Due to an overwhelming number of Browns fans filling my inbox with questions about the Browns first two rounds of the draft, let’s rehash the scenario one last time – with updates on the progress of each Browns player noted.
Much of the following was noted during the draft in theOBR updates in the “Ask the Insiders” and “Fast Lane” offerings.
- If the Browns would have stayed at #4, I was told they would have selected WR Sammy Watkins.
The Browns believed Watkins was a dynamic, play-making type presence which would only open the field up and present opportunities for big-plays from anywhere on the field.
- The Browns decided the deal with Buffalo was too good to pass on and they had CB Justin Gilbert rated very highly and HC Mike Pettine was high on the dynamic cover-corner.
When the new Browns staff evaluated the DB’s, the belief was this defensive backfield needed a cover-type CB with above average size to achieve in the Pettine defense. The Browns found little to frown upon when scouting Gilbert and believe his upside is tremendous. (Gilbert has been very good in camp, displaying excellent ball skills. DB coach Aaron Glenn is working with him to be a bit more fluid on first move).
- When the Browns decided on Gilbert, they had also investigated the possibility to move back up in the first round for WR Brandin Cooks. The Browns were looking at a trade-up for a WR, some discussion about OG Zack Martin and a QB.
- As far as I am concerned and was told for months leading up to the NFL Draft, QB Johnny Manziel was not the QB GM Ray Farmer favored. My belief was based on information from a very credible ‘football guy’ that Farmer liked Teddy Bridgewater.
I also am of the impression ESPNCleveland’s Tony Grossi and I may have been the only two people reporting such interest in Bridgewater. (I was also told Farmer liked QB Derek Carr.)
I have heard from a source within the draft process in Cleveland that team owner Jimmy Haslam did say, “let’s go get him” when Manziel had fallen into the early-twenties and the Browns were discussing him. (The Browns believe Manziel can make plays with his legs right now. The belief within the staff is once Manziel begins to consistently react naturally, he could make a significant push/improvement. To a man the belief is Manziel is a better player in game conditions/competition than he is a practice player.)
- The Browns really liked two OG’s in the early portion of the draft. Martin from Notre Dame and an NFL-ready OG from Nevada, Joel Bitonio. My understanding was Farmer thought Martin would be a very good offensive lineman at the next level.
I am also under the impression the Browns believed Bitonio would become a high-quality lineman immediately, due to scheme fit and a nasty, physical, aggressive streak he possesses, Bitonio was the target following their move at QB. (The Browns have all but named Bitonio the starter at LG and believe he is going to be a fantastic addition.)
- LB Christian Kirksey was the highest rated LB on their board when the Browns were on the clock. In all actuality, Kirksey was ranked higher by the Browns than many players that came off the board ahead of him. He was viewed by the Browns as an ideal fit for the Pettine defense, his speed, quickness and versatility was a necessity for a Browns defense with issue inside. (Kirksey has been better than expected to this point in camp.)
- Throughout roster evaluations, whuch included the signing of free agent RB Ben Tate, the Browns wanted to add a potential quality RB in the draft.
While many draft pundits clamored over Carlos Hyde and alike, the Browns were steadfast in their scouting and targeted RB Terrence West. The Browns had discussed moving on West earlier in the third round, but were intent on letting the draft come to them, but knew it was likely they would have to trade ahead of the Baltimore Ravens, who were looking at West as well. (West got off to a great start in rookie camp, OTA’s and mini-camp and had a strong couple sessions to start training camp.)