The 2014 NFL Draft runs from May 8-10. From now through May 7, prospects will continue to be poked, prodded and interrogated, and general managers will continue to play a game of cloak and dagger concerning their ultimate draft intentions.
Barry Sanders Trent Richardson trade, the Browns now own 10 picks, 7 of which are in the top four rounds. Do they finally obtain their quarterback of the future, or does the dark cloud continue to rain down on a franchise and fanbase starved for sunshine?
Round 1, #2 (from Rams for #4, #26 and #102) - Johnny Manziel, QB, TAMU
Some scouts view him as a young Brett Favre. Others view him as undraftable. Like him or not, Johnny Football's elite pocket presence, field vision and ability to extend plays are undeniable.
Some may question Manziel's arm strength, however ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer, who had both Manziel and Bridgewater in his Elite 11 quarterback camp, had this to say about Manziel: "He throws the ball as well, if not better, than Teddy Bridgewater."
The Browns have suffered more than enough mediocre quarterback play over the past fifteen years. Johnny Football is about to change that.
Round 2, #35 - Telvin Smith, ILB, Florida State
Plays with a mean streak and has very good sideline-to-sideline quickness. Solid tackler and is above average in coverage (something the Browns severely lack).
D'Qwell Jackson's contract status is uncertain, and Craig Robertson is not the answer. If the Browns do decide to bring DQ back, Smith would be a really nice pairing for him in the middle of the 3-4.
This is about a half-round higher than Smith's current projection, but I think his stock will continue to climb as the combine and draft approach.
Round 3, #71 - Craig Loston, SS, LSU
Loston possesses good instincts and awareness and is an aggressive tackler. Elite acceleration allows him to get to the ball quickly and also to explode through his tackles.
Reminds me quite a bit of Troy Polamalu.
Round 3, #83 - Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
The surehanded WR that the Browns have been missing. A deceptively quick wideout who will make tough catches to move the chains, but also has the ability to get behind the defense (4.52 40). Good leaping ability to make tough catches in traffic. Solid routerunner who projects in the mold of a Jordy Nelson or Eric Decker.
Round 4, #124 - Wesley Johnson, OT, Vanderbilt
Smart player with above average quickness and awareness. Not the biggest OL at 6'5" 295, but has exceptional upperbody strength, and plays angles well. Good understanding of how to shield defenders, and can quickly get to the second level to runblock.
Projects as a RT in the NFL, and may allow the Browns to move Mitch Schwartz inside to G.
Round 5, #133 - J.C. Copeland, FB, LSU
J.C. Copeland is a beast. Last season, the Browns, for some reason, thought playing Chris Ogbonnaya at fullback was a good plan. It wasn't. Copeland gives them an enormous upgrade at the position. He blows people up in the blocking game, and would help to drastically improve a Browns rushing attack that struggled mightily inside the Red Zone this past season.
Round 6, #164 - Brandon Dixon, CB, Northwest Missouri St
There's not too much tape on this kid, but from what I watched, Dixon looks like an underrated DB. A ball hawk with nice instincts that tackles well and has the speed to stay with receivers downfield. Projected as a 7th rounder, but I think he can be a steal in the 6th.
Round 7, #195 - Jake Murphy, TE, Utah
The Browns have a pro-bowl TE in Jordan Cameron, but they need to add a good blocking TE to the mix, as Gary Barnidge's blocking was disappointing last season. Murphy is not exclusively a blocking TE, though, as he has the speed and hands to help in the passing game, and can also contribute on special teams.
Fun fact: Son of former Atlanta Braves all-star Dale Murphy.