2014 Browns draft wish list.
It’s crunch time and I’m ready to get the wish list published for our friends in Berea and with plenty of time for them to adjust their boards as needed.
I’ve settled in on my picks.
The problem is that they are subject to change pending the release of the remaining McGinn Draft Reports. If you’re not familiar, Bob McGinn (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) has terrific access to NFL scouts and his draft analysis is based on information provided to him, in confidence, by those NFL scouts. It is priceless and it tends to change my view on prospects. I’m excerpting them for reference and you can find them in the menu bar under 2014 NFL Draft.1
His series is the single most useful draft review you will find. Here’s just a few quotes.
On Derek Carr:
“OK in the interview but not the type of guy you’d have a beer with. Good kid but little bit of a forced leader. Can he fit in?”2
“Just an arm,” said one scout. “He has no other quarterback qualities.”
“He’s more ready to be a pro quarterback than Jimmy Garoppolo,” one scout said. “He can see the whole field. He’s actually reacting on what defenders are doing. Good athlete, good arm.”
“He has the athletic ability, ability to bend and get in and out of breaks, the catch radius, unbelievable hands, return value. He’s a very, very talented player.”
“All his big games were against (expletive) competition like Hawaii,” another scout said. “He came on a little at the end but I don’t see him as a top-three round guy. Fourth round.”
Described by two scouts as “pure speed.” “He’s a lightweight guy so he can really get in and out of his (breaks),” said one scout. “He’s not going to play the power game. He’s not going to pull through tackles. If a (cornerback) gets his hands on him they’re going to reroute him pretty easy. But if you want a guy who can separate on the outside from man cover that’s what he can do. He can threaten deep. Great feet. Very quick.”
“He’s got short arms (33-3/8). I don’t think he’ll be a left tackle. People fall in love with the last name. If his last name was something else, I don’t think he’d be picked as high, honestly. Jake Matthews is a very good player, but I don’t see much difference between him and Zack Martin.”
“He’s also bigger, more athletic and has longer arms than Matthews. He’s the fastest O-lineman in the draft. I know he can pass protect from left tackle. He is the guy that is not getting his real due, OK?”
You get the idea. It’s what sports journalism should be. Meanwhile in Cleveland our Browns beat writer is giving us these pearls:
I agree it’s time to gamble on a quarterback at No. 4 even if there’s no Andrew Luck in the bunch. Those guys only come around so often, but this class is deep enough that the Browns should be able to find one they like at No. 4. Question is, which one? Do they really love Johnny Manziel? I’ve heard that they do, and I’ve heard that they don’t! I’ve heard they really like Derek Carr, but maybe not at No. 4.
Anyway. I’m ready to take what was contributed in the KRM and from the combine data and from McGinn’s scouts and from actually watching a lot of college football and distill a wish list. And, unlike last year, I’ll define and use a methodology to arrive at the list.
- Go position by position identifying ‘do wants’ and ‘do not wants’ at each position.
- Gut feel on which guys I want more.
- Try to be sensible in projecting what players will be available at what pick.3
- Avoid gross redundancies (both inside the draft and with the current roster).
This will give us a list approximating what an “A” draft looks like to me.
“Do want”/”Do not want” by position.
Here’s my preferences by position. For reference on the prospects, I’m linking to the ranking page DraftBrowns.com produced for each position.4 “Do want” is a slight misnomer because, for example, I do want Aaron Donald… but I won’t draft him in the top ten with our front seven. “Do like” might be better. Whatevs. Let’s go.
WR/TE: Evans-TAMU, Beckham-LSU, Robinson-PSU, Matthews-Vandy, Bryant-Clemson, Richardson-CU, Campanero-Wake. Do not want: Cooks, Adams, Ellington, Herron, Grimble. … The McGinn write-ups on Bryant and Richardson got my attention. Was never a huge Davante Adams fan and the feeling was confirmed.
RB: Mason-AU, Johnson-UCF, Seastrunk (bargain)-BU, McKinnon-GaSo. DNW: Williams, Carey, Sims, Thomas, Andrews. … Tre Mason isn’t just a hole hitter, he is a hole attacker. Everything we didn’t like about Trent Richardson is what Mason doesn’t do. Lache Seastrunk’s fall seems out of proportion. If you find him in the fifth don’t you take him? Just because some idiot agent set an expectation of a sub-4.4 combine 40 doesn’t mean he’s not still big and fast.
QB: Bortles-UCF, Garoppolo-EIU, Murray-UGA, Wenning-Ball, Matthews-Cornell, Guiton-OSU. DNW: Bridgewater, McCarron, Thomas, Fales, Morris, Lynch. … The past three months have been an elaborate hoax to lower expectations on Blake Bortles. Not fooled. He’s going to be a good QB. I’m moving Carr from the ‘do want’ into ‘no comment.’ The scout’s quote bugs me and he has the same size hands a Bridgewater. As with Bridgewater, hands are not a primary indicator of future failure, but it is a metric to use in the eval.
OT: Robinson-AU, Matthews-TAMU, Lewan-UM, James-Tenn, Mewhort-OSU, Schofield (bargain)-UM, Turner-NDST; DNW: Kouandijo, Henderson, Moses. … As good as that scout’s quote on Lewan (above) was, there’s a similar one about Schofield. Something along the lines that Schofield would be rated a lot higher if not in Lewan’s shadow.
OG/C: Martin-ND, Jackson-MissySt, Richardson (bargain)-BU, Thomas (knee)-Clemson, Richburg-CSU, Bodine-UNC.5; DNW: Yankey. … I’ve got Zack Martin at guard because that’s how McGinn did it. Didn’t like Yankey at the combine, scout’s comment validates. Also, and this may be unfair but such is life, he has the whiff of Jonathan Martin about him. If Barrett Jones lasted to the fourth round last year with a lisfranc, is Brandon Thomas sixth round material with his knee?
CB: Fuller-VaTech, Desir-Lindenwood, Jean-Baptiste-Nebraska, Gaines-Rice, Davis-AU; DNW: Roby, Roberson, Joyner, Allen, Purifoy. … I’m going to get into Fuller below. Not mentioned is Keith McGill from Utah. He was a combine stud with great size. But I keep reading things like ‘doesn’t like contact’ about him. So I’m just no commenting on him. Roby is on the DNW list because there’s too many good first round CBs who don’t need to be coached-up on their coverage technique or ball-skills.
SS/FS: Bucannon-Wazzu, Bryant-OSU (bargain), Dowling-WKU; DNW: Ward-NIU, Pryor-Lville. … I have nothing particularly against Jimmie Ward but I don’t remember him at NIU and dang that was a soft defense. And he’s short. Ditto Pryor. Might be good, who knows? I just don’t take short d-backs in the first round. Kind of a rule. (I do, though, think the 5-9 Christian Bryant is being overlooked.)
OLB/ILB: Hubbard-Bama, Zumwalt-UCLA, Jones-Shepherd, Pierre-Louis-BC; Mosley-Bama, Skov-Stanford (bargain); DNW: Mack (not at #4), Attaochu; Borland, Jackson. … If we’re in the market for linebackers, no one is jumping out at me. I like Mosley but he’ll have to be there at #35. I frankly forget why I don’t like Attaochu but I think it has something to with his playing soft for the world’s softest defense.6 The Mack-at-four talk is pure nonsense. “Oh we’ll just take him at four and have him play a position he doesn’t know.” DION JORDAN ANYONE? Lunacy. It’s fine if you want to take a flyer like that in the third round or later. Dicey in the second. Dumb in the first. Simply insane to do it in the top five twelve months after seeing another team try and fail with the same gambit. It’s not like there aren’t lots of players to choose from at four. So. No. No thanks on Khalil Mack to the Browns, ok Tony Grossi?
DE/DT: Clowney-SCAR, Lawrence-Boise, Jeffcoat-UT; Donald-Pitt, Hageman-Minny; DNW: Ford, Sam. … I think I gotta take Clowney if he’s there at four. Not trade-back. Take him. I know I know… needs-based roster. Takes plays off. Sorry, the ceiling is too crazy. Love Aaron Donald.
So those are the guys I like. Let’s see how many we might be able to come away with.
Wish list by pick.
[I’ll update these with the McGinn excerpts as they come in.]
#4 Mike Evans, WR, TAMU.
I will say that I’d take Clowney if he’s here but I don’t think he will be. I would be tempted by Bortles. Personally Robinson/Lewan/Matthews sound good to me, but I’m taking to heart Pettine’s quote about the shape of the o-line. I’ve always liked Pinkston, Chris Faulk might live up to his rep and, hell, I liked Gilkey. He might be blowing smoke but sure makes it sound like the three tackles are not in play here.
Back to Evans, here’s a money quote from a scout:
“I wonder if he had a big bump-run corner on him could he separate?” a third scout said. “That was my only hesitation. But now with the rules the way they are he’ll get every call imaginable.”
The separation at the line business might be a little overdone at least based on this film. He seems to get off the line fine. Here’s the full McGinn excerpt:
MIKE EVANS, Texas A&M (6-4½, 231, 4.52, 1) — Third-year sophomore. “Some of the best ball skills I’ve ever seen,” one scout said. “Tremendous hand-eye coordination, body control, balance. He runs fast. Not a great route-runner. He’s a little stiff in and out of his breaks. But he’s a guy you throw the ball up to and he’s going to catch his share like an Alshon Jeffery type of guy. Wish he was faster. Highly competitive.” Outstanding prep basketball player in Galveston, Texas. Signed with Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman. “He doesn’t really separate,” another scout said. “He just goes up and climbs. He is exceptional because he’s fast.” Finished with 151 catches for 2,499 yards (16.6) and 17 TDs. Scored 25 on the 50-question Wonderlic intelligence test. “I wonder if he had a big bump-run corner on him could he separate?” a third scout said. “That was my only hesitation. But now with the rules the way they are he’ll get every call imaginable.” Some scouts argue Evans made Johnny Manziel, while others argue just the opposite.
Additional thought on ‘why Mike Evans’ — the Bengals were #2 in red zone offense last year. I think it a lot to do with targets like Green, Jones, Eifert, Gresham, Sanu than it did with the QB. Gordon-Cameron-Evans in the red zone sounds fun, doesn’t it?
Would be happy with: Clowney, Bortles, Robinson-Matthews-Lewan.
Do not want: Mack, Manziel.
#26 Kyle Fuller, CB, VaTech.
This is not about Fuller’s size and combine measurables although they’re good. See this highlight reel.
We take highlight reels with grains of salt, but this is the best highlight film I’ve seen, ever. I don’t think he’ll be here at #26.
UPDATE 5/7. McGinn kept us waiting til today for the D-Back report but both Fuller and Bucannon were validated.
KYLE FULLER, Virginia Tech (5-11½, 192, 4.43, 1) – First thing out of the mouths of many scouts are positives for the type of person that he is. “Great kid,” one scout said. “He can cover. Nothing wrong with him. I think he is the most solid (cornerback).” Three-year starter with six picks and 26 passes defensed. “Needs to put on a little bit of mass but a really good athlete,” another scout said. “He’s fast. He’s got cover skills…ball skills. He’s not afraid to play the run. He comes from an awesome pedigree. If he somehow got into the second round I would be offering everything I own to trade up to get him. There’s not a whole lot negative.” Brother Vince was a nickel back for three teams from 2005-’11. Brother Corey is a second-year WR for Detroit. Wonderlic of 11. “Just had an outstanding game against Alabama (Aug. 31),” a third scout said. “Had a pick, several breakups, was involved in run support. He went from probably the third-round area to maybe the first. He runs well enough, he’s got instincts and he’s tough.” Long injury history is a concern. From Baltimore.
Would be happy with: Mosley, Carr, Clinton-Dix.
Do not want: Any RB, Bridgewater, Verrette Manziel, Cooks.
#35 Deone Bucannon, S, Wazzu
This was a really toss-up between Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Bucannon. I could definitely see taking two CBs this high in the draft especially if one has SJB’s size. And I know Bucannon really plays Whitner’s position. But Bucannon is stronger, faster. Both can bang and either will fit in with the tone that I think Whitner is going to set for the d-backs. I basically think Bucannon will have a better chance to see the field going against Gipson in training camp.
DEONE BUCANNON, Washington State (6-0, 211, 4.51, 1-2) – Started 43 of 48 games. “I think he’s a top-10 pick,” one scout said. “Height-weight-speed. Tackling skills are equivalent to Clinton-Dix and Pryor, but when he hits you he knocks ‘em out. He’s a bigger version of Ronnie Lott. He’s such a good player, you could take him out of the middle of the field and have him go one-on-one with one of those big wide receivers. He’s that athletic. I’ve seen him cover people in space. Did you know this guy played four years of golf in high school? Golf is the thinking-man’s game. Don’t tell me he can’t think his way through.” Figures to be the Cougars’ highest drafted player since 2007. “Best hitter at safety,” said another scout. “Over Calvin Pryor. Put on the Auburn game (Aug. 31) and watch the hit Bucannon puts on Tre Mason. Ouch. Somebody is going to get a good player there.” Finished with 384 tackles (13½ for loss), 15 picks and 14 passes defensed. “Box safety,” said a third scout. “He’s stiff as (expletive). Can’t cover. He misses more tackles. I’ll tell you what. If we play him we’re going to match (his team’s TE) up with him.” Added almost 20 pounds in last year. Wonderlic of 15. “He will hit you but he can’t learn,” a fourth scout said. “There’s a real mental concern with Bucannon. He runs and he hits. The coverage and the learning is an issue with him.” From Fairfield, Calif.
Would be happy with: Robinson-PSU, Matthews-Vandy, Jean-Baptiste-Neb, James-Tenn.
Do not want: Ford, Moses.
#71 (first third rounder) Gabe Jackson, OG, MissySt.
I’m hearing about not a fit in zone block scheme and ok, well maybe you’re right. But ballers ball. Jackson is a baller. I think he’d be a terrific value in the third round, but hey, I wouldn’t be upset if we took him in the second. We missed Larry Warford last year; let’s not miss twice.
GABE JACKSON, Mississippi (6-3, 338, 5.51, 2-3) – Started all 52 games at LG. “He’s big, in the (Larry) Warford class,” said one scout, referring to the Kentucky guard drafted in the third round by Detroit last year. “He moves better than Warford did. He has second-round ability. My issue is if he can pass block.” Strong, tough and a dependable technician. “If you’re a power team he’d be OK,” another scout said. “He’s all right if the (defense) doesn’t move. He’ll come off the ball and hit you.” From Liberty, Miss. “He’s kind of been leaking oil since the season,” said a third scout. “People were kind of high on him early on. Ever since the Senior Bowl he’s come down to earth. Now I see him as just a downhill power guard.”
Would be happy with: Mason-AU, Garoppolo-EIU, Bryant-Clemson.
Do not want: Adams, Carey, Williams, McCarron, Joyner.
#83 (second third rounder) Dri Archer, RB/WR, Kent.
The “Evans-Gordon outside, Archer-Hawkins inside” set will be unstoppable. Really, think about it. Just start with ‘What defensive personnel do I send out to match up with that group of receivers?’ and go from there. Dri Archer is the biggest do want of the draft.
Would be happy with: No one. Want Archer here.
Do not want: Everyone else.
#106 (first fourth rounder) Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor.
Whatever is causing Seastrunk’s slide, fourth round seems like a great place to pick up a big fast guy who can catch. Excerpt:
LACHE SEASTRUNK, Baylor (5-9½, 200, 4.45, 4-5) – Five of his 19 TDs were longer than 68 yards. Played better in 2012. “His problem this year was he was dinged up,” said one scout. “You’re talking about a guy who can fly. He’s better than all the (small) backs.” Posted the best vertical jump (41½ inches) and broad jump (11-2) of the leading RBs. Fourth-year junior had 289 carries for 2,189 yards (7.6) and 18 TDs but caught just nine passes (none in ’13). Wonderlic of 9. “He’s dynamic,” another scout said. “Rare speed. Not very powerful. His deal is he had no receptions. Nine test, lost in protections. Cannot play in the pass game.” Began career at Oregon in 2010 but transferred after being embroiled in recruiting violations. From Temple, Texas.
#127 (second fourth rounder) Keith Wenning, QB, BallSt.
Ya know… I keep hearing about how Kyle Shanahan likes a mobile QB but just exactly how did the mobile QB thing play out last go round? Got him and his dad fired. So I’m not sure I believe it that Shanny will want a mobile QB. A big-handed spiral-thrower who knows how to play QB in northern Ohio because he’s from northern Ohio? Yes, that’s someone who might work in Shanny’s or anyone’s offense. I have no idea if this is over-drafting on Wenning, but once QBs start getting drafted they go fast. Take Wenning here or you may be stuck with David Fales.
KEITH WENNING, Ball State (6-2 1/2, 220, 5.01, 5-6) – Four-year starter from Coldwater, Ohio. “He’s more ready to be a pro quarterback than Jimmy Garoppolo,” one scout said. “He can see the whole field. He’s actually reacting on what defenders are doing. Good athlete, good arm.” Passer rating of 91.6 (107.8 in 2013), completion mark of 63%, record of 27-20 and Wonderlic of 29. “He has to see it to pull the trigger,” a second scout said. “Can’t escape. Really smart. Good interview. Worker, intangibles, all that stuff. Kind of a low release. More generic than exceptional.”
#145 (fifth round) Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Bama.
I really don’t know where Hubbard gets drafted. With his size, I would think earlier than the fifth. Yet I’ve seen mocks where he projects this far. Linebackers this size are soon required to protect the seam against all the two TE sets now in the league.
ADRIAN HUBBARD, Alabama (6-6, 257, 4.67, 3-4) – Fourth-year junior with 26 starts. “Got all the measurables,” one scout said. “Just stands and watches. He certainly looks the part, but he doesn’t play the part. They tried to drop him some at the Senior Bowl and the guy struggled. Somebody will take him because he has a great frame and good growth potential. I think he’ll play down.” Finished with 83 tackles (18 for loss), 10 sacks and three big plays. “He stinks,” another scout said. “There’s nothing to him. Low motor. No pass rush. Not very strong. Not explosive.” From Lawrenceville, Ga. “Great basketball player in high school,” a third scout said. “Very outspoken type kid. He’s going to speak up and challenge you.”
#180 (sixth round) Jonathan Dowling, S, WKU.
More length in the defensive backfield. Dowling was a UF recruit who transferred to WKU. Point is: he’s an elite athlete but probably needs to add 20 pounds. Draft him and build him into Kam Chancellor for next year. HERE is where you take on science projects. Not at #6 overall.7
#218 (seventh round) Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon.
Lookit. You interview Lyerla and get a read and you make the call. No sense on making this pick without research. But Lyerla would not be the first college student to eff up and some of them do pretty great on their second chance. Coaches are supposed to be good judges of character and lower-case-c coaches like Pettine really do want to help and make a difference for young men. I just hope the staff looked into Lyerla because the talent is there.
COLT LYERLA, ex-Oregon (6-4, 242, 4.58, 3-FA) – Quit the team Oct. 6 after 2½ event-filled years in Eugene. Two weeks later, he was arrested for cocaine possession. “I bet he’s off 80% of the teams’ draft boards,” one scout said. “Talented guy but into all kinds of (expletive). I think you can touch him in the sixth or seventh rounds.” Best vertical jump (39) and broad jump (10-8) of all TEs and tied Ebron for swiftest 40. Caught 34 passes for 565 yards (16.6) and 11 TDs. Also played some RB, carrying 13 times for 77. “More of a receiver,” said another scout. “Doesn’t block well. Knowing Ted (Thompson), I don’t think Ted would mess with a guy like that.” Mourned the departure of coach Chip Kelly to the Eagles after his second season and it was all downhill after that. “Drugs, quitting, you name it, it’s happened,” a third scout said. “I would never trust him. I couldn’t imagine anyone taking him with those credentials. No way.” From Hillsboro, Ore. Wonderlic of 24.
- 1.004 Evans, WR2
- 1.026 Fuller, CB2
- 2.035 Bucannon, FS-SS
- 3.071 Jackson, RG
- 3.083 Archer, WR3
- 4.106 Seastrunk, RB2
- 4.127 Wenning, QB3
- 5.145 Hubbard, SLB
- 6.180 Dowling, FS
- 7.218 Lyerla, TE3
I would guess that a draft like this would be wildly unpopular with a large segment of the fans. But I think this looks like four and a half starters and even the backups like Seastrunk and Hubbard are sexy athletes. How viable is it? Not very, I don’t think… but you never know. I think Fuller is gone before #26, Hubbard could go a lot earlier. But guys like Jackson and Seastrunk could slide to these positions. Guys like Archer and Wenning are going to go higher than the draftniks project.
Who YOU got?
- If we’re all here, we can look back on these scouting reports this time next year. [back]
- I smell Andy Dalton. [back]
- I don’t know if I’ve done well on this point or not but we won’t know until later this week. [back]
- I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the amount of common ground we have this year. [back]
- I would support poaching whomever the Ravens are eye-balling. [back]
- I hate betting Georgia Tech. [back]
- So we’re asking Mingo, drafted specifically for his quickness and speed and agility, to add 30 pounds. What could possibly go wrong? [back]