Browns a winner, but Quinn loses out
The Browns got two franchise building blocks, making them big winners on the first day of the draft, writes John Clayton.
NEW YORK -- In a strange first round in which Brady Quinn fell to the 22nd pick and safeties were the rage, the NFL concluded its first day of drafting with some strange scenarios.
There were surprises, Ted Ginn Jr., going to Miami instead of Quinn being the biggest. We have to go back in history to give the Dolphins immunity from being immediately posted in the loser column. As the story goes, Ginn was the receiver the Dolphins were considering since last fall. They loved his speed.
Unfortunately, a celebration after a touchdown in the BCS Championship Game led to a foot injury and killed his offseason. Ginn still can run a 4.3 40, but he doesn't have full stability in the foot. His foot will be put in a boot for six weeks and then a six-week rehab begins. The Dolphins are willing to wait.
They tried to recover from the bold decision to pass on Quinn by taking John Beck of BYU in the second round. Of all the top quarterbacks considered first-day picks, Beck was considered the sleeper. He has a strong arm and he's tough. But if he doesn't develop into a better quarterback than Quinn, Dolphins fans won't be happy.
With the Dolphins given a pass for now for passing on a passer, here are the winners and losers from Day 1.
1. Cleveland Browns: All right, they gave away a potential top-five pick in next year's draft to get Quinn at No. 22. We all realize the Browns may not be very good next season. The roster has age in the front seven of the 3-4 defense and numerous other holes. The reason the Browns are the big winners is because they potentially filled two of the five major building blocks of a team, getting Quinn and left tackle Joe Thomas. Teams win with quality players at left tackle, defensive end, cornerback, wide receiver and quarterback. If the Browns lose next season, general manager Phil Savage and coach Romeo Crennel might not be around to reap the rewards of this draft. Regardless, Savage did a great job despite the price.
2. Lane Kiffin and Al Davis: They had to take a quarterback. The franchise was set back by not taking Matt Leinart or Jay Cutler a year ago. The 31-year-old coach and the ageless Davis played catch-up Saturday. They had to take JaMarcus Russell instead of playing around with second- or third-round prospects. Getting TE Zach Miller in the second round was the right call, too. The Raiders topped the day off by acquiring quarterback Josh McCown and wide receiver Mike Williams from Detroit for a fourth-round choice. McCown, who comes to the team on a one-year contract, can carry the team into the season as the starter, buying Russell time to learn the offense and feel comfortable in the NFL. The Raiders' quarterback problems will be solved for the start of the 2007 season with McCown, and hopefully in the future with Russell.
3. Cardinals assistant head coach Russ Grimm: Grimm is one of the best offensive line teachers in the NFL and he usually doesn't go into the personnel office asking for high draft picks. But Grimm believed Levi Brown of Penn State was a better fit for his offensive line than Joe Thomas. With the fifth pick, Grimm got his tackle. Remember, the Cardinals are a left-handed team because they have a left-handed quarterback in Matt Leinart. Brown can protect his blindside at right tackle. Plus, he gives Edgerrin James a bigger, more powerful blocking style to get some power runs to the right. Thomas might be the better long-term pass-blocker and probably would have beaten out Brown for the No. 5 pick if he was available. But Grimm got the guy he wanted. The Cardinals also came out ahead in getting defensive tackle Alan Branch in the second round. The team is moving to a 3-4 alignment in 2007 or 2008, and he can be the nose tackle to eat up space and draw extra blocking attention.
4. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin: It was a bold move to chase away Joey Porter, whom the Steelers believe lost some of the speed that made him the No. 1 linebacker in their 3-4 scheme. The Steelers drafted linebacker Lawrence Timmons in the first round and defensive end LaMarr Woodley in the second round. Woodley could develop into a No. 1 pass-rusher. Tomlin also wanted to get some youth and quickness into the linebacker corps to give him the flexibility to use some 4-3 alignments at times. Timmons has that type of speed and quickness, but he also has experience in the 3-4 with some of the schemes used at Florida State.
5. The Dallas Cowboys: Jerry Jones wasn't really looking for much as far as impact in the 2007 draft. The Cowboys have a young group of 3-4 defenders that didn't need much attention. With age at wide receiver (Terry Glenn and Terrell Owens) and Flozell Adams and Tony Romo both in the last year of their contracts, major changes are ahead for the offense. But for 2007, the offense is in good shape. The Browns could be bad next year, so getting the Browns' No. 1 pick could put the Cowboys in position for a left tackle, top receiver or a quarterback if Romo stumbles this season. To move back into the second round, the Cowboys gave up the chance to draft safety Brandon Meriweather. But they turned back around and traded back into the first round and got a great pass-rusher in Anthony Spencer. Touchdown, Cowboys.
1. Brady Quinn: Not since Aaron Rodgers has an NFL draft seen a quarterback lose as much as Notre Dame's Brady Quinn. Slipping from a top-three pick to No. 22 could cost him as much in $33 million in contract dollars and maybe $18 million in guarantees. The Browns considered him with the third pick but took Wisconsin left tackle Joe Thomas. He could partially understand the Vikings passing on him. Halfback Adrian Peterson was available and coach Brad Childress invested time and draft choices to get Tarvaris Jackson last year. The killer was the Dolphins at No. 9. Television cameras caught him flabbergasted by the Dolphins' selection of Ted Ginn Jr. Vince Young, the third pick in last year's draft, received a six-year, $48 million deal that included $24.9 million in guarantees. The 22nd pick, being a quarterback, might get a five-year deal that could max out at $15 million or maybe $20 million, although Quinn's agent, Tom Condon, can be creative. Regardless, Quinn was the biggest loser on the first day.
2. NFC North: The NFC North is a big loser with Adrian Peterson going to Minnesota. Peterson is angry he was bypassed by six teams, and as Larry Johnson proved over the past two seasons, an angry runner is a dangerous runner. Also, Peterson will be going up against three Cover 2-type defenses. Other than Chris Henry of Arizona, Peterson is the fastest running back in this draft. On the artificial turf in the Metrodome, he will appear to be even faster. Peterson slipped to No. 7 because he's 90 percent healed from a collarbone separation. He doesn't plan to have surgery to insert a plate, but if he does, he's going to be sidelined for only six weeks. Six games against him in the division could be very painful for opponents.
3. Brett Favre -- for now: Favre came back from potential retirement for a playoff run, but he's waiting for a big push from the Packers' personnel department. The wait netted him backup cornerback Frank Walker in free agency. That's it. Unless he was cutting the grass on his tractor, Favre might have been sitting around waiting for the Packers to acquire a big, fast receiver like Robert Meachem or find the running back to replace Ahman Green, who left for Houston to reunite with former Packers head coach Mike Sherman. The first round gave him defensive tackle Justin Harrell, a good lineman who fills a need. Brandon Jackson, a running back from Nebraska, went to the Packers in the second round but many thought he would go in the third, just like Green did years ago. Don't get me wrong: Jackson is a good sleeper back, better than people think. He's tough, he runs hard, and he should help. But sleepers may not wake up a quarterback waiting for greatness. Sounds to me like the Packers need to make that final push to get Randy Moss to satisfy Favre. That could happen Sunday. Favre might stop weeding the garden for that.
4. The Mile High Brownie defensive line: Remember how Mike Shanahan put together two years of playoff runs by accumulating the greatest collection of former Browns defensive linemen? You remember the group: Gerard Warren, Courtney Brown, Ebenezer Ekuban, Amon Gordon, Alvin McKinley, Kenard Lang and Michael Myers. Shanahan continues to serve notice that Cleveland may rock, but former Cleveland linemen could be out in the cold. The Broncos drafted two defensive ends: Jarvis Moss and Tim Crowder. Brown and Myers are gone. Lang should stay, but Ekuban will have to fight for his job. McKinley was just signed, so he's in, and Warren is under a long-term contract. However, if the Panthers trade Kris Jenkins, don't be surprised if they move on Warren.
5. The 2008 draft: What is it about the 2008 draft some teams don't like? The Browns and Colts gave up first-round picks next year in trades. The 49ers gave their No. 1 pick next year to the Patriots, but got the Colts' No. 1. The Texans gave away a No. 2 next year in the Matt Schaub trade. Now, the Cowboys and Patriots have good teams in 2007 along with having two No. 1s next year. That's dangerous. As precious as draft choices are these days, maybe some of the teams are tipping off the class of 2008 might not be overly great.
John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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