Draft Talk With Aaron Aloysius of DraftBreakdown.com

Aaron Aloysius produces draft prospect videos for DraftBreakdown.com

Who are you and why do we care about your insights regarding the NFL Draft?

Like so many students of the draft, my bio could begin with “A frustrated Browns fan…”

Diehard supporters of the team are a big part of the draft community – you could hold a Browns Backers event in the bleachers down at the Senior Bowl. And it’s easy to understand why: the draft’s long been a major source of excitement and optimism, as well as a big reason why the team’s struggled.

I began studying the draft at the dawn of the Phil Savage era. Fortunately, I quickly got over an Al Davis-like obsession with workout numbers, instead concentrating on film study. Soon enough, I began producing prospect videos in order to show others what I was seeing. Unsurprisingly, the clips of players drafted by the Browns often are among the most popular.

Now, I run the Prospect Video Vault at DraftBreakdown.com. Myself and a couple other clip-cutters have produced close to 700 videos since September. And we’ll have plenty more before the Browns are on the clock, making sure that fans are as well-informed as possible.

When it comes to talent evaluation, I won’t pretend to be the next Heckert or Savage, but I am one of y’all, and I’m here to make your draft geekery easier.

Most draft analysts are predicting that no quarterback is worth a high first round pick this year. Are the quarterback prospects that bad – or just not that good compared to Andrew Luck and RG3?

Unfortunately, there’s no “sure thing” at the top of this quarterback class. Even more so than in other years, the ’13 signal callers’ success will be highly dependent on where they land.

For example, if you put Ryan Nassib in Chud’s vertical offense or Mike Glennon behind Arizona’s porous o-line, you’ll likely end up with some very unpretty football. However, in the right situation, each has the potential to be a successful starting QB.

To me, Geno Smith is the best of the bunch and accordingly will go higher than he would in another class. I expect him to come off the board before the Browns pick, so the team will have to explore other options, perhaps in the 3rd Round or later. Ironically, this is the kind of draft in which you’d want to put Mike Holmgren to work looking for the right mid-rounder.

Last year, Michael Lombardi was highly critical of how the Seahawks addressed the position, but I could see the Browns doing something similar: add both a free agent and a non-first round rookie to the fold, then see who emerges.

The likelihood of finding another Russell Wilson is rather slim, but a mobile gunslinger like Zac Dysert would be an intriguing addition. After his underwhelming Senior Bowl week, you could get him at a major discount.

Mainly just for cheap page views and/or to start a rumor that will be used by the PD as a “source”, construct a sentence including the words “Browns”, “draft” and “quarterback.”

If the Browns don’t draft a quarterback like Dysert, Cornell QB Jeff Mathews will be a very good option next year.

Did the whole fake girlfriend thing that I ignored overshadow the reality that Manti Teo will probably not make a good NFL linebacker?

The truth coming out about Lennay Kekua did serve the purpose of shattering the mythology surrounding Te’o. He was a tremendous college player and should be a solid pro, but he didn’t single-handedly resurrect Notre Dame’s program or its defense. Many fail to note that he played behind some very good d-linemen, two of whom are future first rounders.

Also, while Te’o did improve his range and coverage ability in his final college season, he isn’t the elite cover guy that those seven interceptions would lead you to believe. Though he has less imaginary off the field issues, Alec Ogletree will offer more value in that area, especially when it comes to man coverage.

The Browns would be wise to add another inside backer, but Te’o probably isn’t the way to go. A free agent like Dannell Ellerbe or a mid-rounder like Kevin Reddick would make sense: both are good blitzers, an important trait in Ray Horton’s attacking defense.

Now that those questions are out of the way, let’s talk players. What’s your take on Luke Joeckel? Do you agree with those who have suggested he’s a better prospect than Matt Kalil?

Luke Joeckel is a tremendous prospect, though perhaps a tiny bit oversold at this point. He’s in Kalil’s league, but I struggle to see why some consider him a better prospect than Joe Thomas was in ’07.

Joeckel will continue to improve as he gets stronger, but at this point, he can be beat with power, as Florida pass rusher Lerentee McCray managed to do early in the season. Maybe I’m biased, but issues like that lead me to believe he’s a step below the Browns’ franchise left tackle.

And importantly, Eric Fisher isn’t too far behind Joeckel. The Central Michigan product’s excellent Senior Bowl week could prove to be a big boon to the Browns if he’s still on the board at #6, as a team like San Diego may want to jump ahead of Arizona to nab the left tackle.

From a figurative sense, should the Browns have waited another year to take a right tackle? How does Mitchell Schwartz size up with the 2013 draft prospects?

Drafting Schwartz was the right move, in my view. After picking a QB who has some issues handling pressure, the team needed to make sure they had an efficient pass blocker at right tackle. And for the most part, Schwartz lived up to the billing.

The players in this class who are often projected to right tackle, DJ Fluker and Jordan Mills, aren’t as effective in pass protection. In fact, they may be better off moving inside to guard.

One of my “new NFL” theories is that slot cornerbacks are more important than #2 corners. As such, who do you see as a top slot corner prospect?

If he can keep his head on straight, Tyrann Mathieu would be ideally suited for that role. And you’ll likely get him at a discount due to his size and past issues.

A less well-known option would be Adrian Bushell. The Louisville corner is versatile enough to play outside or in the slot, where he also excels as a blitzer. As an added bonus, he’ll provide value as a special teams’ ace.

Similarly, is there a safety prospect worth taking in the first four rounds?

Yes, the safety class is very strong – you could see up to ten safeties go in that range. Kenny Vaccaro’s generally the most well-regarded, whereas Johnathan Cyprien is my personal fave.

If you’re interested in a big, fluid defensive back who can cover the slot, Vaccaro is your guy. Unfortunately, his tackling is awfully inconsistent, and throwing some punches during the bowl game wasn’t exactly a wise move. He could end up going in the top half of the first, but will be a gamble.

While not as physically gifted as Vaccaro, Cyprien has a very balanced skill set: a big hitter with good range and generally reliable tackling. After a very good Senior Bowl week, folk have gone back to the tape and realized how badly they were sleeping on him – with a great Combine, his stock could skyrocket.

All Videos used originated from DraftBreakdown.com


Check back for Part Two of Aaron’s interview next week – which includes analysis of pass rushers, tight ends and some thoughts on who the Browns may take in April.

As always, leave your thoughts in the COMMENTS section at the bottom of the page and do check out Aaron’s work at DraftBreakdown.com


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Comments (11)

  1. dan

    Was at that Akron/Miami game. It was basically a track meet. Dysert is very intriguing. H is a big guy with some movement and nice touch on the ball. If Miami had any defense, they would have had a great season.

    • You’re right about the defense.

      When I covered some UC games a couple years ago, Dysert was solid but the talent around was subpar – except for Brandon Brooks who was a beast. He is intriguing, but you always wonder about the small conference QB’s. But then again, look at Roethlisberger and Flacco – and even Dalton to a point.

      • dan

        I don’t think QB is one of those positions that is affected as much by the small conference team problem. Hell many of the big time QB’s in the league are from obscure colleges; Rogers, Kaepernick, Flacco and Rothlisberger.

        Dysert should certainly be worth a look if we can get him in the middle rounds. I have heard people compare him to Rothlisberger. I saw a bunch of his games (my brother was their long snapper) and I do not get the comparison. He is quicker than Ben, but doesn’t have the oafish strength that Ben has. I think the Ben comparison probably comes from being from the same school, and no doubt some uninformed reporters (looking at you MKC) will make the comparison.

        That being said, I do not remember seeing him get sacked very often, and as you can see from the video against Akron he has a good feel for the pocket. There are alot of one read throws, but he does show some nice touch. I really think he could give Weeden a run for his money in training camp, which wouldnt be a bad thing.

        • He doesn’t have the “oafish strength” – few do. Well done.

          Also, very few people in the world have had the run of unbelievable luck that Roethlisberger has. From falling into a Super Bowl team his rookie year to playing the absolute worst Super Bowl ever (and of course winning) to mangling his body/not dying in a motorcycle crash to getting away with rape – this guy has proven bulletproof – something that is hard for any QB to emulate – let alone one from the same school.

          Of course, I see a post-career where Ben can’t walk when he’s 40.

          So what does your brother think of Dysert? NFL potential?

          • dan

            He thinks he did a hell of a job behind a crappy offensive line and that he is absolutely a NFL caliber QB. He also thinks he is a pretty good leader. However, thinks he would benefit from a couple years on the bench. Sadly, I don’t think that would ever happen here.

          • Thanks, Dan.

            In a weird way, it’s a possibility. Consider if the new staff gives Weeden a year AND Dysert is still around in the 3rd round. Who knows?

            Thanks for sending this insight.

            About your brother, could he be the next Ryan Pontbriand and maybe get drafted?

  2. Gary Collins

    I know that you think Smith a.) Sucks b.) is a terrible fit for the Browns c.) is too expensive d.) drives around in an old van with “free candy” spray painted on the side, but I cannot fathom why sending a 3rd rounder to the 9ers for Smith is a riskier play than drafting Dysert, who has “2nd coming of Charlie Frye” written all over him.

    • jimkanicki

      like button.

    • I thought about the natural Charlie Frye comparisons, but I don’t see it. Dysert is only a little taller, but has an NFL build and a much better arm. Of course, he scrambles like Frye – but the hope would be that he would figure out that the NFL and MAC are a little different (Frye didn’t).

      And the A. Smith argument isn’t so easy. It’s not that I think he “sucks”, it’s just that he’s not worth a draft pick or big free agent money. AND, we’ve seen his ceiling. Why not take a chance on Dysert – although I suspect he will gone by the second round.

  3. Very valuable/helpful column….give us more, more ,more!!

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