Questions abound after the first NFL draft for the Cleveland Browns under Mike Holmgren. They started immediately after the first round pick of Florida cornerback Joe Haden and spiked after their second selection, Oregon safety T.J.Ward.
They completed the draft by selecting wide receiver Carlton Mitchell from South Florida and defensive end Clifton Geathers of South Carolina.
No. 7 Joe Haden Cornerback Florida:
Why use the seventh selection of the draft on a cornerback when they had just traded for pro-bowler Sheldon Brown from Philadelphia?
Joe Haden is an impressive athlete who was a high school point guard on a state champion basketball team. Haden was a three year starter at Florida who had eight career interceptions and originally signed as a quarterback.
With a competent starter, Eric Wright, all ready in place, Haden seems destined for the nickel back role. That hardly seems fitting for such a high draft selection.
No. 38 T.J.Ward Strong Safety Oregon:
The Browns followed that up by taking a player, T.J.Ward, who many publications had projected going no earlier than the third round, with the 38th pick. Ward, a hard hitting safety from Oregon has a significant injury history dating back to high school and has trouble in coverage.
Secondary is definitely a position of need but the top two picks don't seem to be value picks.
No. 59 Montario Hardesty Running Back Tennessee:
Philadephia and Cleveland connected (big surprise) to make a trade which netted the Browns oft-injured Tennessee running back Montario Hardesty.
Hardesty had an excellent year in 2009 running for 1345 yards and 13 TDs. He is a powerful, downhill runner who is not particularly fast or elusive.
The former Vol running back could be a nice complementary back to current Brown Jerome Harrison if he can stay healthy. The trade was expensive costing them the 71st pick and two fifth-rounders.
No. 91 Shawn Lauvao Guard Arizona State :
Arizona State guard Shawn Lauvao is a 6'3 315lb beast and was the 91st pick of the third round and is a great pick.
He played left tackle his senior year but projects as a mauler of a guard at the pro level. The Browns are starting to atone for the Haden and Ward reaches.
Lauvao should be a threat to start at right guard by mid-season.
No. 160 Larry Asante Safety Nebraska:
The third day of the draft dawned and the Browns due to the trades for Sheldon Brown and Montario Hardesty, had to wait until late in the fifth round to make their first selection.
When they did, they made an excellent choice who may very well beat out second rounder T.J.Ward in Larry Asante out of Nebraska.
Asante was a first team All Big 12 strong safety who had 79 tackles and two interceptions in 2009.
Ranked higher than Ward by some publications, Asante is a prototypical in the box strong safety who is a big hitter but is average at best in coverage.
No. 177 Carlton Mitchell Wide Receiver South Florida:
In the sixth round at pick 177 the Browns pounced on wide receiver Carlton Mitchell from South Florida. Considered a third-round talent by many, he has an elite size-speed combination at 6'3 215 with 4.49 40 and has huge hands.
Not afraid to go across the middle and can go up and grab the ball in traffic. Mitchell is raw but he has awesome tools. He had 40 catches for 706 yards and four tds in 2009.
Excellent pickup for the worst wide receiving crew in the league.
No. 186 Clifton Geathers Defensive End South Carolina
Huge, 6'8 281, physically talented defensive end whose production has not quite matched his potential. Ran a sub five 40 and can overpower tackles he can't get around. He needs a lot of work on his fundamentals to be a viable NFL end.
Geathers had 41 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss and 3 sacks in 2009.
Younger brother of Bengals DE Robert Geathers.
No. 85 Colt McCoy Quarterback Texas:
I have intentionally saved pick number 85, quarterback Colt McCoy from Texas, for last. Anybody who has followed me as a writer knows that I am not sold on McCoy's fit for Cleveland or the NFL.
I think he's a touch too small, a product of the spread. doesn't have much experience under center, and doesn't have an NFL caliber arm.
Cleveland's climate is a very harsh place for a quarterback who doesn't have a strong arm and our offensive line is very tall.
After saying all of that, I must admit that I have softened my stance somewhat after hearing several ex-quarterback turned announcers talk about the mechanics of throwing in bad weather. Steve Young and Ron Jaworski claim that successfully throwing in cold, windy conditons is more dependent on wrist action than arm strength.
They both claim that McCoy has the necessary wrist action to succeed. I guess we will see.
He is a very good athlete who ran the 110 meter hurdles in high school and can definitely be a weapon in the Wildcat. Granted we all ready have Seneca Wallace and Josh Cribbs for that but the more weapons the better.
McCoy is an incredibly accurate passer and a leader both in the huddle and the locker room and is very self assured.
His height however is an issue he is going to have to adapt to. Outside of Drew Brees and David Garrard, there are not very many short, successful quarterbacks in this league.
The former Longhorn QB is going to have to learn to find passing lanes around his offensive linemen and the onrushing defenders from a new perspective and not the spread, so he is definitely in for a pretty severe learning curve.
I really hope he is the answer because I love the Browns and I do want him to succeed, I just have my reservations.
Draft Grade: B
The Browns saved their draft with great value/need selections in the later rounds in Lauvao, Asante and Mitchell. Haden and Ward are questionable selections but if nothing else they will probably be better than Brandon McDonald and whoever would have backed up Abe Elam.
Hardesty and McCoy are lottery tickets that we hope will cash in rather than out.
Geathers is a huge, raw talent who just might be a sleeper with some coaching and Mangini and staff are excellent fundamental coaches.
Overall I give the Browns a solid B. Questionable early but excellent late! Good job Messrs. Heckert, Mangini, and Holmgren.