Browns Draft: Three New Starters?

TSX looks at the Browns first draft under their new brain trust. Here's an objective look at the Browns haul and what to expect from their new players...


The Browns went into the draft with holes to fill on both sides of the ball and came out of it with at least three potential starters.

In the third round they took who they hope will be their quarterback of the future in Colt McCoy, but he will not have the immediate impact of cornerback Joe Haden, safety T.J. Ward and running back Montario Hardesty. All three could start.

The key to this draft is whether Ward and Hardesty can stay healthy. Each had a history of injuries in college.

BEST PICK: Cornerback Joe Haden: The secondary was abysmal last season. The Browns missed safety Eric Berry by two picks, but they got the best cornerback in the draft. The Browns are not discouraged by a slow 40-yard dash time at the combine. He should be an immediate starter at right corner. He is a better tackler than Brandon McDonald, who started 10 games last season.

COULD SURPRISE: Offensive lineman Shawn Lauvao: Seven picks after they drafted Colt McCoy, about a half an hour later, the Browns drafted Lauvao from Arizona State. The McCoy buzz drowned out coach Eric Mangini's praise of Lauvao, who could challenge for a starting job at right guard. Lauvao has a defensive background. He has a good base and won't give ground.

A closer look at the Browns' picks:

Round 1/7 -- Joe Haden, CB, 5-11, 193, Florida

The Browns ranked 29th in the NFL in pass defense last season. They traded for CB Sheldon Brown, but wanted more. When safety Eric Berry went fifth, the Browns took the best corner in the draft two picks later.

Round 2/38 -- T.J. Ward, FS, 5-11, 208, Oregon

Safety was the biggest need on defense. Ward has a reputation as a hard hitter, but he also has a history of knee injuries. He had only three interceptions in college. The Eagles took safety Nate Allen one pick before the Browns took Ward.

Round 2/59 -- Montario Hardesty, RB, 5-11 1/2, 225, Tennessee

The Browns look at Hardesty as "a banger" and plan to make him their feature back. After a series of knee injuries he started 13 games and rushed for 1,345 yards last season.

Round 3/85 - Colt McCoy, QB, 6-2, 212, Texas

Before the draft McCoy said if he could hand-pick his destination it would be Cleveland because of Mike Holmgren. McCoy will learn behind Jake Delhomme. McCoy completed 70.3 percent of his passes at Texas.

Round 3/92 -- Shawn Lauvao, OL, 6-3, 305, Arizona State

Lauvao can play guard or tackle. The Browns could use an upgrade at right guard and right tackle. He's a smart player. He graduated in 3 1/2 years with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and is close to earning his Masters.

Round 5/160 -- Larry Asante, SS, 5-11, 210, Nebraska

Asante is tough and physical. He'll play special teams.

Round 6/177 -- Carlton Mitchell, WR, 6-3, 215, South Florida

Mitchell is a big target at a position of need. The knock on him is he uses his chest to catch the ball too much.

Round 6/186 -- Clifton Geathers, DE, 6-7, 299, South Carolina

Geathers left school after his junior season. He is raw.

--The Browns put more beef in their depleted secondary when they used the seventh pick in the draft on Joe Haden from the University of Florida, universally regarded as the best cornerback in the draft.

"He's a green sticker guy," coach Eric Mangini said. "He's smart, tough, hard-working, competitive, somebody who is selfless and somebody who football means something to. If they have all those things, which our scout's grade, then we gives them a green sticker."

Earlier this month the Browns swapped a fourth-round pick and a fifth-round pick to the Eagles for cornerback Sheldon Brown and linebacker Chris Gocong.

Haden, speaking in a conference call from New York 15 minutes after the Browns drafted him, said at first he was worried his slow time in the 40 would hurt his draft status. Browns general manager Tom Heckert wasn't concerned. In fact, he said he was impressed because Haden aggravated a back injury during the bench press but was willing to run at the combine anyway.

When Haden ran for the Browns at the Gators pro day he ran his 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds. If the Browns had any doubts they were erased.

"I knew I had another chance," Haden said Thursday night. "At the end of the day the scouts I talked to said, 'Joe, you don't look 4.5 on film. You look a lot faster.

"I definitely had a good idea when I talked to coach (Mike) Holmgren, he was interested in taking me at no. 7. When I left my visit to Cleveland earlier this month), I didn't talk to anybody from Cleveland, I didn't know if they stopped liking me or what happened."

Mangini said incumbent starting cornerback Eric Wright, Brown and Haden will compete for the two starting jobs at cornerback. The one who does not start would be the nickel back. Mangini said he has no plans to convert Brown to safety permanently.

"You can never have too many good corners," Mangini said. "A lot of teams we play have a lot of good receivers. We'll probably be in a lot of multiple defensive back sets, whether that's three corners or some combination of that.

"I have used corners to play safety that have covered the slot receiver. The one thing Joe gives us is depth at the position."

This is the start of the Holmgren era, but it was Heckert who made the pick. He chose Haden over running back C.J. Spiller, defensive end Derrick Morgan, linebacker Rolando McClain and safety Earl Thomas, among others.

"Joe is a guy we spent a lot of time with and a lot of time evaluating," Heckert said. "He's a big corner that can really play the run. We think he has good cover ability. He's a smart kid and he's tough. He's a guy we liked all along."

Haden has drawn comparisons to Leon Hall, the cornerback from Michigan taken by the Bengals in the first round in 2007 and Darrelle Revis, a cornerback Mangini coached when he was ran the Jets.

Haden went to Florida intending to play quarterback, but Tim Tebow was there, so that wasn't going to work. The coaches switched him to wide receiver, but he was behind Percy Harvin (now with the Vikings) so that didn't work.

In the end he was switched to cornerback and learned his craft on the fly.

"His first year, Joe wasn't a good corner," Florida head coach Urban Meyer told "He was an athlete, a tough guy. Corner takes a lot of confidence. It takes a lot of God-given ability. That's one of the hardest job descriptions there are. He always studies the game. Joe understands splits of receivers. He understands pattern concepts."

The scouting report on Haden says he has good speed to cover receivers on deep routes. It says he is strong in man coverage and is smooth and fluid in zone coverage.


--Fans in Cleveland are excited about getting QB Colt McCoy with the 85th pick in the draft. In 2005 the Browns used a third-round pick on Charlie Frye. Frye was picked 67th. He was gone two years later.

--The Browns used their first pick on cornerback Joe Haden and their second pick on safety T.J. Ward. It is the first time since 1984 the Browns used their first two picks on defensive backs.

--The Browns open their 2010 season in Tampa. This marks the first time since their return in 1999 they are opening their season on the road.

--Ben Roethlisberger's suspension will be watched closely by the Browns. They play the Steelers in Pittsburgh in the sixth week of the NFL season. They won't have to face Roethlisberger if his suspension lasts six games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You can't fix everything in one year." -- Browns president Mike Holmgren after the Browns made eight draft picks.

The OBR Top Stories