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Kiper breaks down Browns draft

Posted May 1, 2012

ESPN Draft Analyst Mel Kiper Jr. discussed the 2012 NFL Draft in a conference call with the national media on Monday afternoon.

ESPN Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. called Mitchell Schwartz “the key pick” of the Cleveland Browns while breaking down their 11 selections in the 2012 NFL Draft during a national media conference call.

Of the Browns’ 11 choices, six were on offense and five on defense. The Browns started with three straight offensive players, running back Trent Richardson (No. 3 overall), quarterback Brandon Weeden (No. 22) and offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz (No. 37) in the first two rounds. They followed up with defensive tackle John Hughes (No. 87), wide receiver Travis Benjamin (No. 100), inside linebacker James-Michael Johnson (No. 120), guard Ryan Miller (No. 160), linebacker Emmanuel Acho (No. 204), defensive tackle Billy Winn (No. 205), defensive back Trevin Wade (No. 245) and fullback Brad Smelley (No. 247) over the final five rounds of the draft.

“They got their quarterback, their running back,” Kiper said. “They hope they got their right tackle and they added some other pieces. The key pick is going to be Mitchell Schwartz because he went a couple rounds earlier than projected. He’s got to be the right tackle this year and we’ll see what he can do, if they can get him to be a starting right tackle.”

In three years at Alabama, Richardson ran for 3,130 yards and 35 touchdowns on 540 carries. He rushed for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns on 283 carries in 2011 and was one of four first-round picks from the University of Alabama.

“Everything has to fall into place and certainly, players have to perform up to the level that they show on the field,” Kiper said of Alabama’s potential for another four-man first-round draft class. “Just because they have one great year doesn’t mean it will bode well the following season. You have to stay away from injury. It’s a lot of talent. They’re loaded down there. You just have to see how they perform.”

In 2011, Benjamin, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound receiver, caught 41 passes for 609 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 14.9 yards-per-reception in his final collegiate season. For his career, Benjamin caught 131 passes for 2,146 yards and 13 touchdowns, and averaged 16.38 yards-per-reception.

“Benjamin’s a return man,” said Kiper. “I think he can help out as a receiving entity with more consistency, but he’s got return skills and speed, big-time speed.”

The Browns added their defensive players in the later rounds and started with Hughes. Then, they addressed their linebackers with the selection of Johnson, a four-year player from the University of Nevada.

Over the last two years, Johnson registered 105 solo tackles, 83 assists and 188 total stops. He collected five sacks for 32 lost yards and 16 tackles-for loss, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and five passes defended. As a senior in 2011, Johnson registered 54 solo stops, 46 assists and 100 total tackles. He had two sacks for 15 lost yards, seven stops for 31 lost yards, three passes defended and one interception.

Acho and Winn were added with the Browns’ two sixth-round compensatory picks. The picks were awarded to the Browns based on their net free agent losses from the previous season.

“I said it on draft day and I said it before, James-Michael Johnson is an athlete,” Kiper said. “He’ll help at linebacker. Smelley can catch the ball; Acho went a couple rounds later than a lot of people thought.”

Acho registered 158 solo tackles, 120 assists and 278 total stops over his career with The University of Texas Longhorns. He collected 64 solo tackles and 65 assists with 19 tackles for 39 lost yards as a senior. He also made three sacks for 12 lost yards, six pass breakups, one forced fumble and 16 quarterback hits.

Winn collected 18 tackles and assisted on 15 others in 2011. He registered 15.5 career sacks, 36.5 tackles-for-loss and seven pass breakups during his four-year run with the Broncos.

“Billy Winn was a real good sixth-round pick,” Kiper said. “I know he was inconsistent; I know he flashed. I know he wasn’t a guy every play that was giving you the same performance as others, but at the end of the day, in the sixth round, a defensive tackle with his athletic ability, you can’t go wrong there.”

OHIO FLAVOR

Whether they were natives of Ohio or products of colleges in the state, players from Ohio were valued commodities in the 2012 NFL Draft and the immediate hours afterward. Center Mike Brewster went undrafted, but was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars as a free agent.

Brewster was an All-American and first-team All-Big Ten Conference player in 2010. He was a four-year starter and team captain who started 49 consecutive games for Ohio State, one shy of the school record.

“I think he’s got a chance,” Kiper said of Brewster making the Jaguars’ roster. “He’s like (University of Michigan standout) David Molk; he’s bigger. He’s 6-4, he’s 310, but again, you’re talking, athletically, not up to the level of other guys. You think about where Peter Konz is athletically and where Ben Jones is at athletically, he’s not to that level and he has the short arms, but he’s battle-tested, is a hard worker. You’re thinking about a great college player, very good college player, started 49 consecutive games, was a real good anchor, but an overachiever.”

He added, “He’s got great leadership ability, but an overachiever in college at center. He’s got an opportunity to come in, like a lot of centers have in the NFL, and make a team as an undrafted free agent. It wouldn’t shock me if he made that team. He still would’ve been viewed as a heck college player with somewhat limited pro potential (if he came out in 2011). We’ll see if he can prove the doubters wrong on that.”