So I've been sweating over my draft day preview piece like a five hundred pound tax cheatin' man sitting in a loft apartment in downtown Hotanta in July with no AC and the IRS man is pounding on the door after I ate 36 atomic wings with no cold beverage. My butt has procrastinated long enough. I am just going to fess up and admit to you that I have no freaking idea what Mangini and Kokinis are going to do. Oh, I think I know what they SHOULD do, but I am not he and they's not me.
I have no read on these cats whatsoever, and this gives us further insight into the new regime in Berea. We knew it was so. We knew the insider leaks were crushed, the information flow both unofficial and official is now limited to a trickle like a 60 year old man with a bad prostate standing awake at 3 AM. But even trying to get inside these dudes' minds is tricky because there is no information and no Cleveland track record, and yet, let's give it a shot.
Conventional wisdom has more and more people thinking they'll take Brian Orakpo of the University of Texas. After all, Mangini is wed to the 3 - 4 defense and the outside linebacker situation is a little grim. Some reports go so far as to say KokMan fell in love at first sight when Orakpo, ahem, aroused interest at a private workout. CamRahm Wimbley just never learned anything more than the "speed-Gumby" pass rush move and gets pushed aside by offensive tackles like the salad bar at the Golden Coral by a busload of seniors stopping for lunch on a gambling trip. He's a conversion project that never converted, sort of like as if Anita Bryant had worked with Jim J Bullock or Rachel Maddow. Alex Hall remains an intriguing project on the other hand, but with Willie Mac exiting with his benefactor and ‘twan Peek never playing, the cupboard is pretty bare except for these two and our token vet who followed new guy into town, David Bowens. And about Orakpo, what's not to like? He was very productive in college and has measurable off the charts. But there are those nagging scouting reports that keep saying once he gets a blocker on him, he doesn't disengage and he's taken out of plays. Plus he, too, needs to evolve and go bi-pedal. I once thought Orakpo was the shoe in, but now I'm not so sure. Still, there will be no projectiles hurled at any screens from me on draft day if he comes to the stage and holds up the brown number 1 jersey.
Surely the Browns won't take a receiver number one, will they? What if Edwards is dealt to the New York Football Giants, however? Or what if they want to really commit to Brady Quinn? Would they take Michael Crabtree, or even the lesser known Jeremy Maclin? I just can't see it, even as at least one ESPN personality is reporting Crabtree will be a Brown on draft day. Knock me over with a feather if he is taken by us. By the way, on many draft days you really can knock me over with a feather, but that is usually after round two and several hours of beers, but I digress. Even if BE leaves town, I'd look for a lower pick to be blown, errrrr, used (give the new guys a shot) on a receiver. I can't see this tandem valuing offensive explosiveness that high in the draft.
What about everyone's crazy human wrecking ball, Rey Maualuga? Personally, I‘d love it. I'd do it. I just haven't seen one projection remotely putting Rey in the top 10 slots in about a year. He'll look great replacing Bart Scott and destroying us for the next decade, however. So we got THAT going for us, which is nice. I'd love it if Aaron Curry dropped to us, but I don't see it happening. But let's face it. What we fans are all Jonesing for are not talented pieces-parts. We don't want building blocks. We want that gladiator to restore our honor as fans. We are just done taking the pimp slaps from the Rayenthals, the Harrison thugs, the Reids and Suggs, and that long haired lady who plays safety for the Inbred. We want our warrior who can walk out to that one-on-one battle as if he's from the Illiad, or Maximus on the silver screen. We're sick of our pride being stomped on while we try to play defense. We want that impact game changing human exclamation point. We're done being Tina; we want to be Ike for a change. That would be Rey. Unfortunately, I'm not seeing it. The slotting isn't right and NFL teams lack the onions to buck conventional slotting.
Like most everyone, I'm hoping for a trade down. There is an outside chance there will be THAT player, perceived by a true contender as the missing difference maker that they must have under any circumstances, who will entice overpayment. Crabtree to the Giants comes to mind. Maybe Mark Sanchez to a quarterback starved team that doesn't value the next prospect in the same vein as he? Denver and the New York Jets come to mind. It could happen. I doubt that it does. The salary structure right now is making the top 5 to 10 picks into albatrosses rather than coveted building blocks.
I am, however, somewhat optimistic that at least one more first day draft pick will be on the way. I simply don't believe that Derek Anderson will be on this football team after draft day. I doubt Mangini wants the distraction of a QB battle no matter what he says to prop up value and interest in DA. , I believe from what I've read in the tea leaves that counter to every bit of media rumor, the Browns are really sold on BQ and they are grooming him to be the conservative field general that the Tuna-tree loves. What will be of interest is what we can get for DA. I continue to believe that the Browns' history of incompetence works in their favor in this case. I believe that in spite of DA's reckless treatment of the rock and his mercurial performance, as well as being as inaccurate Bagdad Bob's war reporting, there will be enough NFL GM types to believe that THEIR organization will be the ones to tame this wyld stallion, harness his physical gifts, and that the Browns failed DA rather than vice versa. I am REALLY hoping that team is the Detroit Lions and we can get the first pick in the second round for DA near draft day. I also don't think that is wishful thinking at all.
So, drum roll please.... After all this set up there may be only as many people still reading as there are reputable citizens on the mean streets of downtown Steubenville after 5 PM, but here goes....
With their first pick in the NFL draft at slot number five overall, the Browns select B.J. Raji, defensive lineman, Boston College. OK, so what's wrong with a little mother nature showing up in testing? I mean, the last time we took a chance on a stoner from BC that seemed to work out..... uhh, never mind. Still, I have a gut feeling that this new crew is going to be selective and arbitrary in their definition of character issues. "Character" will be pragmatically defined as whether you take coaching, show up in shape, work hard, and are a good teammate - and you can play come Sunday. Are you a good father? Great. Go home and play with your kids. We don't care. If B.J. pulls off the interview and drinks his goldenseal and behaves, I can see Mangini building inside to out and starting the program with stopping the run and rushing the passer inside. BJ and Rogers can be our Seymour and Wilfork, and they'll work on the rest. A defensive line of Robaire Smith, Rogers, and BJ, with Corey Williams, C.J. Mosely, and the weight-throwing-cat-BQ-insulted serving as rotational depth all of a sudden looks pretty nasty on paper.
In the second round, I see the Browns pulling the trigger on a safety, probably Lewis Delmas from Western Michigan or Patrick (Wang) Chung from Oregon State. It all comes down to the style of defense Mangini and Ryan want to play. I understand Delmas is more of a cover two player while Chung is a poor man's version of that chick that plays for Pittsburgh. The gaping hole at safety is too large, and with Brodney Pool's history of concussions, he could be one big running back breaking loose from ending his career on any given Sunday. Mike Adams isn't enough. Nick Sorenson getting starting minutes is unacceptable. There is also a chance we go linebacker or offensive line here and wait until the second, second pick from Tampa Bay to pick up our safety, but I'm not seeing this as a position with which we can gamble.
With the Tampa second rounder, I can see Brian Robiske being taken here if you believe the reports that the Browns' like him, or maybe a running back, although I really hope we don't draft skill positions this year. My gut tells me that the Browns will reach just a little bit and select Eric Wood, a center from the University of Louisville, and he will be a serious contender to start as a rookie as Mangini continues to build inside out. I just don't see the aging and finesse blocking Hank "Space Ace" Frahley as fitting into the Browns' plans, especially in a 3 - 4 based division.
In the event that the Browns are fortunate enough to land a second rounder for DA, or even a third rounder, I look for more outside linebacker help to join the inevitable second day projects, or even a right tackle prospect. As I mentioned before, running back remains a possibility. Maybe a Larry English from Northern Illinois, or Clay Trey Matthews. If somehow Knowshon Moreno was there and we had a pick, that would be un-real.
The politics of draft day will now really heat up. Like Marvin sings, believe half of what you read, and some or none of what you hear from this point forward. It is all smoke and mirrors. The only hints you can really believe come from who they looked at early in the process, or who visits last, the philosophies of how a team is built, and to some degree how desperately player need by position drives decision making. Despite these self-admonishments, I expect to now get obsessive compulsive when it comes to each and every draft day rumor and change my mind about a dozen times when it comes to what the Browns may, or should, do on day one of the draft. I bet you will as well. Get ready. It's Christmas in April. This year, it's gonna be different!