Browns' draft off to solid start

Posted April 29, 2011 @ 11:53 p.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

Slowly but surely, the Browns are improving their roster, and they have helped themselves in the first two days of the draft.

They filled needs with each of their three picks, selecting a space-eating defensive tackle (Baylor's Phil Taylor) in Round One, a productive rush end (Pittsburgh's Jabaal Sheard) early in Round Two and an intriguing wideout (North Carolina's Greg Little) late in Round Two. 

All could be starters in Year One. Taylor is probably the safest bet to be a key contributor, but Sheard will surely get a chance to play early, too, with Cleveland moving to a 4-3 front. 

Little could have the toughest path to the starting lineup, but he is a very intriguing prospect. He sat out all of last season after being ruled ineligible for accepting benefits from an agent, and he was a full-time receiver for just one season at UNC.

I expect the Browns' offensive scheme change to help veteran WRs Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie, whose experience edges will help them as they vie for roles in the new offense. But Little is a talented new option at a position that's going to get the ball more this season. Nolan Nawrocki wrote of Little in PFW's 2011 Draft Preview: "Has clear starter potential and could be great if he proves he can handle success."

The Browns' first three draft picks were reasonable. None were reaches. All could be core players soon.

The Browns have rebuilt often since returning to NFL play, but rarely reconstructed well for any sustained stretch. However there is no doubt GM Tom Heckert and president Mike Holmgren have made the team better in the last two seasons.