What will the Cleveland Browns do with the 4th overall pick?


browns fan

There is an advantage for a Browns fan being a pessimist.  You are either pleasantly surprised or you are right. (Guest post by Bill Smith)

Things have been bad before.  Things were so bad in the early 90’s with Bill Belichick running the team that the club moved from Cleveland to Baltimore and did not give the coach the forwarding address.

Since they have come back in 1999 the team has been pathetic.  There are more needs on this team than players that can start for any of the other teams in the AFC North division.  Browns fans love to mock Mike Brown and the Bengals but they have been to two Super Bowls and have been in the playoffs two of the last 3 years including a division championship in 2010 when they swept the division.

cleveland browns stadium

Despite the suffering, Browns President Mike Holmgren did not bring in a seasoned HC when he fired Eric Mangini.  He brought in Pat Shurmur that had never been the head man at any level of football and had only 2 mediocre years as OC of the Rams.

In 2011 the Browns managed to find new ways to lose very winnable games on route to a 4-12 season.  The long snapper cost the Browns 3 wins by playing first bounce or fly with the holder.  Despite that, Special Teams coach Chris Tabor will keep his job.  If I had been HC, he would have had to find his own way back from Oakland because I would have terminated him on the spot.

The bottom line is that the Browns have the 4th overall pick in the draft.  They also own the first pick of the Falcons which should be in the low 20’s depending on how far the team goes in the playoffs.  GO Giants.

One advantage of being an NFL Draft analyst in the Browns market is that very often after week 5 all anyone wants to talk about is who the team will pick in next year’s draft.


There has been a lot of discussion on my radio show about who the team should take with the 4th pick.

Those that support current starting QB Colt McCoy argue that he had no dependable weapons in 2011 and needs a top receiver with the first pick.  The consensus of this contingent is the pick must be junior WR Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State.  He is the top wideout on most boards.  But he is not a speedster and will likely run a 4.5 40 yard dash.

If he had come out last year I would have ranked him behind both A.J. Green of Georgia and Julius Jones of Alabama.  He plucks the ball out of the air and has the ability to jump under control for the ball over shorter DBs.  He is strong enough at 6-1 215 to get off the line against bump coverage which is something that few of the teams current receivers can do.

This pick would be well received by the majority of fans but both the Rams at 2 and the Vikings at 3 need WR help as well.  There is a good chance he will be off the board when the Browns pick.

The pro-McCoy people also would like junior Alabama RB Trent Richardson.  Richardson has the jump step that allows him to get to any hole he sees and the vision to find a hole.  At 5-11 224 he is big enough to be an every down back and has the hands to be an above average receiver out of the backfield.  He is patient allowing his blocks to finish before making his cut and taking off.  While he is not a burner (4.5 40) he has shown enough speed to take the ball to the endzone.

UFA Payton Hillis not likely to be part of the team in 2011.  The only other starting type back on the team is Montario Hardesty, a 2nd round pick in 2010.  But he is as fragile as fine china and will probably not be a factor.  So RB is a real need and would help Colt greatly.  Again most fans would be happy with this pick.

Those that believe Colt McCoy does not have enough arm strength to throw in the winds of Cleveland Stadium want a QB.  There is no chance the team would trade up to get Andrew Luck the redshirt junior QB from Stanford.  He will go with the first pick.  The only other “possible franchise” QB in the draft is junior QB Robert Griffin III of Baylor.  He has outstanding arm strength, was the 2nd highest ranked passer in 2011 major college FB and best of all is a clutch player.

His comeback against Oklahoma with just 54 seconds left was breathtaking.  But despite his willingness to run, he is only 6-2 (which will likely be 6ft. and a few inches at the combine) and 220 pounds.  One of the complaints about McCoy is his size and frequent injuries.  Anti-RG3 people say that he is not that much bigger than McCoy and will not last given a less than stellar record of protecting the QB by the O line.

Because 2 other prime candidates for QB have pulled out of the draft, there is a good chance that one of the desperate teams like the Dolphins or Redskins will trade up to 2 or 3 to take RG3 before the Browns get their chance to take him.

So what will the Browns do?  Since I am the resident pessimist of the Browns media group, I have to believe the team will trade down again.  Hopefully not as far down as 25 like last year but down significantly to the dismay of the Browns faithful.

In a lot of old horror movies the peasants storm the castle with pitchforks and torches in hand.  Keep an eye on the Lou Groza Boulevard HQ of the Browns.  Life might imitate Art if the team does trade down from the 4th pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

That is what I think.  Tell us what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits Frying Pan Sports.com and hosts the Internet radio version of News, Notes and Rumors M-Th at 6 PM EST on Moo headradio.com.  He has also published several novels available here (select William E. Smith in the author list) and a non-fiction work at Merriam-press



  1. I love your humor ….that’s all us Browns fans can have at this time. I’m 52 and have been rooting for this franchise since 1968. Two NFL chmpionships in ’68 & ’69 had my young mind thinking that these types of games would be common has a Browns fan. Since that time, 3 AFC championships games with Denver have left me disinfranchised. I no longer get upset with losses or get to excited with the few wins that seem to happen year in and year out. Good job!

  2. @Jeff I’ll be 52 in a couple weeks so I hear you. I think your mind convinced you it was better than it was when you were young. The Browns last Championship was 1964.

    @ Bill I think and hope you are right about trading down. Not too far though. I would love to see them come out of the first round with Richardson and what ever is the best value at 22 between WR, DE, or OT and an extra pick in the second round.

  3. Trade down (to 12/13 at lowest) would suite me too. @Jeff- I feel ya. I’ve been disengaged since they lost their only playoff game of the new franchise and then had to tear it down.
    If they stay I want them to take Claiborne- we’d have the best CB duo in the NFL when they mature, Sheldon Brown could go to S, so we improve 2 positions. And the pass rush would have a bit longer to get to the QB.
    The 2 QBs, Kalil, and Claiborne are the only ones worth taking at #4, imho.

Speak Your Mind