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Cleveland Browns

Morgan could be fallback plan

By Marla Ridenour Published: April 22, 2010

In his mock draft, respected NFL writer Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News has the Browns selecting Georgia Tech outside linebacker Derrick Morgan with the No. 7 pick tonight.

In Gosselin's mock, Tennessee safety Eric Berry goes No. 5 to Kansas City.

There's no doubt that Morgan, 6-foot-3 and 268 pounds, would immediately help a Browns' defense ranked 31st in the league last season. But he would be making the transition from college defensive end and is considered by many better suited to play end in a 4-3 scheme.

Last month the Browns gave up on linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, asked to make the same switch from Florida State. Wimbley turned in a Browns' rookie record 11 sacks in 2006. But his season-high after that came in 2009, when his 6 1/2 led the team. He was traded to the Oakland Raiders for a third-round pick.

Morgan, a junior, totalled 19 1/2 sacks in his last two years at Georgia Tech, 12 1/2 last season. At the combine, he ran the 40 in 4.77 seconds and turned in a 34-inch vertical jump.

The description of Morgan in Pro Football Weekly's Draft Guide does sound like the type of player Browns coach Eric Mangini and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan would covet.

''A strong, relentless base end has shown he can defend the run as well as rush the quarterback and who steadily improved every year,'' the magazine said. ''He will wear offenses out with his great energy and effort and consistently disrupt the backfield. Should be able to step into a starting lineup readily and emerge as a tempo-setter. A solid all-around prospect.''

In his 2010 Draft Report, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. said Morgan is ''not a freakish talent, but you could make the case that Morgan is one of the safest picks off all the defensive ends in this draft.'' Kiper said Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta told him that even as a freshman, Morgan ''had a level of professionalism and maturity not usually seen in college players.''

PFW's main criticism of Morgan is that he ''lacks elite burst and acceleration off the edge and is not a creative pass rusher.'' The latter was also a criticism of Wimbley, who struggled to add to his repertoire of pass-rush moves.

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