Barry's Blather: Pass Rushers Make Me Queasy

Your mother wouldn't approve of padded stats, now would she? The OBR webdork rambles on about why Brian Orakpo makes him nervous, and why he doesn't take two of the latest rumors very seriously.

Choking on the smoke and fog? We've got a week to go, and it's already pretty darn thick in here.

That's just the way the team likes it, of course. Talking to Browns fans, I haven't met many that are upset with the clouds that hide the Browns' intentions. Fans care more about wins than article deadlines, and know that a lack of clarity generally bodes well for Cleveland's ability to extract maximum value from their selections.

Let's turn on the foglights and see what's waiting for us out there.


BRIAN ORAKPO MAKES ME NERVOUS

I'm not going to pretend that I've spent the last three months squirreled away watching tape on Josh Freeman and Peria Jerry. I'm not sure how insightful I'd be if I had.

But I will tell you that Brian Orakpo makes me nervous as heck.

Of course, he can't be faulted for my Courtney Brown/ Kamerion Wimbley flashbacks. My déjà vu is only natural: Orakpo is a top-fifteen end lineman pick from a major football school who is supposed to be a pure pass rusher.

Brown, Wimbley, Orakpo. Penn State, Florida State, Texas. DE, DE, DE. Browns pick, Browns pick, Browns pick? Doom, doom, doom.

I can't hold that against him. He is neither Brown or Wimbley, and smart people who follow the draft closely tell me he's quite different from disappointing Browns draft picks past.

What provides a little more concern is the repeated use of the phrase "trouble disengaging" that I see in reports from people who have watched him closely. The opportunities to fool the offense and come at the quarterback cleanly in the NFL are much fewer than they are in college, and a pass rusher who can't fight off blocks is a pass rusher who disappears against teams that play him correctly.

If you take a look at Orakpo's game-by-game stats over his career, he will vanish off the face of the earth at times. I suspect that those games will be more frequent on the next level. The Browns need more impact from this pick than I suspect Orakpo will be able to provide.

The other thing that bugs me about the Texas defender are some bogus numbers.

Take a look at this material from the University of Texas prior to the post-season awards (use the little down arrow to zoom in to the stats on the last page if you like).

Looks to me like the University of Texas Sports Information group took a little liberty with the facts. For instance, at the end of the materials, you'll see Orakpo credited with 62 quarterback pressures. According to the NCAA and Dave-Te Thomas' scouting mega-report, however, Orakpo only had 36 legitimate quarterback pressures.

Per Thomas: "Don't get fooled by all the awards he won in 2008, as Texas did a great job of publicizing him with "padded" statistics (they claimed he recorded 30 pressures in 2008, but the NCAA recognized just 15; his profile reports 62 pressures for his career, but verified totals are 36… Use him as a rush end, much like the Rams do with Little, and he will get a good piece of the quarterback. Put him in a stand up position and watch him struggle like former Houston Texans bust, Jason Babin."

Yeah. I'm a bit squirrely about that pick.


STANDARDS? WHO NEEDS STANDARDS?

It's getting worse and worse and worse.

As Berea has closed down leaks, things have gotten to the point where anyone professing any knowledge of the team's intentions will be taken seriously, whether they deserve to be or not.

I think a lot of the Browns fans hanging out on the OBR have become adept at seeing through some of the rumors that float around. Witness the way that the Watercooler greeted the Action Channel News 19 report that claimed "sources" told them who the Browns would take.

Their cynicism is warranted. Here's the report:

Sources have told 19 Action News the Browns will either take USC quarteraback Mark Sanchez or Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree.  The Browns have the fifth pick in next week's NFL Draft.

Rumors have swirled around the team concerning a trade with Braylon Edwards and Brady Quinn.  One report said teh team will trade Edwards to the Giants before the draft.

That's it, folks.

These paragraphs were treated by many in the football media as if Moses had descended from Mount Berea with tablets of granite containing McBridian-level typos. 

But why?

The report was very light on specifics regarding where their "sources" were located. League sources? Team sources? The cleaning lady? Who knows.

Team sources, of course, are unlikely. Most Browns fans know that the relationship between that station and the team would be considered "frosty", to say the least. Lerner pulled TV rights from WOIO after their morbid news broadcast played a tragic 911 call involving Lerner's family. The station has since countered with what can only be considered a series of hit pieces on Lerner over the years.

If anyone is going to get privileged information from the team, I suspect Channel 19 is right at the bottom of the list, somewhere below Mike Tomlin.

At the same time, I don't doubt that someone at the station has been told "it's Sanchez or Crabtree" by someone worthy of being called a "source".

I've had "league sources" – folks who are pretty well wired in – tell me the exact same thing. But they don't know. It's their hunch based on what they know.

No one, not even the OBR, is going to tell you exactly what the team will do, because Mangini and Kokinis are in total control of that decision, and they're not talking. Anyone still able to recall the name "Butch Davis" knows you don't assume decisions have been made until the card is handed in.

Even the fresh memory of the epic Gerard Warren/Richard Seymour screw-up isn't needed back away from this rumor, however.

There are only two words you need: "Aaron" and "Curry". Can anyone take seriously any conclusion about an LB-needy team whose draft pick consideration doesn't include the Wake Forest LB?

With suspicions rising that Curry could drop to the Browns at #5, I have a hard time with any line of reasoning that excludes him completely.

Despite all this: the invisible sourcing, ignoring Curry, and the gaping chasm between hunches and facts, the item was played up as the next great expose.

And not just by fan blogs, either. I'm looking at you Pro Football Talk, National Football Post, and Plain Dealer.

It's hard to blame Action 19 Channel, after all, they got a ton of web visitors from it, I'm sure. But anyone who regurgitated it as fact should have their blog access taken away.


HERE WE GO AGAIN

Mike Lombardi, of the National Football Post, and ex-employee of numerous NFL front office gigs, is back telling us what the Browns are going to do again.

First, he told us over a week ago that the team had deals on the table for Edwards and Quinn. Talking doesn't equate to a deal ready to execute, but let's move on.

Now we hear from Lombardi that an NFL general manager told him that the Browns will trade Brady Quinn this week because they love Mark Sanchez.

Ahem.

Uh, I don't want to ruin a great story, but, um, what if Mark Sanchez isn't available at #5? Again, there's a lot of speculation that Sanchez could go in the top four picks.

Imagine this: On Thursday, Mangini deals Quinn to the Jets because of his Sanchez infatuation. On Saturday, Denver trades their #12 and #18 pick to the Chiefs to vault to the #3 slot and grab the object of Eric's affection.

No Brady. No USC golden boy. No mercy. There would be a long line of people with platters going all the way down Lou Groza Blvd waiting for Mangini's head.

So, that's the problem I have with that one.

I could see a deal for Quinn if Sanchez is available at #5. Not a trade the week before.


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