Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Cleveland Browns enter the 2014 NFL draft with what could be described as an embarrassment of riches. With six selections within the top 106, this is a team that could be poised to make some noise. After rocking Radio City Music Hall and selecting the polarizing Johnny Manziel at No. 4 overall, the Browns are at an interesting spot late in the 1st, and with the shear volume of picks in their possession are likely to maneuver around the draft board throughout the seven rounds. Surprisingly, rookie GM Ray Farmer finds that staying put is the most appealing option when Spartan Cornerback Darqueze Dennard tumbles all the way to his club at 26.
Darqueze Dennard has had an interesting journey throughout the pre-draft process. Once considered the consensus top Corner in the draft, Dennard has since taken a tumble down the boards of draft pundits, and perhaps unfairly so. There isn’t anything that is overly flashy about Dennard’s game, but he consistently demonstrates solid technique and flashes shutdown ability in man coverage. Dennard doesn't possess the most of fluid hips, but aggressively engages his opponent at the line of scrimmage and has demonstrated the ability to turn and run, and stick in the hip pocket of receivers while moving down field. Dennard tracks the ball very well, displaying adept awareness, and despite posting what some may consider a disappointing 40 time (4.51), closes exceptionally well on the ball in the air. (Note: This is where I remind readers that current Cleveland Brown and budding superstar, Joe Haden, once upon a time posted a similarly unsavory 40 time (4.57) at the 2010 NFL Combine, and that certainly did not stop the Browns from parting with a premium pick for his services).
In addition to his coverage skills, Dennard displays a willingness to actively engage blockers in run support, and although his frame makes it difficult to effectively disengage, he can be physical around the LOS and consistently throws his hat in the ring. If you watch enough cut ups, you will even see Dennard occasionally engage Lineman. With Dennard you get a tenacious player who is unafraid of his opponent, and will gladly mix it up with a big body that many defensive backs would shy away from.
Dennard makes a lot of sense for the Browns at 26. With the selection of Manziel at 4, the Browns’ need for a Quarterback of the future is eliminated, and the club can focus on selecting the best player available for the remainder of the draft in order to bolster a roster laden with underrated talent. Selecting Dennard is a step in the right direction in replacing the oft penalized/burnt Buster Skrine on the outside, and providing the Browns with a talented young piece to pair with Pro Bowler Joe Haden. Haden/Dennard could be a highly formidable duo in the AFC North for many years to come.
Other Browns targets could include ILB Kyle Van Noy and OG Xavier Su’a-Filo, however, Dennard was the best player available on my board. I do consider WR a pressing need for the Browns, but with Josh Gordon on board and the depth of the WR class, I found it more prudent to address the defense.
1 Houston Texans (Imp) - Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville - [Explanation]
2 St. Louis Rams (starship 007) - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson - [Explanation]
3 Jacksonville Jaguars (sports00fan00) - Jadeveon Clowney, DE, SC - [Explanation]
4 Cleveland Browns (InHinkieWeTrust) - Johnny Manziel, QB, TAMU - [Explanation]
5 Oakland Raiders (SleepingDuck) - Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo - [Explanation]
6 Atlanta Falcons (jimmyrustler) - Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn - [Explanation]
7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (AnthroEagle) - Blake Bortles, QB, UCF - [Explanation]
8 Minnesota Vikings (pot) - Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA - [Explanation]
9 Buffalo Bills (wow4444) - Jake Matthews, OT, TAMU - [Explanation]
10 Detroit Lions (kamjam) - Mike Evans, WR, TAMU - [Explanation]
11 Tennessee Titans (NowWhat?) - Justin Gilbert, CB, OK State - [Explanation]
12 New York Giants (Anthony DiBona) - Eric Ebron, TE, UNC - [Explanation]
13 St. Louis Rams (ILL Eagle) - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama - [Explanation]
14 Chicago Bears (JerkyBoy) - Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville - [Explanation]
15 Pittsburgh Steelers (KJ Brophy) - Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan - [Explanation]
16 Dallas Cowboys (Patrick Wall) - C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama - [Explanation]
17 Baltimore Ravens (rohan915) - Zack Martin, OT, ND - [Explanation]
18 New York Jets (del.champion) - Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State - [Explanation]
19 Miami Dolphins (HD) - Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh - [Explanation]
20 Arizona Cardinals (NCeagle) - Kony Ealy, DE, Mizzou - [Explanation]
21 Green Bay Packers (ablesser88) - Jimmie Ward, S, NIU - [Explanation]
22 Philadelphia Eagles (jhn) - Marqise Lee, WR, USC - [Explanation]
23 Kansas City Chiefs (PeaceVT) - Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU - [Explanation]
24 Cincinnati Bengals (deg0ey) - Bradley Roby, CB, OSU - [Explanation]
25 San Diego Chargers (StoneColeKiller58) - Kyle Fuller, CB, VT - [Explanation]
26 Cleveland Browns (P_Roach17) - Darqueze Dennard, CB, MSU - [Explanation]
27 New Orleans Saints (bebin) -
28 Carolina Panthers (MikeKafka) -
29 New England Patriots (Amateur_Hour) -
30 San Francisco 49ers (AndyMcNabb) -
31 Denver Broncos (dceagles) -
32 Seattle Seahawks (eagles0132) -