The Browns have completed a solid draft, with grades ranging from A to C. The true picture on any NFL draft is drawn in two to three years. Where the Browns may differ is in being an expansion team their draft grade could be fairly accurate in four years for the first two or three drafts. In actuality, this team is in year two -- Butch Davis tells Tim Couch to forget the first two. I contend that the whole team should forget their first two years.
The 1999 and 2000 drafts rate as incomplete. A new coaching staff and new schemes, as well as a very poor team, basically cancel out the first two years. A fresh start last year was great news for the surviving players. The 2001 drafted players showed promise. The chances are good that many players from the first three drafts could have breakout years.
Generally, this is the first of four draft years that the drafted players do not have to be forced into starting roles. Exceptions may be the first three choices--William Green, Andre Dawson and Melvin Fowler. Their readiness to start may be because of their superior ability over good players already on the squad. It is almost expected that William Green will be the starting running back. Andre Dawson and Melvin Fowler would be unexpected surprises. What a nice outcome of the 2002 draft if all three turned out to be starters the first year. The next positive step is to realize, that after this year, the depth and development of this team has been so accomplished that no future draft choice will be expected to be a starter, unless injury or great surprise. This year or next year, this team will finally be comparable to every team in the NFL.
William Green (1/16) (Draft round and selection number) provides the runner position this team has needed for the past three years. The current discussion is that the Browns are lucky they did not trade for Ricky Williams. Butch Davis, Boston College coach Tom O'Brien, and/or other sources say it is not William Green's test time running at 4.5+ or 4.6+ but his actual game speed that is his best asset. He's fast to the line and when they watched game films, they didn't see players catching him from behind. This is the best news for Browns fans.
Andre Davis (2/47) was the second round pick. Davis would have been a first round pick if he had a better reputation for hanging on to the ball. Well, it sounds like the Browns may have gotten lucky since it appears that he's caught everything during spring and Q-back camp. The only question is will Andre Davis still be catching and holding the ball when the pads are on and the hits are coming? Recent commentary on Andre Davis is that he's the number three receiver and could challenge Morgan for number two receiver. This again is great news, because it makes two offensive playmakers with the first two choices of this year's NFL draft. Davis is also an exceptional special teams kick returner,
OFFENSIVE LINE CONSTRUCTION
Melvin Fowler (3/76) is a center and potential guard. Butch Davis believes this guy could have been a second round choice and for the price of Willie Ranier they traded up to get him in the third round. He appears to be the center for 2003. Past shoulder operations are a concern, but have not been publicized much. He had over 40 starts for a good Maryland football team and should provide back-up depth in 2002. This is a nice pick for 2002.
Joaquin Gonzalez (7/227) was the last pick and is the dark horse of the draft. He was not invited to the Indy camp, but don't worry, Butch Davis knows this guy and has high expectations of him. He will either be a backup this year or next. He had over 40 starts for a very good Miami university, team.
LINEBACKERS - SPECIAL TEAM PLAYERS
Kevin Bentley (4/101) was the fourth pick. He's now classified as the WSLB (weak side linebacker). All the commentary at the Browns camp seem to be related to Ben Taylor and Andra Davis, Bentley was picked 10 and 40 choices prior to these two guys. I guess the idea of Rudd going to SSLB (strong side line backer) for a Jamir Miller holdout was considered. Is Bentley considered the best of the three linebackers drafted?
Ben Taylor (4/111) is the backup SSLB and special team ace, just like the other two linebackers, and the Browns' second round choice as a kick returner. The picks were multi-purpose. The last reports on Ben Taylor have been very positive from Butch Davis. With Jamir Miller holding out or missing camp, he's showing more ability with his current opportunity.
Andra Davis (4/141) has been rated as a second to fifth round choice. It appears the Browns were very happy he was available in the fifth round. He looks to be the MLB of the future. He gets one to two years to train, which is a positive sign of a developing team.
TIGHT END OF THE FUTURE
Darnall Sanders (4/122) was skipped since he may be more of a project and I wanted to group the linebackers together. Darnell Sanders's start could be 2004, which corresponds with player development on a good team. He has the physical attributes of a good tightend, but not the maturity or experience. He can be developed.
A current glance at these draftees is that it is a solid group who should all make the team and potential provide contributions in 2002. It is important to remember they are still rookies.
Browns 2002!.... Finally A Winning Combination Of
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