The march to the NFL Draft – or what's known as the Browns' personal Jesus – is nearly over. This year, the ever-increasing heft of the event is tied to yet another front office reboot and coaching change – along with the stark new realization that the team's new owner is less of a franchise savior and quite possibly a felon.
Still, it's the draft and around these parts, that's enough to renew optimism – if not a PSL.
To review, here are the latest draft resources from Reboot – featuring some really smart guests.
Now, for the last of the Draft Truths:
6. Dee Milliner Will Be Joe Haden's Replacement…In Time
Being that Mike Lombardi and Joe Banner are on a quest to validate their reputations as the Smartest Guys in the Room – and to a lesser degree, run an NFL team – there will be some re-drafting of sorts occurring this week. In a sense, this process began in free agency with the signing of Desmond Bryant to fill what was mostly an already-filled defensive line spot. The makeover will no doubt continue if the Browns
hold onto are stuck with the sixth overall pick.
And while the possibilities of a Haden-Milliner corner duo are intriguing, they will also be short-lived. Much in the way that the ultra-productive Ahtyba Rubin will be a cap casualty next season, look for Banner to cut the cord with Haden rather than pay two corners first round money – despite the relative value of the current first round contract slotting.
7. Trading Down is Easier Said Than Done
It's always curious when a draft is characterized as generally weak, yet reports surface that teams want to trade up. This year's version is especially unique in that most of the perceived value can be found virtually anywhere in the first round and beyond. In the Browns' specific case, there isn't a player who screams to be taken with the sixth overall pick and the projected first players to go are offensive tackles and defensive linemen – two relative areas of strength in Cleveland.
Of course, ideally it would be a steal if the Browns can move down a dozen or so spots and recoup their second-round draft pick. Easier said than done – that is, unless a (more) QB-needy team gets nervous or a run on left tackles occurs. While the math adds up for say a Browns-Dolphins trade, you have to wonder if the real value is worth a trade. Also, let's not ignore the possibility that a team drafting ahead of the Browns makes the first move.
8. There's a Still a Last Wave of Free Agency To Arrive
The youth movement begun by Tom Heckert continues under Banner and Lombardi and if anything, has been accelerated. Again, if Rubin is/will be considered old next season, then it's obvious what the overall direction of this team personnel-wise will be. Similarly, the releases of Chris Gocong and Usama Young and the lack of interest in Phil Dawson, Josh Cribbs and other reinforces this idea.
However, there are still some quality free agents remaining and of course, even after the draft the Browns will still have some roster holes to fill. It wouldn't be surprising to see Lombardi and Banner ignore (another) weak safety class in favor of signing Kerry Rhodes for a year. Likewise, there are still some decent veteran inside linebackers and pass rushers available.
9. At Least We Know Who Visited With the Browns
To get a better idea of who the Browns COULD take, here's a nice reference. Of course, resources like this were much easier to use when Heckert was running the draft. Over the past few years, Heckert tended to zone in particular schools to grab multiple draft picks. Alabama, Pittsburgh and Nebraska were such pipelines. Usually, you could sense that Heckert was zeroing in one player (Jabaal Sheard for example), and discovered another (Jason Pinkston).
However, with a new front office comes a whole new dynamic. And while Banner and Lombardi have taken their media lumps, let's give some credit to both – along with the Browns' personnel and scouting teams – for dramatically widening the range of their evaluations. While most of the visiting players have come from bigger conference schools, there is no regional focus and the variety of positions covered suggests that the front office may be preparing for an Eric Mangini-esque circus of first round options.
10. The Return of the Absentee Owner
Finally, what would a Browns' draft be without the team's owner hiding in the shadows? In terms of the Browns' own Arrested Development, we've gone from an owner who graduated from the Milford Academy to one who's about to be on the lam.