Monday, April 16, 2012
Report: Browns split on WR, Tannehill
By Jamison Hensley
The start of the NFL draft is 10 days away, and according to one report, the Cleveland Browns are undecided on whom to take.
Sources told Sports Illustrated's Peter King that Browns general manager Tom Heckert "loves" Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, while team president Mike Holmgren is trying to decide whether Cleveland should take Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The Browns had their pre-draft visit with Tannehill today.
It's hard for me to believe the Browns have Blackmon and Tannehill rated above Alabama running back Trent Richardson. Blackmon is the top-rated wide receiver in this draft class, but he lacks elite speed. Tannehill could develop into a franchise quarterback, but it's too much of a risk to take a quarterback with 19 college starts with the fourth overall pick.
While I think the Browns would be making a mistake to take Blackmon, others disagree with that opinion. Gary Horton of Scouts Inc. believes Blackmon going to the Browns is "a perfect marriage between need and value." You'll need a subscription to view the entire Insider piece, but here's a portion of what Horton wrote:
If Blackmon is their guy, he fits well in an offense that badly needs playmakers. With Brad Childress as the new offensive coordinator, this will likely still be a West Coast scheme with precise routes designed to get yards after the catch, something Blackmon does well. The Browns were near the bottom of the NFL in 2011 in yards per pass and red zone success, two areas Blackmon can immediately upgrade. The Browns wanted to upgrade the receiver position in free agency, but that didn't happen. With it now looking as if they'll start the season with Colt McCoy at QB, the Browns must get him a weapon who stretches the defense more than the group they have now. Blackmon could certainly take pressure off Greg Little, who managed 61 catches as a rookie in 2011.
I still see Richardson as the safest and best pick for the Browns. He can touch the ball 20 to 25 times per game, which takes the pressure off McCoy. Richardson will immediately become the centerpiece of the Browns' offense, which will open up the passing game for McCoy on play-action fakes.
We'll just have to wait until April 26 to see what the Browns really think.