The Browns’ draft started with an disagreement being aired on national TV, ended with the selection of a manchild and in between a savior was found! GM Tom Heckert favored selecting Florida cornerback Joe Haden with the number seven selection, while Coach Mangini wanted Boise State’s Kyle Wilson. Browns Executive Mike Holmgren was called in to settle the dispute and he sided with Heckert.
Cleveland followed that up by selecting Oregon safety T.J. Ward with the 38th selection in the second round even though many scouting reports had him ranked as a fourth rounder and the most optimistic saw him as a third.
The Browns definitely had the sporting world’s attention, just not for the right reasons at this point. They followed these moves up by trading for the 59th pick and using it to draft an often injured running back who also didn’t project where he was drafted. The trade was expensive costing the Browns three draft choices for one.
With each move after the first round, the ESPN announcers, almost in unison, predicted that the Browns would pick a certain quarterback. With pick number 85, Mike Holmgren pulled the trigger on Texas quarterback Colt McCoy.
Colt McCoy may never be a successful NFL quarterback, I have my doubts, but he transcends his actual job to the fans in Cleveland. To the diehard fans, who give everything they have to the orange and brown clad warriors by the lake, McCoy symbolizes hope that the Browns have started to turn the perpetual corner.
McCoy is Otto Graham without the facemask, Brian Sipe nimbly avoiding the rush, Bernie Kosar sidearming a strike to Brian Brennan.
He is the new face of the Browns.
All though confusion reigned early and the decisions seemed questionable, the Browns triumvirate pulled it together and made excellent choices with their last four picks.
No. 7 Joe Haden Cornerback Florida:
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 starters, Eric Wright and Sheldon Brown, 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. 85 Colt McCoy Quarterback Texas :
Texas Quarterback fell to the Browns due to his average arm, lack of experience under center and small frame. He is an outstanding athlete and a leader both on the field and in the locker room.
McCoy set an NCAA record with 45 wins and won the Maxwell Award among many others.
McCoy was selected at the behest of Browns executive Mike Holmgren over the indifference of both Coach Eric Mangini and GM Tom Heckert.
No. 91 Shawn Lauvao Guard Arizona State :
Arizona State guard Shawn Lauvao is a 6’3″ 315lb beast and was the 91st pick in the third round.
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 and make a value pick for need.
No. 160 Larry Asante Safety Nebraska:
Larry Asante was a three year starter at Nebraska who never missed a game and averaged over 70 tackles a year.
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 a 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. He is the nephew of former NFL defensive end Jumpy Geathers and brother of Bengals DE Robert Geathers
Haden and Ward are both questionable value choices but they will help a Browns secondary that had been shredded by opponents in 2009.
Hardesty and McCoy are lottery tickets the Browns hope will cash in.
The Hardesty trade cost the Browns the chance to draft cornerback prospects Perrish Cox from Oklahoma State , Dominique Franks of Oklahoma and wide receiver Riley Cooper of Florida. Defensive pass rush specialist Ricky Sapp was taken with the 134th pick.
All four of these prospects were available at selection 134 which was sent to Philadelphia. Not a single running back was drafted between pick 59 and pick 71. Did the Browns panic?
Mitchell and Lauvao are excellent picks who may challenge for significant playing time early in their careers. Asante will battle second rounder Ward for time behind Abe Elam at strong safety. Neither Ward nor Asante project as a free safety in the NFL which was the Browns primary need.
Clinton Geathers is a sleeper with all the physical ability to be a top flight lineman. Coach Mangini and staff have a repuation for developing players’ fundamentals which bodes well for Geathers.
Overall the Browns rebounded from a questionable start to piece together a solid draft.