Flashback to 2007: The Cleveland Browns picked 3rd in the NFL draft. They needed everything. Quarterback, Wide Receiver, Running Back, Linebacker, Cornerback, you get the gist of where I am going.
But the Browns also needed Offensive Line. Thank Joe for Joe Thomas.
Back to today, the Browns need almost everything. Quarterback, Wide Receiver, Running Back, Linebacker,
Cornerback, you get the gist of where I am going here.
Enter Matt Kalil.
This may not be my true feelings, but it is another side of the coin.
1. You Have to Protect the Passer, Even If He Sucks
I have made the argument thousands of times here on DBN: The NFL is a passing league. It's not surprising that the main job of the defense is now to get to the Quarterback. What's the old saying, "Kill the head and the body will die"? Knocking out the Quarterback will certainly kill the head.
Teams will only go as far as their Quarterback will take them. Why not give the pocket the feel of a Secret Service cocoon? Joe Thomas, Alex Mack and Ryan Kalil could protect Bob Sanders from injury. We could fill the guard positions with late round fliers and roster trash and continue to have one of the 3 best offensive lines in the NFL.
I don't think our offensive line was terrible last season, but gone is Pashos and his glass foot leaving a hole. Why not fill that hole with one of the cleanest Tackles to ever come down the pike? Turn what is a good line, into one of the best in the NFL. After all, defenses are gearing up to get to the passer, why not cut them off at the pass?
2. Defenses Are Changing
The Giants are making a blueprint for every other 4-3 defense. Keep drafting pass rushers and find them a position later. Don't forget that 3-4 coordinators sit up all night and dream up exotic blitzes (anyone forget the Rob Ryan blitz that had Shaun Rogers standing up, along with everyone else on defense?).
Everyone will say that the Right Tackle is not a "premium" offensive line position, but I don't think that is true anymore. The Steelers can pressure the Quarterback from both sides with Woodley and Harrison. God help us if the Ravens ever get another premium pass rusher on the other side of Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs. Don't look now but the Bengals are amassing a nice group of young pass rushers themselves. The Colts were one of the first with Mathis and Freeney. This isn't going away.
Teams will continue to draft and develop pass rushers, and they will send them from anywhere and everywhere.
The biggest issue to me is this, Defensive Coordinators aren't stupid, where do you think they will put their best pass rusher? Against Joe Thomas or against Oniel Cousins? Even if we take a guy in the late first, for giggles sake let's say Mike Adams. Who do you think the Ravens will blitz? Joe Thomas or Adams? With Kalil, they won't be able to attack either side.
Take the option of attacking the right side and build a wall.
3. Two Elite Tackles Make The Guards Cheap
An old belief was that Guards were cheap. Thanks to Steve Hutchinson, that is a thing of the past. He was one of the first Guards to cash in, and the prices have since sky rocketed. This off-season, Carl Nicks signed for almost 10 million dollars a season. He isn't alone either. Davin Joseph, Eric Steinbach, Logan Mankins, Lenard Davis and Jahri Evans are, or were paid like Tackles. The days of getting by with cheap Guards are a thing of the past. Unless you go with young, late round picks.
Now, let me ask you a question: Would you rather pay a Guard 8 million dollars a season, or pay a Tackle 10 million dollars a season?
Myself, I would pay the extra money to pay the guys who face the elite pass rushers.
If we had the trio of Thomas, Mack and Kalil, we could then go "cheap" on the Guards. I don't mean we just grab the Oniel Cousins of the world, but we would keep throwing 3rd rounders at the problem until someone stuck. Jason Pinkston is a perfect example. When the Guards contracts finish up, we wave good-bye and stick in another project/young player. Sure we would pay for the premium positions, but we don't pay for the "lesser" positions. Isn't that the best way to attack a salary cap?
4. A Great Offensive Line Makes Everyone Better
What if I said one position would make our passing game better AND the run game better? Hardesty will have massive holes to run through. Colt McCoy will have all day to sit back and wait for MoMass to get an inch of separation.
Instead of drafting Trent Richardson and hoping he can run through an inch of a hole, why not take the guy who can blast a hole that William Green could run through?
It won't make McCoy throw the ball any better, but I do think McCoy watched the rush last season. You could see him lose confidence in a game, speed up his mental clock and take off scrambling at the slightest sign of pressure. If he had the pillars of Thomas, Mack and Kalil in front of him, maybe, juuuuuust maybe, he would get more comfortable. If he doesn't, what better place to drop a rookie Quarterback than behind one of the best offensive lines in the National Football League (thanks Jaws!)?
I know I like Hardesty more than anyone here, but if the kid can stay healthy (knock on Wood) he can be special. Go back to 2007, when we drafted Thomas, he allowed Kevin Shaffer to move to the right side. The line was awesome that season, and we had our best offensive season (by far). We built a solid OLine from end to end, giving us a better running game and passing game. Derek Anderson was good for God's sake.
The reason that line fell apart was because Shaffer was on the downside of his career. Imagine what we can do if we do this on the flip side. We go young. Thomas-Mack-Kalil would be together for years (for the love of Joe Thomas this group needs a nickname).
5. Offensive Lineman Almost Never Bust
Before you say Robert Gallery, he was a fantastic Guard with Oakland. I know that isn't what the Raiders weren't expecting when the used a top 5 pick on him, but you think the Lions wish they could have gotten something like that out of Charles Rogers? Or us out of Kellen Winslow Jr.?
Find me someone who thinks Kalil is a going to bust. Hell, I will settle for one guy who thinks Kalil will struggle. Don't waste your time, there isn't one.
The Browns still need a lot of help before we compete on a year-to-year basis, so we can't take a stupid risk on a Wide Receiver or Running Back. If we end up with the next Troy Williamson or C.J. Spiller, we will throw a major monkey wrench into this plan.
For the first time in almost forever, we are building this team the proper way. We can't mess this up now.
The only position that you "risk" a high pick on is Quarterback. There isn't a Quarterback worth taking this year. So keep it steady, and take the safest pick in the draft. Don't take my word for it:
NFL Comparison: Joe Thomas - Thomas measured similarly to Kalil (6'6 5/8", 311 lbs.) at the NFL Combine and was the third overall pick himself by the Cleveland Browns in 2007 out of the University of Wisconsin. Thomas also ran a similar 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine (4.92 seconds), put up 28 bench press reps and his arm length measured at 33 inches. Thomas has been selected to the Pro Bowl after all five of his NFL seasons and has started all 80 of his career games. If Kalil's career follows a similar path, any team that selects him would certainly be happy with the results.
The Browns safest selection is Matt Kalil. The game is won in the trenches. Don't worry about the skill guys, until you can protect them and open the holes. What do you think?