Draft Chat: Pre-Draft Edition

The OBR's Brent Sobleski and Dave Kolonich discuss what lies ahead this coming draft weekend.

Dave Kolonich: To start - what are you up to on Thursday?

Brent Sobleski: I'm doing a pod with DraftCountdown.com for a few minutes around 5:25. Then I believe I'll be doing a live chat on the OBR through the first ten picks or so once draft actual occurs. Otherwise, I'm going to be decompressing a little bit after a long year of relentless study.

I think I'll be doing an interview with eagles.com somewhere in there as well

DK: I was going to ask you about that. Is this like the proverbial Day After Christmas letdown for a draft guy like you?

Sobo: Well the nice thing is the new 3-day format gives me more draft coverage. That's a plus. But there are certain points during the process where one becomes a little burnt out. 

The more draft, the better is the stance I've taken

DK: I like the new format - it gives teams a chance to reset after the first round. Speaking of which, what is the latest you have heard regarding the Browns' first-round direction? Can we take Tom Heckert at his word regarding the "best player available?"

Sobo: I personally believe so. I think it's a combination of A.J. Green or Patrick Peterson, and then the team will look at what it can do to maneuver past said point. I don't expect them to sit pat the entire process. It will be fun to see how it plays out.

DK: I fully expect a huge QB run throughout the first round - which could possibly set the Browns' table at number six. I've been suggesting that the pick could come down to the remaining "available" player of Green-Peterson –Von Miller-Marcel Dareus. If so, I like the team's chances.

Sobo: Absolutely. In previous years, the Browns sat just outside of where the prime talents were expected to be drafted. This year is much different. If the two QB's are drafted in the top 5, then one will fall. If one of the QB's fall, then the Browns should have solid trade bait to work with.

DK: And we can thank high ankle sprains for our draft position.

Sobo: Absolutely. The team is very different for numerous reasons because of how that situation played out on multiple fronts 

DK: The trade front is where I was going next. Hypothetically, if say Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbard slip to number six, who would be the prime trading candidates for the Browns? What type of trade package could you see?

Sobo: Well the team name most recently seen popping up around Cleveland is Minnesota, but for the wrong reasons. The Vikings would be the team who is the ideal candidate because they sit behind San Francisco, Tennessee, and Washington. Each team is quarterback starved. Minnesota should have the ammo to trade up, while providing a good slot in return to still land a very high quality prospect.

And I am agreeing with you too much.

DK: I know - kind of annoying.

Sobo: Let's change the topic. Josh Cribbs is and has never been a NFL caliber wide receiver. Discuss.... 

Oh wait, this is draft talk.

DK: Unfortunately, I agree with you on Cribbs. Plus, a Peterson pick would mean a new return man in 1-2 years.

That brings us to Von Miller. In my view, he's a bit overrated - along with virtually any QB. However, in every mock draft, he's a top five pick. Which team is truly targeting him?

Sobo: Well...here we go again. Von Miller is overrated. I'm not a fan of the Texas A&M product and never have been. I don't like one-side prospects. I hated the Kellen Winslow selection for the same reason. Miller is very athletic and yet he can rush the passer, but his first responsibility is against the run. He doesn't hold up well. With that said, Buffalo seems the most likely target. Need plus familiarity – since Buffalo coached him at the Senior Bowl – seems like a good combination to link him to the Bills.

DK: I keep hearing this, but I can see a scenario where Chan Gailey targets the offense. How about Green or one of QB's....you know, to play in Toronto in a few years? 

Or, if the Bills pass - how far does Miller drop?

Sobo: I heard when this process first began that the Bills are comfortable with Fitzpatrick at QB. A.J. Green is a possibility because the Georgia product and Gailey do have a history. They are just hurting along their defensive front 7. Miller won't fall far either, he's also a natural fit for what Arizona lacks – with the exception of QB.

DK: In the Browns' case, Miller slipping to Arizona could set up Peterson to Cleveland. But again, Denver is a bit of a wildcard at number two. 

Plus, Green to the Bengals - if not the Bills - is a possibility.

What are you hearing on Denver?

Sobo: If I were to issue one pick in the top five as a slam dunk, it would be Denver. Dareus makes far too much sense. He's the best player in the draft and fits their biggest need. But the draft rarely falls in line. 

And Green to the Bengals is a strong possibility. I think Mike Brown would be remiss not to address QB early, but he loves to stick to his guns.

DK: Again, this could set the path for Peterson to be available. With Cincy, I can see Blaine Gabbard becoming the next Akili Smith. 

Sobo: Actually, I like Gabbert as the top QB in this class. I know a lot of people think he's been a late in the process invention of the media, but I've watched him closely for two years and he is very talented. He's not an elite QB prospect, but well worth a top 15 selection.

DK: Therein lies the folly of the NFL draft. QB's are naturally elevated - or overvalued.

Speaking of the QB's, can you see a possibility of 4-5 being taken in the first round?

Sobo: As for the position as a whole, I had four go in the first round in my last mock (with one more to be finished this week). I, like you, believe a run will occur sooner rather than later. 

I say it every year, QB's are artificially inflated. But that happens when it's sooooo obvious between the haves and have not's in the league right now. Just look at the draft order.

DK: If a QB run occurs throughout the first round, combined with the wealth of defensive talent, how do you think this movement sets up the Browns for the second round?

Do you think the second round is the time to address WR or OL?

Sobo: Defensive line should still be very talented with the likes of Paea, Sheard, etc. potentially available. But I'm quite intrigued by a talent like Greg Little in Round 2. Yes, he has some off the field issues, but also has number one receiver potential. He's really the only receiver like that past Green and Jones.

DK: As far as Heckert and Shurmur go - is there a type of receiver the Browns are looking for? It seems like Round Two could come down to either Baldwin or Hankerson - or Jernigan or Young. 

Sobo: I don't think there is an ideal. People are talking Julio Jones currently because he's a "typical West Coast receiver." Why? Because he has a big body with speed? Well, Jerry Rice was a 4.6 with 6'2' and 200 pounds, which was smaller than both Jones and Green. They need guys who can separate and create mismatches, plain and simple. It doesn't matter if those they draft are X receiver or slot receivers. It's that simple in my mind.

DK: Let's call it the anti-Mohamed Massaquoi - somebody who is capable of getting some separation and fighting for the ball.

Sobo: Actually, I like Massaquoi and think he has some potential and actual explosive ability. Now Robiskie, ehhhhh…

DK: Let's get back to defense for a moment. Looking at the defensive prospects this year, could you say that this draft is geared more towards 3-4 defenses? Not that that matters anymore in Cleveland...

Sobo: Different strokes for different folks and this draft has all kinds of different flavors. 

For example, Cam Jordan, J.J. Watt, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Cam Heyward are all ideal 3-4 ends. 

Nick Fairley, Marvin Austin, Ryan Kerrigan, etc. are all typical 4-3 defensive linemen.

DK: I'm thinking that this year's draft will produce less of the "projected" types of D-linemen and outside rush linebackers. 

Alright, Sobo - let's wrap this up. Let's give one draft surprise and one draft prediction.

My first prediction - Cam Newton will become the new Alex Smith....and I don't mean the tight end.

Sobo: One surprise...I agree with what I read from one of the greatest O-Line coaches in NFL history, Alex Gibbs. Tyron Smith is a future Pro Bowler. I will also say the same for Ryan Kerrigan.  

I also think Ryan Mallett will be very productive in the NFL, but never get to that next level. Mallet will be much like Drew Bledsoe or Vinny Testaverde.

DK: Tyron Smith - at which position?

Sobo: left or right tackle. He's talented enough.

You said one, I give you three.

DK: You're just an overachiever.

Sobo: I will put an asterisk on all of this because the situation a player lands in is every bit as important as their natural talent.

DK: Here's my surprise - which really shouldn't be - I don't see the Browns taking a defensive end until at least the third round - barring an early trade down and pick accumulation.

And part two - for whichever category: I'm still of the mind that the Browns are operating with two extra picks in the form of Monterio Hardesty and Carlton Mitchell.

Sobo - any final thoughts?

Sobo: I would like to say one simple thing to Browns fans...don't freak out.

I remember last year here on the OBR, fans were going crazy because of certain players being drafted they didn't know much about. Then they read superficial scouting reports and automatically labeled prospects like T.J. Ward, Hardesty, and Shaun Lauvao as terrible selections. They weren't. But when the draft occurs...take a deep breath, take it all in, and just enjoy.

DK: Exactly - at least we can all exhale knowing that Dwight Clark isn't running the show. 

Until then....


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