In the foggy recesses of May 8th, I claimed that Cleveland fans would fail to be unanimously happy for any first round scenario that the Browns would secure. For example, the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot published a dozen "draft day scenarios" of players that the Browns could select, and while I preferred some to others, there wasn't a single option that I felt would make everyone happy.
Ray Farmer then went out and completely flipped the script.
By trading back with Buffalo for a first round pick in 2015, Ray Farmer pulled off an absolute coup. Mike Pettine got the physical press-man corner back he needs to run his scheme, and they received what promises to be a very high pick in return for their efforts. This truly remarkable feat was offset by the selection of Johnny Manziel with pick 22, a player that many fans coveted with the 4th overall pick. The opportunity cost of the selections were a 5th round pick and a 3rd pick, a negligible expense given the return (2 players and a 1st round pick) and the lack of reliable options on the club.
The second round kicks off tonight, and as Clevelanders wipe the last traces of celebration from their eyes and begin to ponder the direction of the teams next pick, the question on everyone's mind will be, who comes next?
Cleveland still has two areas of need that they identified during the pre-draft process: Offensive line and WR. Here's what could happen tonight:
Incumbents: Nate Burleson, Greg Little, Travis Benjamin, and some dudes.
Reason: Inconsistent play from the #2 wideout in Cleveland's offense last year short circuited the team at truly inopportune moments. (JAH, i'm talking to you, Davone Bess) The #2 guy in a Shannahan offense wont see nearly as many targets, but it's important to have a reliable target in case Gordon gets hurt or *gulp* misses time for any other reason.
Marquise Lee, USC: Lee is an athletic glider, who flashes quick stops/starts and has good (4.5 40 yard dash) breakaway speed. He's considered a good route runner and creates good separation at the LOS and from DB's downfield. Based on 2012 game film, he would have been expected to be a top WR taken, but injuries slowed him in 2013.
Davante Adams, Fresno: Derek Carr's burner and the key piece to the high powered bulldogs offense, Adams played a similar role to Sammy Watkins at Clemson. Adams was quick and light on his feet for his size (6'07, 212) and is great at absorbing contact and still getting good YAC. He's good at using his body to shield defenders, and is very physical. Would be a good fit in a WCO scheme, and leaving school early means you're getting a younger prospect.
Allen Robinson, PSU: A guy that many in Cleveland covet due to his imposing size and catching radius, Allen Robinson is a young clone of Anquan Boldins physical bruising style. He's got excellent size and weight, ran a surprising 40 at the combine (4.6) and does a great job of high pointing the ball. He'll fight to shield defenders and will go up to joust in the air. Great body control, and will be an IMMEDIATE RZ threat. (Ed note: this is my guy at 35, if i'm Ray Farmer, which i'm obviously not because I don't have cajones the size of Peru)
Cody Latimer, IU: Latimer was a late riser in the draft community because he played in a defunct offense, but he's blessed with an incredible combination of size and speed. (6'2, 215, with an estimated 4.45 40 yard dash) He possesses great length and a huge catching radius, He's not necessarily a "burner" who can blow by people, and there are question marks on his ability to shift directions to gain separation from DB's. Could develop an elite (read, #1) receiver with some polishing time. ...which he'll also badly need due to the college system he played in.
Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt: The crown jewel of the Vandy system, Matthews is another extremely physical wide receiver. Muscular in shape with great length and huge hands. (10 3'8" !!) Will eat up small defensive backs when moved to the slot, and has the abiltiy to take the top off. There are enormous differences in opinion about his gameday speed, which was clocked at 4.4 at his workouts but doesn't play as fast on film. Smart receiver who has run a variety of routes and has 4 years of experience in the system.
Honorable mention: Donte Moncrief (Ole Miss), Robert Herron (Wyoming), Bruce Ellington (SC) and Martavis Bryant (Clemson)
Incumbents: Jason Pinkston, John Greco, Mitchell Shwartz, Chris Faulk, Reid Fragel, and that guy from Seattle who was awful at tackle but not a complete embarassment at guard.
Reason: The Browns offensive line has been pretty good over the last half decade, which isn't hard to do when you feature the best LT and C in football. The right side of the line struggled mightily in the beginning of the year, though, and the guard play has been a recurring problem in Cleveland since the return. The line struggles (as a whole) to run block, and the transition to a ZBS scheme might be a shift in personnel.
OT Cyrus Kounandijo, Bama: Prounounced "Quan-Dee-Ho", I think, and expected to be gone to the Redskins at #2 in the second, Cyrus is a hogmolly that would normally have been a lock to go in the first round if not for questions about his health. Look for a team to roll the dice early.
OT Morgan Moses, Virginia: Posessing good length and good size, Moses was a late riser due to quality workouts and physical play. Fairly vanilla but could be a stabilizing force at RT for a lot of teams.
OG: Xavier Su'a Filo, UCLA: A draft favorite at DBN and around the Cleveland draft community, Su'a Filo is easily the best pure guard in the draft and will be a hot commodity at the top of the second. Generally had a first round grade across the league, he is an imposing physical presence that will road grade in the running game and has the quickness to get out to the second level. Has some effort concerns, but if they can refine his technique, XSF will be an absolute monster. First team All Pac-12 selection, also has experience playing tackle in college but projects as an NFL guard.
OG Gabe Jackson, Miss State: Consistent performer who never missed a game for the Bulldogs. Does everything well, and is athletic enough to play in the ZBS. Won All American honors twice playing in one of the toughest conferences in college sports.
OG Joel Bitonio, Nevada: Referred to as "Surprisingly athletic", Bitonio was another late riser on draft borads because of his small conference. Showed up nicely in offseason play. Has played Left tackle and right tackle, and was a stone wall for Nevada even against better competition. (Completely shielded off Anthony Barr during their only meeting, a prospect thought to be the best edge rusher in the 2014 draft) His transition to guard should fully utilize his size and athleticism and maximize his talent. Has great lateral movement and a non stop motor to crush everyone he plays against and deliver pancakes. Loves to knock guys down.
Honorable mention: Brandon Thomas, Clemson, David Yankey, Stanford, Marcus Martin, USC.
In the end, the Browns could certainly look to add more depth to the defensive backfield or a tight end with the top pick in the second round and with their third round selection, but the guard and WR depth at this stage of the draft is still flush with 1st round talent. It would be difficult to imagine the Browns passing on the opportunity to draft one of these studs.
Buckle in for what promises to be an exciting second round.