Normally when a team has the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, it is THE pick that the team is judged by. If that #1 pick is successful, the Draft is considered successful.
For the Cleveland Browns, owners of the #1 pick this year, that pick is still vitally important but less likely to decide whether the 2017 NFL Draft is successful.
With the #1 pick, Myles Garrett will set up shop across from Emmanuel Ogbah and attack the opposing QBs. EVP Sashi Brown and GM Andrew Berry all but confirmed it in today's press conference when their facial expressions gave it away while talking about Garrett.
Why won't Garrett decide how successful this Draft is for the Browns?
First, Garrett would be draft #1 no matter what team was making the pick. The Texans have J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney already and would happily add Garrett. So would every other team. He is that good. He is that far set apart from the rest of the prospects and his position is that impactful.
Since every team would take Garrett #1, the Browns won't be judged based on that pick. Everyone would do it, it is an easy decision. In some ways, there really isn't a decision to be made.
Second, the Browns also have the 12th pick in the Draft. Unlike most teams drafting #1 overall, the Browns are in position to add another stud player just 11 picks later. This unique circumstance gives the Browns far more options and ways to improve their team.
Third, it is more likely than not that the Browns select a QB with the #12 pick, or trading from that pick. The QB position is THE position in the NFL. Should the Browns select a QB with the #12 pick (or trading around from it) and he fail, Garrett being great will be diminished/minimized. If Garrett is a bust but the QB is a Franchise Guy, Garrett busting is diminished/minimized.
Fourth, and finally, it is at #12 that the Browns will be impacted by other teams. With the #1 pick, the Browns are in complete control. With the 12th pick, the Browns are at the mercy of what other teams do ahead of them. If 1, 2 or 3 QBs come off the board between picks 2 and 11, the Browns lose opportunities. If no QB is picked before 12, the Browns have more options. Similarly, being impacted by the teams picking ahead of them creates a gamble related to possibly trading up or down from #12.
So what are their options?
- Draft a QB: The Browns need a QB and are in position to get one of the top ones in the Draft at #12. They have a need at the position and can, hopefully, finally fill it.
- Draft BPA: Best Player Available is a false narrative. Need, positional value & fit in system all play a huge role in decisions. In the end, the Browns can just draft the player with the highest grade, or Best Value Available, at #12 and move on from there.
- Trade Up: More unlikely than many think, the Browns could trade some of their many picks to move up in the Draft to make sure they either get their QB or their BVA player they want. The Browns value high draft picks and aren't likely to move them, no matter how much we think they will. Having two 2nd Round picks this year doesn't decrease the value of each of the picks, nor does have three next year.
- Trade Down: More unlikely than last year, if we are to believe Sashi and Andrew's presser today, the Browns could continue to accumulate picks. They could move down a couple spots and still get who they want but they seem more likely to not take that gamble and just get their guy at #12.
For fans, how they view the players will decide how they grade the #12 pick after it is made. On the other hand, most agree a player needs 3 full seasons before their grade can be decided.
That won't stop fans and media from jumping to conclusions.
If they Draft the QB you like, "They did great." If they pass on a Buckeye you love, like Malik Hooker, "They never draft Buckeyes, how dumb."
For some, if they trade up, "I'm glad they got aggressive to get their guy with all those assets." For others, "They are just wasting assets, they got played."
A trade down will bring "They always pass on top flight talent" or "More assets make better chance of hitting, keep trading down and robbing other teams."
In the end we won't really know for 2 to 3 years how this Draft class will be graded. If Hue Jackson, Sashi and Andrew are not still around, it likely won't matter. If they are, chances are the team is competing well for Playoff spots.
When we do grade the Browns 2017 NFL Draft, expect the #12 pick to be weighed heavily into that grade.
Do you think the #12 pick will be the pick that decides how this Draft goes for the Browns or is it #1/something else?