Now to Prove the Critics Wrong...

Butch Davis and the Browns had heard everything about William Green. How he had missed the most important game of the year because of off-field behavior. How he wasn't fast enough. Tonight, Butch Davis looks at Green and how the Browns feel that a 1-2 backfield punch may emerge.

BEREA - William Green's critics claim he is too slow and too immature. They bring up the Boston College running back's poor 4.58 40-yard dash time when he worked out at the scouting combine in Indianapolis, and they talk about his being suspended for Eagles' biggest game of the season after violating a team rule.

None of that mattered to the Cleveland Browns when they selected Green with the 16th overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft Saturday. The Browns are convinced Green is the workhorse running back to breathe life into the team's stagnant running game.

"The guy we had at the top of our list was William Green," said Browns coach Butch Davis. "We couldn't pass on a guy who had the speed, the athleticism, the ability to score from anywhere on the field, the fact that he's 220-plus pounds. We really felt he would add a big dimension to our offense."

The Browns were so sold on the powerful 6-foot,  221-pound Green that they decided not to  pursue the possibility of trading up in the first round to draft highly touted University of Miami left tackle Bryant McKinnie - a move that had been rumored all week.

"We considered it because McKinnie is such a fantastic player, but in the end we decided to get our running back," said Browns director of football operations Dwight Clark.

Green, who rushed for 1,559 yards and 15 touchdowns in 265 carries as a fourth-year junior last season, was rated with Michigan State's T.J. Duckett at the top of this year's class of running backs.

According to Clark, Green was a better fit for the Browns than the bruising 253-pound Duckett.

"Both are excellent players," said Clark. "We felt Green fit us the best of the five top guys we had rated at running back ... At this level holes are not open for very long. We felt William had explosion getting through the line fast, then he has great vision and the power to break tackles. T.J. has that too. There isn't a huge difference in the two, but in this division and in this offense, we just felt William was the best fit."

For a Butch Davis-coached team that puts a tremendous emphasis on speed, it seems off character to rate a running back with questionable speed over a player like Duckett, who was recently posted a sub-4.4 time.

Davis admitted to being concerned with Green's poor times at the combine. Then he studied Green's game films at Boston College and was reminded of another running back who was discounted by scouts because they questioned his speed - Dallas star Emmitt Smith.

"Everyone said (Green) runs 4.6, but hen you turn on the film and you see guys who run 4.3 and 4.4 and they are not catching him. We did the same type of analysis (with Green) as we did with Emmitt Smith," said Davis, who was an assistant in Dallas when the Cowboys drafted Smith in 1990. "I'm not trying to predict that William Green is going to be the next Emmitt Smith, but when we were in Dallas Smith was probably the third or fourth value on our board that day, and as his stock started to fall (former Dallas coach) Jimmy (Johnson) could hardly contain himself and he tried to move up to get him.

"The knock on Emmitt at the time was that he was a high-4.5, low 4.6 guy. All he did in college was pile up a lot of 10, 12, 15 and 20-yard runs and then he comes into the National Football League and all he does is get a lot of 10, 12, 15 and 20-yard runs to the point where he is almost going to be the leading rusher in the history of the game. I don't think that you have to run 4.3 or 4.4."

Davis is also not concerned with questions regarding his violation of team rules last season, forcing Boston College coach Tom O'Brien to suspend his star back for the team's biggest game - an 18-7 loss to eventual national champion Miami.

When Davis, Clark and the Browns scouts visited with Green in Boston, they were impressed with his willingness to own up to his mistakes.

"He was always very up front with us in all of our meetings," said Davis. "He always looked you right in the eyes. All of our interactions with him were very positive and he was always very straightforward with us. I think one of the things that has been highly motivating for him has been his tough upbringing."

When Green was in his early teens, his parents, Mabel and Bobby Green, died after contracting the AIDS virus. He was raised in Atlantic City, N.J. by his grandmother. His strongest adult male role model, Tim Fetter, who Green considers a surrogate father, is now in prison for criminal sexual assault.

"He is a great kid who has been through a lot and overcome a lot," said Clark. "Everyone at Boston College loves him and they would stake their reputation on him."

Green will get a chance to prove his critics wrong right away when he gets to the NFL. Davis said he expects Green to combine with last year's third-round pick, James Jackson, to give the Browns a one-two punch at running back.

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