Rich's Rant: Waiting for a Gift

The Browns have the #12 pick in the NFL's annual crapshoot, and simply will wait to see who falls. Will Michael Huff land in their laps? Jimmy Williams? Or will the team pick OLB Kamerion Wimbley anyway? Here's what Rich would plan on doing...


Here we are less than two weeks away from the 2006 National Football League college draft and we still have no idea which way the Browns will go in round one.

So many options. So many choices from which to choose. So much riding on who falls into Phil Savage's lap.

He almost has to play a game of what if as he awaits his 15 minutes to make his first selection.

What if Brodrick Bunkley and Haloti Ngata are there at No. 12? What if Vince Young or Vernon Davis are there? What if Michael Huff and Jimmy Williams sneak their way down to the Browns? What if Winston Justice is still on the board?

There is one certainty: The Browns are going to wind up with a solid player at 12. Most likely he will become a starter unless Romeo Crennel persists in making rookies learn in their first season.

Unlike last year at this time, when it became increasingly apparent the Browns were going to pick Braylon Edwards, no one player sticks out this year. Perhaps that's because the Browns sit nine slots lower than last year.

A year ago, I championed wide receiver Mike Williams of USC over Edwards if Savage chose offense and linebacker Shawne Merriman if he went for defense. Choosing Merriman at No. 3, argued many, would have been folly. As it turned out, Williams suffocated in the wide receiver-heavy Detroit offense and Merriman went on to become the NFL's defensive rookie of the year.

Right now, it is a coin flip as to which side of the ball will be addressed first a week from Saturday.

Savage maintains he wants to improve the pass rush and the run defense. Ostensibly, that means Bunkley or Ngata or outside linebacker-defensive end hybrid Kamerion Wimbley will wear Seal Brown and Orange this season. Wimbley, a latecomer to the giddy heights of the top 25 prospects, has steadily marched up the charts off a terrific showing at the Indianapolis combine.

Bunkley and Ngata come with warnings. Bunkley has had injuries issues throughout his college career. That's all the Browns need: Another injury-prone defensive lineman (Courtney Brown).

The more imposing Ngata has been known to take off plays. That's all the Browns need: Another Gerard Warren.

But what happens if a Young or a Davis lands in Savage's lap? It's entirely possible.

All it takes is one crazy move by a team above them and the whole first round could be skewed. It has happened before.

Like in 1987 when the Browns chose linebacker Mike Junkin with the fifth pick of the lottery. When the laughing subsided, linebacker Shane Conlan dropped to Buffalo and cornerback Rod Woodson fell into Pittsburgh's lap.

Conlan played six years for the Bills, going to three Pro Bowls. Woodson, a future Hall of Famer, went on to become one of the all-time great corners with 11 Pro Bowl appearances in 18 seasons.

So what does Savage do if Young or Davis slip through? How does he pass on either of those?

Young has become a lightning rod of sorts. On one hand, he almost single handedly led Texas to the national championship. On the other, he has never taken a snap under center, his throwing motion is somewhat less than classic and he owns a Wonderlic score a gnat would be proud of. But all he did was make plays and win.

Davis is hailed in some quarters as being better than Kellen Winslow Jr. Does everything but leap tall buildings in a single bound. He's got the size of a tight end and the speed of a wide receiver.

A conundrum for Savage.

Bunkley appears to be the best choice if he's there. With nose tackle Ted Washington aboard, the Browns need someone on his left at defensive end.

The knock on Bunkley is that at 6-3, 305 pounds, he's too small to play the nose and not quick enough to play end. Nonsense. All I know is that he is extremely active, amazingly strong, arrives with a mean streak and does not take plays off. That's my kind of player.

If a gun were put to my head – we're speaking figuratively here – and it was my choice, I'd take Bunkley if he was there at 12 and stick him at left end. Somehow, I don't believe he's the second coming of Gerard Warren.

If Bunkley's not there, then roll the dice.

Isn't that what they kind of do anyway on draft weekend?


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