BEREA, OHIO (AP) - After making two trades, the Cleveland Browns plugged a monstrous hole in their new defensive front.
Dissatisfied with what was still available at No. 6, the Browns traded that pick to Atlanta for the No. 27 pick and four others on Thursday night before swapping that first-rounder with Kansas City and using the No. 21 selection on Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor in the NFL Draft.
The Browns are switching from a 3-4 alignment to a 4-3 under new coach Pat Shurmur. The 6-foot-3, 337-pound Taylor is a proven run stopper. He shifted to nose tackle as a senior and recorded 62 tackles, 17 more than in his previous three seasons combined.
Cleveland was desperate for defensive linemen. They released nose tackle Shaun Rogers during the offseason, and several other veterans are still free agents. Because of the league’s lockout, the club had been unable to address one of its’ biggest needs before the draft.
Taylor may play alongside Ahtyba Rubin, who had a breakout season for the Browns in 2010, recording 82 tackles and one sack.
Browns running back Peyton Hillis announced Taylor’s selection from the stage of Radio City Music Hall. Hillis was in New York after being selected as the cover for the Madden ‘12 video game. He was scheduled to appear on David Letterman’s TV show.
Taylor’s selection is considered a bit of a surprise. He was not listed in many mock drafts as going to Cleveland, but after the Browns dropped 21 spots in the first round, it became apparent Shurmur, general manager Tom Heckert and president Mike Holmgren did not like what was left when it was the team’s turn to pick at No. 6.
With needs across the board, the Browns decided to trade their pick to the Falcons, who used it on Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones _ a player believed to be high on Cleveland’s board.
However, Heckert was able to extract plenty from the Falcons, getting their No. 27 pick, Atlanta’s second-rounder (No. 59), fourth-rounder (No. 124) and the Falcons’ first- and fourth-round picks in 2012.
In making the major swap, the Browns conceded they are still in rebuilding mode and it could take awhile before they become legitimate contenders.
When the Browns took Taylor, several other high-profile players were still available, including Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers, who was once considered a possible No. 1 pick, but has slipped because of questions about a knee injury.
Taylor transferred to Baylor from Penn State. His biography said he was dismissed by Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno following “several off-the-field incidents” in 2007 and 2008. Under NCAA rules, he had to sit out the 2008 season before playing for the Bears.
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