Heading into the NFL draft this past Saturday, the Browns were one of many teams that contemplated the opportunity to make draft day deals if a specific player was available, or to gain additional draft selections.
While the Browns did not successfully complete a deal to improve their draft position or gain additional selections, the team did meet many of the objectives they had entering the draft.
"The Browns wanted to significantly improve their defensive team speed in the secondary, at linebacker, as well as add quality to depth to the roster. This was accomplished with the selections of (Chaun) Thompson and the (Chris) Crocker kid," an AFC scout said. "Thompson was a fast-rising player among many teams - he has tremendous athletic ability and potential. As for Crocker, teams that scouted him on the pretense of him being a safety did not see value to the selection. Now, teams that scouted him as a cornerback may have found his potential. He worked out much better privately than he did in his pro-day workout. He is quicker than first thought, and while he needs some polishing, he is not a project. He should contribute right away."
"He (Crocker) is a player that we had on our draft board as a safety/cornerback type. He was not really a viable option for us until the fourth or fifth round, due to the course the draft had taken."
We know that the Browns were actively seeking to make moves in the draft. One move they wanted to make, but couldn't, was to move back into the first round in order to draft two players within the Top 32. The asking price to obtain another selection in the late first-round was astronomical, from what we've been told.
"Taking Jeff Faine with their first pick in the draft - a pick that I believe was as solid as they come - the Browns filled a gaping hole within their offensive line with a player that we project to be a All-Pro quality player for years to come. He will step in immediately and start for them," the scout said. "That selection was simple. He was the best offensive lineman in this draft, arguably outside of Jordan Gross."
"We know that the Browns wanted to get back into the first-round of the draft... we talked to them. They (Browns) had scouted linebacker Nick Barnett from Oregon State extensively... he was their guy, along with many other teams. Barnett was the highest ranked outside linebacker prospect. The Browns desperately wanted to make a deal to obtain him."
The Browns have been questioned as to why they selected Ryan Pontbriand, a long-snapper, in the fifth-round of the draft when there were many players on the board that seemed to be more logical picks.
"This is a reach pick by the Browns, a pick that obviously was used to fill a specific need," the scout said. "Cleveland lost the best long-snapper in the game (Ryan Kuehl) due to their relaxed approach in negotiating with him. All things being equal, Pontbriand is an exceptional long-snapper and should fill the void left by Kuehl."
"But, in the fifth round, with numerous players of potential on the board, it is extremely questionable... especially selecting a player that most likely would have not been picked. This choice simply shows the importance of the position within in the league and certainly in Cleveland."
Cornerback Michael Lehan and defensive end/tackle Antonio Garay are viewed as legitimate sleepers. The knock on Lehan was questions about his speed and quickness. With Garay, it is an issue of health and injury.
"The Lehan kid improved his stock after the combines in Indy. He ran better and was more fluid in a later workout, he is a legitimate 4.45 - 4.5 guy with pretty good instincts. With proper coaching and patience, Lehan is a kid that has potential to be more than a special teams contributor," the scout said. "Garay is a kid that has not been able to stay healthy. He is a high-energy player, with very good physical tools and a great attitude. If he were able to stay healthy, he would have been selected much higher in this draft. If he can stay injury-free, he has the look of an outstanding defensive tackle in the league. Again, that is a big "if"."