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Levine: Much Ado About Nothing

Les sounds off on Maurice Clarett's comeback, an OSU coach joining the staff, and more. Les offers his commentary every Wednesday on Bernie's Insiders - part of our mission to provide an objective balance to Browns coverage. Join us <A HREF="">in the forums</A>!

As Maurice Clarett prepares to show the NFL what he's got at the Indianapolis Combine, let's play a little revisionist history.   I don't think it is outrageous to think that, had Clarett stayed at Ohio for three years, he would be attending this Combine with a Heisman Trophy in his hip pocket, along with a second National Championship ring in his possession.  If he didn't perform in a truly outstanding way at the Combine, it is reasonable to think that the scouts would still grade him higher than he deserved, based on what he did on the field.

But that won't happen now.  Every move that he makes will be scrutinized thoroughly.  He hasn't played in two seasons, and he was hurt for part of the one season that he did play.  There are many questions about his physical, and mental ability to play a grinding NFL season. 

There is no question that some team will take a chance on him, possibly late in the second round, but more likely, in the third or fourth round.  Had he stayed at OSU, it isn't a stretch to think that he would be one of the glamour choices in the first round, somewhere between the tenth and twentieth pick.  The signing bonus, along with his initial contract, would probably be enough to set him up for life.  He would have been one of the most popular players to ever come out of Ohio State, and that is saying a lot.

Instead, third or fourth round money will only allow him to be put in a position where he will be fortunate to get the next contract.

Some day, when Maurice matures (hopefully), he will have to look back on this time of his life, and realize that he made plenty of mistakes, and needlessly took a lot of people down with him.  I would hate to see anything bad happening to him, but it seems to me that he will regret what he did over the past three years.   He may surprise me, but becoming a third or fourth round draft choice, after leaving school early, making allegations against OSU, and suing the NFL for admission in the draft after his freshman year, doesn't seem quite worth it.

Speaking of Ohio State, I was glad to see that the Browns hired former Buckeye Defensive Back coach Mel Tucker, Jr. to the same position at the pro level.  Tucker was a standout performer at Cleveland Heights High School, and has become a hot commodity.

But that being said, it just adds to one of the problems that the Browns might experience.  From top to bottom---GM to head coach to offensive and defensive coordinators, and so on down the line---so many important pieces of the organization will be handling jobs that they have never done before in the NFL.  Maurice Carthon was an offensive coordinator at Dallas, but he never called the plays in a game.

The odds of all of the newcomers achieving great success together are not high, and two to three years from now, the team may be looking to make more changes in those positions.  Part of the problem goes back to what happened when Chris Palmer got the head coaching job late in the process of setting up the new franchise, as highlighted in Terry Pluto's book, False Start.  Because the Browns were held up in announcing the hiring of Romeo Crennel, they couldn't approach assistant coaches that were on other staffs.  Once Crennel got the job, there weren't a lot of capable candidates out there.

Right now, everybody's resumes look good.  But let's check back after two more seasons, and let's see how things worked out.


Nobody really knows what Phil Savage is thinking about the upcoming draft, but having the Number 3 pick this year screams of trading down.  The Browns will already be getting Kellen Winslow, Jr., and Sean Jones back, which is almost like getting two high picks.  I'd like to see them trade down in the first round, and if WR Mike Williams of USC is available, I'd take him along with the ‘best athlete available'.  That sounds like a cliché, but this year it really applies to what the Browns need to do.  The only positions I wouldn't take with the second selection would be QB, wide receiver, or defensive lineman.  Everything else is fair game.

‘More Sports & Les Levine' can be seen M-F from 6-7pm with replays at 11pm on Adelphia Channel 15.  E-mail or


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