Ask The Insiders

Front-and-center concerns from Browns fans: NFL draft and NFL's labor crisis

OBR's football analyst Lane Adkins, OBR's Browns reporter Fred Greetham and OBR's draft analyst Brent Sobleski take turns answering the latest questions from Browns fans in the exclusive Ask the Insider's forum.

Below are a compiled list of those questions and answers.

Please note all copy [sic]'d.


The draft & the CBS squabbling

dboots: Insiders, like many fans around here I find myself trying to make sense out of the NFL Draft next week and the seemingly hopeless squabble between the NFL & the players. I've come to believe NFL & owners or the players actually did not want to come to an agreement before the draft, but likely will ramp up negotiations right afterward.. here is why:

#1- The teams are banking that the months of March and April, with only OTA's and 1 minicamp missed are replaceable, since they are not mandatory (at least not contractually binding)

#2- Teams often shift focus on the draft from the middle of March on because of the immense prepwork to be done.  Had an agreement been reached say toward the middle or end of March, free agency would likely have started immediately-- forcing teams (especially those who would be looking to add key players) to divert some attention and resources from the draft or risk losing out on those key players.

#3-Simply put, when free agency comes before the draft, it benefits the players more than the teams. How many times have we all seen teams reach and select a player to fill a need who should not be picked there because they lost of on a free agent?  With free agency after the draft, teams would be more likely to select the BPA if for no other reason than there will be more needs and the BPA is more likely to fill one of them.

#4-Money. After the draft, teams will have fewer needs, and so there will be fewer possibly landing locations for each player, lowering many asking prices. And because teams likely didn't reach as much in the draft, they are now in position to fill a few key roster spots rather than trying to put bandaids on a bunch of spots in case they can't draft anyone.

Do you believe this is a possibility?

Adkins' Answer: 1. Limited concern about the loss of time through May.

2. Teams focus on the draft from a front office perspective in early to mid-February, as scout work begins to come together and visits are in full force.

3. Actually FA following the draft enhances the picture for teams. With the draft out of the way, it is easier to attack FA positions of need.

4. Not sure how the financial aspect will play out. Teams believing they are on the cusp may be more willing to solidify spots with veteran talent.


Is the Judge talking to the Judge?

ramllov: The owners and players' lawyers are talking to one judge.  Is this judge meeting with the main judge and getting her questions answered as she is making the final decisions on various areas?

If so, it would make the progress going forward much more meaningful!

Adkins' Answer: This judge is responsible for the ruling and there is a belief that plenty of conferring is taking place.

At the present, I am unsure where the benefit sits, if there is one at this time.


Mayock's "Path" Surprise... Julio?

brownwarrior: The day started with Peter King's MMQB saying the Browns "must draft a wide receiver" at six... and ended with Mayock saying that while A.J. Green is "the more natural WR" on tape, Julio Jones is the better WR for the WCO. Because the Bengals and Browns are both WCO teams and the most likely to go WR, he "wouldn't be surprised" if one or the other stepped up and took Julio.

What do you think? Seemed WAY unlikely just a couple weeks ago, but you could feel it coming.

Adkins' Answer: The Browns have spent extensive time on each WR.

I am told Jones gains an edge as a true WCO type, his initial burst and strength are strong.

With Green, they love his growth potential as well as being more polished all-around.

Sobo's Answer:It really shouldn't be much of a surprise. Julio Jones did enter this season ranked as a top five prospect. I actually had him ahead of Green. I like his game quite a bit. A couple concerns (particularly a few drops, injuries, and possible attitude issues) crept into the conversation. But the talent was never in question.

I haven't seen the piece from Mayock, but my assumption as to why Jones is considered the better WCO guy is that he has a slight bit more burst off the snap plus, and more importantly, he has a bigger and more physical body to ward off defenders particularly during the bread and butter underneath plays relied heavily within the west coast.

Green is slightly more dynamic. He's more smooth. He has better feet. But that doesn't make necessarily make him the best fit.


Re: Julio Jones

DawgBacker26: I have one simple question for you. Obviously, people have differences of opinion & may see things differently than the next guy. Do you really have AJ as being smoother in & out of his breaks? I've not been privey to team gamefilm, so my opinion could easily be distorted, but from what I have seen, it has always looked to me that JJ is a lot quicker in his breaks & makes a very smooth cut. Also, JJ, again to me, was used more offensively as a shorter route running WR. AJ seems long in his breaks & not as quick & seemed to me to be used more down the middle of the field or deep outside the numbers. With that said, & taking into account the strengths & weaknesses of Colt McCoy, wouldn't JJ be a much better match for McCoy, & as you stated the WCO?

On top of that, & again, my opinion, I think Green is off the board no later than 4. Carolina, Denver, Buffalo, & Cincy could all pull the card on Green & he seems to fit those teams schemes better too.

Sobo's Answer: You said one question. I see at least two in there. wink

Yes, I do believe Green is a smoother and more complete receiving prospect at this juncture.

I liked Jones coming into this season. I loved watching him as a freshman when he was so advanced, but he has suffered to a degree from being in an offense that didn't necessarily highlight his abilities. As a result, continued polish to his route running never fully developed.

Green looks like a long strider, but he doesn't gear down in or out of his breaks; and that's what makes him enticing. He makes the spectacular catch, and he's just as tough over the middle.

Yes, some believe Jones is a better potential west coast receiver, and I've acknowledge that. I just don't agree.

As for how it falls in front of Cleveland, ti will depend almost solely on Cincy. Mike Brown may be stubborn, but he's also not stupid. He puts a very very high priority on quarterbacks. I'll be amazed if he calls Palmer's bluff, because he isn't coming back. So if you got a chance to get that replacement QB, you better take it. Or you will be shooting yourself in the foot. (then again, next year is a very good class at the position).


Receiver Prospect Comparison: Braylon vs Jones/Green

BewareOfTheDawgs: Hello Insiders. First, a quick thanks for all the work you do --- and to SOBO for all the recent efforts here in ATI.

Sorry if this has been asked in the past:

My question is fairly straight forward from the title... While I think it is very possible we go D line at #6, the very real possibility of a WR at that spot obviously exists as well. When you compare Green and Jones to our last high WR pick - Braylon - how do they stack up as prospects? Braylon seems to be a little bit of a cross between the two in my eyes --- Green's athleticism, some of Jones' history of drops, etc...

Just curious on your thoughts...Thank you in advance.

Greetham's Answer: I think that is a fairly accuate description. I've read where Green compares with Edwards athletically. He also had confidence, but hopefully, not as much of a 'tude.


Is Julio Blowing in the Wind... Or Was That Hot Air?

brownwarrior: After Shefter tweeted that the Browns want a WR at 6, it seems like most major mocks, including all the SI and ESPN guys (King,Banks, McShay, Kiper) as well as Internet mocks like Walter, now have Julio Jones to the Browns, something nobody was predicting three weeks ago.

In the old scratch mocks, he was #10 to the 'Skins. Now it's getting tough to find a mock that ISN'T Newton-Dareus-Miller-Green-Gabbert-Jones-Peterson.

So was there a leak... or just hot air? Seemed like it happened all at once.

Adkins' Answer: The Browns have Green and Jones rated very similar.

They love Darius, but don't believe he'll be there.


wr question about haggerty and mitchell?

johntyler: how do haggerty and mitchell fit into the west coast scheme?  what kind of upside do they have?  and do they have the speed to stretch the defense?

Greetham's Answer: Mitchell has the speed and size and could be a key contributor in the WCO. It is a head scratcher why Mangini/Daboll didn't use him. Heckert, I believe, was wondering the same thing. Haggerty looked good in the off season, but didn't get any practice time in because of the injury. Both players are hurt by not having the off season program to work in Shurmur's system.

Adkins' Answer: Mitchell is much in the equation. I have heard little to nothing on Haggerty thus far.


Is (Clemson's Da'Quan) Bowers off the board?

brownwarrior: He flunked his workout... and nobody was there anyway. Seems like he's fallen pretty severely and a lot of teams have already made up their mind.

Do you think he's more 12-25 now, Sobo, as some are saying? Peter King thinks he could go to Tampa Bay.Adkins' Answer: Yes.

Adkins' Answer: At this time Bowers remains on the Browns board. His visit with the team went well and there is a strong belief the knee issue is greatly exaggerated.

Sobo's Answer: Funny part is that I've had Bowers personally rated 11-20 basically all season. My concerns was that he disappeared on film, and that was an issue even when he was in the conversation as no.1 overall.  Then you factor in the knee injury, that may or may not really hurt his first step off the line this year. Throw in only one year of production, and it's not a winning combination at this point. The severity of where and when he falls will pertain to his second medical evaluation in Indianapolis this week.


Kaluka Maiava in the 4-3 

Games23: Kaluka Maiava seems to get written off as just another meaningless pick in Mangini's notorious 2009 draft.  But unlike David Veikune, Maiava actually got playing time and seemed to perform adequately up until the point he was lost for the season to injury. As an undersized LB, could he have  a better fit in a 4-3?

By the way, it's such a shame that Mangini didn't get hired by another team.  We could have got excellent value trading him back all his favorite players.

Adkins' Answer: Don't get too excited about Maiava in this scheme. He is already being looked at as a deep down the depth chart quality WS and notably a solid special teams type player.

Sobo's Answer: We have to remember Kaluka was never a full time starter while at USC.

His skill set when projected coming into the league was that of a nickle linebacker who could dog tight ends in pass coverage.

It's logical to assume that he can slide into a backup Will linebacker spot and be just fine in a pinch with defensive line covering him up.


Thoughts on Ryan Kerrigan

BeerDog: 've been hearing throughout this draft season about how productive Kerrigan has been on the field and all the great intangibles but that he lacks the physical tools of the other top defensive line candidates.  I went back and looked at the combine results which were as follows e.g 6'4", 267 lbs, 4.67 - 4.71 40 yard dash (3rd among DE's), 31 reps bench press (35 was the highest DE), 122 inch broad jump (1st among DE's), 33.5 vertical jump, 4.39 20 yard short shuttle. Those aren't Freak numbers but they are pretty darn good - arguably as good or better than any other DE.

Given his highly productive career - especially as a pass rusher, excellent combine performance,  experience as a 4-3 defensive end, high character and terrific attitute, can you help me understand why he is not rated higher?  He would seem to be the ideal Heckert kind of guy. Where do you rank him on your list of defensive linemen?

Sobo's Answer: I have him rated as the 7th best player in this draft class overall. All the same things you've stated, I also feel; but it's obviously against the trend.


Sobo - Why Smith over Kerrigan in your 330 top players?

BeerDog: Just curious.  Kerrigan would seem to have the edge in all measurables (based on the combine), a much bigger and generally more productive college career to evaluate and arguably the most determination of any player in this year's draft class. What do you see in Smith that makes you rate him so high?

Sobo's Answer: Take what everyone likes about Robert Quinn, and then take away missing an entire year due to his own stupidity and a benign brain tumor.

Smith is very long, lean, and smooth off the edge; but he also showed the ability to slide inside and provide some pressure from DT despite his frame. He uses his hands better already. And then he also has those same type of top athletic measurables.

Aldon Smith's upside, and accompanying (although limited) film, is as high as anyone in this class.


Un-answered question

HOPDOG: If free agency started tomorrow realistically who would be on the top of Heckerts list at the various position needing upgrades?  Young talented players obviously but can you provide names?

Adkins' Answer: I'll finish the research, which I had on the backburner due to the labor issues.

I'll work it up for early in the week.



HOPDOG: There is know way we can fill all our holes strictly through the upcoming and draft and with the lockout the team can't talk to free agents. Behind closed doors who do you guys think Heckert will be targetting if and when free agency starts?

Greetham's Answer: Defensive linemen, veteran wide receiver, young veteran right tackle, safety.



michael11952: It is my understanding that if the CBA is not agreed to no current players can be traded. This is probably a silly question but why couldn't teams make a trade that could include a player to be named later like baseball does?

Adkins' Answer: Basically the opportunity to deal players in the league at the time of the stoppage/lockout cannot be moved. There is little to stop a team from trading with another for future considerations, but if those were to ultimately be a player in the league prior to the contract issue, there would be additional scrutiny.


Tom Heckert

mikehey52: what do you guys think of him, i mean in the way he drafts?

Adkins' Answer: One can't judge the Philly situation due to the structure there.

In his one draft thus far in Cleveland, the immediate returns haven't been too bad, but you never like to see a drafted player eliminated quickly.

Let's see his body of work in a couple years, with a couple drafts behind him.


When do the Browns finalize their draft board?

mikehey52: browns final there draft how many weeks ahead of the draft ?

Greetham's Answer: Heckert said Thursday they had it finalized last week. Just tweaking and looking at possible scenarios now.

Adkins' Answer: As Fred notes, it has been set for about a week.

But, there will be plenty of juggling, especially into the middle to later rounds when seeking that elusive talent.

The top-three rounds will have numerous scenarios played out by the staff in Berea for the next week or so i \expectation of potential deals and other team movement.

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