Browns: Clowney. #KRM
Long time Frowns and Kanick and Cheddar participant Zarathustra drew the Browns’ fourth pick in the Kanick Reader Mock. Sounds fun right? You get to be Ray Farmer and stake out a direction on offense or defense, line play or playmakers, or pick the quarterback who will end that horrific QB-names-since-Tim-Couch meme.
Turns out, notsomuch. With the easy picks (IMO) off the board, Zara had lots of good choices but no clear one. Here’s his piece.
Mike Evans WR
There is rumor that the Browns have Evans rated over Watkins so we have to consider this a possibility. But even if they prefer Sammy it makes sense to at least consider a big target that could make teams pay for focusing too much on Gordon. The problem though is that while receiver is a need you do already have Gordon and does it make sense to take a receiver here when it is probably the deepest position group in the draft? Is Evans really that much better–or even better at all–than what might be there at #26?
Justin Gilbert CB
From what I can tell the experts aren’t projecting Gilbert this high, but I have to believe the Browns are considering him more than is widely believed. Pettine’s defense is predicated on corners able to play press/man coverage. You have Haden, but a wide gaping hole on the other side. They obviously recognize this need as well as they went hard after Revis. Could Gilbert step in right away and excel? Probably not. But 4.371 helps in overcoming a lot of growing pains.
Teddy Bridgewater QB
As a cheddar alum, degenerate gambler, and masochist I’ve spent a lot of time watching Big East football (maybe next year I will accept the ACAACA or whatever god forsaken name they call it now.). I have watched Teddy from the beginning and I love him. He is a leader. He is tough. He is smart. And he will work as hard as any QB in the league. But he is awfully small for a guy who lacks elusiveness. And I don’t know how great he will be getting the ball downfield on a consistent basis. The pros may outweigh the cons–and I hope they do–but I’m not sure.
Was he overhyped coming into this year? Of course. Could he have handled the constant media scrutiny better? Absolutely. But even though his stat line didn’t overwhelm this year he is still a once in a generation talent.
I have always loved John Football, college quarterback. John Football, NFL quarterback, I have had serious doubts about. If you would have asked me in October I would have said he is a second or third round pick. I know the completion percentage looks good but I think some of those blind throws that Mike Evans pulls down are intercepted on Sundays. I watched him look hopelessly lost against Mizzou to end the regular season–and the week before at LSU, forgetaboutit. I know he put on quite a show on the sidelines when the national cameras were watching against Duke and while I frickin loved the Blue Devils this year they were nothing more than a decent ACC team with an average at best defense.
But…he is special. And maybe it translates. It did for Russell Wilson. There are some guys who just have that magic. You watch and it and you can’t understand it so oftentimes you just dismiss it as luck, but maybe it’s not.
Big, fast, and versatile, but….
Everybody talks about the Ohio State game where he was a monster, but that was the first game of the season for a Buckeye offense that was off-balance due to the absence of Carlos Hyde. Moreover the Buckeyes have a history of underwhelming openers. He still nonetheless went to Columbus with an upstart MAC team and was the best player on the field that day. The following week he had four tackles and one sack as his team got pasted vs Baylor. I would not even begin to know how to evaluate a linebacker on an under matched squad against that offense so let’s give him a pass there. The only other decent teams the Bulls played were Toledo, Bowling Green, and San Diego St. The other teams were Stony Brook, EMU, WMU, UMASS, Kent St (decent, but barely so, at times), Ohio (in free fall by the time they played), and Miami. Pardon me if I discount games against this line-up of mostly horrendous teams.
- Against Toledo: 15 tackles 0 sacks in a 51-41 loss
- Against Bowling Green: 12 tackles 0 sacks in a 24-7 home loss
- Against San Diego St: 6 tackles 0 sacks in a 49-24 loss
This type of production in concert with a solid but in no way spectacular combine should at least give the Browns pause in using the fourth overall pick here.
Ray Farmer obviously has final say but there is no reason to think this pick won’t be a collaboration between GM and Head Coach.
We are flying blind for the most part in examining Farmer as his history is in pro personnel so we don’t know how much involvement–if any–he has had in past drafts. Let us assume that while he has never been a decision maker on draft picks that he was at least present in the war rooms and was a respected voice.
Starting with the Chiefs in 2006 when he became Director of Pro Personnel their first round picks were as follows:
- Tamba Hali DE (20)
- Dwayne Bowe WR (23)
- Glenn Dorsey DT (5)
- Tyson Jackson DE (3)
- Eric Berry S (5)
- Jonathan Baldwin WR (26)
- Dontari Poe DT (11)
And as we know last year the Browns took Mingo when he was the Asst. GM and one of the few even allowed in the war room. So what we see overall is a strong bias to the defensive side of the ball and the higher the pick the likelier it was used on the front seven.
As a linebackers coach in Baltimore and then coordinator in New York and Buffalo let’s just assume Mike Pettine always wanted that first pick on his side of the ball. We know that last year in Buffalo at the very least Jim O’Neil wanted Mingo. As a head coach now Pettine has to take a more global view and he knows that ultimately his fate rests on having the right quarterback, but we all know how defensive coaches can start thinking with the wrong head when the blood rushes through their loins at the prospect of a difference maker they can play with.
The Browns do have more pressing needs, but you don’t pass on the clear-cut best player available with the number four pick. You just don’t. Personally, I would be tempted by Bridgewater and Gilbert here, but I cannot envisage them passing on Clowney.
His floor is probably Mario Williams, which may not stir much excitement, but he finally did have some nice years in Houston before moving to Buffalo, where he sucked his first year. Last year he rebounded with an incredible season. You know what changed between his first and second years in Buffalo? Mike Pettine.
His ceiling is probably being a perennial all-pro/Hall of Fame candidate. The only other player who I feel has close to as high of a probability of sustained elite success in the league is Robinson and the Rams already wisely took him off the board.
Yes, there are questions about an inconsistent motor and conditioning, but the conditioning of a freak athlete should not be too tall a task for the training staff of a professional football team and an inconsistent motor can be explained at least partially by the number of snaps he was on the field.
But never mind me, here is what Mike Pettine says:
“Freakish athlete,” said Pettine. “I think he could take over a game. I think he could change a game. He’s proven that. I had good interaction with him in Indianapolis. As a defensive head coach, I don’t know if I’d be all that upset to turn the card in on Clowney with the fourth pick.”
Pettine isn’t fazed by the Clowney’s lack of sacks last season or concerns over his work ethic.
“He’s shown (the pass-rush ability),” Pettine said. “I think there were a lot of circumstances. People talked to maybe a maturity thing. …I think if you’re strong and assertive as a coach that you can get that guy to be more focused and get him to be much more consistent. So if you can take a Clowney and get him to play, to get him to get that motor humming and go hard every play, then you’ve got a guy that can absolutely dominate a game.”
Clowney has the all of the talent in the world. He just needs the right coach to properly develop that talent and put him in a place to succeed. The Cleveland Browns have the perfect coach to do just that.
Hard to argue with any of this.
On the clock: Pete Franklin and the Raiders.
- Ed. note: And the 33.13″ arms. Don’t forget the arm length! [back]