The Browns Need to Go Green in 2011

by Ryan Isley (Originally posted January 28,2011)

For Cleveland Browns fans, the Super Bowl is right around the corner. No, not Super Bowl XLV between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers.

The Browns’ Super Bowl – the 2011 NFL Draft.

Earlier this week, ESPN‘s Mel Kiper said that the Browns could be left to select between wide receiver A.J. Green of Georgia and defensive end Robert Quinn from North Carolina when their slot at No. 6 in the 2011 NFL Draft comes up.

With all due respect to Quinn, who is a great player and will probably be a playmaker on the defensive side of the ball in the NFL, this decision should be a complete no-brainer for team president Mike Holmgren, general manager Tom Heckert and new head coach Pat Shurmur.

The Browns need to have a go-to, top-tier, playmaking wide receiver and Green is that guy. Standing at 6-foot-4, he would be the tallest receiver in the Browns corps, besting Brian Robiskie by one inch. That is the only place where Robiskie is even close to Green, however.

In just eight games in the 2010 regular season after being suspended for the first four, Green amassed 57 catches for 848 yards and nine touchdowns, which included a nine-catch, 164-yard performance against eventual national champion Auburn.

With all of the receivers that the Browns have passed on over the last few years, it would be a mistake for there to be any name on their draft card other than Green if he is still available.

The Browns need to get Colt McCoy a weapon if they look at him to be the quarterback of the future and right now on their roster, that weapon is as visible as the weapons of mass destruction we were led to believe existed in Iraq.

While they may be serviceable receivers in the NFL at some point, Robiskie, Mohammed Massaquoi and Josh Cribbs are not the game-breaking wide receivers that a team needs as their top threat.

The Browns averaged just 187 yards per game through the air last season, which is what happens when the most reliable receiver is tight end Ben Watson. The only teams with worse passing games than the Browns were the Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers. While the Chiefs made the playoffs, the Panthers were led by Jimmy Clausen and Matt Moore and the Cardinals relied on Derek Anderson, John Skelton and Max Hall.

Sure, the argument can be made that a wide receiver does not make the difference, as the Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald. The difference between Arizona and Cleveland, however, is pretty simple – would you rather have Anderson or McCoy throwing the ball?

Anderson has never completed more than 56.5% of his passes for a season in the NFL, while McCoy completed 60.8% of his throws in 2010. Fans in Cleveland are all too familiar with the disaster that is the Derek Anderson experiment and watching the frustration from Fitzgerald last season as passes flew over his head or 10 feet to his left or right, Cardinals fans see it too.

In Cleveland, McCoy can be accurate, so getting the ball in spots where Green can make the catch should not be a problem.

How nice would it be to have a wide receiver on the Browns who can actually stretch the field and make plays that go for more than six or seven yards? As much as Browns fans hate to admit it, the last time there was a player like that in brown and orange, he wore No. 17 and his name was Braylon Edwards.

Obviously the difference between Green and Edwards is that Green makes plays and catches everything in sight while Edwards was known more for the passes he did not catch than the ones he actually did.

In 2010, any success the Browns had offensively came from two sources – running back Peyton Hillis and trick plays. A player like Green would mean that the Browns can actually run a real offense, not one that has to rely on gimmicks and gadgets to gain a few yards, score a couple of touchdowns and win a game or two.

If Green is on the board when the Browns are selecting, Holmgren, Heckert and Shurmur should all be relaxing with a smile on their face knowing they are about to get their man, the playmaker they so badly need to make this offense run.

The 2010 draft was all about helping the secondary, which they did with the additions of Joe Haden and T.J. Ward, so this season they must do something to fix the offense and Green is a great place to start.

Of course if Green is already taken by that point, Quinn would be one heck of a backup Plan B.

Somewhere, McCoy is nodding in agreement.

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