Draft: Brown, Merriman Rising Fast

Bernie's Insiders <i>Mock Draft Muncher</I> has been updated, and shows that Maryland LB Shawne Merriman and Auburn RB Ronnie Brown have done themselves the most good over the last six weeks. Both are rising up the draft charts. Meanwhile, the Browns intentions with the #3 pick are shown to be growing murkier, and Cedric Benson may be regretting skipping the combine...


Over the weekend, we've updated most of the mock drafts contained in the Mock Draft Muncher (and added a few more) to get a sense of what the Internet's draftniks are saying about this year's upcoming draft. As we find nearly every year, there continues to be a lot of movement in mock drafts as we get closer to the big day.

(NOTE: If you're reading this article via one of our syndication partners, you will need to visit us directly at http://browns.scout.com to see the many links buried in this article. You need the Macromedia Flash player installed to display the trend analysis charts).

In previous years, it was found that mock drafts were actually more accurate in late February and early March than they were in the week before the draft. Will this year break the trend?

Here are some things we can see from the Mock Draft Muncher:

1. Who picture of who Browns will pick at the #3 slot is getting fuzzier, not clearer

When this year's MDM debuted last month, two draft selections were very common across the mock drafts: Cedric Benson at the #2 slot, and Derrick Johnson to the Browns at #3. As this trend analysis (Flash required) shows, the number of mocks picking both Derrick Johnson and previous second-favorite selection Alex Smith have dropped considerably in the last two weeks.

Part of this can be attributed to the Browns acquisition of Trent Dilfer and Matt Stewart, and part can possibly be explained by unenthusiastic statements from Phil Savage concerning Alex Smith. There is a common rap that Johnson has trouble shedding blocks showing up around the Internet, and that might be impacting his potential selection at #3.

Players getting increasing mention as being possible picks for the Browns at #3 are WR Braylon Edwards (Michigan) and LB Shawne Merriman (Maryland).

This increased uncertainty over who the Browns might pick with their selection is a positive thing for the team if NFL GMs are similarly confused. The greater the uncertainty, the higher possibility the team might get a trade-down offer that it likes.

2. Ronnie Brown was helped by attending the NFL Combine, and Cedric Benson hurt by not attending

This year may have been a tipping point which directs more top athletes back to the NFL Combines. In recent years, the assumption on the part of players and their agents is that attending the combine could hurt, and not help, athletes already ranked as top selections. The experience of Ronnie Brown and Cedric Benson may change that.

The Mock Draft Muncher trend analysis for Brown shows that he has improved his average draft position (ADP) steadily over the past six weeks, moving from an ADP of 12 to 5.4. That number continues to go lower as more mock drafts insert Brown for Benson as the selection for the Miami Dolphins at #2 in the first round.

Benson, meanwhile, has slipped from an average draft position of 2.5 to one around 5 in the same amount of time. That slip accelerated after the combine.

3. Shawn Merriman is 2005's March Fixation

Merriman's average draft position in the mock drafts has gone from around 21 early in February to around 14 at this point. After some impressive workouts, Merriman has been listed as going to the Browns at #3 in a couple of mock drafts, and there is a sense that he might have displaced Derrick Johnson on some draft boards.

Others enjoying a nice rise on the Mock Draft charts: Fabian Washington (trend), Braylon Edwards (trend), Adam "Pac-Man" Jones (trend). Some players who are falling include Dan Cody (trend) and Heath Miller (trend).


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