Sometimes when I can’t find someone at the FBB office to disagree with, I’ll start an argument with myself. This is one of those times.
The Cleveland Browns were 5th in the league in points given up in 2011, while their offense was 30th in points scored. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, a regular scientist, or even someone who just recreationally wears a lab coat to figure out that they are looking for a way to upgrade the latter in this draft.
Andrew Luck will be going #1 overall, while RG3 is going #2. It seems almost certain that the Vikings will be taking either Ryan Kalil or Morris Claiborne with the number 3 pick which leaves the Browns with an interesting choice. They can either take the best running back in the draft in Trent Richardson, or the best receiver in Justin Blackmon. Cleveland is not particularly strong at either position which makes the choice even more compelling. Not compelling for the average football fan per se, as this is the Browns we are talking about, but this selection could very well dramatically affect the fate of another franchise’s draft. I’m just playing Cleveland! Let’s take a look at the decision.
The Case for Trent Richardson
With the loss of Madden cover boy Peyton Hillis the next leading rusher from the 2011 season is Chris Ogbonnaya who totaled 334 yards. Even if Colt McCoy manages to improve this season, no one expects him to be a pro bowler. If this Browns team expects to win some games they are going to have to play defense, run the ball, and control the clock. And what better player to select for this game plan than Richardson? He is a 224 pound bull dozer who, while not possessing elite speed, is faster than he looks. Trent will be able to punish NFL defenses late in games and still has the versatility to catch the ball out of the backfield. He played in a pro-style offense in college and has had his talent described by some pro scouts as “hall of fame level”. Blackmon does not have the size of guys like Calvin Johnson or the speed of Mike Wallace. He is a tweener wide receiver who will probably have a good career, but might be slightly over valued in this draft.
Who can argue with logic like that? MAYBE THE SAME GUY THAT WROTE IT!
The Case for Justin Blackmon
Hey past tense Ben, taking a running back in the top five? LOL bro. If you want to take a bruising back who is going to be crippled by the age of 28, feel free. I think everyone knows that Colt McCoy is going to end up being a place holder QB for this team, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good receiving corps in place for when the Browns finally find the replacement for Bernie Kosar they’ve been looking for all these years. Greg Little is a nice player but I don’t think anyone around the league views him as a legit #1 receiver. Blackmon might not end up having the career of a Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald, but what if he ends up being a player like Greg Jennings who is not only a deep threat, a solid possession receiver, but also has great instincts after the catch? A.J. Green and Julio Jones made dramatic impacts for their team last year, and this could be the kind of pick that energizes an orginization. I think the fan base understands that the Browns are probably not going to win their division this year, but if they can at least look a little more exciting on offense it will go a long way to build up some good will.
Who Do I Really Think They Should Take?
I thought about this a lot today, and I think in the end I’d actually say Blackmon. While Richardson is the best back in the draft, they might want to think about drafting a player like Doug Martin from Boise State or David Wilson from Virginia Tech later on in the night and operating with a running back by committee. With two draft picks in the first round, the Browns have a lot of options and I think they maximize these options by locking up a top tier WR early on. Plus, Blackmon’s work ethic makes it seem unlikely that he will end up a bust.
Who do you think the Browns should take? Let us know in the comments section! Or just drop the names of some of the QBs they’ve had since Kosar. That’s always fun.