Cleveland Browns 2014 NFL Draft: The Players, The Picks, The Fit

Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Jan 3, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys cornerback Justin Gilbert (4) intercepts a pass and runs up the field during the game against the Missouri Tigers in the 2014 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Missouri won 41-31. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

6′, 202 LBs.

The Player

Justin Gilbert is a very athletic corner who uses tremendous ball skills and straight line speed to make plays in coverage. He has long arms that could give him the ability to develop as a press corner. However, is lacks physicality, doesn’t possess very good short area quickness, has poor route recognition, is not willing to play the run and has really frustrating lapses in concentration on the field. Gilbert is a very large project.

The Pick

The bright side to this pick is that the Browns traded back and picked up a future first rounder, but other than that this looks like a huge reach. I could see a defensive coach like Mike Pettine falling in love with Gilbert’s size and speed and hoping to develop him but he isn’t a football player quite yet. This seems like somewhat of a head scratcher, but they do need a guy across from Joe Haden and possibly his long term replacement, I just don’t know if they got the right guy.

The Fit

With Buster Skrine and Leon McFadden behind Joe Haden at this point, it seems like Gilbert will be given the chance to fight for the number two spot on the roster but realistically is covering the teams third best receiver. If the team is committed to Gilbert, they need to give him lots of time, because it feels like he is in for a long rookie season.

 

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

6′, 207 LBs.

The Player

Manziel was the most exciting player in college football last year. He is a mobile quarterback who uses his feet not only to hurt defenses as a runner, but also to manipulate them with movement behind the line of scrimmage. He is a very accurate passer who can throw to all levels of the field and can throw on the run. I am concerned with his inability to see the whole field and missing guys who are wide open. I also worry that his do or die mentality down to down could really cost his team early and when he is not able to use his feet, it is much easier to beat him. Manziel has tons of intriguing tools though and is certainly a guy who has franchise potential.

Dec 31, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) runs a touchdown past the defense of Duke Blue Devils safety Jeremy Cash (16) in the 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

The Pick

A late first is just about where I had Manziel pegged and thought the Browns got decent value for him if not a tiny bit of a reach. However, if you see a quarterback you like, take him. I would have gone with Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr at this point, but the Browns opted for the player who arguably has the most upside, though I disagree.

The Fit

Kyle Shanahan loves mobile quarterbacks who can put the ball all over the field and Manziel is probably the day one starter. I think there will be significant growing pains, but with Joe Thomas, Alex Mack, Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron, Ben Tate and a stud defense, the Browns have a bevy of talent to support Johnny Manziel and hopefully will make his transition a lot smoother.

 

Joel Bitonio, OL, Nevada

6’4″, 304

The Player

Joel Bitonio is a relentless blocker and puts defenders into the ground. He has great athletic ability and an even better motor. He has quick feet and is a very smart player as well. There is a very slight deficiency in length, but Bitonio can play all over the line.

The Pick

Steal. Bitonio is a top 15 player on my board and fills a major need for the Browns. They can wait to add a receiver in this class. Solidifying the lines to protect your rookie quarterback is key. Love this pick.

The Fit

With left tackle and center spoken for, Bitonio has the ability to start at every spot on the line and could be a plug and play type at either guard or right tackle depending on where Mitchell Schwartz is playing next year. Immediate impact starter.

 

Christian Kirksey, LB, Iowa

6’2″,233 lbs.

The Player

Kirksey is a very good defender in space. He flies around to the ball and is very fluid in coverage. His height and weight can hurt him a bit when covering bigger players and he can be washed out against the run, but his on field motor and his playing speed is a great asset.

The Pick

Getting an athletic coverage linebacker in today’s NFL is incredibly important and Kirksey is a day one starter for the Browns. Good pick.

The Fit

Kirksey has a great chance to be this year’s Kiko Alonso for Mike Pettine. He is a fiery linebacker who flies around and can be a very good off ball linebacker from day one.

 

Terrance West, RB, Towson

5’9″, 225 lbs.

 

The Player

West is not a great athlete, but he possesses very good vision, cut back ability and is a hard runner. Those traits alone should make him a productive running back.

The Pick

I think this is a good place for West and he is a good player. This was a good pick.

The Fit

With Ben Tate as the starter, I doubt that West will get a ton of carries early, but his vision fits the Browns’ zone blocking scheme to a key and with a rookie quarterback potentially starting, the Browns could be running a lot. Even though he may not start, he is going to have a productive rookie season.

Jan 4, 2014; Frisco, TX, USA; Towson Tigers quarterback Peter Athens (7) hands the ball off to running back Terrance West (28) in the second quarter at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood

6’1″, 198 lbs.

The Player

Desir gets knocked for coming from a small school, but it doesn’t really matter to me because he dominated his competition. He is a long, instinctive corner with very good movement skills and can play man coverage and can play in zone.

The Pick

Desir was viewed by many, including myself as a Top 40 talent and I think the Browns got one of the biggest steals of the draft.

The Fit

Personally, I think Desir is a better corner at this point than first round pick Justin Gilbert, but if the coaching staff is adamant about Gilbert starting on the outside, Desir has the physical and mental tools to start at free safety. However, don’t be surprised if Desir pushes Gilbert for his job in training camp.

Jan 25, 2014; Mobile, AL, USA; North squad defensive corner Pierre Desir of Lindenwood (30) celebrates after an interception against the South squad duing the second half of a game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. South defeated the North 20-10. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports