In our annual 32 picks in 32 days CSNPhilly.com mock draft, we select one player each day until the start of the NFL draft on April 26.
4. Browns: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State, 6-1215
Cleveland has needs across the board. That shouldnt be news. But it could explain the Browns resistance to trade this pick along with their second first-round pick to the Rams to swing up to second overall and put Robert Griffin III in a Brown and Orange jersey.
After making moves to solidify their defensive front seven through free agency, its time to help an offense that averaged less than two touchdowns a game. The obvious position to upgrade is quarterback. Colt McCoy was the 26th best quarterback last season by completion percentage, behind names like Grossman and Kolb. He was also 25th in the league in passing yards per game. That production begs for an upgrade, but replacing McCoy with this pick just doesnt make sense.
Texas A&Ms Ryan Tannehill will be the next signal caller selected after Andrew Luck and Griffin, but he just shouldnt go this early. Over-valuing a quarterback is how guys like Akili Smith make a lot of money, while the general managers doing the picking update their resumes. Tannehill probably wont be available at No. 22, where Cleveland makes its second selection, but that speaks more to the pressure to take a young QB than Tannehills value. Thats not to say Tannehill doesnt have a chance in this league, but you dont want to follow up missing out on Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn and Alex Smith this off-season with bad asset management.
So if youre not going to upgrade at quarterback, why not make your current QBs job easier? Just ask Oklahoma States Brandon Weeden easy it was to sleep in Stillwater knowing he would be tossing the ball out to Justin Blackmon on Saturdays.
Rookie Greg Little led the Browns with 709 receiving yards. As a team, the Browns only had 16 touchdowns through the air. Blackmon and Little would give the team a nice tandem for years to come, no matter who is under center.
Only the second player ever to win the Biletnikoff Award twice, Blackmon plays bigger than he is and is a giant headache for opposing defenses. Any questions about his top-end speed were silenced with a 4.4 40-yard dash at Oklahoma States pro day. The two-time All-American had 18 touchdowns in his junior season at Okie State. He only had one game where he didnt have a catch of at least 20 yards. Even in the wide open Big 12, Blackmons average of 117 yards per game stands out. He put a cap on his career with eight catches, 186 yards and three touchdowns against Stanford. There is nothing left to prove in a senior season.
The Browns saw firsthand what a young game-breaker can do when the Bengals introduced A. J. Green to the division last season. While Blackmon is a cut below Green, he should give Cleveland the dynamic playmaker they need to make their offense more threatening.
Rob Michel is a news producer at Comcast SportsNet. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.