The Cleveland Browns went into the draft with 13 picks, wound up with 11, but came away with a very nice overall haul of players between the draft and undrafted free agency. Cleveland is obviously looking for a lot of competition all over the roster, but maybe the most intriguing pick they made was their decision to draft Brandon Weeden in the first round.
He wasn’t selected to sit. He will likely start this year and the Browns are essentially in “win-now” mode while they try to also rebuild at the same time. I’m not trying to say that Weeden’s championship window is small, but he will be 29 and even if the Browns’ best case scenario is they get 10 years out of him, I think they need the rest of their roster to develop quickly. Here is their official haul:Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State Mitchell Schwartz, OT, California John Hughes, DT, Cincinnati Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami (FL) James-Michael Johnson, LB, Nevada Ryan Miller, OL, Colorado Emmanuel Acho, LB, Texas Billy Winn, DL, Boise State Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona Brad Smelley, FB, Arizona
James Madison CB Mike Allen; Akron OL Jake Anderson; Idaho OT Matt Cleveland; Oklahoma State WR Josh Cooper; East Carolina CB Emanuel Davis; Arizona State C Garth Gerhart; Wyoming S Tashaun Gipson; Florida DE William Green; Central Florida LB Josh Linum; Pittsburgh CB Antuawn Reed; Florida State WR Bert Reed; Missouri State WR Jermaine Saffold; Ohio State OT J.B. Shugarts; Ohio State LB Andrew Sweat
From top to bottom, this is a really good class of players. I especially like the value the Browns were able to get with Billy Winn and Trevin Wade in the later rounds, as well as getting James-Michael Johnson where they did. Those guys all have starting potential and the Browns are going to reap the benefits of all that competition.
The headliner here is Trent Richardson, whom the Browns traded a few picks to go up and get. In the end, though it will be worth it because I feel like Richardson has star potential from the moment he steps on the field.
As for the undrafted free agents, a couple of the most intriguing names to me are Josh Cooper and Bert Reed, both wide receivers who were productive in college. Cooper may have the inside track at making this team because he and Weeden are already comfortable with each other and have a rapport already built.
It was interesting to me that the Browns only spent one pick (Miami FL WR Travis Benjamin) on the wide receiver position. Benjamin is a speedy guy who can contribute in the return game, but there were certainly some good receivers that the Browns passed on to get him. Here is my pre-season report on Benjamin when I evaluated Miami prospects:
Very talented all-around player who has a ton of speed and playmaking ability down the field. Not a physical receiver, but his numbers do not lie–this guy is a playmaker. Since coming to Miami in 2008, he has been a Freshman All-American and a top notch return man as well as a big play receiver. In 2008, he came in and caught 18 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns, as well as a rushing touchdown. He also returned 22 kicks for 496 yards, and 21 punts for 181 yards.
Year GP REC YDS YPC TD
2008 12 18 293 16.3 3
2009 13 29 501 17.3 4
2010 13 43 743 17.3 3
2011 11 41 609 14.9 3
Totals 49 131 2,146 16.4 13
As a sophomore, he had another big year with 29 receptions for 501 yards and a career high four touchdowns. He averaged over 17 yards per reception and had a very limited impact on the return game. As a junior, he showed some consistency, catching 43 passes for 743 yards and three more touchdowns, and he added his first return touchdown with a punt return score. Benjamin is a versatile playmaker who has a good amount of speed, and can really help out an NFL team in many different ways. He is experienced, and has solid production. He should be a 5th round pick or higher barring injury, and he is a big play waiting to happen.
Certainly this will be an interesting position battle to watch as the offseason progresses.