Friday, March 09, 2007

Phil, I'm Begging You, Draft Some Linemen

I didn't think that the Browns could possibly have signed a banged up ex-convict like Jamal Lewis with the expectation that he'd lead the charge for them offensively. In fact, I thought his signing practically guaranteed that Adrian Peterson would be their first pick. Based on how much they've agreed to pay Lewis, it's starting to look like I might be wrong about his role with the team.

That wouldn't disappoint me too much, since I've been a proponent of finding a way to trade down in order to take maximize the yield of what appears to a pretty deep crop of offensive linemen in this year's draft. Despite the signing of Steinbach, I'd still like to see them spend two first day picks on linemen. Trading down and adding a first day pick or two is the scenario that's most conducive to that result.

Unfortunately for those of us who advocate trying to trade down, columns like the one Steve Doerschuk wrote in this morning's Canton Repository suggest that the Browns may well be becoming smitten with Brady Quinn.

That's depressing.

I've watched almost every college game Brady Quinn's ever played--and no, unlike your stereotype of a Notre Dame fan, I didn't turn off the games if things weren't going their way. There's nobody who wanted Quinn to live up to his cover boy hype more than I did, but he didn't. His numbers were inflated by what turned out to be a weak schedule, and while he wasn't terrible in any game (even, in fairness, the Michigan debacle), he clearly wasn't the kind of player who could elevate the play of those around him.

Brady Quinn's stats are eye-popping, but in addition to considering the quality of his opponents, you also need to remember that over the past two seasons, Quinn was surrounded by some of the best receivers in Notre Dame history. Two of those guys (Maurice Stovall and Anthony Fasano) are already in the NFL. Rhema McKnight may well join them, and Jeff Samardzija would've been a first round pick had he not opted for a pro baseball career. Another receiver, TE John Carlson, has another year of eligibility but could find himself in the NFL too.

Some of the "biggest fraud in the draft" stuff that's been written about Quinn is way over the top, but I think there's very little chance that he's going to develop into a top-tier NFL QB wearing a Browns uniform. Charlie Weis's bloviations to the contrary notwithstanding, Brady Quinn has a lot to learn if he's going to become an elite QB at the pro level.

That's why, if Phil Savage does decide to roll the dice on Quinn, it's even more important that the Browns spend first day draft picks on offensive linemen. Running for his life behind a makeshift offensive line isn't conducive to a young QB's education process. Just ask Charlie Frye or Tim Couch.

6 comments:

dwayne_rudds_helmet said...

I agree almost 100%, although I wouldn't mind if they drafted a d-lineman or two, also. I think they could draft nothing but linemen.

On the Quinn thing, this could be Savage's big coup to being able to trade down. The best way to get people to take your spot is to convince them that the player that they want won't be availble after you pick.

As it is, Chicago appears to be positioning themselves to be able to trade up by collecting multiple 1st round picks. I wouldn't be surprised to see them make a push for Quinn. So if we convince them that we want Quinn, they will have to trade to either 2 or 3. If they trade up to 2, we get Joe Thomas. If they trade up to 3, we get a windfall.

Anonymous said...

If there is one thing Savage can't do - it's evaluating QB talent...look at Baltimore under his watch.

Quinn is a DOG.

Hornless Rhino said...

Dwayne,

I guess I wouldn't mind seeing some defensive linemen selected as well. I hope you're right about Savage using Quinn as a poker chip, because anonymous makes a good point. Phil Savage is the man who masterminded the deal that sent 1st and 2nd round picks to New England so the Ravens could select the immortal Kyle Boller.

peter said...

Please, please, please draft Adrien Peterson. He's the only guy (other than maybe Russell) who you can look at and say, "I wouldn't be shocked if he ends up in the Hall of Fame." What's the biggest draft mistake the Browns have made since '99. Not drafting Tomlinson. It's not that they don't need linemen or a quarterback; it's that you rarely have a shot at someone as gifted as Petersen. A back as good as he is only becomes available to ANYONE every five years or so. Might he not make it? Of course, but I think there's a lower risk that he won't justify being drafted that high than anyone (including Russell) who's being talked about. Quinn? He might be good. And if they really think he is another Troy Aikman, I'd take him. But he isn't. And offensive linemen? The great ones come in rounds 2-4. Why haven't we used those rounds for linemen in recent years? Why don't we now?

Hornless Rhino said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hornless Rhino said...

Peter,

If the Browns have a high-degree of confidence that Adrian Peterson is a Hall of Fame caliber running back, then they should draft him. There's no denying his talent, but I'm afraid of his history of injuries and also think that he may well be a two down back. I'm not alone in that assessment.

As to your point about the best linemen coming in rounds 2-4, I'm not too sure about that. You can definitely find value in those rounds (like Eric Steinbach, for example), but while there's always the cautionary example of Tony Mandarich, the best of the best have generally been first round selections.

A good example of that is the NFL's All-Decade team for the 1990s. If you look at that team, you'll find that all four of the tackles on it were first round picks, as were two of the four guards on the team. Only one lineman, center Mark Stepnoski,was drafted beyond the second round.

Since I'm not completely sold on Peterson, I'd prefer to see the Browns trade down and add picks. But as long as the Browns spend at least two first day picks on offensive linemen, I guess I won't be too disappointed.

What would bug me a lot, however, is if the Browns continued their strategy of trying to find "diamonds in the rough" linemen with late round selections and relying on free agency as the primary way to build a decent line. What you end up with when you do that is no depth, and that's what has plagued the Browns line over the past several years.