With the highly anticipated 2014 draft approaching, sports writers are playing the role of psychics and keeping up with all of the mock drafts can be both exciting and confusing. This is what makes this sport so engaging. Even in April, we can't escape the allure of the drama and intrigue that follows football. From scouting combine, pro days, interviews, commentary and everything in between, everyone seems to have an opinion on who their favorite teams should take in order to prepare for a fresh season of football. A season that wipes the slate clean and everyone gets a new start, redemption from past failures. Playing arm chair GM is fun but it's almost impossible to determine who will even be available at the spot as well as who will subsequently be chosen from the lot.
Going with OT Jake Matthews at pick #4, the Browns would be addressing a need at the line and taking a very good pro ready player who will likely be available. Taking into consideration both need and availability, the case will be made for Virgina Tech CB Kyle Fuller at pick #26. Some may be scratching their heads with this statement because the biggest position need at QB will be passed over in both picks of the first round.
Remember, this is not the Cleveland Browns of yesterday. Ray Farmer is turning over a new leaf in this organization and smart moves will likely be made instead of brash, emotional ones. Whomever the Browns draft at QB will most likely sit behind Brian Hoyer for half a season if not an entire season. Recall that Hoyer won half of the Browns' starts last year before suffering season ending injury. He is by no means the answer and the Browns are guaranteed to take a QB in the draft, just not in the first round.
Like Jake Matthews, Fuller has an NFL pedigree and experience to make an immediate impact in their rookie season. He comes from a family of three brothers who have all played at Virginia Tech and in the NFL. Vincent, his oldest brother, played seven years with Tennessee and Detroit. Brother Corey currently plays in Detroit and Kyle himself will soon be in the league. This 21 year old senior has plenty of experience at the position. Fuller started all four years at Virgina Tech and recorded 42 career starts. Ready to transition to the next level, Kyle shows great zone awareness and has the hands for interceptions. In his period at Virginia Tech, he logged 173 tackles, 28 passes broken up, 23.5 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, 4 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles. If that wasn't enough, he also recovered a blocked punt in the end zone and blocked a punt on another occasion. This guy is all over the field and knows the kind of hard work it takes to be a pro.
As a prospect, Fuller has the physical statistics ideal for the position. Kyle possesses arm length (32 7/8'') and size (6'0'' 190lbs) to eventually match up against number one receivers. Scouting combine showed him running 4.49 seconds in the 40 yard dash although the game tape shows him as being quicker on the field. Along with those long arms, a vertical jump of 38.5 inches ensures he can handle those tall receivers. Willing to support the run, his toughness can be shown in the fact that his only injury sustained in 42 starts was a sports hernia in 2013.
The biggest areas that the Cleveland Browns need to address in the 2014 draft are QB, CB, O-Line, and RB. The most prudent move at 26 would be a CB, although a QB is a bigger need long term. Kyle Fuller will most likely be available with the second pick of the first round and ranks as approximately the third best CB behind Justin Bilbert and Darqueze Dennard. Both of which will likely be gone by 26. Pairing with Joe Haden will give the Browns much needed strength in the secondary playing in the pass happy AFC North. Haden will be a free agent after 2014, and a replacement will need to be found this draft before it becomes a major issue.
With pick #35 early in the second round, the Browns take a QB with better "bang for the buck" in a draft that has a relatively even QB class. Picking up three crucial needs (OT, CB, QB) in their first three picks and playing the draft game smart, maybe the fans can see the same kind of smart drafting that makes Seattle so impressive. The surprise the Browns hinted at won't be anything outlandish or extreme. The surprise will be the fact that they will be picking smart this year and for Browns' fans this will be a pleasant surprise.