As Super Bowl-winning coach and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden conducted a conference call Monday, I asked him which position he considers more valuable – cornerback or pass rusher.
“Al Davis used to ask me that question,” Gruden said. “Do we value a pass rusher or a corner? And I would say, ‘Well, who’s better?’ If it’s Deion Sanders, I’d probably say corner. That’s a tough question.”
It’s a question the Browns will likely need to answer April 25 during the first round of the NFL Draft, provided they don’t play a wild card and select a quarterback. And it’s a question Ryan Lewis and I continue to explore in our mock drafts.
In our third mock, I had the Browns trading the sixth overall pick to the Miami Dolphins, moving down to No. 12 and picking Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Ryan, meanwhile, continued to pair the Browns with Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner at No. 6.
Well, with the real draft one week away, I’m back to where I started, predicting what I believe is the most logical pick for the Browns. On the other hand, Ryan has strayed from Milliner at No. 6 for the first time and gone with a pass rusher.
Here’s our fourth mock:
1. Kansas City Chiefs – Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Oregon OLB/DE Dion Jordan
3. Oakland Raiders – Florida DT Sharrif Floyd
4. Philadelphia Eagles – West Virginia QB Geno Smith
5. Detroit Lions – Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher
6. Browns – Alabama CB Dee Milliner
Comment: I still believe the Browns would really like to trade down, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it happened. However, it Milliner is available at No. 6, picking him would be a no-brainer. Cornerback Buster Skrine has lined up opposite Joe Haden with the first-team defense this week during minicamp. In a good secondary, Skrine would probably be a fourth-string corner, not a starter.
7. Arizona Cardinals – Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson
8. Buffalo Bills – Brigham Young DE/OLB Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah
9. New York Jets – Louisiana State OLB/DE Barkevious Mingo
10. Tennessee Titans – Alabama G Chance Warmack
1. Kansas City Chiefs -- Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel
2. Jacksonville Jaguars -- Oregon OLB/DE Dion Jordan
3. Oakland Raiders -- West Virginia QB Geno Smith
4. Philadelphia Eagles -- Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher
5. Detroit Lions -- Alabama CB Dee Milliner
6. Browns -- Brigham Young DE/OLB Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah
Comment: Should the first five selections fall this way, it most likely comes down to which pass rusher the Browns like more -- Ansah or Louisiana State’s Barkevious Mingo. As noted by Nate in our Mock 2.0, the Browns seem open to adding another pass rusher to be inserted opposite Paul Kruger, as evidenced by the targeting of Victor Butler, who signed with the New Orleans Saints. Ansah has had a meteoric rise during this pre-draft process as a powerful, versatile 4-3 defensive end who should have the athleticism to be a lethal pass rusher in a 3-4 scheme. Ansah would give defensive coordinator Ray Horton insurance should the Browns feel Jabaal Sheard isn't up to make the switch from a 4-3 end to a 3-4 outside linebacker.
7. Arizona Cardinals -- Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson
8. Buffalo Bills -- Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib
9. New York Jets -- Louisiana State OLB/DE Barkevious Mingo
10. Tennessee Titans -- Alabama OG Chance Warmack