2003 Draft: Here's What I Would Do...

Not that anyone in the Browns' war room cares what I think, but there's no harm in trying. Here are some thoughts as to what I'd do if Carmen Policy gave me full control of the operations for two days...

Since Butch Davis runs the whole show on draft day, the best I can do to help the Browns' cause is to make suggestions as to what direction the team should follow on April 26-27.

Not that anyone in the Browns' war room cares what I think, but there's no harm in trying. Here are some thoughts as to what I'd do if Carmen Policy gave me full control of the operations for two days.

I'd start first by lifting the media blackout on most of each practice session. Sorry about that. That issue has nothing to do with the draft, but it's one that I'd like to see changed.

Concerning the draft, I'd break my primary needs down into four areas: cornerback, linebacker, offensive line and defensive line. Because of the number of areas that need addressed, I have to believe that the best available athlete on the board at the 21st spot in the first round could very well fill a need.

After setting areas of need, I'd begin an intense study of the linebackers and offensive linemen. I say that because there's no way the top two cornerbacks - Kansas State's Terence Newman and Washington State's Marcus Trufant - will be available at 21. I'm not about to take a chance on any other cornerback with the first pick, whether it be Dennis Weathersby, Andre Woolfolk, Sammy Davis, etc.

I'd then look to use the first pick on a linebacker or an offensive lineman. The problem is that both are areas that aren't considered deep in talent. There is no Tony Boselli-type for the taking, and there's no one that reminds me of Ray Lewis out there.

However, there are some quality prospects at those areas - especially on the offensive line - that could be on the board when the Browns select. If one of them slips to 21, I'd make him my first selection.

The player that intrigues me the most is Iowa lineman Eric Steinbach. He played guard throughout his college career, but he could project to left tackle. Wherever he would play for the Browns, it would likely be an upgrade in the long term.

The guard positions aren't exactly a strength with Shaun O'Hara and Barry Stokes as the incumbents. Stokes is okay as a backup, and O'Hara's value was characterized when Buffalo GM Tom Donahoe, after a meeting with the restricted free agent, said that O'Hara wouldn't start for the Bills.

I know I have Qasim Mitchell as an option at right guard, but there's no guarantee that he'll be ready to step in. Landing Steinbach would help a weak position. It should also help open some holes for William Green, who will become the focal point of the offense.

Another option could be Stanford tackle Kwame Harris. Selecting Harris could help at two areas - left tackle and left guard. If Harris is ready to start immediately, he could get the nod at tackle, allowing Ross Verba to move to guard.

But Steinbach is the guy I'd pick, assuming he's available. There's more upside with Steinbach than with Harris, and it appears that Steinbach is closer to being able to start from the start.

If I can't get one of the two aforementioned linemen, I'm looking for help at linebacker. Boss Bailey is intriguing because of his speed and pass-rushing ability on the outside, but I need a run stopper (plus, Bailey is going to be long gone).

Maryland's E. J. Henderson is a sound, fundamental tackler who reads and reacts extremely well. He doesn't have great speed, but he makes up for it with his football instincts.

I know that second-year veteran Andra Davis is waiting in the wings to replace Earl Holmes, but I'm not sure he's the long-term answer. Getting Henderson would give me a strong run-stopper, and it would allow Davis to provide decent backup help and focus on special teams.

The theme throughout the offseason has been on improving the run defense. To do that you start in the middle, and Henderson is the best middle linebacker that could be available at 21. If he's not there, the next option becomes defensive tackle.

I'm not fond of the thought of putting more money into an area that has been saturated with megabucks contracts, but it might be the only course available. What I'd be looking for in a tackle is a wide body-type that plays well at the point of attack. I'm more concerned about clogging the inside lanes than I am about pursuit.

The best tackle that might be on the board at 21 to fill that role is Ty Warren of Texas A&M. He has good size at 6-4 and 305 pounds and isn't easily moved off the line. Put him next to a re-energized Gerard Warren, and it should make the jobs of the linebackers much easier.

After the first round, I'd continue to look for help at cornerback and on the offensive line, while also looking for a decent tight end. Since it's unlikely that I'll select a cornerback number one, I'd think seriously about picking for need in round two to strengthen the secondary.

It would be great if Weathersby or Woolfolk drops to the 52nd overall spot, which is possible with the former. If either is there, he'd be my second pick.

Then I'd stand back and await media and fan criticism.


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