Feliz Navi-draft! NFL First-Round Preview/Open Thread

by Matt Borcas on April 25, 2013

 Matt Borcas is a Mentor, Ohio native who recently emerged from a field of 4,000 competitors to land a job writing about the NFL for ESPN’s Grantland. Matt’s Browns-centric column on the NFL Draft will run regularly here all the way up to draft weekend and through its immediate aftermath. Below is his first-round preview and your official first-round draft day open thread. Don’t forget, all of Cleveland’s sexiest singles (and no cost-plussers) will be at Map Room tonight, and we’ll be back with a round 1 recap and Day 2 open thread tomorrow. OK, here’s Matt!

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¡Feliz Navi-draft! I’m getting a headache. For months, it seemed like a given that Luke Joeckel would go to the Chiefs at No. 1. These things rarely change – I can’t remember the last Draft where even an ounce of mystery surrounded the first overall pick. And yet, many notable NFL insiders now expect Eric Fisher to don a Chiefs hat tonight. (#MACtion, baby!)

Before Fisher-to-the-Chiefs was a thing, word on the street was that the Jaguars would take Fisher after the Chiefs had presumably taken Joeckel. This was a new and relatively surprising development; as I noted on Monday, the mock draft illuminati had been projecting Dion Jordan to the Jaguars basically since the Combine. (The mock draft illuminati have let us down this year.)

illuminati

With the Chiefs seemingly leaning towards Fisher, Jacksonville’s pick will have the greatest impact on how the rest of the Top 10 plays out. Logic suggests that they’ll take Jordan: for one, they already have a good, young OT in Eugene Monroe, plus Gus Bradley is a defensive-minded coach. However, lest we forget, logic is at a premium in the NFL Draft. Peter King and Mike Florio think Joeckel’s going second, so I do too.

Folks hoping the Browns trade down should pray for the Jaguars to take Jordan. While there’s still a chance a team moves up to 6 for a quarterback, every trade down scenario I’ve seen floated requires Lane Johnson, the third and last of the Tier-1 OTs, to be on the board at No. 6. If Joeckel goes to the Jaguars, the Eagles will probably snatch Johnson up at No. 4, leaving no reason for OT-needy teams like the Chargers or Dolphins to swap first rounders with the Browns. (This would also be bad for Johnson, because Pat Shurmur will be his offensive coordinator.) Of course, the Eagles may not pick an OT – they’re reportedly head over heels for Star Lotulelei, and Chip Kelly is familiar with Dion Jordan – but that feels increasingly unlikely with each passing expert mock I read.

If the Jaguars take Jordan, there’s still an outside chance that the two remaining Tier-1 OTs go at Nos. 3 and 4, once again diminishing the likelihood of a Browns trade down. Walter Football details that possibility here; it essentially involves (a) the Lions moving up to No. 3 and taking Joeckel/Fisher (whoever doesn’t go first overall), or (b) the Raiders pulling a minor surprise and taking Joeckel/Fisher, while the Eagles, as expected, take Johnson. The good news about scenario (a): Oakland probably selects Sharrif Floyd or Lotulelei at No. 5, leaving Ziggy Ansah available for the Browns.

Speaking of Ziggy, Yahoo!’s Mike Silver tweeted yesterday night that “the Raiders may be trying to trade down from 3 overall… w/ Browns as possible partner.” He followed that up with this tweet, which, as of this morning, is still making my heart spin: “If Cleveland trades up to get the Raiders’ pick at 3, I believe Browns are targeting Ansah.” Yahoo!’s Jason Cole even offered up a corroborative retweet, so salute to you, Yahoo!, and keep fighting the good fight.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to get too excited about this with NFL.com’s Ian Rapaport reporting that the Lions “love” Ziggy, and, more disconcertingly, with Solomon Wilcots (the real one) reporting that the Browns “absolutely love” E.J. Manuel. If the Browns trade down and take Manuel in the second round, that’s fine, but if they take him at No. 6…gather your pitchforks and torches, because we’re marching on Berea.

Could a team move up to No. 6 for someone other than Lane Johnson? Perhaps, but I don’t see it. The most likely non-OT target for a potential trading partner is Dee Milliner, who’s incidentally the apple of Thomas Dimitroff’s eye, per CBS’s Clark Judge. Still, why would the Falcons surrender a boatload of picks for Milliner – almost definitely including next year’s first rounder – when they could stay put at No. 30 and land D.J. Hayden, Desmond Trufant, or Jonathan Banks? This deal makes perfect sense for the Browns, but none for the Falcons.

As for the QBs, I immensely regret my prediction from a couple weeks back that the Jaguars would take Geno Smith. That is not happening – at least not at No. 2. In fact, the buzz right now is that the Browns may take him at No. 6. However, I chalk this up to gurus like King and Mike Mayock having nowhere else to put him in their mock drafts, and don’t expect it to happen. Despite its dubious origin, I think there’s a lot more fire to the Manuel report. I’m also starting to worry about the massive under 32.5 prop bet we placed on Matt Barkley’s draft position. Unless a team in the early second round moves up and picks him somewhere 25-32 (which is possible, according to King), he may slip into the second round. At any rate, not all is lost: a Barkley free-fall would be extremely entertaining TV.

_ _ _ _ _

Fingers crossed for Good Things, of course. I’ll post a mock draft in the comments later today and be back with a review sometime next week.

  • George

    Matt & Pete, great stuff as always! Are the concerns over Dee Milliner’s health legit enough to scare away the Browns or other teams in the top 10?

    • Matt Borcas

      Shouldn’t be. I think Milliner’s a victim of your standard Draft week smear campaign, perpetuated by agents and team execs who’d benefit from him falling. The concerns about his shoulder were known months ago, and he’ll be good to go for training camp. I’d be really surprised if he doesn’t go in the top 10.

      • jamick6000

        imho I’d rather not take a guy with any health concerns that high. There’s a lot of good players we can take at 6, we don’t need to take a risk on Milliner.

        • MichaelTheRed

          Is milliner now risky? It certainly seems like him and Haden would be one of the best defensive backfields in the game no?

          • jamick6000

            yeah, you may be right. I just worry about the 5 surgeries. Why take a chance on Milliner when there’s a bunch of good players available who fill needs *and* haven’t had knee scopes/shoulder operartions/stress fractures.

      • Jim

        Alabama doctors said that despite all the surgeries, Milliner did not miss a single game or practice due to injury.

  • p_forever

    i think you’re safe with the barkley bet – either cleveland or buffalo (or most likely, both) will take qb’s and then everyone is going to panic and even landry jones will get drafted tonight. well – no. that won’t happen. but barkley will go.

    • BIKI024

      “either cleveland or buffalo (or most likely, both) will take qb’s” when? you think the Browns are taking QB at 6?? care to wager a couple shots on that?

      • p_forever

        i do think that, and fine i’ll buy you a shot if i’m wrong. i don’t really want the browns to take a qb at 6 – although i do desperately want them to draft a qb. but i think they won’t be able to resist, and won’t be able to trade down #6, and will think that e.j. manuel won’t be there for them later in the draft, so they will use 6 for a qb. i think they will take geno smith (even though they love manuel) because you can’t really justify manuel at 6 (hard enough to justify smith).

        • acto

          There is a chance that the Browns may get Kirk Cousins. He is a terrific QB. I really liked Wilson and Cousins last year. Too bad RG3 has proved to be as durable as wet tissue, or Cousins may be a Brown already.

          I have also completely soured on Milliner.

          Who said I never heard of a CB that I did not like?

          After watching more of Dee “Roberto Duran” Milliner, I was impressed with his speed and coverage skills, but he handled the ball like a steaming pile of Bradshaw. He did not want the ball in his hands so he dropped it every time he touched it.

          Dee “Hands of Stone” Milliner

          • p_forever

            dee “hands of stone” milliner – i like it. also i would think you would be concerned about durability (even though others think it a red herring).
            i like cousins too.

            it’s track season, btw. when all the best high school football players (at the skill positions, anyway) come out to play. fun to watch.

        • BIKI024

          are you going to be at the party? my shot of choice is Jameson, thank you come again.

          • p_forever

            yes and that fancy stuff is fine but i’ll take good old, burn your throat gentleman jack please.

          • BIKI024

            actually, GJ sounds good to me, especially free GJ! 😉

          • acto

            p,

            You should explore the subtle nuances of bath tub gin.

            Whiskey is for special occasions with grandma..

          • acto

            Biki, Do the make a Jameson slurpy?

      • Steve

        At #3. This is the Browns were talking about here.

  • jamick6000

    illuminati.jpeg is really funny

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    FIRE MIKE LOMBARDI! (preemptive)

    • Anonymous Browns Fan

      Fuck.

    • acto

      Lombardi is going to trade up to select Joe Namath with the 5th pick.

      • SteamingPileOfCraphonsoThorpe

        And then he’ll go do shots with him.

        • acto

          I wanna Kisshissh you.

          • SteamingPileOfCraphonsoThorpe

            Thank the Almighty that neither of them are blind enough to include the “You’re beauuuutifulllth”. At least, I hope not. Because nobody wants to hear ML utter that to JN, or JN to ML.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    Whomever the pick is tonight, he won’t be drafted to play any #Shurmurball, and we can all be thankful for that. WOOF.

  • Matt Borcas

    Only mocking the Top 10 because 11-32 are complete crapshoots, whereas 1-10 are partial crapshoots. This is the most accurate mock Top 10 you will find on the internet, guaranteed. We’ll be avoiding team names, b/c trades are also too hard to predict. Just matching player to number.

    1. Eric Fisher
    2. Luke Joeckel
    3. Sharrif Floyd
    4. Lane Johnson
    5. Ziggy Ansah
    6. Geno Smith
    7. Jonathan Cooper
    8. Ryan Nassib
    9. Dion Jordan
    10. Dee Milliner

    • BIKI024

      i would be SHOCKED if Geno goes in top 10, and even more shocked if Nassib does.

      who wants to put some action on if the Browns take a QB with their top pick? i don’t think they will, and will put my money where my mouth is.

      • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

        Between the two of you you pretty much nailed it.

  • p_forever

    already winning on draft day – dems in the ohio house introduce legislation that could expand our current tailgating real estate (amongst other things)

    http://www.ohiosenate.gov/senate/democrats/press/senator-kearney-introduces-legislation-to-modify-ohios-open-container-law

  • beeceeinla

    actually, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the falcons trade up – they want to win NOW and they think another impact talent is what they need to do the trick.

    as for ziggy, there’s just something about him that screams “VERNON GHOLSTON” – i’m guessing that gholston’s agent is still sitting in a bar somewhere muttering over and over “….just ONE sack! or causing ONE fumble! or even recovering just ONE fumble! or an INT!…” lamenting the loss of his cut of that $9-10 million dollar bonus clause vernon couldn’t fulfill in three seasons. i contemplate the drafting of ziggy with the enthusiasm of a man scheduling an appointment with a proctologist named dr. hook.

    having said that, i was pro milliner until i took a closer look at the defenses we hope to emulate with horton’s scheme, in particular those of the ravens and steelers. IIRC, their four starting CB’s are a 3rd, 2 4th’s and a 5th rounder. the steelers in particular have had a lot of high draft picks go into their front seven. their recently departed NT hampton was a first rounder, as are hood & heyward at DE. their LB’s are a 1st, 2 2nds & a 4th. and that makes sense when your front seven matter whether it’s run or pass, while the CB tends to matter only on passing downs. the thing is drafting an 3-4 OLB prospect usually means some grooming time (especially if the success of the steelers is any indication); we
    remain bereft of overall talent such that we really can’t afford to have a #6 pick ride the bench. oddly enough, i wouldn’t have a problem trading down and taking a safety; both the ravens and steelers success has come with having a pro bowl level safety in their backfield.

    regardless of what happens, it’ll give us something to argue about.

    • MichaelTheRed

      Lions made a huge mistake with Ziggy. I wouldn’t have been terribly upset with the browns taking ziggy cause he stands a chance to make it if he’s given space…which he would have had as a 3-4 OLB. In Detroit he’s gonna have a tackle get hands on him every down, that’s not his strength. He’s a way bigger project as a 4-3 DE then a 3-4 standup. Not that he can’t periodically come up to the line and put his hands down…but as a 43 DE he’s gonna have to do it all game long. They’re chopping his wheels off by doing that. He’ll do alright hitting the edge but not much else. As a standup he’d have been able to make cuts without having an OL hands on him.

  • nj0

    Can’t wait until there’s no more draft speculation! Of course, it’s a mixed blessing cause the only thing worse than pre-draft talk is the post-draft grades.

    • SteamingPileOfCraphonsoThorpe

      Yes, my randomly swinging penis grades out the Browns as an F-!! You know, because they didn’t pick exactly who I projected, even though my “insight” is usually no more accurate than drunkenly throwing darts in a pitch-black room after a bottle of Commemorative Tim Couch Makers Mark…so, yeah, F(-) the Browns!

      Edit: I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how most mock drafters actually pick their grades.

  • acto

    Woof Woof Barky Barky!!

    • acto

      Play him at safety!

  • beeceeinla

    mingo it is. if he’s ready to play, then sheard is probably gone for a draft pick.

    • MichaelTheRed

      Mingo will play sparingly this year. They’re gonna put some weight on him before they really compete him with Sheard. He’s absolutely not ready to play OLB in an NFL 3-4 He could possibly start as the outside in a 4-3 right now though.

  • acto

    Elvis has left the building and it is time to get “The Yellow Rows of Taxis” lined up at The Map Room. I am sorry that I missed the real Superbowl.

    The party’s over
    The candles flicker and dim
    You danced and dreamed through the night
    It seemed to be right just being with him
    Now you must wake up, all dreams must end
    Take off your makeup, the party’s over
    It’s all over, my friend

  • SteamingPileOfCraphonsoThorpe

    Anybody else looking at the Steelers getting Jarvis Jones and saying, “Ffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuu…..”? I think I am.

    • MichaelTheRed

      yes, twice yes.That’s a pick that’s gonna be in our eye’s for years to come. The other pick that we’re not gonna like is Eifert. The only consolation I have with the mingo pick is that he’s gonna a bitch to get away from in coverage. He may negate the Eifert pick when we play the Bengals. Otherwise I fully expect to see the Browns get run ALL OVER for the next couple years. If Mingo’s in the game teams are gonna run “right” at him…force him to stand up at the point, which he won’t be able to do for some time cause well he’s 240 lbs. Of course he’s fast, he’s the size of an ILB. We now have 3 glaring run stopping holes.
      Minnesota obviously had the best draft by far, but Indy stole one I’m gonna call it now. They’re gonna convert Werner to the OLB spot so they’re gonna have Walden, Werner and Mathis. They were 7th in pass defense last year but 22nd in Run D. That’s gonna change drastically by getting Werner.

  • SteamingPileOfCraphonsoThorpe

    All right, everyone, let’s take a deep breath and say that, one pick into the Browns’ 2013 Draft, the front office made a [gasp!] possibly smart pick, and one that, more importantly, fits the profile for who the Browns say they want to be. They did not seemingly over-reach, panic, or completely shart the bed. Let’s say that, worst-case scenario (other than career-ending injury), Mingo turns out to be a one-trick pass-rushing pony in the mold of, say, Jamir Miller sans the aforementioned injury. I choose Miller as my example because, a) he was involved in that one playoff appearance, and, b) Wimbley wasn’t asked to be a linebacker at first and played his more natural position of DE, where he had more success, while Mingo should be able to handle OLB, at least from the pass-rushing side of things.

    I remember that one playoff season well (ok, at least as well as a transplanted Browns fan who watched the games with a large Browns Backers Club that, at first, had a $5-all-you-can-drink special in their own special section of the bar – that only lasted about half a season until the bar realized just how much we could drink – remembers anything), and I remember how often a game swung on a key QB sack/strip-sack/hit-and-wounded-duck-INT.

    Let me also make the point that, with an aggressive and deep defense, all of the pieces don’t have to be great or dominant, just effective.

    Lastly, in case anyone wonders, the bar switched to $5 pitchers instead of the all-you-can-drink special. Which probably still resulted in many an empty keg, but at least the bottom line didn’t make the bar’s manager crap his pants at the end of the day! Really, if you’re going to give transplanted NE Ohio people, who are also Browns fans, an all-you-can-drink special, you deserve what you get!

  • MichaelTheRed

    having a hard time dealing with taking Mingo over Milliner. Wouldn’t be that sour if Milliner had come off. But since we didn’t address the defensive backfield in FA I assumed that would be our #1 priority in the draft. So Buster Skrine is it is then. Oh well.

  • p_forever

    Oh man matt – illuminati saying Barkley will go at 33 – cripes. So close.

  • The Cuuuuuuuuuuuuuugs

    Sad I lost 5% of my account on “sure-fire” QB prop bets…

    Glad I gained 10% on the Lakers getting swept…

    Not glad the Browns traded with the Steelers, but glad the Browns robbed the Steelers of a top 70 pick in next year’s draft.

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