As the Cleveland Browns and the rest of the NFL prepare to embark on the annual pilgrimage of player procurement, an event otherwise known as the NFL Draft, facts will be separated from fiction.
Front office executives will say with a straight face moments after they make their selection that the player they draft is the “player that they wanted all along” and that he was “at the top of their board”.
The talk for the past several months has been upon the speculation on what the Cleveland Browns will do this year with their two first-round draft choices. Will they go all in to try and trade up to find that all elusive franchise quarterback with the likes of Marcus Mariota? Will they try to maneuver a trade to land the injury-plagued Sam Bradford?
Or better yet, will the Browns stay where they’re at and pick two blue-chip players that should be able to immediately step in and start?
As important as the quarterback position is, the Browns need not force the issue. Too many times the Browns forced the issue and drafted a quarterback with a high pick just because they needed one. See exhibits one, two and three in Brady Quinn (2007), Brandon Weeden (2012) and Johnny Manziel.(2014). Just because a quarterback is selected in the first round doesn’t mean he’s worthy of the choice.
The smarter play might be taking the two best players available to the Browns at either wide receiver (Amari Cooper, Kevin White, DeVante Parker or Breshad Perriman), edge pass rusher (Dante Fowler, Vic Beasley or Bud Dupree) or defensive tackle (Leonard Williams, Danny Shelton, Malcolm Brown or Eddie Goldman) in no particular order. The Browns need impact players and the two first round picks should bring those to the lineup.
Many national draft pundits have continually linked the Browns to offensive linemen in the first round. However possible, it is much more likely they will address the line, but not in the first round. With the Browns expected emphasis on running the ball, Todd Gurley wouldn’t be a bad selection--if he’s still available-- even though the Browns have Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell.
Last year, Justin Gilbert and Manziel did not produce any immediate dividends and it’s unsure if they will this year or beyond. The pressure is squarely on Ray Farmer to hit a homerun in this year’s draft, especially in the first round.
If the Browns are convinced that Mariota is the franchise quarterback they’ve been looking for they should do whatever they can to move up to draft him, short of giving up both of this year’s top picks and next year’s. It is assumed that the Browns would have to go all the way from 12 to 2 to insure they were able to get Mariota.
However, if Mariota gets past the Titans at two, the Browns might be able to move up enough to draft him without giving up their entire draft.
The Browns have enough needs to not force the issue at quarterback. They should continue to build their team by adding impact players and see what Josh McCown and Manziel can do in 2015 before giving up their entire future for a quarterback that likely won’t be ready to contribute this season.
Very soon all of the smoke and fog will clear and the answers to the questions will be answered as to what the Browns will do.