I know Alabama running back Trent Richardson is the consensus pick, the safest pick.
I can still hear LaDainian Tomlinsonís mother telling me before the 2001 draft that she hoped the Browns selected the charity-minded TCU running back because of what he could do for the Cleveland community.
But Iím still hoping the Browns come out of the NFL draft with an Oklahoma State package Ė wide receiver Justin Blackmon and quarterback Brandon Weeden.
I know No. 4 is probably too high to draft Blackmon, who supposedly canít compare with A.J. Green or Julio Jones, the best receivers in last yearís draft. But I look at the 40 touchdowns Blackmon has scored in three years, 38 in the past two seasons, and think that his addition to an offense devoid of playmakers is exactly what the Browns need.
I remember new offensive coordinator Brad Childress talking about the West Coast offense in February and saying that itís all about the YAC Ė yards after the catch. Thatís where Blackmon could instantly help.
I also keep thinking about the Brownsí 2007 season and the special chemistry quarterback Derek Anderson and receiver Braylon Edwards showed. Thatís when Edwards scored 16 touchdowns, breaking Gary Collinsí single-season record of 13 that had stood since 1963. Thatís what Weeden and Blackmon could do if paired together. Weeden threw 75 TD passes in his final three seasons, 40 to Blackmon.
Other than 2007, the Browns have rarely seen that chemistry in the expansion era, even when Kevin Johnson was scoring eight touchdowns in 1999 and nine in 2001. Even in the good old days of Bernie Kosar, the Browns never relied on one big-play receiver. Webster Slaughterís single-season high for touchdowns was seven (in 1987), Reggie Langhorneís was seven (in 1988) and Brian Brennanís was six (in 1987 and í88).
Blackmon could be the game-breaker Edwards was for only one year.
Other thoughts on draft day:
I love covering the NFL Combine because I like interviewing prospects and deciding which ones I like and which ones I want to follow for the rest of their careers. But the draft has become so hyped that I long for the days when the Browns are picking 30th and we donít have to spend four months debating Blackmon vs. Richardson and picking apart their every flaw.
Pat McManamon of Foxsportsohio.com suggested the other day that the Browns should take North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins with the 37th overall pick. Iím with him on this one. Yes, the Browns might be scared away by Jenkinsí past marijuana use and his four children with three different women. But Jenkins is a top 10 talent who could flourish with his former Florida teammate Joe Haden, whom Jenkins reportedly has called his ďbig bro.Ē Haden could be the kind of influence on Jenkinsí life that Jenkins needs and his proximity to former North Alabama coach Terry Bowden, now at the University of Akron, could also help.
Every year I have an Ohio State player I want the Browns to pick and every year that wish goes unfulfilled (most notably center LeCharles Bentley in 2002). I donít feel that strongly about anyone this year. Iím not shooting for the stars, but I do like receiver DeVier Posey, projected as a fifth- or sixth-rounder. After missing 10 games last season due to NCAA suspensions, Posey should be highly motivated. I like the way he tracks the deep ball. Offensive tackle Mike Adams might be a steal if the Browns could nab him at No. 37, but his college inconsistency worries me.
If the Browns are going to go defense on the first two days, I like Jenkins and/or Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David, who would be perfect on the weak side for the Browns. He may be undersized, but his instincts and energy could inspire the entire unit. I donít think the Browns have anyone who can make plays like David did taking the ball away from Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller last season.
The Browns desperately need to find a right tackle in this draft, but Iím OK if they wait until Saturday to do it.
Nate Ulrich, our beat writer, suggested today that the Browns could take a player at about any position except for tight end and the specialists. I agree to a point, but I donít think they have a tight end in the mold of those who took the NFL by storm last season. It doesn't appear to be Jordan Cameron, last year's fourth round pick, who was inactive for eight games and caught six passes for 33 yards. That need may have to wait because only three tights ends Ė Georgiaís Orson Charles, Stanfordís Coby Fleener and Clemsonís Dwayne Allen Ė are projected as every-down tight ends who will be selected in the first two rounds.