Vinny the Fly: Extinguishing the Fire?

The Browns in the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft have been deceptive, leaving teams confused to their intentions with the number-four overall selection.

The Browns in the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft have been deceptive, leaving teams confused to their intentions with the number-four overall selection.

From every angle, speculation has the team leaning toward a different player, nearly on a daily basis.

From CB Morris Claiborne to QB Ryan Tannehill and everybody in-between, the Browns have cast an unwavering shadow where most in league circles believe the draft will turn.

Without further ado, this Fly has plenty of pre-draft droppings for your perusal. Weeding through the pre-draft smoke has never been as difficult for this fly to travel through…..

- The Browns have considered WR Justin Blackmon, RB Trent Richardson, OT Ryan Kalil and CB Morris Claiborne legitimate options with the fourth selection in the draft.

What we now know are some specifics to the pre-draft evaluation process of the Browns…….but there is not a single individual that knows what the Browns will do with the fourth selection in the draft…..nobody, other than those within the process.


- If the Browns select Blackmon, the organization will attempt to secure the services of QB Brandon Weeden. The thought process is a rather obvious one. The Browns believe the duo has a strong relationship and knowledge of one another, that they will be in position to impact the offense quickly.

The likelihood of the Browns selecting Blackmon has been a relatively hot and cold proposition. The organization firmly believes they must secure the services of a legitimate WR in the draft, but the wealth of knowledge within the Browns management varies in their opinion of the WR.

The strength of a Blackmon selection is his ability to create and make plays. There is little question the WR has the skill-set to be a good player at the next level, but is not being termed as an elite talent overall by many within, which makes his selection a questionable venture.


- The Browns personnel department has been meticulous in their scouting and evaluation of the QB's in the draft not named Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Many when discussing the remaining QB's in the draft conclude Tannehill and Weeden are the best available talents at the position.

At 28-years of age, Weeden's age has been an ongoing issue as teams debate whether the signal-caller is worthy of being a late first round selection, again due to his age.

The Browns appear to be one of three teams which are not discounting Weeden due to age. In the case of the Browns, this Fly has learned Weeden is rated highly by the Browns and is a player the organization may be willing to select with the 37th selection in the draft, if not sooner due to speculation another team in the late first to early second round is entertaining the option of selecting him.

Many scouts and evaluators in the game believe Weeden possesses the qualities you want to see in a viable starting quality QB in the league. We are not talking simply a player to lead a team to mediocrity, but a strong armed, mentally strong QB that can and has made all the throws necessary to be effective, while beating numerous good teams and highly rated QB's.

As a staff member at Oklahoma State University discussed with this Fly, "Brandon (Weeden) just wins and does anything he has to do for the team to be effective. You look around at all other QB's in the draft, the Luck's, Griffin III's, Tannehill……….Brandon has competed favorably to each."

"If given the opportunity to compete, Brandon (Weedon) is going to make a team very happy, there is nothing he cannot do on the football field."


- The biggest player of intrigue, with potentially the highest ceiling is that of QB Ryan Tannehill. Possessing a strong arm, athletic, great feet, quick reactionary ability and a fearless competitor, Tannehill is a legitimate candidate.

All of the football men within the Browns organization believe Tannehill has the tools to become an upper-echelon type player at the professional level.

The problem in Cleveland isn't that of being aware of talent, it's the position the organization presently resides that is the underlying issue. With numerous needs on the offensive side of the ball, the Browns seek a player that can step in and be a starting quality component.

In Tannehill, there may be a waiting period to be a realistic threat immediately. In Cleveland, this in itself is an aspect which has caused numerous discussions and back and forth dialogue within the staff.

The bottom-line on Tannehill and the Browns is this. The Browns like him very much, and the present state of the team may be a prohibitive factor in his selection.


-With all the QB discussion surrounding the draft, the most interesting move may be one which does not occur.

Talking to some around the league and within the Browns organization, there is a common them appearing.....the Browns are serious about providing QB Colt McCoy a legitimate shot at being the guy for the Browns, and the plan is to secure talent required to improve his chances, and more so the Browns offense.

While the Fly isn't saying the Browns are not going to select a QB or the organization may in-turn draft a QB early and let the cards fall where they may......but the belief is the Browns want to improve the talent at RT, WR, RB, DE and OLB and now.


- This is going to be short and sweet. If OT Ryan Kalil somehow falls to number-four, the Browns will be all over the USC lineman. The Browns do not expect Kalil to be on the board and if he is, the card will be turned in or the Browns will receive a significant trade offer.


- Morris Claiborne from LSU is a battle-tested CB which answered the bell time and time again. The Browns like Claiborne, they like him enough to seriously consider him at number-four, even with the issues the Browns face on the other side of the ball.

Some have evaluated Claiborne as not being of the same caliber as Patrick Peterson, another LSU CB selected in the 2011 draft. Some question whether Claiborne is as talented as Joe Haden, the Browns first round selection, taken with the seventh overall selection in the 2010 draft.

Claiborne is a more quick than fast CB. He is not as physical as the two CB's mentioned previously, but he is fundamentally sound with very good instincts.

In the Browns camp, Claiborne is evaluated as a complete CB, capable of being effective in press-man, as well as in zone.


- In the NFL the RB position has become an under-appreciated position……on draft-day that is. With a rash of RB's drafted throughout the draft and some cases making a name for themselves as undrafted free agents, the value of a RB that can do everything at a high level is sometimes looked over.

Trent Richardson from the University of Alabama is the total package, nearly every team in the NFL will attest to this, despite the logic some of the same teams will claim that a RB can be found anywhere.

Browns team president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert do not show the desire in their background to select a RB high in the draft. Yes, Holmgren did select Shaun Alexander from the same Alabama as Richardson with the 19th overall selection in the 2000 draft.

While the major components of the Browns draft haven't selected a RB nearly as high as the 4th selection they maintain, it's the total package of Richardson, his nimble feet, raw power and quickness, the ability to be a three-down RB and the ability to block which makes the Alabama star oh so enticing to the Browns.

There is no smoke and mirrors going on with the Browns on Richardson. They love his talent, have him rated highly and know he could step in and contribute at a high level immediately.


- The true problem with the Browns is the numerous holes within the offense, and all at critical positions. These major deficiencies have created a troubling situation for the Browns, for the men calling the shots, responsible to turn a once proud franchise around.

In a draft as level as the 2012 draft, there is not a great divide in talent at numerous positions from 10-40 potentially. At some positions it is not out of the question to gain a legitimate potential starter into the third-round.

But, sitting at number-four, the Browns have to face the toughest of decisions. A RB makes less of an impact as does a QB, when considering all things being equal. A WR makes less of an impact if the offense cannot effectively throw the ball down-field and cannot run the ball. A QB cannot be expected to excel with a mediocre receiving staff and a lack of a rushing attack.

An argument can be made for any of the legitimate candidates to be selected with the fourth overall selection. There is a sentiment that each player proposes a skill-set that does fit into the needs of the Browns.

The AFC North is a division of rough, physical teams that can run the ball and stop the run. Each team has improved offensively, displaying the ability to beat a team through the air, or by pounding the ball when necessary.

Running the ball could be an issue in Cleveland. No Hillis, Jackson not a starting quality RB, Hardesty hardly can find his way off the injured list and the team doesn't believe Chris Ogbonnaya is good enough.

We can go back and forth about the play of the QB and the lack of play coming from the WR's.

The RT was an injured player that resembled a matador far too often.

When you look at the facts, every legitimate player discussed looks good in a Browns uniform.

A week ago the Fly heard the guy would be Richardson. This week the Fly is told the Browns would love to land the duo of Blackmon and Weeden.

Next Thursday, this Fly sees a trade coming, maybe then the Browns can find viable bodies to fill each hole.

And with that comes yet another move that will keep difference-makers from lining-up on game-day.


Until my next,
V


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