Browns

2011 NFL Mock Draft: Browns Need a Smart, Not Sexy Pick

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I love the NFL Draft as much as anybody and I’ll admit to being a nerd that reads as much as he can on all the top prospects. Each Saturday in the fall you can find me in front of the television watching college football, but I am FAR from an expert. I’ve read as much as I can, but I’ll concede I know nothing.

When I watched Missouri beat Oklahoma on national television, Blaine Gabbert was just a guy. Now he’s potentially on the verge of becoming a top-five pick. I thought he was just a guy. Did I pay attention to his teammate, defensive lineman Aldon Smith? No. I just watched the game– like everyone else.

When it comes to the NFL Draft, no one has all the answers, which is why I stopped checking out mock drafts. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. predicts the Browns to select a new player every week. Last year on the day of the draft, some “experts” had the Browns selecting defensive back Kyle Wilson from Boise State with the seventh pick. He went to the Jets with the 29th pick, 22 picks after Cleveland selected Joe Haden. It’s fun to get a general idea of where guys will go, but fans should be cautious to put too much stock in the predictions.

Mock drafts are always changing, but the players aren’t, which is why I think the whole process is somewhat silly. What changes between the end of the season and the draft in late April? I’d love to see how different a draft conducted in January would be if it were based solely on watching the players perform on the field.  People fall in love with the “flavor of the week”.

I understand the NFL Combine and the theory that you’d want to know as much time as possible getting to know a player before you invest millions of dollars in him. But guys train for months to perform well that one week in Indianapolis. If a defensive lineman runs a 4.8 in the 40-yard-dash, that’s terrific. Can he play football? This isn’t track.

That spills over into fans wanting a “sexy” pick – a guy that looks good in the spandex. A.J. Green and Julio Jones have nice highlight tapes – and I can understand the Browns drafting either of them as we do need wide receivers. But winning in January in the playoffs is sexier than getting a passing grade from Kiper Jr. in late April. Some Browns fans moaned when the Browns took Alex Mack in the first round back in 2009, claiming center isn’t a glamorous or exciting position.

It’s exciting in games – when it really matters – when the Brown and Orange are facing third down and one and Colt McCoy follows up the rear of Mack to gain a first down and keep the clock running. That’s exciting!

I hear people all around town talk about wanting Green or Jones – or even an eye-popping  athlete like Louisiana State defensive back Patrick Peterson. All three of those guys were terrific college players in terms of production, so if Tom Heckert thinks one of them can help us the most, I’m all aboard.

However, if the Browns go a different direction and take a defensive lineman, I don’t want to hear people complain. We surely need defensive lineman. Their highlight tapes might not be too exciting, but they’ll help make the team highlight tape – the one a Super Bowl winning team gets – sexy.

This article originally appeared on LandLoyalty.com