Draft Profile: Shawne Merriman

Derrick Johnson may be getting more pub right now as the Browns? possible first-round choice but Shawne Merriman could be Saturday?s dark-horse pick. Drawing comparisons to Jason Taylor and Dwight Freeney for his ability to rush the passer, Merriman would fill the pivotal outside linebacker position in Cleveland?s new 3-4 defense. Equally adept at getting to the quarterback as he is at dropping back into pass coverage, Merriman totaled 85 tackles, 8.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in his All-American senior season at Maryland. Perhaps the best hybrid linebacker/defensive end in the draft, Merriman, a sensational athlete who runs the 40 in 4.6, would certainly be available at three if the Browns held on to that pick but he?d be a much better choice later in the draft should Phil Savage trade down in the first round.

Frank Derry from the Ravens Insider says taking Merriman with the third overall pick would go against Savage?s philosophy of drafting the best available player.

Because of his speed and increased size, Merriman?s stock has risen dramatically, writes the Washington Post?s Mark Maske.

Finally, Merriman told Frank Cooney from CollegeSports.com that he believes he?s the best athlete in the entire draft.

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