- Associated Press - Friday, April 29, 2011

BEREA, OHIO (AP) - The Cleveland Browns got bigger and maybe a lot badder. That’s a good thing.

Playing in a division where the Steelers and Ravens are the resident bruising bullies on the block, a little attitude can’t hurt.

With the first of two second-round picks, the Browns selected Pittsburgh defensive end Jabaal Sheard, the Big East’s defensive player of the year, an off-the-edge pass rusher who had nine sacks last season but nearly missed his senior year after being suspended following an arrest.

Later in the round, Cleveland found a potential No. 1 target and game-changing playmaker for quarterback Colt McCoy by picking North Carolina wide receiver Greg Little. He missed last season while serving an NCAA suspension for accepting improper gifts.


Those two selections followed the Browns using their first-round pick on Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor, a massive run stopper who has controlled his weight problem but has an insatiable appetite for quarterbacks. The 335-pounder has his own sordid past having been kicked off Penn State’s team by coach Joe Paterno for his involvement in a campus fight.

The newest Browns say they’ve learned valuable life lessons from their troubles, but all have a nasty streak that made them appealing to Cleveland general manager Tom Heckert.

“I think they both have that (toughness),” Heckert said, initially referring to only Taylor and Sheard. “Greg Little does, too. He’s tough. When he catches the ball he tries to hurt you.”

Friday began with the Browns introducing Taylor to the media. Dressed casually in a green golf shirt and orange Browns baseball cap, the easy-going Taylor was asked what kind of player he hoped the Browns would take in the second round.

“I would like a nice defensive end next to me,” he said.

The Browns got him one.

At 6-foot-3, 254 pounds, Sheard fits the profile Heckert prefers in defensive ends _ fast, agile rushers who can get off the ball and around the end.

“I know how to get to the quarterback,” Sheard said on a conference call.

A high school star in Florida, Sheard wound up at Pitt, where he played for former Chicago and Miami coach Dave Wannstedt, the man he credited with getting him ready for the NFL. While in school, Sheard often found himself in the company of the Steelers, who share a training facility with the Panthers.

Sheard compared his game to Steelers linebacker James Harrison.

“Just as far as aggressiveness, his motor,” Sheard said. “I’m always thinking of getting to the quarterback or whoever has the ball in his hands. I want to make that hit where the crowd goes ‘Ooohh,’ and then everybody screams. I want to be the talk of the game.

Story Continues →