Countdown to The Draft
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By Michael Reghi
Now less than a month away from the NFL Draft, and the chatter about a Ryan Tannehill Browns connection is just that...idle spin. Won't happen. Certainly not with the 4th overall. And I don't see a move down with Miami to make that happen either.
Skilled? Yes. Ready to play with confidence in an NFL system and all that entails right now? No. So, the Browns focus centers upon either Alabama running back Trent Richardson, or Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
Know this implicitly. Either or, the Browns overall offensive capabilities take an enormous leap forward. Quality, NFL ready talents, that make the needle move...toward end zones!
Armed with 5 of the first 100 picks into the early stages of the 4th round, the opportunity to select talent for both positions is plentiful. Here's a primer. Which position, running back or wideout, affords Tom Heckert the ability to draft with greater significance as the picks come off the board? It's the wide receivers, with Michael Floyd, Stephen Hill, Kendall Wright, and Reuben Randle closer grouped to the skill level of Blackmon, then the running backs are to Richardson.
A virtual consensus among NFL personnel evaluators that Trent Richardson has perennial Pro Bowl, immediate impact skills.
Those of you that believe today's NFL skews away from taking a running back top 5, due to shelf life, injury sustainment, etc? Couldn't disagree more! Factor in how a difference maker like Trent Richardson trends in a Browns offense that needs to jump-start immediately!
The Richardson presence, as a complete '3 down back' gives the Pat Shurmur/Brad Childress playbook a completely new look, and yes, dramatically impacts the passing game, and how opposing defenses have to account for it.
With Richardson in tow, now Heckert moves to the wide receivers. Michael Floyd, Notre Dame's tough, physical wideout, who catches the football well in traffic, blocks strong in the run game, and knows his way to the end zone, would be optimum. Very close to Blackmon. Do see him ascending, and doubt he'll be there at 22.
I worry about three teams ahead of the Browns, Dallas at 14, although projected to go defense first, the New York Jets at 16, Santonio Holmes as a 'leader' within the position? Don't think so. And the Chicago Bears at 19, who also project defense, but wouldn't pass on a game changer like Floyd for Jay Cutler. Probably have to move into the 14-17 area here, and could be tough to pull off.
Many like Baylor's Kendall Wright...here's the rub for me. 5 foot 10. The Browns need that larger, physical receiver, who can work outside the numbers, move around db's, and make plays vertically. Would rather they go LSU's Reuben Randle at 37, or possibly Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill at 22. Both in the 6-3, 6-4 range, and very skilled playmakers.
Wright's a 'slot guy' who plays with a different dynamic.
Don't be surprised at 22, should Heckert stay there, if Stanford's excellent road grading offensive tackle, 6-6, 315 pound, Jonathan Martin come into focus. Has expertly protected Andrew Luck as a two time Pac12 first team star. Would walk in and embrace the right tackle revolving door, and make it his...then slide over when, and if needed, as the years go by to replace Joe Thomas on the left side. Would have absolutely no problem, matter of fact would 'love' the selection of Martin here.
I know, still don't have your receiver, and now you’re at 37, and probably looking at Reuben Randle or Alshon Jeffrey. Does Heckert like either enough to go this route? Intriguing. Remember, the Browns were all set to grab Maryland's Torrey Smith with that extra second round pick last April. Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens beat them to it.
Heckert had plenty of second-third round success with receivers in Philadelphia, as DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant have been very productive starters. Greg Little will improve and be added to that list.
Would love a Trent Richardson and Michael Floyd haul in the first round for the Browns next month...keep close tabs on Jonathan Martin, and should the Browns not take Richardson, Cincinnati's sturdy Isaiah Pead, a Ray Rice type running back, who has excelled in first Brian Kelly, and then Butch Jones' offensive system is high on the Heckert radar as well. Speed, excellent in 'cut back' lanes, and catches the football well. Could jump over a David Wilson or even Doug Martin, as Heckert evaluates runners for the Browns.
Check out Michael Reghi on ESPN Cleveland Sports Night, M-F from 9pm-Midnight on ESPN 850 WKNR and ESPNCleveland.com.
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