While I've written since January that I wanted North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn for the Browns at No. 6, it appears they will take a wide receiver (A.J. Green of Georgia or Julio Jones of Alabama) or a cornerback (Patrick Peterson of LSU or Prince Amukamara of Nebraska) with their first selection. President Mike Holmgren seems especially mindful of the draft day gaffes made by previous regimes and will preach making a safe choice, at least on day one.
With their eight selections, here's what (and sometimes whom) I would like the Browns to come out of this draft with:
- A wide receiver with burner speed (Jones is faster, Green has better hands).
- A pass-rusher in the second or third rounds (No. 37 overall or No. 70 overall). With the shortage of talent and the conversion to a 4-3, you could argue the Browns should spend both of these picks on defensive linemen.
- Another running back to complement Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty. (Hillis' physical style means he's going to be frequently banged up. Hardesty's rehab from ACL surgery is supposedly on track, but there could be bumps in the road. And his checkered injury history means the Browns' need another reliable back. How about Syracuse's Delone Carter or someone in that mold? The Browns may not address this until day 3.)
- A cornerback to eventually take over for Sheldon Brown.
- A developmental right tackle. (A glaring need, especially with Tony Pashos missing most of last season with injury. Although colleague Scott Petrak of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram will never agree with me on the importance of this position).
- A blocking back, especially if they have no intention of resigning fullback Lawrence Vickers. (I must admit I'm intrigued with Arkansas tight end D.J. Williams, mainly because of the balance he showed by snatching a ball off the ground in the Sugar Bowl against Ohio State. I can imagine a Razorback backfield with Williams and Hillis, especially in certain situations. Williams is projected as an H-back in the pros and is supposed to be best suited to a short passing game. Coach Pat Shurmur seems like the type who could figure out how to best utilize the skills of Williams. Both Shurmur and GM Tom Heckert told me there can be a place for an H-back in a West Coast offense.)
- A linebacker, even if he plays primarily special teams as a rookie. (I love Ohio State co-captain Brian Rolle, who could make a pro career on special teams alone. His energy and leadership would fit in my locker room anytime. Plus he has a nose for the ball. Can never have too many special teams kamikazes.)
- Walsh receiver Joe Morgan. He may have used up his three strikes during his time at Illinois, but he's spent the past two years cleaning up his life. I find it hard to believe Illinois coach Ron Zook would have tried to help Morgan find another school if he didn't believe in him. Plus Morgan runs a 4.3 40. Some say he might go undrafted, but why not use the 248th overall pick (in the seventh round) on a player with such upside?