Saturday, April 28, 2007

Ummmm. . . .

I'm speechless.

This morning the talk was that we were chosing between Quinn and Thomas. Now we have BOTH?!

Not only do we get Quinn, but we also prevent Baltimore from getting him (rumors were it was Cleveland, Baltimore, and KC trying to get him).

It pains me a bit that we gave up next year's first round pick plus our second. I think I read that draft value chart says that we should have only needed to give up this year's 2nd and 3rd to get to that spot. I guess the real question is: Would we have used next year's first round pick on somebody better than Brady Quinn? Probably not.

So does this mean that all the mock drafts who predicted the Browns would take Brady Quinn can claim they were right?

Let the line reshuffling begin

Needless to say, I'm happy with the pick of Joe Thomas. Its not a sexy pick, but its a good move to improve things incrementally.

The question is where is he going to fit in on the line? While we drafted him to be a left tackle, it seems like more often than not the elite left tackles take a year or two before they slide over to the pivotal blind side spot.

I'm guessing that Schaeffer holds down LT for this upcoming season. Steinbach at left guard, Fraley at center, Joe Thomas at right guard, and Ryan Tucker at right tackle. And when Tucker goes down hurt, Thomas slides over to right tackle with Seth McKinney, Joe Andruzzi, and Isaac Sowells fighting out for right guard. I also wouldn't be surprised to see one of those three fighting for Fraley's spot at center.

Longer term, Thomas at LT, Schaeffer at RT, Steinbach at LG, Tucker, McKinney, or Sowells at RG, and, dare we hope, LeCharles Bentley at Center? Its a long shot, but DAMN, that would be a line. The beautiful thing about this line: Other than Tucker, Andruzzi, and Fraley, we have alot of years ahead of us for these guys. So not only will they be an immediate upgrade, but they have the potential to be together for a while, and get better each year as a unit, even as each guy individually gets better.

I don't think there are going to be any excuses for the offensive skill positions this year.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

High Character Players

I'm really surprised that none of the Cleveland area papers have this story. I had to get it from a link at

Justin Hamilton, Browns 7th round pick in 2006 and Virginia Tech alum, is working with other players to set up memorial scholarships in the names of each of the shooting victims from last week, and has pledged $50,000 of his own money to get it started.

Now THAT is impressive. The kid was a 7th rounder, and earned $275,000 last year. He probably only saw $185,000 of that after taxes. And although it sounds like he's being counted on as a backup safety and special teamer for next season, he is by no means assured of staying around in the league for long. He is making a very real sacrifice of financial security, if not necessarily the money needed to maintain his lifestyle.

Phil Savage has made the point that he looks for high character players. I just figured that meant we wouldn't see their names in pft's Turd Watch. I never guessed that it would mean he'd be bringing in some real humanitarians. I hope that Hamilton sticks around for a while. The cap space that he takes up will probably continue going to good causes.

Maybe his largesse will convince Michael Vick to pony up more than the $10,000 that he got a press release for.

Peterson injured before Browns even draft him

In an interesting twist, its being reported that Adrian Peterson reinjured his collarbone in January, and that the lingering injury COULD require another surgery. Sounds like best case is that he misses offseason workouts and makes it back in time for preseason, and in a less rosy scenario he misses some of preseason too.

In my eyes, this should take him off the table. Beyond the fact that this is one more blow against his health report, the fact that he would miss so much of training camp would automatically mean that he's missing out. I don't understand why rookies missing one or two weeks of training camp is a big deal, but Crennel insists that it puts a damper on their entire rookie season.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Russian Roulette

In my draft board, and in Dawghouse Blog's draft board, we advocated drafting Calvin Johnson (if he's still there) and then trading him.

While it sounds nice and easy, it has some pratfalls. Which would explain why its not a standard practice.

Every year, teams "threaten" to take players who are not their number one choices so that they can induce a trade with a lower team, and it rarely works. Which makes sense: If the team one spot ahead of you is threatening to take your player, you can call their bluff. If they really do take that player, there is no reason that you can't work out the trade while you are on the clock (ala Chargers/Giants swap of Eli Manning for Phillip Rivers).*

So the next logical step for the team that wants to trade down is to draft that player to force the lower team to do the trade. But there are a couple things that can now happen:
>> The lower team DOESN'T really want that player, at any price. You would only get into this situation if the lower team was doing an incredible bluffing job. I don't believe that Tampa or Washington would really pass on Calvin Johnson no matter what.
>> The lower team DOES want the player, but is only willing to pay below-market price. This is a likely scenario. But it still doesn't seem to be that much of an issue. So we take Johnson and can only get a 5th rounder out of Tampa. I could live with that.
>> The lower team DOES want the player, and will pay through the nose for him. That is the ideal scenario.

So, it is a bit of Russian Roulette, but the downside risks seem to be pretty minimal. Worst comes to worst, you still end up with a great player, just the wrong great player.

*Unfortunately, no one ever explained this manuever to Butch Davis, who gave Detroit a 2nd round pick so that we could take Kellen Winslow Jr.

Clark Judge on CBS Sportsline has an article saying why the Browns "have" to take Peterson. But he fails to rebut one of the most important knocks against Peterson: his explosiveness and dynamicism means nothing when he's on the bench:
>> His injury history is troubling. Both the number of injuries and the types of injuries. Sure, they may all be "fluke" injuries, but so were most of Courtney Brown's injuries. It doesn't mean anything in the end. Some guys are just injury prone.
>> Even if he stays healthy, he's still only going to be helping us on first and second downs.
>> Time after time teams have proven that you can win with a less than stellar back, or with a tandem of backs. Quarterback by committee, NO! Running Back by committe, SI!
Peterson sounds exciting, and I wouldn't mind being proven wrong if we take him and he stays healthy and productive. But I'm not going to hold back from saying "I told you so" when he gets hurt.

Dawg Pound South has a great post making the argument for drafting an offensive tackle.

Since he layed out alot of the numbers, I would like to add to that my own qualitative opinion:
The roles of quarterback, running back, and wide receiver can change drastically from scheme to scheme within the NFL, and espescially from college to the NFL:
>> Running backs need to follow more defined blocking patterns, since they can no longer rely on outrunning and overpowering NFL caliber linebackers and safeties. They also need to be able to pick up more complicated blizting schemes.
>> Quarterbacks have to contend with more frequent blitzing, and also have guys checking their reads to pick off passes to their primary targets
>> Wide Receivers have bigger, more physical CBs who keep them from running their routes and showing off their speed

Obviously tackles have new schemes to contend with and bigger, faster blitzers to worry about. But their job doesn't change neary as much: Keep your quarterback safe, and knock opposing defenders away from the run.

I think thats why its easier for personel guys to project college linemen than other positions. It makes the tackle a much safer pick. You may be losing the "upside" of getting a game-changing skill player, but you eliminate alot of the downside too.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Gone fishin

My estimation of Joe Thomas (Tackle, Wisconsin, potential Browns draft pick) went up after reading this on Profootball Talk:

Adam Schefter of NFL Network reports that the NFL can't persuade tackle Joe Thomas, a presumed top-five draft pick, to travel to New York for the NFL Draft.

Instead, Thomas will be salmon fishing on Lake Michigan with his father.

The draft seems to be full of fanfare, fancy parties, and "bling". Instead of going for that, this guy will be fishing with his dad. Kind of like the anti-Bralyon Edwards. That sounds like the kind of guy who belongs in Cleveland.

Monday, April 16, 2007

My Draft Board

The official Dwayne Rudd's Helmet Draft Board

We are down to two weeks until the draft. We are still waiting to see which way Oakland will go, but I think I've seen/read enough to have a picture of how I think Phil Savage's draft board should read:

1) Trade Down: I feel that trading down should be a given, in almost any circumstance, since no matter how good a player appears it will almost never make up for the fact that multiple picks gives you a better chance of getting one right.

2) Joe Thomas: I personally do not know ANYTHING about the players in the draft, all I know is what the talking heads tell me, since I by and large ignore college football. But they are saying that Joe Thomas is a "sure thing" left tackle. Given our historical problems on the o-line, as well as the decent track record of tackles taken high in the draft, and this one seems like a no-brainer to me.

Taking Joe Thomas out of the mix, our remaining options (per Phil Savage) are:
>> Jemarcus Russell
>> Adrian Peterson
>> Calvin Johnson
>> Brady Quinn

3) Calvin Johnson: Let me 'splain. I do not want to add another wide receiver to this team, with all our other pressing needs. BUT, our other options are not exactly "pressing needs" either, in my opinion. I would rather we take the best player available. But:

3a) After drafting Calvin Johnson, we should continue trying to trade him for a first round pick plus later picks in the draft. We might not be able to get many trade offers while on the clock if other teams don't believe that we will take Johnson. But if we do take Johnson, and then Tampa is confronted with the choice of a drafting a QB or RB, or giving us their 1st and 3rd (or even 4th) round picks for Johnson, I think they may pull the trigger and make the trade. And if Tampa doesn't make the trade, there is a good chance another team will.

4) Jemarcus Russell or Brady Quinn. I am pretty ambivalent amongst these guys. Both guys have alot of superlatives in their biographies. A QB is not my top choice, but if either of these guys could be another Phillip Rivers or Carson Palmer, it may be worth the risk (at least compared to our other options).

5) Adrian Peterson. I have made my case against him in previous posts. Suffice it to say, he is too injury prone, and decent-to-good running backs are just too easy to find beyond first round picks.

I guess my best case scenario would be us trading down to get two picks later in the first round, at which point we would have more wiggle room to draft need guys, at defensive line, offensive line, or cornerback. But what are the chances?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Peter King comes around?

My last post was complaining about Peter King and his seemingly oblivious view on the draft. Then he comes out with an article that not only validates alot of the things I've been saying about the draft, but he also seems to be blatantly contradicting his earlier article.

Here's the new article:

KANSAS CITY -- Myth of the Month: If a team near the top of the first round of the NFL Draft wants to trade down, it can get a ransom for the pick.

Reality of the Month: In the last two NFL Drafts, no team with a top-10 pick in the first round has traded down for said ransom. In fact, the last two drafts have yielded only one trade with a team in the top 10, but it wasn't a trade-down. It was the Raiders trading the seventh overall pick plus linebacker Napoleon Harris for Randy Moss in 2005; Minnesota chose wideout Troy Williamson with that pick. (Talk about a trade that hurt both teams.)

Is it just me, or does everyone at this time of year have the same knee-jerk thought: If you're Detroit sitting on the No. 2 pick, no matter what happens, you're going to be able to either pick a great prospect, or trade it for a bunch of high picks. But if form holds, we're not going to see many, or any, deals made in the first couple hours of the April 28 draft.

"It's too difficult,'' Chiefs president Carl Peterson said in his office the other day. "You've got a lot of teams that want to get rich by trading down, but nobody wants to trade up.''

Here's why teams are reluctant to make a trade at the top of the draft this year:

1. Making an error by trading up can hurt a team's salary-cap situation and future drafts more than ever. Say a team trades up to the third pick in the draft this year, nabs Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn and guarantees him $20 million -- which is about the amount of guaranteed money the No. 3 overall pick will get. And imagine if Quinn is awful. Contracts can be written with different cap impacts, but suffice it to say, the big guarantee is going to be a Ryan Leaf-type weight on your franchise if Quinn has to be cut after three years at the cost of a $10 million cap hit. Never mind losing the picks it took to get Quinn in the first place. It used to be, when the guarantees were one-third of what they are now, that teams wouldn't fear the cap hit so much. "The cash mistake is bad enough when you blow a high pick,'' Peterson said. "But the cap mistake is worse. And then missing out on the future picks just compounds it.'' Which brings us to ...

2. The fear of the mega-mistake. The last one -- unless Eli ManningPhilip Rivers was chosen fourth by the Giants, and then New York traded Rivers for Manning and threw in future first-, third- and fifth-round picks. The first- and third-rounders became Pro Bowlers Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding, while the fifth-rounder was dealt to Tampa Bay for temporary starting left tackle Roman Oben. shows significantly more than he's shown in three shaky seasons, and fast -- came in 2004. Manning was picked by San Diego at No. 1 overall and

The trade looks bad now, and all it does is scare off teams thinking of trading future high picks to move up a few spots. You don't think Cleveland GM Phil Savage (I think the odds are tall that he'd trade up anyway, from what he tells me) will be very hesitant to trade a second-rounder, or next year's first to move up for JaMarcus Russell? All that's at stake is his job.

3. Too many teams are slaves to the Draft Trade Chart. You may have heard of this chart. It was invented as a way to equalize the value for both sides of a trade in the NFL. I'll use the Giants' silliness as an example of the silliness of the chart. (And I'm not even saying the draft chart was used by Ernie Accorsi when he made this deal; he did not live his life by the chart.) The draft chart assigns a value to each pick in the seven-round draft. Some teams have different values for picks, but the value board does not vary widely.

On the chart I have, the first overall pick is worth 3,000 points; the fourth is worth 1,800. So by the chart, the Giants would have to make up 1,200 points to make the trade. They dealt the 65th pick in the 2004 draft (worth 265 points) and first- and fifth-rounders in 2005. How do you assign value to these picks? For most teams, it's simple. You assume they'll come smack dab in the middle of the round. In this case, the first-round pick in 2005 was worth 1,000, while the fifth-rounder was worth just 34 points. Add those points together, and the Giants actually traded 3,099 points of value for the 3,000 points the top pick was worth.

The only time a team should follow the chart, I think, is when there's such a no-doubt player that you think your team has but one choice, and that's to select Player X. Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson, for instance, in this draft.

On the other side, a team trading down shouldn't think it has to get perfect value in a trade to justify the deal. Case in point: In 1995, when Bill Polian was the Carolina GM, the Panthers had the first pick in the draft. Polian knew he wanted Penn State quarterback Kerry Collins, but he also knew Collins wasn't worth the No. 1 pick. By trading down, even if he didn't get fair "Draft Trade Chart'' value for the pick, he'd be making a smart decision. So he dealt the first pick to Cincinnati for the fifth and 36th overall picks and selected Collins at No. 5. First-pick value: 3,000 points. Combined value of numbers five and 36: 2,240 points.

But Polian knew he couldn't do better, and he also knew if he could get the same player with the fifth pick -- and get a high second-rounder in return, and pay them less, combined, then he would have had to pay the first overall pick -- why not do the deal? Turned out to be just OK for Carolina. Collins did lead the Panthers to the playoffs in his second year, but he and defensive end Shawn King, the second-rounder picked with the other pick from Cincinnati, didn't become the franchise players Polian had hoped for. The Bengals took running back Ki-Jana Carter with the No. 1 overall pick. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but you have to judge value based on what you see in front of you at the time -- not as a fixed system of unbending value based on the Draft Trade Chart.

"What's so interesting about the draft,'' said Peterson, "is that the risk-reward ratio is so much different between the top 10 and the picks you make as you go lower in the draft. You find out how hard it is to say good-bye to players in the top 10 of a draft. That's why you don't see the trades you used to see.''

I hate to say it, but I don't have anything to add. King pretty much says it all.


So the schedule is out:


Sep 9Pittsburgh1:00pm
Sep 16Cincinnati1:00pm
Sep 23@Oakland4:05pm
Sep 30Baltimore1:00pm
Oct 7@New England1:00pm
Oct 14Miami1:00pm
Week 7BYE
Oct 28@St. Louis1:00pm
Nov 4Seattle4:05pm
Nov 11@Pittsburgh1:00pm
Nov 18@Baltimore1:00pm
Nov 25Houston1:00pm
Dec 2@Arizona4:05pm
Dec 9@N.Y. Jets4:15pm
Dec 16Buffalo1:00pm
Dec 23@Cincinnati1:00pm
Dec 30San Francisco1:00pm

Some observations:
>> Thats a bear of a beginning, Pittsburgh, Cincinnatti, and Baltimore at home only broken up by a trip to Oakland. Our standing in the AFC North should shape up VERY quickly. Crennel better be sure he gets the team up to speed quickly, because this season could be over before it begins if we go to 0-4 or 1-3.
>> Week 7 bye. Sounds good. It gives you time to look at what needs fixing from games 1-6, and still leaves 10 games in which to fix things.
>> We've had some pretty tough schedules the last few years, but at this point our 07 schedule looks like it might provide a little relief. Oakland, St. Louis, Miami, Houston, Arizona, NY Jets, Buffalo, and San Francisco can't become good in one year.
>> No primetime games on the schedule, although with flexible scheduling, that could change. I can't blame the league for not scheduling Browns games in primetime. Their games are exciting about half the time, and the rest of the time they are just pathetic. Even games we win can end up being bad games to watch (like at Oakland last year).

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Thank God Tevye is Poor

From Peter King last week:

If I Were the (Draft) King

Here's what I'd do if I were picking for the teams with the first five choices this year:

1. Raiders
Trade down to No. 6 for the Redskins' first- and second-round picks in 2008 plus WR Antwaan Randle El, and choose QB Brady Quinn. (Washington takes WR Calvin Johnson.)

2. Lions
Trade down a spot for Cleveland's pick and the Browns' 2008 first-rounder and select LT Joe Thomas.

3. Browns
Move up to No. 2, choose QB JaMarcus Russell.

Mr. King may be an idiot, and Phil Savage certainly would be an idiot if he were to do this. Give up a first round pick to move up one spot?!

I don't think Mr. King is really as dumb as this article suggests. I assume his logic was something like this:
> What should Detroit do?
> They should trade down.
> Who will they trade with?
> They should trade with Cleveland, so Detroit can get Joe Thomas at 3.
> What would Cleveland have to give up to trade up to 2?
> Next year's 1st rounder
So I don't think King ever gave any thought to whether or not it would be "worth it" for Cleveland to move up.
I think this is how these guys put together their mock drafts: First they put together list of the best players (from a generic, non-team specific point of view). Then they go down the draft order, and match their best players against the teams drafting. If the team drafting in a position is unlikely to take that player, then they will either rearrange the their board of players (and complain that the team will be "reaching") or they rearrange the team order by proposing a "trade".