Some Cleveland Browns Thoughts as we Await the NFL Draft

Browns fan Jeff Mitzel again offers his thoughts as the Browns hunker down to plot out their 2017 draft strategy. Do we have the right guys in the room?

  • Hue Jackson stated a good quarterback is worth more than an elite player as this year's combine unfolded.  Myles Garrett posted 33 rep's on the bench press, a 41-inch vertical jump, and a 4.64 40 yard time.  Hue quickly went silent, and reports quietly leaked that the Browns had made a decision at #1.  Fans may expect a defensive end as strong as Danny Shelton who posted 34 rep's at the combine and as fast as Browns linebacker Jamie Collins (who posted an identical 4.64 time in the 40-yard dash along with a 41.5" vertical). This may warrant some quiet applause from the head coach. 

  • Fans heard little as quarterback appears firmly atop Hue Jackson's fixation board who announced he will look at every single throw by this year's quarterbacks and also conveyed hope the Browns FO listens to him.  Jackson also stated he was going to draft Jared Goff at last year's combine, and Browns decision makers swiftly let go three Browns scouts who otherwise voiced disagreement in the direction of Carson Wentz.  The Browns brain trust may now face the prospect of making the big decision at quarterback absent anyone with a demonstrated good compass in doing exactly that.

  • A couple years ago, the Browns scouting department favored Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr before the draft order swiftly changed after owner Jimmy Haslem checked text messages.  Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan favored Derek Carr and some guy named Garoppolo.  The Browns fired scouts who favored Wentz last year amidst reports the Browns needed fewer voices in the room though those long-standing voices hadn't disrupted previous decision makers.  The Browns similarly hold a decision to be made at quarterback but now with fewer voices in the room.

  • Finding a scout left in the building with a track record of being on the right side of things quarterback-wise should be at the top of Sashi Brown's to-do list, but who exactly is left and will they willingly voice honest thoughts and opinions amidst a management staff prone to sweep the decks of scouts upon disagreement with Hue?!

  • Hue Jackson was noticeably absent at recent pro day workouts by Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky.  Have Browns decision makers decided it is a not so good idea to knock on the door of anyone who liked Jared Goff and Cody Kessler and didn't like Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott, or have decision makers recognized inserting the head coach in all facets of evaluating quarterbacks is disruptive and quiets opposing voices fearful for their dismissa? Have decision makers have now figured out a good way to separate, manage and safeguard the process?!

  • For whatever reason, coaches don't make good draft selections.  Butch Davis selected Kellen Winslow II over Ben Roethlisberger and selected Gerard Warren over seven of the next nine picks that made the Pro Bowl.  Davis passed over the highest ranked wide receiver on their draft board and selected Brian Robiskie over Chad Johnson.  GM Dwight Clark folded up his notebook and left the room filled with a larger ego and presence.  Romeo Crennel wanted Kamerion Wimbley instead of Haloti Ngata.  Mike Pettine wanted Justin Gilbert as the Browns passed on Khalil Mack.  Quarterback guru Mike Holmgren was sold on Brandon Weedon and not sold on Russell Wilson.  Browns decision makers need to learn opposing voices in a consensus decision-making model aren't to be feared. Head coaches who think they know better are.

  • Quarterback is a priority, though the Browns didn't lose games last year for want of a quarterback.  The Browns lost because they shredded talent across the roster and fielded a defense that surrendered more points per game than the AFC's leading offense, the Patriots, scored.  Sure, the Browns need a quarterback, but a defense that surrenders more than 28 points per game isn't going to result in many wins.  The Browns need a lot, and the apparent selection of Myles Garrett with the top pick can't be expected to turn things around.  The Browns enter the draft in large need of defense, a playmaker, and a quarterback.  Pick two out of three?!

  • Recent reports that trade talks with the Denver Broncos for Joe Thomas have resurfaced are bewildering.  The Browns lack depth at tackle and need leadership in the locker room amidst projections of a loss-filled season.  The Browns are not possessed of a replacement for Thomas, and young quarterbacks that face constant pressure struggle to progress.  Enter Tim Couch as Exhibit A. Lack of on-field progress maintains a holding pattern that makes it difficult to sign free agents such as safety Tony Jefferson who signed with Baltimore for $1.5 million less than the Browns offered.  Organizational credibility matters.  Current Browns decision makers who failed to send the correct signals last offseason and failed to bring Tony Jefferson on board are under pressure to make smart moves and reverse league perception.

  • Overpaying free agents Kevin Zeitler as the highest paid guard in the league and Jamie Collins as the fourth highest paid linebacker ahead of Luke Kuechly signals the Browns know as much.  A possible trade of Joe Thomas risks the locker room (whichever quarterback lines up behind center this year) and forward progress important to league perception while leaving little room for upside.  Trading veterans for assets is a proven model but not in the context of efforts to refloat a franchise with multi-dimensional considerations.  Somewhere, someone in a corner office in Berea appears to lack for things to think about.  Trading Joe Thomas does not appear to be a smart thought.

  • Maybe Denver offers to give the Browns a serviceable left tackle, toss the Browns an irresistible trove of draft picks, and remembers that Osweiler helped deliver Denver to the Super Bowl.  Maybe Denver somehow figures their remaining $18 million in cap space to clear the books for Jimmy Haslem's accountant and reacquires Osweiler and removes a headache from the Browns organization. Maybe.  The standard in play is any trade of Thomas amidst obvious risks and multiple considerations needs to also press the buttons on multiple considerations, be more than a trade for a pick, and show to be a smart move.  

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