At first I said “Not another trade!” But I really approved when I found out what Atlanta gave up, the 27th pick, their 2nd and 4th round pick in this year’s draft AND their 1st and 4th pick in 2012. Getting that extra first rounder next year was huge. Compare this to the infamous Mark Sanchez trade where we gave away a franchise QB for essentially a bunch of role players, many of whom aren’t with the team anymore. But how did we do with this year’s first round pick (which the Browns traded along with their 3rd rounder this year to pick number 21st)
A lot of the experts and the draft boards I saw gave this a middling grade. I can’t see it. Apparently people forget there’s more than one way to play the 4-3. You CAN play two road grader types at the tackles and have a ton of success. See 2000 Baltimore as an example. And don’t forget Ahytba Rubin is a very active NT. Taylor was a defensive terror of the senior bowl. These guys can move and get after people even at 300lbs plus. A really scary thought. But there are two big reasons to like this pick.
1. RUN DEFENSE – Taylor isn’t a run stuffer, he’s a run obliterator. If he plays the way he did in college and if he can successfully team up with Ahtyba Rubin inside, the Browns will have a wall. And run defense has been the glaring weakness of Cleveland since they re-entered the league. They’ve been pushed around every year. Last year was no exception despite drastic improvement on defense. The Browns ranked 27th against the run. You can argue scheme all you want but it was well past time the organization addressed it’s biggest weakness, it’s up the gut softness on D.
2. PLAYS KEEP AWAY WITH THE RAVENS AND STEELERS – Almost as important the Browns kept Taylor out of the hands of Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Taylor would have been a perfect fit for either of their arch rivals and he would have filled a need. Kelly Gregg in Baltimore and Casey Hampton in Pittsburgh are two of the best nose tackles in the league. But both are getting up there in years. Taylor would have given either club a Mt. Everest sized road block in the middle of their line for years to come. Now they both have either wait for a replacement or else reach in the later rounds. I’d be willing to bet Baltimore’s uncharacteristic draft snafu was at least partially due to Cleveland taking Taylor ahead of them. Just a hunch on my part.
So there’s my Cleveland Browns rapid reaction to day 1 of the draft. Day 2 promises to be even more exciting. My guess is the Browns do a repeat of last year’s strategy and use their first two picks to address the same area. This time around that’s defensive line. D’Quan Bowers is still there and so is Brooks Reed. Cleveland has to be very happy about that.
By Hell’s Grim Tyrant – Jabberhead, SJ Contributing Author