Originally posted on The Sports Headquarters  |  Last updated 4/30/12

When you are chasing three playoff teams in the AFC North, you have a lot of needs.  While the Cleveland Browns had two first round picks, they had to hit on not just those, but needed to find starters in the second and contributors in the third and fourth.

Well I can tell you, the Browns made it interesting, let’s see how they did with my 2012 Cleveland Browns Draft Grade.

It started with the easiest pick of them all, Trent Richardson.

Even though he relishes the contact, he has deceptively quick feet and is actually faster than his boxed frame would have you believe.  He beats LB’s to the edge on outside rushes and loves to out physical bigger, yes bigger he is only 5-11, DB’s, usually the one initiating the contact.

Since we have established his love for contact, it would stand that he excels at breaking tackles, keeping his legs churning, and finishing plays, rather than letting the defenders win the battles.  He has a fantastic stiff arm, is able to spin away from contact, which allows his body to not take the full brunt of punishment.

Richardson is also great at catching the ball out of the backfield, which is where he really sets himself up to be great at the next level.

If there is a concern about Richardson it’s can he be successful with that much pressure on him to be the man on offensive when the Browns don’t exactly have the best passing attack.

That was semi addressed, I say semi because they still need help at WR, but adding Brandon Weeden is an intriguing prospect.

What NFL Writer Eric Judd had to say about Weeden: His age can be looked at in one of two ways; that all the immature struggles of a young QB have already passed, and he is ready to play in an NFL offense from day 1. OR you’ve lost out on roughly 4 years of development and you are risking your franchise future success because in 10 years he’ll be pushing 40.

He played the in spread at Oklahoma State, and was fortunate enough to be throwing to the 2-time Biletnikoff winner, Justin Blackmon, but his accuracy and arm strength are both NFL caliber.

Weeden does not have the experience in finding his auxiliary reads and can often panic when facing adversity. These deficiencies from his college career will make his transition to the NFL difficult, further emphasizing the shortened window for success.

One of the very underrated picks of this draft, and it is hard to get noticed when you draft a franchise RB and a new starting QB, guys like Mitchell Shwartz.

Great size and length for either side.
·    Phenomenal in the run game, understands angles and explodes into and rides out blocks, using his hips well to sink in and wall off defenders.
·    Average athleticism, raw in pass blocking still, needs to work on drop and technique.
·    Looks like a right tackle or guard and not a left tackle

He has ok feet, but he is a mauler, who will play ugly, and get the job done.  He is going to help open up holes on the right side for Richardson and that is what they need.

Then some interesting things happened, they really screwed up from having a potential Great draft.

They took John Hughes in the third round, and then Travis Benjamin in the fourth.

Hughes is a big rotational player, doesn’t have any standout qualities about him. He has a solid anchor, plays well against the run and can get an inside push, but does none of it on a consistent basis, and is rated in the fifth round by myself.

Then you had little Benjamin, who wasn’t even the best position player from his own school.  Benjamin has speed to burn and is more of a track athlete and return man than a WR at this time

He is a project, and not something you necessarily want for a WR needy team.

They got back on track by taking James-Michael Johnson, the strong inside linebacker from Nevada.

Johnson has great instincts from the position, and is a natural tackle to tackle prospect who knows how to take on blocks and make plays.

He isn’t the athlete you want at ILB, but he has the feel for the position like few others and can figure out a way to be a solid two down prospect.

The Browns continued to help out Richardson with the pick of Ryan Miller.  He may be a fifth round selection, but he has a big frame and good short area quickness that will help him get into defenders and make good blocks.

He may be a little tall for a guard, and he doesn’t have the best balance, but in a small work room, with a power run game where he isn’t expected to get out and pull, he may be able to fight for a position as a starter.

With two sixth round picks the Browns continued to add weapons on the defensive side of the ball. First they picked the undersized, but instinctive and athletic Emmanuel Acho.  Acho doesn’t possess the necessary size at this point to be anything more than a situational player, but he has some intriguing flash to his game.

Then you have the free falling defensive tackle Billy Winn, who I had graded out as a fourth round prospect.

Winn is well put together and really athletic, with a good initial burst and the ability to penetrate the interior of the line.

There are questions about his desire and work ethic, so that could be one of the reasons for the fall.

In the seventh round the Browns added potential in Trevin Wade, a good cornerback with underrated cover skills that could definitely be a prospect to watch for Browns fans.

He struggles with consistency, but when he is on, he is a sticky defender, with good hips and some vision to his game.  He needs to get more consistent in his pedal, but he does give you a good effort.

They finally added a big blocking tight end in Brad Smelley, who I honestly think will make the team because of his ability to block, and how important that will be with Richardson.

Overall:  I was happy on days one and  the start of day two, but then the John Hughes picked happened, then they compounded that with the Travis Benjamin selection, both players that were graded out significantly lower than where they were selected.

This took the draft from Great, to just Good, but for the Browns, that is definitely a step in the right direction.

And honestly if Weeden pans out like I think he can, this was a great draft because I am confident in Richardson and Schwartz being very good players for the Browns.



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