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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the month “April, 2011”

Browns fill some more holes

We’re not going to pretend that we know much (or anything) about the five players the Browns selected in the final day of the NFL Draft.

We do think the Browns did well, however, as they filled some more needs on the team, although we would have liked to have seen them draft an offensive linemen before the fifth round.

“We picked the best player available at the time at a position without reaching,” team president Mike Holmgren told The Plain Dealer. “That’s the key to a draft. If you can be solid year after year – I don’t think spectacular, but solid year after year – this is a solid way to do it. Then if you hit a spectacular pick, fine. But that’s the way to build a team.”

There’s no way of knowing if any of these guys will actually see the field this fall (or whenever we have football again) but they help the team’s depth, so it is all good.

Here’s what we do know, thanks to Sports Illustrated:

Tight end Jordan Cameron: “After a nondescript college career, Cameron displayed a lot of skill during the week of practices at the Shrine Game and turned in a terrific combine workout. He offers a great amount of potential and could develop into a starting tight end as he learns the position and improves his game.”

“I’ve got a lot to learn, but I’m willing to do so and I’m excited about my future in this league,” Cameron said. “I could add some weight. I’ve got a skinny frame and could get up to 260 and still be able to move pretty well.”

Cameron does have this going for him as well.,

Fullback Owen Marecic is a “throwback who played two ways as a senior and gets the most from his ability. He’s a hard-nosed football player who may never be a star but will help an NFL roster in a variety of ways.”

“I always try to train to be a football player, but fullback may be the place I fit at home best,” Marecic said. “I’m very, very excited to be a Cleveland Brown.”

Cornerback Buster Skrine is a “terrific athlete with elite speed and a great amount of upside. Still developing at the position, Skrine would be most effective in a system that uses him backed off the line of scrimmage. Should be able to contribute as a nickel or dime back during his rookie season and also be given an opportunity to return kicks.”

“Even though I’m undersized, I’m a tough corner,” Skrine said. “I play bigger than my height; I cover well and I’m coachable, which helps me a lot. I just play bigger than what I am. The size thing really doesn’t get to me. I see myself as a player, just like any other player on the field. I go out there, play my game and try to play better than everyone else out there.

Offensive tackle Jason Pinkston “has been a productive blind side protector for Pittsburgh since his sophomore season and has enough skill to play the left tackle position in the NFL. He may move into guard based on his size, but he offers the ability to play in a conventional offense or in a zone blocking system.”

“I’m a hard worker,” Pinkston said. “I love football; it’s my life. I love running the football; I love drive-blocking people. Whatever I can do to help the team win, I’m going to do it.”

Safety Eric Hagg “is a cognizant defender who consistently positions himself to make plays on the ball. He was very productive on the college level and would do well in a zone system at the next level, although his poor speed and limited quickness will be issues.”

So there we are. The Browns ended up drafting four offensive and four defensive players. They seem to have added to the toughness of the team, something that is important when you play in the AFC North.

Their first three picks – Phil Taylor, Jabaal Sheard and Greg Little should all see game action from Week 1 – or whenever we finally have football. The rest, who knows? We can certainly see where they could be contributors on special teams.

“Obviously, we helped our defensive line, which was a concern,” general manager Tom Heckert said. “But we just think we got good football players that will come in and help us.”

Overall we’re comfortable with the draft the Browns had. Plus they still have a second first round pick sitting in their pocket for next year.

Not a bad three days. Not bad at all.


Browns think defense, touchdowns

The Browns went back to work on the defensive line in the second round, selecting Pitt’s Jabaal Sheard with their first pick of the night.

According to Sports Illustrated, “Sheard has quietly been one of the better pass rushers in college football the past three seasons and is a defender who continually makes plays behind the line of scrimmage. He’s displayed constant improvement on the field and should be very productive as a one-gap end at the next level.”

Sheard stepped up for the Panthers last year after fellow lineman Greg Romeus went down with an injury, earning Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors with 14.5 tackles for loss, nine sacks and four forced fumbles.

“I’m aggressive. I know how to get to the quarterback. And I’m a hard worker,” Sheard said on a conference call. “I’m always thinking of getting to the quarterback. I want to make that hit that makes the crowd go ‘Ooooo.’ That’s the guy I want to be. I want the kind of feedback from guys saying, “I never want to play against you again.'”

There was also this little thing where he was arrested last summer for allegedly throwing a man through a glass door of an art gallery.

Hey, who didn’t do that when in college?

Sheard will join a the defensive line with first-round pick Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin. According to (from Terry Pluto), in a 4-3 defense you can put Taylor “over the center and that would make their life miserable. He is intimidating.”

The Browns have made us miserable for years; it’s about time they start getting players who can make the other team miserable.

We imagine the offensive line coaches in Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati are already sweating about facing these guys twice a year.

With their second pick in the second round (the one they got from Atlanta) the Browns finally started thinking touchdowns, taking North Carolina wide receiver Greg Little – who didn’t play last season after being suspended by the NCAA.

Little is a former running back who switched to wide receiver his sophomore year. He caught 62 passes for 724 yards and five touchdowns his junior year.

According to Sports Illustrated, Little is a relatively athletic receiver who does the little things well on the field. Sells routes, comes back to the ball out of breaks, and plays with good quickness. Possesses good eye/hand coordination, effectively looks the ball in, and makes the reception in stride. But he lacks a burst and a second gear. He possesses the tools and pass catching skills necessary to be a number two receiver on the NFL level.”

“I think to me, to be accepted as a second round draft pick, while just playing the position completely one full year, I think the sky’s the limit for me right now.” Little said on a conference call. “Honestly, I think I have so much upside to wide receiver, not having played the position but one complete year. I’m just ready to get back at it.”

Overall the Browns did some solid work in the first two rounds. Maybe they didn’t come away with anyone spectacular, but they picked up three players that should be on the field next season. And they have six more picks left in rounds 4-7.

Most importantly, by adding Taylor and Sheard to the defense, the Browns now have five key players who are 24 or younger on the defensive side of the ball – the two draft picks, Rubin, Joe Haden and T.J. Ward.

And that definitely is a good thing.

Browns get defensive with first pick

Well, we didn’t see that one coming.

General manager Tom Heckert put on his Eric Mangini mask and made multiple trades as the Browns bounced around the first round from No. 6 to No. 27 before finally settling at No. 21 and picking Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor.

The Browns also ended up with four additional draft picks after all the trading was done.

Heckert said leading up to the draft that there were two players the Browns were targeting and, if they were gone, the Browns would be open to a deal. That appeared to be the case, especially after the Cardinals got their revenge for Derek Anderson by taking LSU’s Patrick Peterson one pick before the Browns.

The Browns picked up five picks from Atlanta – the Falcons giving up their first-, second-, and fourth-round selections this year and first- and fourth-round picks in 2012 – so that Atlanta could take Alabama’s Julio Jones.

The Browns then gave KC the 27th overall pick acquired from Atlanta and the Browns’ third-round selection, No. 70 overall, to move up to 21 and pick Taylor.

So, was it all worth it?

Taylor will pair with Ahtyba Rubin in the Browns four-man front, hopefully building a large wall to bolster the run defense.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. wrote that Taylor “showed he can be a disruptive force along the interior of the defensive line. Taylor is a massive tackle who can throw around the center or guards like they’re rag dolls. He’s tremendously powerful and strong and is a great run-stuffing defensive tackle, showing excellent stoutness at the point of attack.

“In fact, Taylor is arguably the best pure nose tackle in this draft … an immovable object along the interior.”

“We really like Phil Taylor,” Heckert told The Plain Dealer. “We think with him and Rubin, we’re going to be tough inside.”He’s a big man who can push the pocket. If your guards or center are undersized, he’s going to run right over the top of them. That’s intriguing for us.”

The consensus seems to be that the Browns really took it to Atlanta with the trade, so they have that going for them.

Two years ago when the Browns moved around the first round they ended up walking away with Alex Mack, who’s the best center in the division. Hopefully they can come close with the selection of Taylor.

The Browns still have eight picks to make in this year’s draft as the team continues to rebuild and get younger. They have two picks in the second round – No. 37 & No. 59 – as well as picks 102, 124, 137, 168, 170 and 248.

And there is still more to come with the second round starting tonight. And plenty of players still available. Da’Quan Bowers anyone?

Browns are on the clock

We’re confident the Browns know what they want to do with their first pick in tonight’s opening round of the NFL Draft – what’s less clear is what they will do.

With no way of knowing for sure what the five teams – Carolina, Denver, Buffalo, Cincinnati and Arizona – picking ahead of them are up to, it’s hard to guess which players will be available when the Browns pick.

But we know who we would like to see them pick, in order:

  • Patrick Peterson
  • Marcell Dareus
  • Von Miller
  • A.J. Green
  • Julio Jones
  • Prince Amukamara
  • Robert Quinn
  • Tyron Smith
  • Mike Pouncey
  • Anthony Castonzo
  • Da’Quan Bowers
  • Nick Fairley

We like the thought of Peterson joining a secondary with Joe Haden, T.J. Ward and Sheldon Brown. Despite having the reputation of being a smashmouth division, the AFC North is a passing division and the stronger the Browns secondary is the better it makes the rest of the defense.

If Peterson isn’t there, just keep moving down the list. Dareus and Miller will probably be gone, but the good thing is one of these players will be there when the Browns pick and they all fill a need on the team.


While we’re doubtful that U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson’s latest ruling will end the NFL’s labor situation, it does open the door for the Browns to get in some valuable work with the players.

We know the Browns want to be a company team and follow the lead of the league office. But it’s time to start looking out for No. 1.

As long as Nelson’s ruling stays in effect, the Browns should get as many players as they can into meetings with the new coaching staff and start going over the playbook and watching film. We understand if the team is reluctant to let any of the players do anything that could result in an injury, but that’s not going to happen in a classroom.

And even if the ruling is overturned on appeal and the players are locked out again, any work the coaches and players can put in now will only payoff when this thing finally gets settled.

Oh boy, now we’ve done it

Well, we did it Cleveland – Peyton Hillis is the new cover boy for this year’s Madden NFL game.

Oh crap.

Hillis picked up 66 percent of the vote in the final of the 32-player tournament to easily beat Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick.

We tried to warn people – the Madden Curse is real. And now it’s going to roll through Cleveland like Godzilla through Tokyo.

And now Hillis is infected with something worse than the cheese touch.

The Browns better hope Montario Hardesty’s knee is OK and we have no doubt general manager Tom Heckert is hastily reordering his draft board now that the news is out.

Of course, there are some heretics out there who think this is OK. Check them out at your own risk here, and here.


The Browns are reportedly (emphasis on the reportedly part) in discussions with Minnesota to trade for the Vikings’ first-round pick (No. 12) in tomorrow night’s NFL Draft.

According to National Football Authority, the Browns are targeting two players and, if they land one of them with their own pick at No. 6, they will be interested in trading with Minnesota if unnamed player No. 2 is available when the Vikings go on the clock.

While that sounds good on paper, the cost of the reported deal is steep: the Browns would give up their second-round pick this year (No. 37) and their No. 1 pick next year.

Now, the Browns clearly need all the help they can get. But is adding a second player at the cost of next year’s No. 1 pick – which could be quite high again as the team is working with a new coaching staff installing a new system – a price worth paying?

We don’t think so. If the team was ready to win now and that one extra player would help put them over the top, we could probably get behind the deal.

But as the team is currently constructed, we’ll take a pass. And we expect the Browns to do the same if the Vikings actually do come calling. (h/t to Cleveland Frowns)


Congratulations to Clint Dempsey, who scored twice in Fulham’s 3-0 win over Bolton on Wednesday.

Dempsey is now the Cottagers’ top scorer in the Premier League era with 33 goals. He’s also just one of two U.S. players to score in multiple World Cups, scoring against Ghana in 2006 and England last summer.

You can see video of his two goals here.


More good news out of Kent State, as the women’s golf team will play in the 2011 NCAA Women’s Golf Tournament from May 5-7.

The Golden Flashes, winner of their 13th consecutive Mid-American Conference team title, will be one of 24 teams to participate in the Central Regional at Warren Golf Course where the Flashes placed second in October at the Notre Dame Invitational.

Kent State is the 11th seed in a regional where UCLA, Duke, LSU and Arkansas are the top four seeds. The top eight advance to the NCAA Championship at Traditions Golf Course in Texas from May 18-21.

Streak stopper strikes again

Justin Masterson did it again for the Indians Tuesday night against the Royals.

Masterson won for the fourth time this season following a Tribe loss, as the Indians beat the Royals to run their home winning streak to eight games.

”Masterson was overpowering at times,” manager Manny Acta told The Beacon Journal. ”He used that sinker then he’d throw a four-seamer up in the zone.”

Masterson is off to the best start by an Indians’ starter since Cliff Lee won his first six starts in 2008. Lee won the Cy Young Award that year.

Hey, we’re just saying.

As good as Masterson was, allowing three runs and five hits in six-and-two-thirds innings, reliever Vinnie Pestano rocked it in the seventh.

With the Tribe holding on to a 4-3 lead, the Royals loaded the bases with no outs. Pestano came in and shut it down, retiring three consecutive Royals to end the threat.

On the season, Pestano has worked in 10 games, giving up one run in nine innings, striking out 12.

This was a true team effort as the Indians hit five home runs – two by Jack Hannahan, one by Grady Sizemore and one by Shin-Soo Choo.

“It’s not the same guy doing it every time,” Masterson said in published reports. “It’s a different guy, that’s what makes this fun. Guys are making plays here, there and everywhere. It’s not the same person every time, we’re kind of doing it collectively, and it’s kind of the sign of a pretty good team.”

The first-place Indians have a 2.5 game cushion over Kansas City and Detroit. The Tribe is also off to its best start since 2007, when they won 96 games.

Should Browns tackle the defensive line?

The Browns need help on the defensive line – that’s no secret – and, for once, luck may be on their side as this year’s draft class is deep in defensive line talent.

If the Browns decide to pick a defensive linemen with the No. 6 pick Thursday night in the opening round of the NFL Draft, the question then becomes: do they go for a defensive end or a tackle to pair with Ahtyba Rubin inside? If they go inside, the top two tackles are Alabama’s Marcell Dareus and Auburn’s Nick Fairley.

We’d be cool with the Browns taking Dareus, who has been described as someone who “can be the backbone of an elite defensive line, and his run defense is the key. Takes momentum blocking – especially slide protection – very well. Strong enough to go against the grain and split gaps. Agile enough to redirect in space and extends the play to the sideline. Blows up piles and can be dominant in power situations.”

Unfortunately, Dareus is expected to be one of the first players off the board.

Less certain is Fairley, who makes us uneasy: “In addition to the late hits, Fairley can be drawn offside and this could be a bigger problem in the NFL when he’s dealing with quarterbacks who have great cadences and can trip up defenders with their snap counts. Concerns about his work ethic have dogged Fairley for a long time; not known to be a gym rat or an exceptionally interested student of the game.”

Does that really sound like someone we want the Browns to take a chance on?

No, it does not.*


“Potential major violations”

“failed to deport himself … [with] honesty and integrity”

“violated ethical-conduct legislation”

Not the kinds of things you generally want to hear about your football coach, but that’s what Ohio State is hearing about Jim Tressel after the NCAA presented its notice of allegations to the school about Tressel lying to cover up violations of seven players.

The NCAA also warned that it could treat Ohio State as a repeat offender stemming from the violations involving former quarterback Troy Smith, who took $500 from a booster and former men’s basketball coach Jim O’Brien, who gave $6,000 to a recruit.

Repeat offenders face post-season bans, the entire coaching staff could be suspended and the school could lose scholarships, according to NCAA rules.

Uh-oh, somebody is in big trouble.

Former Ohio State quarterback and current ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who had to move out of state because the hoopleheads in Columbus couldn’t handle him telling the truth, summed up the current situation perfectly.

“The Ohio State fan base blindly is supporting Ohio State and Jim Tressel. It’s almost gotten to the point that he beats Michigan, he wins 10 games, he goes to BCS bowl games, they’ll support him no matter what he does as far as the fan base,” Herbstreit told ESPN. “If this would have happened to John Cooper [Herbstreit’s coach], not only would they have fired him, they would have actually lined it up and had a firing squad and fired him.”

Hmmm, you’d think someone who wraps themselves in the cloak of Christianity, like Tressel repeatedly does, would have known right from wrong.


Reason No. 152 why we are so very glad the Browns didn’t make the mistake of hiring Jon Gruden as head coach comes from Peter King, writing in his Monday Morning QB column.

King tries to answer the question that has puzzle many of us: why does everyone treat Gruden as some kind of quarterback guru?

I think in the wake of Jon Gruden sitting with quarterbacks and working out quarterbacks and examining their mental and physical games, this has been the common question: If Gruden is so good with young quarterbacks, why didn’t he ever develop a great one himself?

In his second year as Raider coach in 1999, he got the kind of quarterback he felt was best to win with immediately, Rich Gannon. Early in his Buc tenure, he duplicated that with Brad Johnson. Two veteran quarterbacks, both of whom Gruden used to take those teams deep into the playoffs; he won a Super Bowl, obviously, with Johnson. So that became the way he thought best to win big. Later in his Tampa term, it stopped working, and he suffered for it. Gruden’s not going to be one of the patient guys who says, “Let’s take our lumps with the young kids.” He’s going to be a win-now guy.

I also think Gruden likes to be known as the fixer, the guy who wins quicker than the other coaches. He fixed the Raiders, then got the Bucs a championship Tony Dungy never got. Gruden’s not going to be the guy who you want coaching your team for 12 years, but he’s going to be the guy who takes over a pretty good team, gives it shock therapy and a sense of urgency, and has a chance to win quickly.

The last thing the Browns need is a quick-fix guy. They need someone who will build the team in the right way. Gruden is obviously not that guy.


*If the Browns do end up drafting Fairley, we are 100 percent behind the pick. If the player is wearing a jersey that says Cleveland on it then we want them to succeed. We just won’t be disappointed if the Browns pass on him.

Browns in good hands with Heckert

If for some reason anyone had any doubt the Browns are in good hands on draft day with general manager Tom Heckert calling the shots, today’s story from Nate Ulrich in The Beacon Journal should calm those fears.

The article talks about the system Heckert uses to help determine the players the Browns want to select. He has two players in mind for each of the team’s seven picks; if neither player is available he will look to trade.

“I think this year, there’s a chance we could hit on six guys that are at least playing,” Heckert said in the story. ”If you can get drafts like that, you’re gonna be fine. They don’t have to be all Pro Bowl players. They have to be good football players, and that’s how you build your team. I think if you stick with that philosophy, more of the guys are gonna make the team ’cause they’re not gonna be flakes, and you’re not gonna want to get rid of them. Once you do that, you start building your team, and you’re gonna be good for a long time if you keep drafting well.”

It’s so comforting knowing that, whatever happens come draft day, the Browns are prepared, have a solid plan and will stick to it. We can’t remember the last time we felt this comfortable heading into a Browns draft.

”Tom has an excellent feel for players,” coach Pat Shurmur told the paper. ”I think he’s done the research on so many, he’s got so many ways he can compare a guy. He’s been around the league so long, so he knows what a player is. He knows how to set up the draft. He knows how to pick the players. He knows how to trade around and do what you have to do — the game of the draft.”

If Heckert can come through with another solid draft to pair up with last year’s, the Browns may actually get this thing turned around sometime in our lifetime.

Just be sure to stay away from those quarterbacks.

Character still counts

We woke up this morning to the news that Miami wide receiver Brandon Marshall was in the hospital after being stabbed – allegedly by his wife.

This is not the first time Marshall has been in the news for off-field shenanigans:

  • On March 1, 2009, Marshall and his wife, Michi Nogami-Marshall, were both arrested and booked on disorderly conduct charges after two officers saw them kicking and punching each other outside Marshall’s Atlanta condominium. Disorderly conduct charges were later dismissed.
  • The NFL suspended Marshall for three 2008 games under the league’s personal conduct policy, although no specific reason was given. He appealed, and the penalty was reduced to just one game.
  • In May 2009 he was profiled in ESPN’s Outside the Lines about the couple’s abusive relationships. The 911 tapes and police reports documented his checkered past.
  • He was arrested in November 2004 and charged with five misdemeanor counts of trespassing, resisting an officer without violence, refusal to obey an officer, disorderly conduct and assault on an officer. The charges were eventually dropped.
  • In April 2005, he was arrested again in Orange County on a misdemeanor charge of retail or farm theft, but was never prosecuted.
  • He made headlines in January 2007 when Broncos teammate and friend Darrent Williams was killed in a drive-by shooting by gang members in downtown Denver. The shooting took place after an altercation at a nightclub between the gang members and other patrons, including Marshall.

The latest problems for Marshall, who signed a $50 million contract with the Dolphins last year, making him the highest paid wide-receiver in NFL history, remind us that character still counts when teams are looking at players.

When the Broncos were looking to deal Marshall, there were some who wanted the Browns to trade for him. There was also a segment of the fan base that wanted the Browns to draft Dez Bryant last year and some who couldn’t understand why the Browns did not trade for Randy Moss when the Patriots grew tired of his act.

Of course, Bryant is currently busy defending himself against lawsuits claiming he failed to pay $246,000 for jewelry and Moss lasted all of four games before the Vikings released him.

While any of the three would have helped the Browns anemic passing attack, we’re glad they are not on the team. We bag on Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi from time to time because they’re not very good, but we’re confident we won’t wake up one day to a headline saying that they are in some off-field trouble.

It’s good, too, that the Browns are determined to shy away from troubled players.

“Those guys in the league that have had issues, those guys are going to be tough for us to mess around with,” general manager Tom Heckert has said in published reports.

So while it may not be true in other NFL cities, at least in Cleveland character still matters.


The bad Fausto Carmona showed up for the Indians on Saturday against Minnesota, giving up six runs, seven hits and four walks in just five innings of work as the Tribe fell, 10-3.

It was the first time this season the Twins scored more than five runs in a game (of course) as they entered the day with the lowest run totals in the majors.

But that didn’t matter as the Twins slapped around Carmona and then Chad Durbin (two innings of work, four runs, why is he still on the team?) to hand the Tribe its second consecutive loss.

But all is not lost as Carlos Carrasco will get the start on Sunday in an attempt to give the Indians a split of not only the series, but the six-game road trip. And that’s OK – when you are in first place all that matters is the teams behind you don’t make up ground.

The Tribe split with Kansas City and if they can earn a split with the Twins that’s six division games out of the way without letting the Royals and Twins gain anything.

And that’s not bad at all.


Maxi Rodriguez tallied a hat-trick, Dirk Kuyt and Joe Cole each added a goal, and Liverpool closed the gap on fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur with a 5-0 win on Saturday against Birmingham.

”Maxi is a very intelligent footballer. He’s not a direct replacement for Andy but he’s got more goals than him in that one performance,” Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said in published reports. ”Maxi has not played for a few weeks and came on and did a fantastic job for us.

”Joe also got his reward because he has trained well and he came on and got a goal. It won’t do Joe or Maxi any harm and the joy the players got from Maxi scoring his hat-trick and Joe scoring his goal reflects how close a group they are and that is great for the club.

”They are all playing for each other and the players are going to play better if they are confident and if they are happy going to work they will get better results.”

While the Spurs do have a game in hand, only three points separate the two teams. And Tottenham Hotspur still have to face Chelsea (2nd in the table) and Manchester City (4th) before the next-to-last game of the season against Liverpool against Anfield on May 15.

If the Reds can keep it close until then – they face Newcastle United (9th in the table) and Fulham (13th) – the game with Spurs should be the dogs bollocks.

Browns to draft someone next week

Breaking news out of Berea where Browns general manager Tom Heckert confirmed today the the team will select a college player with their first pick in the NFL Draft next week.

OK, Heckert wasn’t that vague, but he certainly played it close to the vest during a press conference Thursday to talk about the team’s draft plans.

“We have some holes to fill all over the place,” Heckert said. “We still have holes on defense and offense. We’re going to try to the best of our ability to stick with our philosophy of taking the best available player. I know everybody says that, but I think we’re in a better position to do that than some teams. Some teams may be one or two positions away from being really good. It’s probably a positive for us that we can take the best available player.

“I don’t know what the biggest need is. I know everybody has their opinion on that, but I think we’re in a situation where we can draft anybody and it will help us. I don’t know if it’s a ‘fill-a-need thing,’ but we’re not looking at it like that.”

So the Browns are going to draft someone that they believe is the best player for the team. Check.

What about LSU’s Patrick Peterson, who we are starting to really, really like at No. 6?

“He is a good football player. He is a rare guy just because of his size alone, size and speed.

“You are going to play close to 60 percent nickel so you are going to have three corners on the field 60 percent of the time. If you don’t have three of them they are going to find the one. They are going to and you have to roll coverage that way and then you are putting that guy on the island. The more cover guys you can have the better you are. You get a corner hurt, you can’t have enough corners.

“It’s the same thing with defensive and offensive linemen. Everybody talks about the starters and that’s great. On defense, the nickel guys, in the secondary and as pass rushers, it’s great to have an inside pass rusher or a nickel pass rusher. There are spots for that and the same thing with the offensive line. If one of your tackles goes down you better have someone who can replace him. That’s why those positions are so key that if you don’t have one you are going to be in trouble.”

All kidding aside, we wouldn’t expect Heckert to come out and specifically say who the Browns plan to pick – there’s no advantage for the team in doing that. From everything Heckert has said the Browns know what type of player they want and have done their homework.

Now it’s time to wait and see what happens with the teams picking before them in the first round. No matter what those teams do, the Browns are in a position to make the team better.

Just as important, Heckert doesn’t come across as someone who needs to use the draft to fuel his ego and show everyone how smart he is. He knows the time to do the work is now and then, on draft night, trust all the work the scouts did and all the time the coaches and front office put in evaluating players.

We get the feeling he won’t draft Gerrard Warren when everyone is saying Richard Seymour is the correct pick; nor will he fixate on just one player and then panic when it looks like that player will go off the board.

“If we end up staying where we are, we’re going to get a good football player,” Heckert said. “There are six guys and we’re going to get a good football player. That’s probably the nice thing. Obviously, you don’t want to pick up there all the time, but we know we’re getting a good football player. If we stay here, then we’re good. It’s really not going to affect us, what happens up there. It’s not a situation we’re that concerned about.

“You could try to get cute and say, ‘Well, maybe he’s going to be there later in the second round’ and then you lose him and you’re like, ‘How stupid was that?’ If you like the guy, take him. Don’t get too cute.”

Don’t get too cute. Now that’s a philosophy we can get behind.


Real Madrid beat Barcelona in the finals of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, setting off a celebration.

Is this the best victory parade not involving a Cleveland team? Yes it is.

After ending an 18-year wait to win the trophy, Madrid defender Sergio Ramos dropped the 33-pound cup from the top of the team bus during the victory parade – and the cup was crushed under the wheels of the bus.

“It is not in good shape, evidently, it was run over by a bus,” Madrid spokeswoman Marta Santisteban told The Associated Press in what is probably the understatement of the year. “It has to be fixed.”

It’s going to be a long time before someone can top that one.

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