It’s Monday before Free Agency and it looks like the dynamics for getting the Browns an edge rusher are changing.
or, in other words:
“What do we do if/when Ansah and Jordan are off the board at #6?”
“Whom do we take at #6 if/when Avril or Kruger is signed as a free agent?”
“Who will play ILB if/when we fail to sign Ellerbe?”
Let’s assume our edge-rushers of choice, Ansah and Jordan, are gone.
Let’s assume CB is filled in free-agency, take Milliner out of the mix.
Let’s assume Andy Levitre is signed by Tennessee; 10x all-pro, HOF OG, Mike Munchak knows something about OGs and his interest in Levitre both confirms our impression of him and makes it unlikely we’ll sign him.
Let’s assume the Ravens pull out all the stops and re-sign Dannell Ellerbe. This was predictable. Losing out on Ellerbe does not diminish the need the Browns have at ILB. DQ has never been the ‘impact’ player we’ve hoped for. James-Michael Johnson might turn out to be a stud but we don’t know. I assigned Tank Carder a ‘baller’ rating from his play at TCU and still hold hope for him. But the fact that he didn’t see the field last year says a lot.
Who is left?
Under this scenario, we project to still have need for an ILB, OG, FS, and a TE. None of these positions usually get filled at #6 in the draft.
This is fine, because the way the draft is shaking out the two best players on the board, for me, at #6 look like
- Alec Ogletree, ILB from UGA, and;
- Jonathan Cooper, OG from UNC.
Do we take an OG at #6? It’d be safe; Cooper looks like a decade-worth of all-pro to me. And you know how I feel about a good o-line.
But my want of a defense-defining linebacker trumps it.
Great defenses usually have a linebacker associated with them. Nitschke, Butkus, Lambert, Taylor. When I think of the Browns and dominating, defense-defining linebacker, the closest I come is Chip Banks. We’re way overdue for our killer linebacker.
I think Ogletree can be that sort of player and so let’s look a little closer. If he measures up, I take him over Cooper. If he doesn’t, Cooper will be a fine pick.
Ogletree at #6?
I’m a little embarrassed that it took some Todd McShay air cover to prompt me to write this post. (See his tweets, left.) But whatever: I don’t claim to be omniscient and I don’t watch every game or every player. All I know is this:
Out of all the college football I watched this year, Alec Ogletree was the most ‘baller’ player I saw.
[Datone Jones from UCLA is on that list too, but a runs a bit behind Ogletree in my gut feel. I must ask, with all the Ziggy Ansah love going around, why Jones isn't on our radar? He sure looks like a nice alternate to fill the 5-tech DE role.]
Jack or Sam or Will backer?
Where would Ogletree play?
I admit to not being highly knowledgable about the responsibilities of the four backers in a 3-4. So I’ll just copy paste what I see from Kirwan and online. I welcome any input from guys who have suggestions on where Ogletree would play in a 3-4.
Mike (prototype, Ray Lewis): The mike linebacker is assigned as primarily a gap destroyer and a run stopper. He will take on any lead blocks and spill the back to his teammates if need be. In the case of a pass, he will drop to his appropriate responsibility, depending on the coverage called. For example, in cover 3 zone, he will drop, read the quarterback’s eyes and break on the football. There are also times where the mike linebacker is assigned to cover the running back out of the backfield on either side. A mike linebacker has to be big, strong, and able to be a physical tackler play after play. This is not someone who shies away from contact. The average NFL linebacker is over 6 feet 2 inches, and weighs over 230 pounds. Overall athleticism is important, as the mike linebacker will be required to drop in pass coverage, and move laterally with the passing game. But, overall, mike has to be a guy that likes to hit, and can bring down the best running backs out there.
Sam (prototype, Bart Scott): The Sam’s responsibilities are to fill his assigned gap (which will be different if the play flows towards him or away from him) on the run. He can’t waste any steps in his pursuit of the football. He also has pass coverage responsibilities which vary from covering the tight end, or the back out of the backfield, to dropping to the deep hook/curl zone.
Will (prototype, Clay Matthews III): The will linebacker is responsible for forcing any outside run to his inside, as well as cutback and reverse plays. He also has a great deal of pass coverage responsibility. The will linebacker is most likely the most athletic of the three on the field. He has to be able to cover a lot of ground if the play goes away from him, and he is often called on to cover a slot receiver, whereas Sam usually covers a tight end. Will linebackers are not afraid to be physical and tackle. They’re smart and able to read plays quickly to determine where to go. They’re also good at pass coverage, and can handle the occasional one-on-one pass coverage scenario.
Jack (prototype, Patrick Willis): is often a hybrid DE/LB. Usually, teams that run a 3-4 defense look for college defensive ends that are too small to play the position in the pros and not quite fluid enough to play outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense as their “Jack” linebacker.
Now then, clear as mud?
I try not to get too twisted up in this. I see Ogletree played ILB for UGA, I see him projected as an ILB in the pros. I see some projecting him as a Will in a 4-3.
From looking at the Ogletree tape, I see him making plays in the backfield (usually on runs), I see him dropping into coverage (he started as a strong safety for UGA as a freshman), I see him running down WRs and RBs from behind, I see him knocking the crap out of ball carriers at the line of scrimmage.
In short: I think he could play any of these positions. If I were stacking it, it’d go Jack, Sam, Will, Mike. He’ll see the field for three downs, that’s sure.
Meh. Not bad, not great. Maybe we’ll get a surprise at UGA’s hugely attended pro day on March 21.
“Character issues are huge with him.”
Dammit. Every time I write one of these, I find data like this right before I go to publish. Go to the 6:00 minute mark here:
Judge talked to a GM and related the story like this:
GM: ’Don’t BS me [Alec], I want straight answers, we know your background. We all know everything you did.’ So the GM asks [Ogletree] a question and gets an answer back that wasn’t consistent with their info. ’First question you flunked the test.’
Judge goes on to say that Ogletree is off a couple teams’ boards, and possibly dropping into the second round based on his character.
Here’s ESPN’s write-up on how Ogletree dealt with the issues at the combine:
One of the best defensive players in the draft, Ogletree had to address his off-the-field incidents. Ogletree had a DUI arrest last week in Arizona. In 2012, he was suspended four games for failing drug tests. During his freshman year, he was arrested for allegedly stealing a motorcycle helmet from a Georgia track athlete.
“I’m a good person at heart,” Ogletree said Saturday. “Everybody makes mistakes. I feel real bad about the situation. I’m learning from it, and I’m moving forward.”
… the character issue could knock Ogletree out of the top 10. Ogletree admits he has some work to do with his image at the combine.
“Just have a good interview,” Ogletree said. “Being a good person and just let them get to know me and see who I really am and not what they just hear about me.”
Well I still like him on the field.
vs. Tennessee; first game after the four game suspension this year.
3:30 nice pass defense (better throw).
4:40 side-to-side coverage on a reverse.
5:10 good pass defense.
7:40 good pass coverage on an out.
vs. Bama, SEC Championship Game. Pretty great game by Ogletree.
2:50 Ogletree gets a roughing PF on McCarron. You could call it a bad penalty, but it looks like he led with the shoulder and the helmets knocked due to high hit. Good closing speed on it, regardless.
3:28, the stuff. Just perfect one-on-one stuff of Eddie Lacy at the goal line.
5:45 Yeldon heads Ogletree’s footsteps leading to this drop.
6:05 the FG block, return for TD. Nice wheels.
6:55 good take-down of Yeldon. When he’s not dealing with Fluker, Jones, and Warmack Ogletree is more effective. (!)
9:20 Ogletree gets stiff-armed and missed tackle, but blows up play.
vs Nebraska, Cap One Bowl. To be honest, this is not Ogletree’s best game here.
0:15 Ogletree rush up middle flushes Martinez.
1:40 pretty nice TFL.
8:00 forced fumble in center of line.
8:15 nice run stop playing off block.
9:15 edge rush flusters Martinez into game-deciding interception.
9:40 game ending sack.
If things in free agency and draft break the way they’re looking, I still think Ogletree is a solid Plan B selection at six. I just default back to my initial feel from watching his games and then layer on McShay’s enthusiasm to support this.
What say you?