THURSDAY: You've got a top-five pick in this year's draft. Name the player the Browns should take.
LANE ADKINS: In the 3-4 defense, strong linebacker play and a presence along the interior of the defensive line is critical. The Browns have taken a step in the right direction at the linebacker position, but the defensive tackle/nose tackle position is one area which could be improved upon. Defensive tackle Alan Branch from the University of Michigan has the ability to be a standout interior lineman, and a player who has improved his stock. A less costly alternative is Amobi Okoye of Louisville, and he could potentially be a increasingly likely type target.
Despite the critical needs of this Browns team, a single player will not turn this team around. A case could be made for quarterback Brady Quinn of Notre Dame, the same could be said about running back Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma and offensive tackle Joe Thomas of Wisconsin. With the free agent player signing period opening well before the NFL draft, one would figure the Browns will address areas of need through this process and hopefully have the opportunity to select the best player available.
On the other-hand, wouldn't it be nice to see the front office pull a draft-day shocker and trade down in the first round? Gaining additional selections early in the draft selection process could be the road to success in building this team.Wishful remains a common occurrence in Cleveland.
JOE BROWNLEE: It's early for this and I'm no college football guru, but I say go best player available in round one and draft OL, DL, and CB with the remaining picks. Joe Thomas may not be there by the time the Browns pick, but the stud d-linemen should be. I'd also seriously look at trading down if two first round picks would be available from someone. I would not take a quarterback despite the need there.
ADAM CAPLAN: After watching the Sugar Bowl game, it has to be QB JaMarcus Russell (LSU). He has great arm strength and he has the ability to move in the pocket which is essential when you look at the problems with the Browns' offensive line. Russell could be gone though after his superb performance. QB Brady Quinn would be next then OT Joe Thomas who could start right away.
FRANK DERRY: Wisconsin's Joe Thomas. He might nto be worthy of being a top five draft pick, but at this stage the Browns might have to reach in order to fill a critical need. No veteran left tackle not born and raised in Northeast Ohio is going to join an organization as pitiful as the Browns no matter how much money is offered.
FRED GREETHAM: Adrian Peterson or Joe Thomas. Or if there's anyone with the initials 'KW' available in the first round. The Browns have done well with that combination of initials in the first round in recent years.
BARRY MCBRIDE: I believe that Brady Quinn will be off the table when we pick, and Adrian Peterson may be off the table as well. You have to take Peterson if he's there, or you'll be hearing about it just like when Davis passed on Tomlinson. With those two gone, I'm going to take DL Alan Branch from Michigan based on what I've seen to date. Put him where McKinley was playing this year, and watch Branch and Wimbley terrorize left tackles and quarterbacks for the next five years.
GREG HENSLEY: Gaines Adams, he is the best defensive player in the country and I don't think Phil will pass on the complement to Wimbley.
MARK LEONARD: Wisconsin OLT Joe Thomas, who should satisfy the demands of the critical position for a decade and a half. This is not a project or a beefed-up TE; this is a naturally-gifted, naturally-strong big boy designed for the challenges of the post. He's the real deal. His presence would enable Kevin Shaffer to gravitate to a less-demanding, more appropriate spot along the line, perhaps at RT to move Ryan Tucker inside to guard or to move inside himself, as some have suggested.
RICH PASSAN: Adrian Peterson. Period. The guy is a stud. He's Reggie Bush with size, the kind of back who breaks big runs. He would give the Browns their best running threat since . . . well, since the team returned in 1999, and arguably their best running threat since Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner wore the Orange & Brown. He's the kind of back who can make an ordinary offensive line look good and a good line look like All-Pros.
If Peterson is not there, trade the pick and move down. There isn't anyone in the top five who can come in and make the kind of impact Peterson can. Joe Thomas is a very good offensive tackle and Gaines Adams is a very good defensive end. There is no guarantee Thomas will be the next Orlando Pace or Walter Jones or that Adams will be the next Jason Taylor or Michael Strahan. I'll take my chances with Peterson.
SCOTT PETRAK: Joe Thomas or Adrian Peterson. Thomas, the left tackle from Wisconsin, is the pick as of now, but that could change if the Browns are somehow able to sign Eric Steinbach in free agency. With Steinbach, Shaffer and possibly Tucker, the Browns could afford to pass on Thomas in favor of a game-changing running back. Another huge need.JOHN TAYLOR: Given the Browns needs and their position in the draft, I don't think they could go wrong with Adrian Peterson. Or Brady Quinn. Or Alan Branch. Or Jamarcus Russell for that matter, although he's likely a two-years-before-starting project whose upside would be higher than any of the players already mentioned. He's got the potential to be a position-defining and position-changing player, but do the Browns have the time to wait on his NFL development and, more importantly, can they afford to be wrong on a project/player like Russell?
Be that as it may, back to the question at hand: who would I pick? I've waffled back and forth on this for weeks. One day it's Peterson, the next it's Quinn. As it stands now, I would be giving a slight gangsta lean in the general direction of Quinn over Peterson. Yes, even after that putrid performance in the Sugar Bowl last night. But, check back tomorrow and the answer very well could be A-Pete.
And yes, I'm well aware of the fact that, thus far, there has been no mention of "The Great Joe Thomas", for which there is a very good answer: he's over-hyped and not worthy of top-five status. Of course the Browns need to draft offensive linemen, but they don't need to reach to get one. Especially with the third or fourth pick in the draft. Just say no to Joe.
TOMORROW: You have to sell Browns ticket holders on renewing their season tickets. What's your message?