Don't rule out drafting another DB

Selecting another stud defensive back may be Browns best option at No. 6.

Three things are certain come springtime in these United States of America.

1. Everyone's NCAA March Madness bracket will be busted by the beginning of the second round. Thanks, Sienna.

2. Everyone's first-round mock draft will be wrong, save for a pick here or there. Thanks, Al Davis.

3. Taxes are due April 15. Thanks, Uncle Sam.

When it comes to No. 2, most mockers are in agreement the Cleveland Browns will select a defensive lineman or, if available, Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green. But what happens -- as is the case with most drafts -- when things don't unfold the way they were planned?

Perhaps the Browns should consider drafting another first-round defensive back.

Before we get to the two defensive backs to consider at No. 6, let's go back to last season. The Browns selected Florida defensive back Joe Haden with the seventh overall pick. Haden finally started ahead of Eric Wright entering the Browns' 12th game of the season. Fittingly, Haden finished with five total tackles, four passes defended and one interception in a Browns' 13-10 win over Miami on Dec. 5. For the season, Haden finished with 50 tackles, one forced fumble and was fifth in the NFL with six interceptions behind Baltimore's Ed Reed with eight and New England's Devin McCourty, Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu and Philadelphia's Asante Samuel with seven apiece.

It appears the Browns have one stud cornerback. So why not have two?

The NFL has become a pass-first league. Rules, such as the no-contact beyond five yards, have benefited wide receivers and quarterbacks. Completion percentages are at an all-time high. In the Super Bowl earlier this month, only 36 rushes were attempted compared to 79 passing attempts.

When it comes to Cleveland's division, the AFC North, first thought is this is a black-and-blue, smash-mouth division. Yet, in six games, Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger, Baltimore's Joe Flacco and Cincinnati's Carson Palmer combined to finish 104-for-158 passing (65.8 percent complete) for 1,481 yards with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. Individually, Flacco was 34-for-50 for 364 with five touchdowns and one interception, Palmer was 39-for-59 for 580 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions and Roethlisberger was 31-for-49 for 537 yards with five touchdowns and one interception.

One reason for their success were some excellent wide receiver targets. Baltimore's Anquan Bolden had eight catches for 142 yards and three touchdowns in the Ravens' 24-17 win over the Browns on Sept. 26. A week later, Cincinnati's Terrell Owens had 10 catches for 222 yards and one touchdown in a Browns' 23-20 victory and Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace and his 56-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter of the season finale Jan. 2, sparked the Steelers' 41-9 route.

While you may think the Browns' biggest rivals are smash-mouth, they can throw the ball and throw it effectively against the Browns.

So, that brings us back to drafting another "Joe Haden."

LSU's Patrick Peterson is regarded as not only one of the top cornerbacks in this year's draft, but also a top overall prospect.

"This silky smooth corner was the best cover player I saw last year," wrote CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco. "He was better than Joe Haden ... This kid is special."

Peterson (6-foot-1, 222 pounds) won the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given each year to college football's best defensive back. He was a consensus All-American, the first player since Michigan's Charles Woodson in 1997 to also win the Chuck Bednarik Award, which is given to the nation's best defensive player, and he was the SEC Defensive player of the Year.

Peterson is so good there is a slim chance he falls to No. 6.

Yet some believe there isn't a wide gap between Peterson and Nebraska's Prince Amukamara. At 6-1, 205, Amukamara has all the tools to be a top NFL cornerback. Some have said Amukamara is a better tackler than Peterson. In 48 career games, Amukamara had five interceptions, 100 solo tackles, 26 passes defended, forced three fumbles and had four sacks.

"Prince Amukamara is not a future safety," writes Yahoo!'s Shutdown Corner blogger and friend of The OBR Doug Farrar. "At worst, he's a decent and slightly overdrafted corner, and at best, he's a star waiting to happen."

In order to stop good passing games, the Browns must find defenders. Drafting another top-10 defensive back to complement Haden would not be a bad thing.

Of course, that theory can also be turned on its head. When I presented the defensive back theory to a friend, he responded, "Well, if this league favors talented wide receivers, why not go and get one of your own?"


The OBR Top Stories