The Browns had three chances in the first round of the draft and two more in the second round to improve the pass rush. But the team didn't address it until late in the second round when they selected defensive end David Veikune.
Veikune will play outside linebacker for the Browns, but no one should expect him to make opponents fear a defense that last year produced only 17 sacks.
The draft weekend was more about what the Browns didn't do. They did not trade Braylon Edwards, Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn and they did not draft Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree. They did not draft any of the big three linebackers out of Southern Cal, but they did take "the other Trojan," linebacker Kaluka Maiava.
When it was their turn to choose with the fifth pick the Browns had their choice of every wide receiver in the draft, every offensive tackle with the exception of Jason Smith, every linebacker with the exception of Aaron Curry and quarterback Mark Sanchez.
They traded the pick to the Jets for the 17th pick in the first round, the 52nd overall pick and three players. And then they traded down two more times to get two sixth-round picks -- one from the Buccaneers (191) and one from the Eagles (195).
The Browns ended up taking Alex Mack with the 21st pick, making him the first center taken in 2009.
This draft will be judged in six ways -- by the way the Mack plays, by the way the players the Browns passed on play, by the way the three players acquired from the Jets play, by how quarterback Mark Sanchez plays for the Jets, by the way the Veikune plays because he was selected with the second-round pick acquired from the Jets and by the way Brian Robiskie plays. Robiskie, a wide receiver from Ohio State, was taken 36th overall with the Browns' first pick in the second round.
The Browns definitely needed a center to add some punch to their short-yardage offense. But they could have taken Max Unger from Oregon with the pick used on Robiskie. Had they stayed with the 17th pick they could have drafted wide receiver Jeremy Maclin from Missouri. Time will tell whether going Maclin-Unger would have been better than Mack-Robiskie.
Coleman will challenge for a starting job at right defensive end and Elam would be listed first on the depth chart at strong safety if the Browns played a game this Sunday. The Browns signed him to an offer sheet last month, but the Jets matched it.
Coleman made 53 tackles last season. In 2007 Coleman made 83 tackles, the most among defensive linemen in the NFL, and two sacks.
Ratliff would be the third quarterback behind Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson.
The Browns drafted three offensive players before they took Veikune. After Robiskie they took another receiver -- Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi. The cloudy legal future of Donte Stallworth and the fact Edwards can be a free agent next winter forced the Browns to plan ahead.
Veikune began a run on defense. The second-day players, as is usually the case, are projections. Kaluka Maiava is an undersized linebacker from Southern Cal and Don Carey is a safety/cornerback from Norfolk State.
The Browns used the pick acquired from Tampa Bay, 191 overall, on cornerback Coye Francies from San Jose State and the pick acquired from the Eagles, 195 overall, on running back James Davis from Clemson
BEST PICK: WR Brian Robiskie is polished, a smooth route runner and has good hands. He is a team player in the mold of Joe Jurevicius and he will have no problem absorbing the offense. He won't be lost when he puts on a Browns uniform for the first time because he was a ball boy in training camp earlier this decade when his father, Terry Robiskie, was an assistant coach with the Browns.
COULD SURPRISE: DE David Veikune recorded 16 sacks over his last two years at Hawaii. He had five position coaches in three different programs and will benefit from some consistent coaching. He might be a year away from contributing regularly, but the Browns are rebuilding and can be patient.
A closer look at the Browns' picks:
Round 1/21 -- Alex Mack, C, 6-4, 312, California
The Browns had Mack their top-rated center. He can play guard, so his versatility is important. He has strong leg drive and the Browns like the way he works tirelessly. General Manager George Kokinis pointed out Mack broke his right hand and then started snapping with his left hand.
Round 2/36 -- Brian Robiskie, WR, 6-3, 207, Ohio State
Robiskie caught 97 passes, 19 of them for touchdowns, over the last two seasons. If he does not start he will be the slot receiver. He has deceptive speed, but what the coaches like most is his competitiveness and maturity. He should be worth 50 catches.
Round 2/50 -- Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, 6-2, 210, Georgia
The fact the Browns would take wide receivers back-to-back says a few things; they are covering themselves if legal troubles prevent Donte Stallworth from playing, they are preparing for Braylon Edwards to leave through free agency and they don't have much faith in last year's sixth-round draft pick, Paul Hubbard. Massaquoi graduated in December with a degree in psychology. He is smooth as a receiver and caught 58 passes as a senior.
Round 2/52 -- David Veikune, LB, 6-3, 257, Hawaii
The Browns are counting on Veikune to put some punch in their pass rush. He played end at Hawaii, but he will be an outside linebacker with the Browns and compete with second-year player Alex Hall for a starting job. He had 16 sacks over the last two seasons.
Round 4/104 -- Kaluka Maiava, LB, 6-0, 229, Southern Cal
Maiava did not become a starter for the Trojans until his senior year. He was versatile enough to play inside or outside linebacker his first three years at USC. That experience will help him in the NFL. He did not have a sack last fall despite starting 13 games. He will compete as an inside linebacker with the Browns, Coach Eric Mangini said. At the very least he will play special teams for the Browns.
Round 6/177 -- Don Carey, CB, 5-11, 192, Norfolk State
Carey played safety and cornerback during his four years at Norfolk State. He intercepted five passes as a senior and has a reputation for soft hands. He turned down the chance to go to Yale. He said he could not afford it. His biggest concern making the jump from Norfolk State is adjusting to the speed of the NFL. He plans on proving his worth by playing hard on special teams.
Round 6/191 - Coye Francies, CB, 6-1, 185, San Jose State
Francies was kicked off the team at Oregon State because of charges that were later dropped. He landed at San Jose State after sitting out the 2007 season and made 69 tackles and three interceptions. He is another player who can help on special teams.
Round 6/195 -- James Davis, RB, 5-11, 207, Clemson
The Browns used their last pick on a running back that, coincidentally, attended the same high school as Jamal Lewis. Davis will compete with Jerome Harrison for playing time. He was projected as a fourth-round pick but lasted until midway through the sixth round. Davis shared time with C.J. Spiller at Clemson as a senior and rushed for 751 yards on 171 carries. He rushed for 1,064 yards in 2007.
--The arraignment of Donte Stallworth on DUI manslaughter charges was postponed to May 21. Stallworth's arraignment had been scheduled for April 23, but the prosecutors asked for the delay to prepare their case. Stallworth was driving his Bentley and caused the accident that police say killed 59-year-old Mario Reyes on March 14 in Miami Beach. Stallworth's blood alcohol content was .126. The legal limit in Florida is .08.
--The Browns used their first draft pick on an offensive player for the seventh time in the last eight drafts. The only time they took a defensive player with their first pick since taking defensive tackle Gerard Warren with the third pick in 2001 was in 2006, when they drafted Kamerion Wimbley.
--QB Brett Ratliff, acquired in the trade that sent the fifth overall pick in the draft to the Jets, threw two touchdown passes against the Browns in the preseason last year. He did not play in a regular season game with the Jets in 2008.
--Texas Tech coach Mike Leach believes Browns coach Eric Mangini caused Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree to slip in the draft. A report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer said Crabtree acted "like a diva" when he visited the Browns.
"Michael Crabtree has been more successful as a receiver than that guy (Eric Mangini) as a coach at this point," Leach told the Sacramento Bee. "My definition of a diva is someone who is loud and self-absorbed. Michael Crabtree is the furthest thing from loud that I've seen."
Crabtree was taken by the 49ers with the 10th pick in the first round.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "How to compete. Just straight out never stop competing. That's all. Just take advantage of every opportunity you have, and go compete and never, ever underestimate or overestimate your opponent." -- Falcons receivers coach Terry Robiskie on what he taught his son, Browns rookie receiver Brian Robiskie.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
A key player acquired by the Browns in the blockbuster trade that gave the Jets the draft pick used on QB Mark Sanchez is safety Abram Elam. The Browns had the fifth pick overall and sent it to the Jets for the 17th pick in the first round, the 52nd overall pick and three players -- Elam, defensive end Kenyon Coleman and quarterback Brett Ratliff.
Elam began the offseason as a restricted free agent. The Browns signed him to an offer sheet, but the Jets matched it. By getting him in trade the Browns did not have to use a first-round or second-round draft choice on a strong safety.