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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Cleveland Browns draft 2011: Grade B

By Marla Published: April 30, 2011

I'm giving the Browns a grade of B for this year's draft, mainly because of the character risks involved with their top three selections -- Baylor nose tackle Phil Taylor, Pitt defensive end Jabaal Sheard and North Carolina wide receiver Greg Little.

Both Taylor and Sheard seemed to straighten up their lives after college arrests.  Taylor's came at a fraternity function that got him kicked out of Penn State in 2008. The police report on Sheard's fight last July when he came to a teammate's defense and ending up going through the glass window of an art gallery with the man with whom he was fighting is filled with distressing aspects of him resisting arrest, but he was elected a team captain. Little was suspended for all of last season after taking improper benefits from agents. He also carries a diva reputation.

But the Browns addressed most of their glaring needs. They got two starting defensive linemen in Taylor and Sheard and perhaps their No. 1 receiver in Little. USC tight end Jordan Cameron is a spectacular athlete who could develop into a star with a year or two of seasoning. Stanford fullback Owen Marecic will make free agent Lawrence Vickers expendable. Chattanooga defensive back Buster Skrine, who has 4.2 speed, will be a special teams ace while he learns the nickel or dime position.  Pitt offensive lineman Jason Pinkston played the last three seasons at left tackle, but will start out at guard, coach Pat Shurmur said. He could be the right tackle of the future.  Nebraska safety Eric Hagg was the team's MVP and most inspirational player and was rated higher on NFL.com than many who went in the seventh round. At the very least he should help on special teams.

The Browns also netted the Falcons' first- and fourth-round picks in the 2012 draft. In fact, if there proves to be no character issues with the top three, that could be the biggest risk the Browns took -- betting that sanity will prevail in the current labor battle and it won't threaten the draft process.

Things they still need include a starting safety, a backup running back, another defensive end and depth at linebacker. But that may not be too tall an order for free agency, whenever it starts. President Mike Holmgren said they could also add another quarterback. 

Near the end of last season, Browns beat writers counted 11 positions that needed upgrading and that didn't include Vickers. Barring injury, at least three of those holes look to be filled.

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