Dave Kolonich: All right - so the topic today is LB vs. OL. First, let's set the parameters. Can we agree that the Browns will NOT draft either a LB or OT with the 6th overall pick?
Brent Sobleski: Not necessarily, although we both can probably agree that Texas A&M's Von Miller will not be available. Although, he did visit Cleveland today. Otherwise, the sweet spot for both probably resides within the 3rd or 4th round.
DK: Brent - this is why we're sort of kindred souls. I'm not buying into the theory that only a WR or DL will be taken at number 6. Between LB and OT, is there a player worth taking at number six - besides Von Miller?
As for the pertinent question of the day, I would be one of the few that says yes there is another talent worthy of that pick, USC OT Tyron Smith. I have Smith as a top five overall prospect in this draft. Will he be the selection? Highly doubtful, although he has gotten a private workout from the team, but he can enter the conversation.
Sobo: Smith has popped off the film from day one when I watched him as a sophomore. He was raw then, but clearly the best prospect along that loaded USC line. No prospect at the position comes close to his athleticism. He buries people in the running game when he really gets ahold of them. I think there is a pretty dramatic drop off after Smith.
DK: Would Smith justify a number six pick - or perhaps be taken as a result of the mythical "trade down" scenario? If only Eric Mangini were still in charge....
Sobo: Another case that's highly unlikely, but there is a phrase I keep using this year known as "expanded margin of error". With teams expecting a rookie cap (supposedly), they would take chances they probably wouldn't have in the past. Hence, this is why Peterson is in the conversation or why Cam Newton is more viable at number one. It's less crippling if they bust.
DK: This is an intriguing issue that many people aren't aware of. With Peterson, it's possible that the Browns could invest more money in the defensive backfield - at least under the scenario you present. And really, in a pass first league - it's probably not the worst idea to add two quality corners. At least the Heckert precedent is there.
Sobo: That's the thing. At least based on initial predictions, Peterson will be drafted one slot higher than Haden was last year, and yet probably make less. It makes it more financially viable, while adding an immense talent to an already young backline that improved tremendously in 2010.
I think Heckert sits back and takes the best talent, whomever he believes that is. He has that type of poker face, particularly if you ever heard the story of how he got kind of known in the Dolphins organization.
DK: Is that a story for the record?
Sobo: Yes, actually. Can't remember where I heard it initially, but in 1997 the Dolphins really wanted Sam Madison and Jason Taylor. They couldn't decide which player to take in the second round. Heckert was a fledgling scout (or front office personnel, can't remember which) and he piped into the conversation. He was confident the team could land both. He said the Dolphins should wait on Taylor, because he'll be there in the third round. He was. The rest is history.
DK: You mentioned "dropoff" earlier with the OL prospects. I think the same could be said for this year's cornerback talent. After Peterson and Amukamara, there isn't much to speak of until the mid-rounds.
Sobo: When it comes to the "dropoff", it's dependent on what a team is looking for. Quality corners with less physical ability are always found throughout the draft. At tackle, there really isn't much past the third or fourth rounds. And I'm being generous.
DK: What are your thoughts on Wisconsin's Carimi?
Sobo: I've watched Carimi since he was a redshirt Freshman, and I think he's been generally underrated until recently. You could see a lot of Joe Thomas in him because of how he was coached and how he studies relentlessly. He's not the athlete that Thomas is, but his mannerisms are similar. As a Junior last season, he was as pro-ready a pass blocker as most of the elite tackle prospects, but he struggled anchoring because of his lack of core strength. He then put on 15-20 lbs. during the off season and lost some of that initial athleticism, hence why many talking heads now consider him mainly a RT. He can finish and he can move people off the line, that's for sure. Although I've heard stories about his attitude, plus the attitude of his family which is a little hair raising.
DK: So, to get back to the original question of LB vs. OL - let's take a quick look at some of the best LB prospects. Obviously, the Browns need long-term fixes at all LB spots. How would Martez Wilson look at ILB?
Sobo: I just rewatched the Texas Bowl recently with Martez Wilson as Illinois played Baylor. You have to love his athleticism and natural tools. He can run sideline to sideline, and as a result I think WSLB may be a better position for him. His instincts are somewhat lacking and he has a previous injury concern from his junior year (neck).
I think the third and fourth rounds are the "sweet spot" of the draft when it comes to linebackers that should be available and could eventually start at the next level.
Sobo: It would be hard to pass on Bruce in the third round. He has too much physical ability and could go late in the second round. Chris is getting a lot of love lately as well. He has great feet playing from an "elephant" role for the Dogs.
DK: I love Fresno State players - so I may be a bit biased.
Sobo: Pat Hill does a great job coaching that team, that's for sure. There are some Browns' bloodlines there too.
DK: Anyway, let's wrap this up. Assuming that the Browns go elsewhere with the number six pick - which is the higher priority - LB or OL?
Sobo: If I'm looking at it, I assume linebacker is more of a concern. The team currently has one and a half starters on the roster. Scott Fujita can be slammed at SSLB for another year or so. D'Qwell Jackson is a very good linebacker, but he just can't stay healthy. And there isn't a good enough athlete on the roster to be a legit starting 43 WSLB. And the depth is scary.
DK: Second, who would be the best prospect at each position?
Sobo: If I'm looking at RT, someone like Miami's Orlando Franklin is a powerful kid who played left tackle for the U, but projects to the right side or even guard. Plus, he has ties to Coach Whipple, who was the team's offensive coordinator last year. Marcus Gilbert of Florida, James Brewer of Indiana (brought in for workout), Derek Newton of Arkansas State, and Jah Reid of UCF (also worked out) are all intriguing from the third to sixth rounds or so.
Linebacker is loaded in that same range: Ross Homan (Ohio St.), Kelvin Sheppard (LSU), Dontay Moch (Nevada), K.J. Wright (Miss.St.), Lawrence Wilson (UConn), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Nate Irving (NC St.), Greg Jones (Mich.St.) and Casey Matthews (Oregon) should all go in the same rounds I just detailed.
DK: You kind of hit on a couple guard prospects, but something else worth considering is the decline of Eric Steinbach at left guard, along with the hole at right guard. Maybe the original question needs rephrased.
Sobo: I like the idea of Steinbach at LG for another year. He's a security blanket for Thomas. There are just too many other concerns to write him off yet.
DK: Anyway....just one of many questions left to be answered. As always, Sobo brings the goods.