In golf the saying goes that you drive for show but you putt for dough!
Sure, everybody reacts to long drives that explode off the club-face, bore into the sky like an F-14A Tomcat on full afterburner while curling majestically from right to left before landing some three hundred yards from the tee box. Exulting over a thunderous drive beats standing over a "must have", four foot putt with a huge wad of cotton in your throat, and your cheeks stuck to your teeth because whatever moisture you might have had available to lubricate your mouth is soaking your palms or distending your bladder. Browns coach Butch Davis an excellent golfer knows winning in golf requires skill enough to hit the driver and nerves enough to sink the "money" putt.
In the NFL, you acquire free agents for show but you draft for dough!
Some fans expect the Browns to acquire a Pro Bowl free agent to fill every perceived weakness in their team. Fans can't understand why their team won't spend money to get the players. They agonize over the fact that not every free agent with talent or a big time reputation is dying to play for the Browns! "Why can't management see what we need? Why do they let those "damned Stillers" take our guy?" (Unfortunately, the reality of salary cap-driven decision making eludes most fans)
Fans fail to understand the importance of the NFL equivalent of the "money putt"; the annual college draft. If your nerves aren't strong enough, you won't draft well; if you don't draft well, you won't win big.
What do nerves have to do with the draft? It takes strong nerves to make your first draft pick a player who broke team rules twice before two of the biggest opportunities in his career. The Butch Davis era Browns drafted William Green the "clock slow" running back from
It takes superior self-confidence to select a wide receiver second for the third year in a row! Andre Davis improves the offense by providing another potential difference maker for Tim Couch.
It takes strength of purpose to select a center with the third pick. Many fans were demanding a trade to acquire the Bryant McKinnie from Miami, LeCharles Bentley from Ohio State AND Marco Columbo from Boston College with the first three picks of the 2002 draft.
Butch selected Melvin Fowler from
Shaun O'Hara and Fowler give the Browns two capable replacements for Dave Wohlabaugh when he moves on. One or the other will probably line up next to Wohlabaugh as the starting left guard for the 2002 Browns.
Further, the Browns retain young, tough, experienced offensive linemen Roger Chanoine, Brad Bedell, and Paul Zukauskas. According to some, the "steal of the draft", was seventh round selection tackle Joaquin Gonzalez from
Dean is favorably compared to Orlando Pace and Korey Stringer, two recent
Mitchell at 6-6/335 is larger than any other current offensive line candidate on the Browns. He is a massive run blocker with good upper body strength. As such, he may remind many long-time Browns fans of a young Orlando Brown who was another huge, young
Combined with off-season signings of right tackle Ryan Tucker, utility man Barry Stokes and the re-signing of Tre Johnson, the prospects for the Browns offensive line appear promising.
It takes a firm understanding of you own limitations to draft three linebackers when everybody knows you need offensive linemen!
The Browns were the worst team in football at running the ball and stopping the run. Poor offensive-line play; you bet. Poor defensive line, linebacker and safety play? Indeed.
However, an often overlooked facet of team play that contributed greatly to their woeful performance was special-teams. If you consistently give the other team good field position and fail to establish a good starting point for your own offense, you will lose many football games. Poor special teams play limits the success of a good offensive team. Consider the impact on the Browns, a poor offensive team without a respectable running game.
Jamir Miller had a great year in 2001. What will it cost to keep him? Holmes was injured in 2001, what if he goes down again? Rudd ran out of gas late in the 2001 season. How do you minimize the impact of those types of those types of problems? Simple; you draft three of the best linebackers available to strengthen your depth, greatly improve special teams AND serve as an incentive to motivate your existing line-backing trio.
Kevin Bentley shows great toughness and athleticism; he is a natural special teamer.
Ben Taylor, according to Dwight Clark will "knock your block off. He'll be a terror on special teams."
Andra Davis "has a lot of potential as a linebacker and as a special teams player" according to Coach Davis.
Combine these three young players with second round pick Andre Davis and you go a long way toward changing the fact that the new Cleveland Browns have never returned a punt or a kickoff for a touchdown in a regular season game. Expect that to change in 2003. Butch sure does!
Tight end Darnell Sanders from
How well did the Browns draft in 2002? We will not have the answer to that question for several years.
We do know butch
The Browns are betting their dough that he does!