Inside Carolina/Michael Switzer

Great Blue North talks Cleveland Browns 2017 Draft

Great Blue North has been a favorite draft site for Browns fans for many years now. Browns fan Michael Cuomo took the time to talk to GBN on behalf of the OBR about this year's draft.

Recently I had an a opportunity to sit down and chat with Paul Guillemette, long time Chief Scout and Associate Editor of the highly respected Great Blue North NFL Draft Report.  I asked him some questions I thought Browns' fans would be interested in learning about from Paul's perspective.   

1.  Your draft publication has been around for quite a bit of time and from what I understand there are quite a few Browns fans that read your work.  How do you know that to be a fact and why do you think a team that has had a woeful record for almost two decades still commands such attention?  Who are the other teams that seem to draw a lot of interest at the Great Blue North?

Guillemette: The quickest way we gauge BROWNS fan interest at our website is the large volume of hits we get at gbnreport.com whenever we feature articles that are Browns-centric, plus email forum comments we receive. Whenever I do Team Mocks, my Editor Colin always says ‘make sure you do a BROWNS MOCK early on. That really stimulates site hits.’ Clearly, BROWNS fans have remained loyal to their team despite all the travails they have had to suffer through. I think in general the Cleveland area sports fans are loyal & avid. Look at the response last year to the Indians rising from the dead. We get strong reader feedback and site hits from some of the most traditional fan bases, like the GIANTS (Colin’s team), BEARS, PACKERS, STEELERS & EAGLES.  



2.  From a human interest perspective, how did you get in the business in the first place?  Also, you have said attending Senior Bowl week is one of your favorite weeks of the year.  Why is that?  What are the top memories or most humorous incidents that come to mind from your years at the Senior Bowl?

Guillemette: I can honestly say I do not remember exactly when the NFL Draft grabbed me by my Sports Soul. I really jumped into the fire in the mid-70’s when I was out of college. I can tell you that I have Draft notebooks and obscure magazines from before Mel Kiper ever published his famous Blue Books. My first heroes were the Hughes Brothers & Joel Buchsbaum. The internet opened a whole new world to me as a certified Draftnik with volumes of info to digest and venues for me to publish & share my opinions with others.

The Senior Bowl (preceded a week by the Shrine venue) are my personal Christmas Holiday season. Being able to rub shoulders with and share football talk with experts and football legends has been a personal rush. Guys have sat and football with include Mel KIper, Chris Mortenson, Mike Mayock, Mean Joe Greene, Nolan Nawrocki, Dick Vermeil, Alex Flanagan and so many more. Not to mention the chance to chat with prospect/players after practices. Most of these folks have been gracious & friendly to a ‘nobody’ like me.

My first year with Media Credentials I was walking the Convention Center hallway to a Press Conference and JON GRUDEN, then BUCS head coach, came out of the players’ lounge. I said hello to him and his eyes went to my media badge before he responded with ‘Hey Paul how’s it going this week?’ I can’t explain what a rush that was, as crazy as that sounds.

Three years ago I was attending Senior Bowl Media night about 6 blocks away from the players’ hotel, but not in a great part of town, nearby to the then pretty much deserted, cruise ship docks area. When the meal was over and I had chatted with a half-dozen players, after a long day I was about ready to head for my hotel to report to our website from my notes. As I headed to the parking lot I ran into Yale RB TYLER VARGA. He had scheduled a team interview back at the hotel, but the players’ bus was not leaving in time so he was going to walk back, which was probably more dangerous than hurdling the goal line on game day. So I became his free Uber ride back to the hotel.

3.  Now to what is most dear to Browns fans.  The browns new order has put the team in a position to perhaps pull a "Jimmy Johnson" in rebuilding a failing team with over 20 high round draft picks between 2016-2018.  Do you get a sense that their efforts are misguided or headed in the right direction?  We have seen the accumulation of draft picks, seeking numbers over quality, to now allegedly seeking quality over quantity.  There was also the unorthodox trade with the Texans, in what amounted to a salary dump with Browns receiving a once highly regarded player and a second round pick.  Who can forget ESPN talking heads choking on their saliva when the trade went down. Please speak to that.

Guillemette: Right now a lot of us who cover the draft and the NFL are watching the BROWNS front office very closely to try to calculate what the affects of “sabermetrics”, as mutated to football from baseball will work out. Clearly, they are to some extent throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. The OSWEILER trade looked kinda crazy at first, but now it appears the team will actually give him a chance to compete at the QB position. But they had so much money they “had” to spend that taking on his contract to gain an extra Draft Pick was not all that crazy. The direction is only good if the people making the player selections know what they are doing. The 2016 Draft effort was very solid. Now they are challenged to repeat that effort.


4.  Please tell us what you would do if you were running this Browns draft and what you think the Browns would do.  You are on the clock, let's see your seven round Browns mock. 

Guillemette: It is indeed a very good year to have lots of Draft Picks and with all their needs I would stay put and use them all. So here are my picks for them based on my Prospect Rankings:

R1P1 MYLES GARRETT/ER TEXAS A&M

R1P12 MITCH TRUBISKY/QB UNC

R2P33 GAREON CONLEY/CB OHIO ST

R2P52 DION DAWKINS/OG TEMPLE

R3P65 MARCUS MAYE/S FLORIDA

R4P108 PAT ELFLEIN/G/C OHIO ST

R5P145 ELIJAH LEE/LB K-STATE

R5P175 JEREMIAH LEDBETTER/DE ARKANSAS

R5P181 HOWARD WILSON/CB HOUSTON

R5P185 MACK HOLLINS/WR/ST UNC

R6P188 COLE HIKUTINI/TE LOUISVILLE



5. I believe it has been kind of unspoken that the Browns are targeting the 2018 season as one where they become a playoff team.  Do you see this happening or does this look like another failed regime?  What are you hearing from around the league? Are other teams having their "eyes opened" by the Browns approach?

Guillemette: When/if the BROWNS become at least a .500 team then the rest of the NFL might pay attention, but for now most of the noise is just cheap bar talk. If this team can contend for a play-off berth then things will look a lot brighter. I am skeptical that they are ready to turn the corner yet, however. Another good draft could put them in a position to make a quantum leap in 2018.


6. How would you solve the Browns long-standing quarterback dilemma and who is your favorite of the draftable quarterbacks?

Guillemette: Simply put it is time for HUE JACKSON to find a QB and wave his QB-whisperer wand. I like TRUBISKY, as indicated above, and part of the appeal is his being an Ohio guy. Remember the love for a guy named KOSAR a while back? HUE cannot dodge this elephant in the room any longer. Pick someone and get to work Coach!


7. Lastly, tell us something that you saw first hand that stood out to you at the 2017 Senior Bowl relative to the Browns staff handling of the south team.

There seemed to be a dark cloud over the practice field whenever the BROWNS staff was out there with their SOUTH squad. None of us have ever the seen the number of injuries that plagued the team. Can I directly trace that to something the BROWNS staff was doing? NO! But let’s just say that when our radio broadcast team sat down with Senior Bowl Executive Director PHIL SAVAGE he informed us of 9 players on the South squad who would not play on game day because of assorted injuries. There were daily roster changes to the South team all week. There were 56 players listed on my Monday, Jan 23 SOUTH roster. 9 of those guys weren’t even in town by game day. Then again the SOUTH did win the game under the BROWNS coaching staff. And that’s what sports is about in the final analysis.


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