Trent Richardson #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide beats Morris Claiborne #17 of the LSU Tigers on 34 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter of the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
In a play that essentially sealed the victory for the Tide, a future first round draft pick runs right past another future first round draft pick. The Cleveland Browns should absolutely pass on both of them.
Reason One: The top CB cores in the league are on struggling teams.
Stop for a moment and ask yourself, who are the top cornerbacks in this league? Two names come to mind: Darrelle Revis of the New York Jets and Nnamdi Asomugha of the Philadelphia Eagles. Those two guys are simply the best of the best at their position. Both of their respective teams are also significantly invested in other good corners as well.
Jets: Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson
Pass Yds Allowed /g: 201.0 (4th) - INT: 19 (10th)
Eagles: Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Pass Yds Allowed /g: 212.3 (10th) - INT: 15 (17th)
While those CB cores are fantastic on paper, the reality of the situation is that the cornerback position is not going to generate the plays that will win you games on a consistent basis. Don't get me wrong, great corners are good to have, and are on some of the best teams in the league, including but not limited to Carlos Rogers, Ike Taylor, Johnathan Joseph, and Charles Woodson. But none of those teams are over invested in that one position. I understand that the cornerbacks are not at all the reason for the Jets' and Eagles' disappointing seasons. My point is this: having 1 elite CB, 1 great CB, and 1 good CB is not a key to success. In the potential case for the Browns, having two recent top 10 draft picks invested in CB is too much, most especially when we have so many gaping holes elsewhere on this team. Even if Mo Claiborne turned out to be just as great as Joe Haden, he is not going to win us any more games on a consistent basis in the years to come.
Reason Two: Our pass defense is already good, if not great.
Pessimists might argue, our pass defense appears to be better than it is because our rush defense is so bad that none of our opponents are choosing to pass the ball against us because their is no need to. There is some truth to that.
Comp - Att - Pct - Att/G - Yds - Avg - Yds/G (rank)
PASS D: 265 (2) - 469 (2) - 56.5 (6) - 29.3 (2) - 2959 (2) - 6.7 (5) - 184.9 (2)
Att - Att/G - Yds - Avg - Yds/G (rank)
RUSH D: 534 (31) - 33.4 (31) - 2359 (30) - 4.4 (19) - 147.4 (30)
While we were ranked second to last in attempts against, we were significantly better in yards averaged on those attempts, ranking 5th in the league (Hat tip to Bernie, who pointed that out in another thread). We also performed well in the percentage of completions against us, even compared to most of the teams with a similar lower number of attempts. We were also 9th in passes over 40 yards against and 2nd in passes over 20. The biggest letdown here is interceptions, where we were ranked 28th.
Obviously, our rush defense is bad. But much to my surprise, perhaps not as bad as some might think. We were actually only 19th in average yards per rush against. Some of the teams we were ranked higher than in that category: Giants, Patriots, Packers, Lions, and Saints. The primary difference between us and them is the inability of our offense to keep our defense off the field. Teams were simply able to keep pounding and pounding and pounding it away against us. Which leads me to...
Reason Three: Our O is atrocious, we need offensive playmakers!
I could go into detail here about how the NFL has become an offensive league, or even more specifically, a passing league, but B19K has already done an excellent job of that, so I'll cite his Reason Three: "The passing game in the NFL is getting too easy."
I could also bore you with the Cleveland Browns offensive statistics from 2011, but that would be far too tiresome and depressing. Needless to say, we're among the bottom of the barrel in the league in terms of offense.
Conclusion: All paths lead toward QB/WR.
Now, I understand the BPA argument and I do think Mo Claiborne is going to be a good player, but the Browns have much, much greater needs elsewhere. We need to address those issues before we ever start thinking about another CB with our top 5 draft pick, especially when Joe Haden and the rest of our pass D are already playing so well.
Mike Holmgren ended the presser strangely. He claimed it was off the record and said to the media, “If we take a defensive player with the 4th pick in the draft, would that upset you?” - WFNY
I'll admit, when I read something like that, I get a tad bit irked. It's not that entirely opposed to the idea, especially with a need at linebacker, and if we address QB/WR with the free agency. It's just the way it comes across that has me really paranoid they might be thinking Claiborne. Smokescreen?!