Sunday, April 27, 2008

Round 7--- someone the writers don't know

With pick #231, the Browns finally drafted a pass rusher---Alex Hall of St. Augustine, a Division II
All American. Hall's 6'6" and 260 pounds defensive end. He had 7 sacks and 15 tackles for loss in 9 games this past season. His unofficial time in the forty is 4.77. He's a tall, thin guy. I suspect that the Browns will get him in the weight room and have him add some muscle.

Picks 190 and 191

The Browns had back-to-back picks in the 6th round.

They used the first, which they got from Seattle in the Charlie Frye trade, to take a nose tackle, Ahtyba Rubin, of Iowa State. He's 6'3" and weighs 315 pounds. At Iowa State, he clogged up the middle for the Cyclones. He has a chance to play in the Browns' line rotation this year.

The Browns sent their 2009 5th round pick to the Eagles for the next pick, and took a big, strong wide receiver, Paul Hubbard of Wisconsin. He's 6'3," weighs 220, and runs a 4.48 forty. He's big and tough. He knows how to block. Unfortunately, he has trouble at the thing receivers are supposed to do---catching the ball. He reminds me of another Browns' receiver, Quincy Morgan. Morgan was a big underachiever given his bad hands and lofty draft position. The difference is that, if Hubbard makes the team, he'll only be counted on to play some kick-off coverage and occasionally get into the game in a four receiver set. Hubbard's not a bad pick at this point. He would have probably gone higher, but he suffered a leg injury during the season. He's a project with some significant upside. However, I'm surprised that the Browns haven't gotten a cornerback. There were a lot out there.

Here come the Browns---ahead of schedule

Savage did what I thought he would---he jumped up to draft early in the 4th round. He traded his 4th (#122) and 5th (#155) to Dallas for pick #104. With it, he took Beau Bell, a linebacker from UNLV. Bell's a tough guy and a good tackler. There's some question as to whether he'll play inside or outside because he switched between both spots in college. He's 6'1", 244lbs. and runs a 4.75 forty. He can really stick ball carriers and will be a nice addition. I suspect he'll play on special teams and end up gravitating to a rotation where he plays some outside linebacker but mainly plays inside.

Then Savage worked a little more magic and traded next year's third round pick to Dallas to get pick #111. Then he did a curious thing. He took Martin Rucker, a tight end from Missouri. Rucker's 6'4", 251 lbs. and runs a 4.71 forty. Rucker is a pass catching specialist. He's got great hands and can grab the ball in heavy traffic. Playing at Missouri, he lined up as a wide out on occasion. He led all tight ends in receptions per game last year, and his brother, Mike, was a Pro Bowl defensive lineman for the Carolina Panthers. This would be the kind of pick that would usually be a great one, if the Browns didn't have Kellen Winslow, who just also happens to play tight end. I hope this isn't some signal that all the surgeries have worn K2 down or that he's truly unhappy about his contract.

For those who read my earlier post, the Patriots took OLB, Shawn Crable, with the 78th pick, and the Eagles took OL, Mike McGlynn, with the 109th pick.

Well, here we go without the fanfare.

All loyal readers know that NFL Draft Day is one of the favorites around V&THR corporate headquarters. Not so much this year. The Browns first scheduled pick is in round 4 (#122).

All the rags have written that Savage has already had his draft by nabbing Brady Quinn (1st), Corey Williams (2nd) and Shaun Rogers (3rd and Leigh Bodden). I see their point, but Savage has a nice reputation for finding players on day 2 and the Browns still aren't a complete team. This year, the Browns' biggest need for a team that wants to win now is a pass-rushing linebacker to play opposite Kamerion Wimbley. There are a couple floating around out there, and even though Savage has said a few times that he's probably not going to "do anything," I can see him trading into the late 3rd or early 4th to pick Michigan's Shawn Crable. The scouting report on him says that's he's big, fast and dumb. Well, yeah but he's from Michigan. So, up there, they probably call him "Professor."

If you check out NFL Draft Countdown's rankings of outside linebackers, you'll notice that there are a number of available guys who are ranked ahead of Crable, but I think he's the best pass rusher left in the draft. He's over 6'4," weighs 245 pounds, and runs 4.64 in the forty. He played in the Big 10, which has some big-time offensive linemen. This kid could be just what the doctor ordered. He'd require some attention, and opposing offenses would have to pick their poison between Wimbley and Crable. He's from Massillon and would probably love to play for the Browns. Plus, his learning curve on hatred of all things Pittsburgh would be incredibly short.

Beyond a pass rusher, the Browns need a cornerback and a versatile offensive lineman. A cornerback that intrigues me is Brian Witherspoon. He's not a an experienced player, but he's blazing fast with a 4.29 forty. He can cover fast wideouts. Listen, he 's a total crapshoot, but he's the kind of player that I'd take a chance on in the 7th.

An offensive lineman who could help the Browns is Mike McGlynn. He played tackle at Pitt for all four of his years there. He won't play tackle for the Browns, but could be a terrific guard. I've seen him play a number of times. He's really tough and nasty. Plus, he has the added benefit of being from Youngstown, Ohio. I knew his dad and played ball with him. So, I'm a little biased, but he is a hell of a player.

The Browns picks today are: 4th (122), 5th (155), 6th (190) and 7th (231). Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Okay, I'm Back

I know it's been a while. Did anybody miss me? Yeah, I didn't think so. Anyway, why didn't I write anything for almost two months? The answer is that I've been dealing with a severe case of Cleveland sports malaise. For better or worse, I truly haven't given a damn about teams that I usually obsess about. Start of the Tribe's season? Yawn. Cavs playoffs? I think my left foot is asleep. The new Arena team? Jeezes, Bernie, I love you man, but try as you might, there's no way you're going to talk me into Arena-ball.

Even the Browns and their free agent signings didn't stir my interest. Can you imagine?

I think I came down with this ailment when the Tribe collapsed against the Red Sox. Although the onset of symptoms was postponed until after the Browns missed the playoffs, I couldn't forgive the Cleveland Indians for that massive choke job. I was really obsessing about it for awhile, and just kept getting angrier and angrier about the Indians and their complete lack of heart. That led me to ponder the Cavs inability to take a single game from San Antonio in the NBA Finals, and how the Browns managed to overcome almost insurmountable odds to miss the playoffs despite winning 10 games.

At some point this winter, I just said "to hell with it," and decided that these teams simply weren't worth the effort I've put into them. Hey, I still read the sports section and catch the highlights on Sportscenter, and I even sit down and watch entire games from time to time, but neither the Tribe nor the Cavs have constituted must see TV for me over the past couple of months, and since this blog was fueled by that obsession, well, let's just say I haven't had much to write about.

Some people started to worry about me. My mother actually called to see if I was alright. I got a couple of e-mails from readers asking if I was okay. And by a "couple," I mean just that -- two measly e-mails in two months. Thanks a lot. Looks like I'll definitely be needing Life Alert if I make it to my dotage.

My buddies tried to snap me out of my funk. I went to Opening Day with Vinny, Joey Peeps and The Starfish, but while I enjoyed the game, the afternoon was marred by the fact that we got stuck in front of this complete nitwit whose muttonchop sideburns and strange haircut made him the spitting image of Wolverine from X-Men. And true to his Superhero nature, Wolverine was not going to be shy about sharing his baseball insights with all of Section 307. According to Wolverine, every move the Indians made all day was wrong, all six of the White Sox fans in attendance were a-holes who had to be called out at every opportunity, and the three year old sitting with his mom two rows in front of him was no reason not to drop at least five f-bombs in every sentence. The highlight of the afternoon was his five minute soliloquoy about why Casey Blake sucks, which ended just moments before Blake hit his game winning double. Hey, Wolverine, I believe the word I'm looking for is "pwned."

I guess the bottom line is that I still haven't rallied. Cavs v. Wizards? Sorry, I've seen that movie before. Wake me if they win a couple of games from the Celtics. I actually tried to get fired up for the NBA playoffs. I went out and bought Terry Pluto and Brian Windhorst's new book, "The Franchise," about how the Cavs got LeBron and built the team that got them to the NBA Finals last year. You know what? The book blows. The writing is subpar, the proofreading is worse, and the storyline after the Cavs get LeBron is simply not very captivating. In short, it's got all the signs of being a book dashed off to capitalize on last year's post-playoff euphoria. Terry Pluto must have a guilty conscience, because in the author's notes to the book, he starts out by assuring readers that this isn't that kind of book. Uh-huh.

Okay, well, how 'bout that Tribe? Sorry guys, but I've been mad all winter, and so I'm just going to come out and say what I gotta say about this team. There's just something about this Cleveland Indians team that I don't like. This isn't kind, but I'll be blunt -- I think the Indians are gutless. It's not that they missed the playoffs in '05 or that the Red Sox came back from a 3-1 deficit in last year's ALCS, it's the way that it happened in both instances that bothers me. Frankly, the team's performance in both situations can fairly be called cowardly, and I think we all know it.

Good Cleveland teams always falter in the end, but they seldom quit. That's part of the reason they've inspired such devotion on the part of their fans. I'm just not sure I can say that about this incarnation of the Indians. So, while I root for them, I'm not hanging on every pitch -- because I don't think they do, especially when the going gets tough. Maybe I'm wrong and I've misjudged this team, but based on the entire season of underachievement sandwiched by two epic collapses that we've witnessed over the past three seasons, it's going to take a World Series Championship to convince me of that.

I'm sure I'll snap out of this eventually, but since the Browns don't have a draft choice until the 4th round, it's not likely to happen any time before training camp opens. In the meantime, however, I will continue to periodically purge some of the bile that's been building up over the past generation or so onto the pages of this blog. Maybe that will help me shake this funk.