Sobo: A Job Well Done

The OBR's Draftnik Laureate gives a strong thumbs-up to the Browns weekend achievements. Agree or disagree? Let's hear your take on the forums!

Is it not beautiful when a plan comes together? For Browns fans, it is obviously hard to tell since they have not seen it for so long. This last point is probably why Cleveland's latest draft class has been generally met with far too much negativity within its own fan base and those who cover the team professionally. But when new head coach Eric Mangini and new general manager George Kokinis were hired, they both stressed the importance of their "core values". And while watching as the draft developed, that is exactly the type of players who were drafted.

Originally, certain scenarios had to fall in place. With Kansas City selecting Tyson Jackson third overall, it put the Browns in a premium position. Either top rated linebacker Aaron Curry would fall in their laps, or Seattle would take the linebacker. Then the hottest prospect in the draft, Mark Sanchez, could fall to number five providing ideal trade down options. The Wake Forest linebacker is now a Seahawk and Sanchez was there at number five overall for the taking.

Once everything fell into perfect harmony for the Cleveland Browns, their overall plan of action became obvious and executed to perfection. That being…

1. Acquire much needed extra draft selections, even at the expense of value in some cases. Check.

2. Draft high character, intelligent, hard working, experienced, and productive prospects. Check.

3. Leave draft weekend with multiple starting positions addressed. Check.

Take those three points of emphasis and apply each to what actually occurred:

Starting with blockbuster trade initially, Cleveland was handed high value to move out of their top five slotting. Despite not acquiring a first round selection next year as was speculated, the Browns were able to move down while acquiring a coveted round two selection as well. The real key is also adding three veteran players from Eric Mangini's old squad. Two of those three will compete and likely become starters in Abram Elam and Kenyon Coleman. Brett Ratliff is just icing on the cake as insurance if a quarterback is dealt this off season or a solid number three option which this team currently lacked. To move down twelve slots, the Browns were able to potentially land three or four starters for this upcoming season.

Then even more movement occurred. Now it can certainly be argued value was not obtained by moving down two slots sequentially and adding only two sixth round selections in return. Again, the number one emphasis by this regime was to add more options in their draft arsenal. The team went from a paltry five selections overall to eight picks. Now they were in position to add quality young prospects at multiple positions.

The picks themselves could not have been more obvious. Too many are arguing over prospects passed over who in reality did not fit the mold described earlier:

  • Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was not a polished receiving prospect and probably could not contribute immediately as a well rounded target. This was key especially considering the Browns only had one legit wide receiver on the roster to start this process.

  • Ohio State running back Chris "Beanie" Wells and Florida State defensive end Everette Brown were early entrants to this draft. Not a single selection by the Cleveland Browns was a prospect who did not attend school as a senior last season.

  • Southern California linebacker Rey Maualuga was scaring some teams off because of his aloof attitude away from the field. And again, he is not the most disciplined linebacking prospect either, which was a bit off-putting to some teams.

  • Another California linebacker Clay Matthews III has great ties to the Cleveland Browns' history. Unfortunately, he was not a prospect which fit into the high production category.

  • Mississippi offensive tackle Michael Oher had some red flags raised by some teams because of potential character issues. Whether that is a fair assessment or not, part of his slide was due to this factor.

  • Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin had well-documented off the field issues and was very likely not even on Cleveland's overall draft board.

When looking at all those factors and weighing them against the actual selections, it automatically appears clear cut as to what this latest Browns' regime was attempting to accomplish. Now those picks were as follows…

  • California center Alex Mack is a very intelligent and driven football player. He was last year's national Draddy Award winner as the top scholar athlete at the NCAA Bowl Series level. This pivot is athletic and plays with a nasty attitude. He went to Senior Bowl week having never played guard in his career but demanded from those who organize the event that he wanted to play guard all week to show his versatility. This center has the size, strength, and technique to have been considered the best prospect at his position in the last few decades. No, he was not a reach at number twenty one overall as some have claimed. There was not a chance of him falling to number thirty six overall especially considering the litany of teams looking for a new pivot between the point he was actually selected and where the Browns would have drafted next. Alex Mack is the epitome of this new regime's approach and could anchor this offense along with Joe Thomas for the next decade.

  • Ohio State wide receiver Brian Robiskie was a multi-year starter at one of the premier programs in the nation. He was often described as the most polished wide receiver in this draft class. Growing up the son of an NFL coach, it becomes obvious while watching Robiskie run crisp clean routes, looking the ball in, and catching it with his hands. Ironically, but perhaps not coincidentally, he was also a finalist for the Draddy Award as well. This former Buckeye was really gaining steam late in the process and quite a few NFL teams had him ranked as a late first round prospect. Expect Brian Robiskie to enter this program and become an immediate starter.

  • Georgia wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi has competed at a high level for a few years in the tough Southeastern Conference. A three-year starter for the Bulldogs, Massaquoi leaves the historic program fourth all-time in receptions. This receiving target stepped up as a senior and banished most of the inconsistency which plagued his game as an underclassman. Massaquoi graduated with a psychology degree this past December. He was voted the teams' permanent overall captain by his teammates and earned Georgia's achievement award for dedication to his work in the weight room. Mohamed Massaquoi was the last legit polished product which could start at wide receiver in short fashion as the overall draft board developed. With his high marks in production, experience, and character; the Browns jumped at the opportunity to land another target for a depleted receiving unit.

  • Hawaii defensive end David Veikune will become a player many Browns fans will truly enjoy watching. Yes, most of those same fans never really watched the newly minted 3-4 outside linebacker play much in college but his unstoppable motor and tenacity on the field are second to none in this draft class. An All-WAC performer the last two seasons. This end registered 25 tackles for a loss and 16 sacks over the last two seasons for the Warriors. Also he has some previous experience playing in the 3-4 defensive front when Jerry Glanville was June Jones' defensive coordinator a couple seasons ago. Veikune had a fantastic Senior Bowl week, making more highly decorated offensive lineman look bad in some pass rush drills. A good hardworking, driven prospect whom a few intriguing teams were looking to draft just after the Browns did so.

  • USC linebacker Kaluka Maiava might have been the biggest surprise selection out of the entire bunch but if anyone was keeping track of the Browns pattern he should not have been. Size is obviously a concern at 5-feet-11-inches tall and 229 pounds. But Maiava has a freakish size/strength ratio. He led all linebackers with 30 repetitions on the bench press at the Combine. Former NFL great and current SC linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. has described Maiava as the best pure linebacker of the amazing group which was drafted this past weekend. Maiava is often overlooked, but his tenacity, playmaking ability, and polish make him at worst good depth at ILB and a special teams' player that could develop into something down the road.

  • Norfolk State cornerback Don Carey shirked the opportunity potentially afforded by an Ivy League degree to continue playing football. Carey could have gone to Yale. His combination of size and pure physical ability are very enticing and quite a few NFL teams had him on their radar before the draft completely played itself out. Interestingly, Carey also led all defensive backs in his forty-yard dash timing at the Combine. This former Spartan has the potential to play either cornerback or safety as well.

  • San Jose State cornerback Coye Francies is the only draftee who did not quite fit into the nice neat box which has been described. A transfer from Oregon State, Francies was dismissed after head coach Mike Riley discovered the cornerback owned a gun. A team rule strictly prohibited possession of a firearm and Francies was subsequently released from his scholarship and the program. While this cannot necessarily be considered a high crime by any means, it could have been seen as a slight character knock. One that would have obviously been well researched by the current staff. One which apparently did not play a large factor considering Coye Francies can be a special talent. A talent many prognosticators had slotted as a potential second or third round talent.

  • Last but not least was the highly productive Clemson workhorse James Davis. After struggling through a highly disappointing senior campaign, Davis' overall stock took a major hit. If he had declared early a year ago, this talented running back was projected to be a second or third round selection. Instead he returned to school and succumbed to a terribly inexperienced offensive line, coaching changes, and terrible offensive scheming. The heart Davis displays was obvious when he broke down after head coach Tommy Bowden was fired. He runs so hard, has great one cut ability, and is an overall reliable ball carrier. James Davis might be considered a steal late and a perfect fit for the Cleveland Browns scheme.

When taking all of this in context, it is hard not to believe the Cleveland Browns had a very solid showing under Coach Mangini and GM Kokinis' first draft attempts here on the North Shore. Everything they set out to achieve did happen. The overall character and depth of this squad is clearly better. No longer can Browns fans say the team's front office does not have a clue, because there is clearly a plan put in place and one which this new regime will strictly abide.

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