The Browns' are thought to be highly interested in investing in their defense this off-season by developing their pass rush and secondary.
It's a good thought.
After all, Joe Banner recently told Tony Grossi during the combine that he felt the defense wasn't that good last season and that it needs to get better. Statistically, we know where the Browns' ranked last year. Add in the scheme, coaching and terminology changes and it's easy to see that Joe Banner is absolutely right. Our defense needs to be the focal point of the entire off season, starting with the free agency market that Banner surprisingly stated was very attractive this year.
I am a big proponent of pursuing Joe Haden's complimentary starting defensive back in free agency this year. In fact, I would like to add two defensive backs through free agency, not limited to but preferably these two:
Target #1) Keenan Lewis - tall @ 6'0", fast, young, ball hawk type CB who plays for (and we'd be stealing from) a Division rival. Aggressive vs the run with 56 tackles and constantly finds the ball with 23 pass deflections in his first season starting and all without missing a single tackle.
Target #2) Greg Toler - an up-and-coming young CB in the league who is familiar with Horton's system and terminology and who played well when needed last year. Not a starter, yet, but has the potential.
OK, so if you're with me so far, Banner has stated that our defense needs to be upgraded and that the Free Agency market is ripe this year.
In my suggested path, we would be targeting two young, aggressive, up and coming defensive backs in free agency to compete alongside Haden. If this happens, I would then suggest we target a rookie defensive back in the draft --- perhaps in the 3rd or 4th round with guys like Tyrann Mathieu, DJ Haden, Brandon McGee, BW Webb, or maybe even Leon McFadden should he slip.
If we can focus on the defensive back position in free agency we would then be able turn our focus to the other aspects of our defense: Safety and Pass Rush.
Mike Mayock, one of the most trusted and respected draft analysts and scouts, has said on more than one occasion that this year's draft is deep on the defensive side, but that it lacks the top 15 talent you'd hope for should you be drafting in one of those spots. While some players have been "locks" all along, many others' medical issues have perhaps lessened their ranking and value.
I wouldn't say that the premise of this piece was sparked by Brendan Leister of DraftBrowns.com, but seeing it executed by him made it "click" as a real possibility. He recently represented The Cleveland Browns in the Twitter MockOne draft. Essentially, because this year's defensive draft is so deep, he chose to do what so many have come to despise over the last few years: trade down.
I support this idea If Dion Jordan is off the board & the new Browns brain-trust isn't sold on Geno Smith - provided he's still there. If that's the case, then I say we try to trade back and target Jonathan Cyprien.
By adding Jonathan Cyprien in the teens / early 20's, we will surely net a coveted 2nd round pick in this year's draft plus an extra pick in this year's 3rd and or 4th round; maybe even a 6th round pick next year. This would be a huge haul for the Browns, especially in a draft where there are tons of players available in the 2nd round that would be potential starters and huge defensive additions for the Browns. Plus, adding a 3rd or 4th round pick would allow the Browns to add even more talented depth and starting potential on either side of the ball.
I will suggest several players below who I like, and, after watching film, I feel would really fit well in the Browns 3-4 defense and vertical offense.These are players we could add in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th rounds with our extra picks.
How would you execute your DREAM DRAFT?
Who are your GEMS?
Who can't you pass on this year?
These are some of my picks with those precious 2nd, 3rd and/or 4th round picks we net from a trade down:
LB - Sio Moore ( 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 ) Explosive, athletic, versatile, powerful, fast LB with the ability to do it all. I absolutely love this kid, and it's thanks to Brendan Leister. This would be my primary 2nd round target.
Moore entered the week as an underrated prospect, but he showed during practice sessions what most already knew: He's a pretty good football player. He was a versatile performer in college with good production as a hybrid linebacker for the Huskies, not looking out of place when asked to play in space against either the run or pass. Even in non-contact drills, Moore's competitive drive and explosive hitting ability were evident, and he will likely earn a top-100 grade from more than a few NFL teams.
- Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com
LB - Jaime Collins - I've already featured his Draft Target Profile - like him in the 3rd for sure, Mike Mayock is now saying that he's the 2nd best 3-4 OLB in the draft! Wow, I knew I liked this kid's projected NFL talent, but I didn't think it was that strong.
"An intriguing pass rusher, Southern Mississippi's Jamie Collins has 45 career tackles for loss over his collegiate career, finding ways to get to the quarterback with his quickness and speed. He needs work in other areas, but regarding just his athletic potential, Collins is one of the better linebackers in this draft class."
- Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com
"Sean Porter appeared to be the most athletic linebacker of the bunch. Compared to his teammates, he did good work in run-stuffing, edge rush and especially pass-coverage drills. In 11-on-11 drills, he worked exclusively as a weak-side linebacker, which plays to his strengths. No one will confuse him with Von Miller, but he's got the most promise of this group."
- Dave Richard, CBSSports.com
Sanders said that Mathieu is "a leader," a "straight-up dog," and "all that and a bag of chips." (It is apparently 1994. Why didn't anyone tell me this?) Deion also added that "I trust this kid." Mathieu was confident in his own performance, though he also said he came into the day confident as well. "I think I did good. I came into the day extremely confident," Mathieu said. "Believed I could get a 4.4 in my 40. My positional drills I knew all along I was just a natural athlete." - Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
Selected to the 2012 Buchanan Award Watch List, Webb earned a school-record 48 starts during the past four seasons and finished his career ranked among W&M’s all-time top 10 in interceptions (11) and punt return yards (603).
As a senior, Webb totaled 46 tackles, eight PBU’s, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and a tackle for a loss. Additionally, he averaged 11.2 yards per punt return while ranking third in the conference with 123 punt return yards. Webb will become the seventh Tribe player to suit up for the Senor Bowl. W&M’s last representative to play in the prestigious game was kicker Steve Christie, who went on to a long and successful professional career in the NFL. - William and Mary footbal
TE - Nick Kasa - 1 vs Washington and Arizona State
2013 SENIOR BOWL, WEDNESDAY RISER: WR Marquise Goodwin, Texas (North Team)...An Olympic athlete will always be an intriguing NFL prospect, but Goodwin's senior season on the football field was average at best. However, through three days of practice at the Senior Bowl, Goodwin has looked much more natural and polished in his routes and catching the ball. His world-class speed translates well to the football field and he looks much more flexible in his patterns and breaks, catching just about everything thrown his way. A prospect who looks much different from the tape, Goodwin is forcing scouts to go back and study more on the former Longhorn, but it wouldn't be surprising if Goodwin vaults into the early rounds, similar to Buffalo Bills wide receiver T.J. Graham a year ago.
- Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com
Rogers faced a constant onslaught of questions about his past and didn't offer up a single excuse. While all prospects are coached-up by their agents for the combine sessions with the media and team interviews, there was an air of sincerity to Rogers. He spoke with humilty and didn't dodge a single difficult question. Rogers knows he damaged his own reputation, cost himself draft position and money, and doesn't place the blame on anyone else. And he doesn't expect anyone to simply forgive his transgressions and draft him solely on his physical skills.
"I did it to myself. You have to accept responsibility for what you did and move forward," said Rogers, who added that he passed 10 drug tests while at Tennessee Tech. "All I can do is come in, work hard and get my foot in the door." Rogers believes he's among the most physically gifted wide receivers in this draft and expects to run "in the low 4.4s" in the 40-yard dash this weekend. "I'm gonna be fast. Let me put it like that," he said.
- Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange