Owl: Who to Pick at #12

If there's one thing that's clear from watching too many movies, it's that when normally mute things talk, you should listen. For example, if your house says "Get out!", that's probably a good idea. If you get a lion who talks to you, same deal. Needless to say, if you can find an owl who not only talks, but it able to write regular columns by pecking at a keyboard with his beak, and he tells you who to pick first in the draft, you should clearly listen.

There is great debate going on in the forums of the Orange and Brown Report, and it strikes much closer to home than what the United States should do about immigration or what France should do about that whacky country's job law.

We're talking about important stuff - whom the Browns should take with the first pick in the draft.

One camp is rooting for the Browns to take Broderick Bunkley from Florida State. He has become the fashionable pick. He's rising on draft boards and he can play end or tackle.

If we're to believe the rumors - and keep in mind the weeks before the draft are all about spin - the Bills have cooled on the Oregon giant, Haloti Ngata. If the Bills do go in another direction and Ngata is still unemployed when the 12th pick in the draft comes up the Browns should take him without hesitation.

Yes, they signed Ted Washington in free agency, but Washington will be 38 in a couple weeks, literally old enough to be Ngata's father.

What is the most important position in a 3-4 defense? It's nose tackle. If Ngata turns out to be another Washington the Browns could be set at nose tackle until 2020. That would certainly qualify as a good first-round pick.

Ngata is listed as 338 pounds, and that might be generous on the Jenny Craig side. He has weighed as much as 350, but he has to be seen to be believed. He is as solid as granite. There are no jiggling rolls of fat on his 6-foot-4 frame.

"He's a very good player," Gil Brandt, a personnel guru working for the NFL said. "He's strong, productive and he has a long career ahead of him.

"He doesn't play hard every down, which is typical of a lot of big guys that can overpower people whenever they want to, but I think he'll be a very, very good interior lineman. He'll occupy two blockers. I think he'll be a top-ten guy. That's a priority position and there aren't many of those guys around. I don't think he'll be there when Cleveland picks, but you never know."

Ngata says he'd prefer playing defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense, but he is fine with playing the nose in a 3-4. He was double-teamed on virtually every play in college, part of the job description of a nose tackle. He still managed 71 tackles, nine tackles for loss, and three sacks in 2005.

Ngata has had some personal struggles, but not the kind that raise red flags. His father, a truck driver, was killed three years ago when his rig slid off the road on a patch of ice. His mother died in January after a long bout with diabetes. The burden of supporting his four siblings falls on Haloti. The situation is one reason Ngata left Oregon as a junior.

"Football is something my parents would want me to do," he said. "It's motivation, especially knowing they'll be watching me together. My dad came to my games. My mom hardly did, but now they'll be watching me together."

Good character, good player - Ngata sounds perfect for the Browns.

Ngata's coach at Oregon, Mike Belloti, recalled a particular play when Ngata was a sophomore.

"He kind of scooped up a pile of offensive linemen and just started shaking everybody until the guy with the ball fell out," Belloti told The Daily Oklahoman. "It was kind of like a cartoon."

Ngata says he wants to pattern himself after Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton. He could do that and learn from Ted Washington.

"He does pretty well separating from the double-team," Belloti said. "When he gets single-blocked he does a good job getting away and getting to the quarterback."

Ngata's the guy if he's available.


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