2013 NFL Draft – Option 4 for Pick #6 – Cleveland Browns
Chance Warmack – Guard, University of Alabama
Analysis: Many suspect the Browns will choose one of the premier defensive athletes with their first-round pick, however they either may not be available or the front office could have other plans. With solid offensive linemen already in place at tackle (Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz) and center (Alex Mack), the franchise might look to solidify the unit with the highest-rated guard in the draft. Doing so could provide gigantic running lanes for Trent Richardson and Montario Hardesty, in addition to more time for the quarterback (presumably Brandon Weeden) to throw the football.
Last season, the Browns were ranked 24th in the league in rushing yards (21st in yards per attempt), and they were tied for 16th in sacks allowed – with thirty-six. Overall, the running game was rather mediocre, as rookie Trent Richardson could not hit the 1,000-yard mark. Getting someone who can dominate up the middle should help with those third-and-short situations, where the team failed to convert multiple times last season. Keeping the team’s signal caller off the ground will also be huge for the offense.
Biography: A linemen who played all four years in college, Chance Warmack was a three-year starter (for thirty-nine games) with the Crimson Tide. There, he provided many opportunities for Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy, and T.J. Yeldon – who amassed 1,679 yards, 1,322 yards, and 1,108 yards (respectively) on the ground during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. A.J. McCarron is a very good quarterback, but there’s no denying that the team’s running attack was an important reason why the offense was successful. Warmack ended his collegiate career as a unanimous first team All-American and first team All-SEC. Leading Alabama with thirty-seven pancake blocks (driving his opponent into the ground) is also impressive – he typically faces larger athletes than offensive tackles would.
What teams want, is to draft Warmack in the first round and not have to worry about their guard position for the next decade. He has been nothing less than consistent at the University of Alabama and front offices anticipate this will continue in the NFL. The lineman never seemed to have trouble against defenders; Warmack was only penalized twice during his senior year. Speedy and strong athletes did not force mistakes from the interior of the line – whether it was via a false start or holding penalty.
At the scouting combine, the offensive guard arrived at six-feet, two-inches and weighed three hundred seventeen pounds. Being over three hundred pounds, Warmack possesses the prototypical size for a professional-level football player. His 5.49 (seconds) forty-yard dash time is slightly below average for linemen, but as long as he keeps opponents from getting behind him, there should be no issues. After his time in Indianapolis, Warmack still remained the highest-rated athlete at his position.
Conclusion: Should Warmack be taken by the Cleveland Browns early in the first round, he would definitely be a starter for the opening of the regular season. The team’s offensive line might then be listed as tops in the league; containing three former first-round selections and a second-round choice. As a result, getting those tough yards would be much easier in 2013 than they were in 2012. If Brandon Weeden (or another quarterback) can get another second or two when dropping back to pass, the Browns’ aerial attack would improve upon their ranking of 28th in touchdowns and 19th in yardage.
The downside to selecting an offensive guard with the sixth overall selection, is forgoing an opportunity to choose an excellent athlete elsewhere. This includes a cornerback opposite Joe Haden, a dynamic pass rusher, or a potential “franchise quarterback”. Also, many general managers in the league feel guards can be taken later in the drafts or addressed through free agency. Along these lines, there are some who believe that offensive tackles can be moved to guard (i.e. Robert Gallery) – therefore this position may not be as high of priority as others for NFL franchises.
If the Browns were one piece away from winning the Super Bowl, I could get behind the selection of Warmack in the first round. However, Milliner, Jordan, or Ansah should be the pick if they are available. Should all three be selected earlier, then the front office may have to decide between an offensive target, a trade down, or Warmack. The guard is the safest option – but I would rather see the team take a risk with their top selection. The previous regime went the conservative route, and it did not turn out extremely well.
Additional Offensive Options: A trio of wide receivers in Cordarrelle Patterson (University of Tennessee), Keenan Allen (University of California) and Tavon Austin (West Virginia University) could be drafted early. However, after selecting Greg Little and Josh Gordon in the second round over the past two seasons, it does not seem likely the Browns will target another pass catcher early in the draft. Quarterback Geno Smith (West Virginia University) is the wildcard, would the Browns select the signal caller if he is available?