999. Seven of those seasons have been disasters. If you include their shocking meltdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers in that 2003 AFC Divisional Playoff game, that’s eight seasons of complete garbage from this franchise. What’s so special about this number 3 pick anyway? If you look at the Browns’ recent draft history, there really is no player to have fully met the lofty expectations placed on them. In fact, most of them have been busts and are no longer on the team. Tim Couch? He’s probably flipping burgers at McDonald’s these days. William Green? Gone. The only decent players to have emerged from the drafts are Kellen Winslow, Kamerion Wimbley, and D’Qwell Jackson. And those last two were chosen last year.

A hit in 2007’s draft could finally bring a much needed breath of fresh air into this team. The ceiling is high on many prospects, including: QB JaMarcus Russell of LSU, QB Brady Quinn of Notre Dame, OT Joe Thomas of Wisconsin and RB Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma.

Now we all know the Browns have failed miserably with drafting quarterbacks and running backs. And the team’s most glaring hole to fill is the offensive line, so it should be pretty obvious Thomas must be the pick here.

Unfortunately for the Browns, the dumbest GM in the game may outwit them again, just like they were in 2004’s draft. This man’s name is Matt Millen of the Detroit Lions. You may remember how just three years ago, the Browns traded up a spot to select TE Kellen Winslow because they feared the Lions would take him. Of course, Millen later revealed he had never had any interest in choosing Winslow.

The Lions reportedly are leaning toward selecting Thomas, which then means the Browns would most likely be better off trading down in the draft in an attempt to attain an extra first round pick. By trading down, they’ll reduce the risk of another potential quarterback headache by not selecting Quinn. We saw the beating Charlie Frye took last year and it’s pretty clear Quinn won’t last three years in this league if the Browns take him.

With that said, it seems the player that the Browns will most likely choose if they keep their pick will be the explosive Sooner tailback, Adrian Peterson. Peterson is intriguing for several reasons, including his size, ability, speed and power. Everybody remembers his spectacular freshman season when he rushed for a whopping 1,925 yards and broke off 15 touchdowns on 339 carries for an impressive 5.7 average. Peterson’s durability remains an issue though, due to his history of nagging injuries to his collarbone, ankle and shoulder. He has failed to complete an entire season of college ball.

My suggestion? Trade down. The new Browns have yet to trade down in any draft so far. This has cost them immeasurably. Just look at Braylon Edwards, for instance. They took him third just two years ago and look how he has turned out so far. They’d be better off by eliminating the expensive risk and have an additional early pick.

The interest in Kansas City’s starting QB Trent Green has grown in recent weeks with the Browns. By trading the first round pick for Green and Kansas City’s first round pick, the Browns can solve their QB quandary for another year or two. In addition, they can still get a solid player with KC’s pick—such as Penn State’s Levi Brown—who would help fix the Browns’ glaring deficiencies at the offensive line.

By focusing on the offensive line and the defense in this draft, the Browns can find out if Charlie Frye is the real deal or not. If not, then they can look for a QB in a future draft. But drafting a player like Brady Quinn or JaMarcus Russell will almost certainly not help this franchise if the other problems fail to be addressed.