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The 11 (or 12) players most affected by the 2012 draft Browns draft

Apr 29, 2012 -- 11:10pm

By Tony Grossi

The Morning Kickoff …

Action v. reaction: In his first two drafts as Browns GM, Tom Heckert made 16 selections. Fourteen of those players are still on the Browns’ roster.

This year, after making two trades, Heckert exercised 11 draft selections. For every one of those actions, there must be a reaction to the roster.

Here is a look at which existing Browns player is most affected by each draft choice.

1. RB Trent Richardson: Montario Hardesty.

Injuries have limited Hardesty to 10 games in two years. Heckert has said he has yet to see the player he scouted at Tennessee because of the injuries. Backups Brandon Jackson and Chris Ogbonnaya each possess the versatility Hardesty doesn’t have to play on third down and special teams.

2. QB Brandon Weeden: Colt McCoy.

Though his personality suggests otherwise, McCoy’s very presence would assure a QB controversy. If they want to move forward with Weeden, McCoy simply has to go. It’s business. Seneca Wallace is the prototypical backup QB, not McCoy.

3. RT Mitchell Schwartz: Oniel Cousins.

Despite constant breakdowns at right tackle in 2011, Cousins started only one game and appeared in four. The Ravens, who waived him, thought his future was at guard.

4. DT John Hughes: Brian Sanford.

Hughes is a so-called 1-technique tackle who will back up Ahtyba Rubin. He is a lane-clogger in the running game and lines up over the left shoulder of the center. Sanford, an undrafted free agent, appeared in five games in 2011.

5. WR Travis Benjamin: Jordan Norwood.

Benjamin takes over as the fastest and smallest player on the team – a poor man’s DeSean Jackson. He has great speed and lined up outside in college, but his size is a problem in the NFL. If he is tried as a slot receiver, he would compete with Norwood.

6. LB James-Michael Johnson: Brian Smith.

Smith, an undrafted free agent, took over as D’Qwell Jackson’s backup after Titus Brown suffered a knee injury in the 14th game.

7. OL Ryan Miller: John Greco.

Miller played guard at Colorado but projects at tackle because of his towering size. His versatility makes him an ideal sixth man. Greco holds that job now.

8. LB Emmanuel Acho: Kaluka Maiava.

Acho can back up any of the linebacker positions and figures to be a mainstay on special teams. That’s what Maiava does.

9. DT Billy Winn: Scott Paxson.

As a 3-technique tackle, Winn lines up between the right guard and tackle and shoots his gap to pressure the quarterback. He will compete with Paxson for the backup spot behind Phil Taylor.

10. CB Trevin Wade: James Dockery.

Like Dockery, an undrafted free agent, Wade is aggressive and fearless in coverage. But to make the team, he has to be physical as a gunner on special teams. Dockery is.

11. H-back Brad Smelley: Owen Marecic/Alex Smith.

Neither a prototypical fullback nor a tight end, Smelley can save a roster spot by filling both positions. He is a good receiver, something Marecic is not, and can chip a pass rusher like Smith.

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi


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