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Cleveland Browns Draft Jabaal Sheard in 2nd Round: Immediate Fan Reaction
Cleveland Browns team officials stated that they were going to be conservative and that they weren't in a hurry to acquire a wide receiver in the 2011 NFL Draft.
They weren't lying.
With the No. 37 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected Pittsburgh DE Jabaal Sheard. Sheard joins Phil Taylor as the team's second defensive lineman taken in the draft. Like Taylor before him, Sheard was chosen over other players that were "ranked higher" on mock draft boards. Also like Taylor, Sheard was involved in an off-the-field altercation that could make fans nervous; or get them really excited, depending on how you look at things.
The good: The Cleveland defense has been bad at stopping the run and getting to the passer these past few years. The team has now taken steps to remedy these two issues. Sheard, the 2010 Big East Defensive Player of the year, finished third in the conference last season with nine sacks. He was a team captain at Pitt, where he showed an impressive work ethic and an ability to play through injuries. Sheard's speed and agility could make him a nightmare for AFC quarterbacks.
The bad: Rushing the quarterback is where the story ends for Sheard. He's not great against the run and he wasn't known for dropping back into coverage while at Pitt. From looking at a few mock drafts, I believe the Browns may have been able to move down a handful of slots and still acquire Sheard.
For what it's worth, Sheard did manage to lower the charges against him from aggravated assault to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. This is also the only significant off-the-field incident to speak of regarding the sack artist out of Pittsburgh. One thing we know about Cleveland's first two picks; they both have mean streaks. I like it.
Immediate reaction: "Da'Quan Bowers must have a really messed up knee," one fellow Cleveland fan said to me as soon as Sheard's name was read. The Browns were burned last April by picking Montario Hardesty(notes), a running back with a history of injuries who went on to miss the entire 2010 NFL regular season. "Live and learn" seems to be the motto of this year's draft.
Sheard said all the right things during the post-selection conference call. He compared himself to Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison(notes), said he's become a changed man since, well there's no nice way to say "throwing a dude through a window," and that he wants to "get to the quarterback and make them not want to face him again." New head coach Pat Shurmur is moving this defense from a 3-4 to a 4-3, meaning the Browns need some new defensive linemen. They could be starting two rookies on that line this September.
In fact, I'd expect the Browns to do just that.
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