Cleveland Browns 2012 NFL Draft Grades
The 2011 Cleveland Browns season had very few positive moments, especially offensively.
After a breakout 2010 for running back Peyton Hillis, he was a severe disappointment, struggling with the Cleveland media as well as the coaching staff as it seems he was upset over contract negotiations.
Second year quarterback Colt McCoy struggled to get any sort of rhythm going offensively as the Browns finished 29th overall in total points scored with 218 for the entire season.
The defense was as solid as a Cleveland defense can expect to be, giving up just 307 total points and seeing big positives out of rookies Jabaal Sheard and Phil Taylor on the defensive line.
Heading into the 2012 NFL Draft, the Browns were expected to draft offense heavily, yet managed just six offensive selections out of 11.
We’re grading out the Browns 2012 NFL Draft picks here at NFL Soup.
Round 1 (Pick 3) – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
This was a no-brainer selection here with the Browns having a major void at running back and getting the third best player in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Richardson is an every down workhorse that is virtually flawless, and may even be a better prospect coming out than Adrian Peterson from Oklahoma.
Look for T-Rich to get 25-30 touches a game regularly.
Round 1 (Pick 22) – Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
I’m not in love with this pick, if you could not tell in my First Round Team Grades article.
After having some time to think about it, I’m still not crazy about it, mostly because Weeden will likely be asked to start right away and is not a fit for the WCO.
He has better accuracy than he displayed at times at Oklahoma State, but he still is a better vertical passer and has yet to take enough snaps from directly under center.
He’s a big time project and will be 29 at the start of his rookie season. No thanks.
Round 2 (Pick 37) – Mitchell Schwartz, OT, California
This pick is actually much better than many realize. While I would have gone for more versatility with a guy like Cordy Glenn who could play guard or right tackle, I cannot be unhappy with this selection.
Schwartz is a very sound run blocker, and will be able to create holes for Trent Richardson, and his pass protection is adequate enough for Brandon Weeden’s quick release.
He is a high character guy with exceptional intangibles and should be able to start from day one.
Round 3 (Pick 87) – John Hughes, DT, Cincinnati
I have absolutely no idea what the Cleveland brass was thinking when they drafted a potential undrafted free agent in the third round. While some believe Hughes’ stock is soaring, I disagree.
This guy was not even on my Top 250 big board, and there’s little reason for him to be as he is one-dimensional and not very physical.
Not to mention, while Cleveland could use depth at DT, they really could have grabbed it in the later rounds.
With guys like Akiem Hicks, T.Y. Hilton, Brandon Thompson and Jayron Hosley on the board, I cannot see why this pick was made.
Round 4 (Pick 100) – Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami (Fl.)
I’m a bit skeptical on this selection mainly because Benjamin needs a lot of work as a receiver. While he is a very faster player that can get down field in a hurry, he lacks the ability to create separation and is not very physical.
Benjamin’s role is as a return man, and I’m not convinced that he will see a lot of playing time in his first two seasons.
He is a big time project that has the potential to be a solid slot guy in the future.
Round 4 (Pick 120) – James-Michael Johnson, LB, Nevada
The lack of depth at linebacker in Cleveland is outstanding, and they filled a huge need getting a physical linebacker with solid athletic ability.
Johnson should have been a Top 100 selection in my eyes and the Browns got a steal at pick 120.
He will add depth and has the versatility to play the strong side linebacker position and even possibly the middle.
Round 5 (Pick 160) – Ryan Miller, OG, Colorado
In terms of overall depth, this was a much needed selection and I personally love it. Miller was a Top 50 candidate at one point in time, but a disappointing finish to his Colorado career and lack of overall physicality saw him side.
He’s an excellent project guard that has some tackle experience as well.
Another high character guy, Miller could see playing time early in his career if developed properly.
Round 6 (Pick 204) – Emmanuel Acho, LB, Texas
As mentioned before, the Browns really needed linebacker depth. Grabbing another guy who could have been a Top 150 pick much later is a steal.
Acho has solid range and is a sound tackler. Unfortunately, taking poor angles and not being dominate in shedding blockers saw his stock plummet.
This was a very nice depth selection here.
Round 6 (Pick 205) – Billy Winn, DT, Boise State
This pick baffles me, not because of the selection itself, but how Winn managed to fall to pick 205 is beyond me.
A lack of consistency, and lack of physical play on every down likely saw his fall in the 2012 NFL Draft, but in terms of potential, this guy could be good.
I’d take Billy Winn over John Hughes every day and twice on Sundays.
Round 7 (Pick 245) – Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona
The selection of Wade was purely a depth grab and a good one it was.
Wade saw his ups and downs on an Arizona defense that was atrocious. A big reason for the fail of the Arizona secondary was due to the invisible pass rush displayed.
Another depth selection, Wade could end up being a solid nickel back when all is said and done.
Round 7 (Pick 247) – Brad Smelley, TE, Alabama
What’s not to love about this selection as the Browns escape the draft with one of the most sure handed tight ends in the NFL Draft.
Smelley went from a surefire undrafted free agent to a 6th or 7th round selection after his spectacular finish to the season at Alabama in 2011.
He struggles with blocking and will not create many mismatches, but the guy can flat out catch everything thrown his way.
Out of 11 total selections (after trades up and down in the draft), the Browns managed to make only three really questionable choices. Unfortunately, two of those three were within the first three rounds (Weeden, Hughes).
But the depth that they added to the linebacker corps, the play maker in Trent Richardson, and the shoring up of the offensive line, you cannot be disappointed overall.
If there is a team that can hit with selections in the 4th round and later, it is this team who hit home runs on nearly every pick outside the Top 100.