Cleveland adds bulk to defensive line with Florida DT
BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- Make no mistake, Butch Davis will rebuild the Cleveland Browns from the defense up.
Davis didn't trade, select some flashy running back or speedy wide receiver with his top draft pick as Browns' head coach. He didn't even take one of his Miami Hurricanes.
Instead, Davis stuck with what he knows best -- defense -- and ushered in his era in Cleveland by choosing a defensive tackle who threw him for a big loss a few years ago.
Gerard Warren, a massive run-stuffer from Florida who once spurned a scholarship offer to play for Davis at Miami, was selected by the Browns with the No. 3 overall pick in Saturday's NFL draft.
"He is a massive, powerful and athletic big man and a guy that can penetrate and collapse the pocket," Davis said. "I've known him since he was a junior in high school. So I know all about his personality and work ethic.
"He was the type of guy you could not pass up."
Cleveland sees the 6-foot-3, 325-pound Warren as another weapon and a perfect complement to second-year end Courtney Brown, whom Davis plans to switch over to the right side.
"He's a force," said Dwight Clark, Cleveland's director of football operations. "He has the ability to collapse the pocket. He's a nasty, violent player and that's kind of what we need in here. He's a franchise-type defensive tackle."
Warren didn't travel to New York for the draft, but watched his selection at home in Florida before being flown to Cleveland along with family members in one of team owner Al Lerner's jets.
Warren, who described himself as a "throwback country boy from Union County, Florida", said he's not intimidated about the Midwest's chilly weather on Sundays in November and December.
"I love playing football," he said, "whether it's in 50 feet of snow or 500 feet under water."
The Browns had other options at No. 3. They had hoped to trade the pick and move down in the first round, but never got into serious negotiations with anyone.
Clark said in recent days the team narrowed its choices for the third pick to Warren, defensive tackle Richard Seymour, wide receiver David Terrell and running back Deuce McAllister.
"But in the end," Clark said, "we decided we wanted to stop the run."
The Browns selected Kansas State wide receiver Quincy Morgan (No. 33 overall) in the second round. Morgan averaged more than 20 yards per reception in his two years starting for the Wildcats.
"Tim Couch is probably pretty happy right now," Davis said.
Cleveland still needs to address its running back situation and Clark said the Browns may still pursue free agent Corey Dillon. Otherwise, they'll use a committee of backs next season.
The Browns' selection of Warren started a run of nine defensive lineman to go in the first round. In a league known for copy cats, it seems everyone is trying to follow the Baltimore Ravens' route to winning a Super Bowl.
For weeks, Davis had been saying that this year's class of defensive linemen was the deepest in years.
"There will not be this kind of quality very often," he said. "We felt that Gerard was at the top of the class."
The Browns can envision Warren and Brown -- their No. 1 overall pick a year ago -- owning the line of scrimmage, chasing down running backs in the backfield and terrorizing quarterbacks for years to come.
Playing in a division featuring Eddie George, Jerome Bettis and, for now, Dillon, the Browns need to improve their rushing defense. Cleveland ranked 31st and 29th in the league the past two seasons against the run.
Davis feels Warren will create matchup problems up front. And if Warren can tie up an offensive lineman or two, his linemates like Brown, Keith McKenzie and Orpheus Roye can run wild and make plays.
"He makes everyone of our guys better," Davis said. "Adding him gives us depth and playmakers."