Matt will be reviewing each team's pre-draft analysis by talking about the draft range of targeted players.
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Cleveland Browns (Last Year: 10-6)
The 2008 Draft for Cleveland got off to a really early start last year when they traded up for Brady Quinn (you might have heard about it). He was chosen to be the franchise quarterback, but Derek Anderson made a statement last year. I still don't think this battle between Anderson and Quinn is over. Quinn could seriously take over the starting job in the preseason. I'm not counting out a prospect that I (and everyone else) gave a top 10 draft grade to.
For more on my thoughts if Derek Anderson could be traded, check out my Veteran Trade Projections on Draft Weekend.
With the first-round pick is gone, they traded away their next two selections for Packers defensive tackle Corey Williams and Lions nose tackle Shaun Rogers. Those look to be huge upgrades over what the Browns had on the line last year. Much is expected from them this upcoming season. Many will have the Browns as the AFC North favorite, like myself, so the expectations are obviously higher.
Still, talent can be found in the later rounds. We all know this. The ESPN commercial theme every year is "Go Deep," and that's exactly what I will do for all the hardcore Browns fans in the world (or the usual draftnik).
Here are some ways I believe the Browns will address their mid- and late-round draft picks:
This is the deepest running back class in the history of the draft. How do you not cash in your chips here if you aren't stacked at this position? Jamal Lewis is the workhorse, but I think more talent could be brought in to compete with Dwayne Wright and Jerome Harrison.
Kevin Smith set many records last season in Central Florida, but his lack of speed, explosiveness and bulk should send him into the fourth to fifth rounds. Steve Slaton would be the change-of-pace back this team is looking for to complement Jamal Lewis. He has great speed, but cannot carry the load, being a smaller back. Allen Patrick and Tim Hightower are some of the more explosive running backs that are in the sixth to seventh round draft range.
It is tough to find these gems, but it has been done before. We saw it last year when the Buccaneers took Tanard Jackson in the fourth round, and he is now considered to be one of the more talented free safeties in the NFL.
Jamar Adams brings a lot of toughness and physicality at strong safety behind Sean Jones. David Roach is getting second looks because he timed very well in the NFL Draft "preseason." These guys are fourth to sixth round draft prospects, and could be big contributors on special teams. Bobbie Williams from Bethune-Cookman is a sleeper to watch out for on Day Two, and looks to be a sixth or seventh rounder.
Rush Linebacker depth:
Willie McGinest and Kamerion Wimbley are solid starters, but Phil Savage will likely bring in a young project behind them.
Marcus Howard brings elite pass rush ability, but he is extremely small for the position at 6-0 and 230 pounds. He could be brought in on passing downs occasionally and make a big contribution to the defense.
Bruce Davis and Titus Brown were highly productive players in college, but they don't have impressive tight end speed, so naturally scouts question how athletic they really are. Their trademark is getting to the quarterback, but can they do it in the NFL? They are in the fifth to sixth round draft range.
Mike Mayock, one of the most respected NFL Draft experts in the world, put up some very intriguing coach's tape of Bryan Smith from McNeese State. His first step was outstandingly quick, showing incredible explosiveness (reminded me of Lawrence Taylor). He is not the prototypical size for a hybrid linebacker at 6-2 and 231, but that athletic ability will get him drafted.
I think he is the most intriguing small-school prospect in the draft, and I think he could go as high off the board as the third round. The Browns should feel ecstatic if he's available with their fourth-round draft pick.
Cleveland Browns 2008 Offseason Needs
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