The first two days of the NFL Draft were very good for the Cleveland Browns.
While some could argue they should have taken Deshaun Watson or Malik Hooker at 12, or even O.J. Howard, they had targetted Jabrill Peppers and came away with him and another 1st Round pick in 2018.
Myles Garrett stands on his own. The team took the player at #1 that every, or almost every, team would have taken. They didn't over think it.
In Day 2, the Browns waited for the Draft to come to them (like many fans had hoped) and took a QB that has a lot of upside and, now, not a lot of pressure. He was the Browns 4th pick in this Draft.
The Browns also should get credit for Jamie Collins in this Draft as pick 103 was traded to the Patriots for him. The Pats traded pick #32 with #103 to get Brandin Cooks and pick #118 then surrendered #118 in the Deflategate punishment.
Now on to Day 3.
Houston DB Howard Wilson was the team's first pick Saturday. A speedy guy who needs to be coached up and to develop, Wilson gives the Browns options. He can play outside but won't be called on to play right away. Instead, he will be a very solid special teams player while getting his feet wet.
Next, OL Roderick Johnson out of Florida State was a surprise pick. The Browns added a couple of players in free agency to the line and have a pretty big depth chart list there. Johnson is a huge developmental prospect that analysts either loved or hated. Some see the upside after a year or two of coaching and strength and conditioning. Others see a big, straight forward athlete who struggles moving side to side and is more athlete than football player.
DT Caleb Brantley was the curveball. While I knew the Browns had spent time with him, his off the field issue from a couple of weeks ago and his self-reported laziness doesn't really fit what the Browns seem like they want to do. Brantley as a player didn't show consistency and was more hype than production. Gregg Williams' job will be to get that production out of him, if he makes the roster. After Sashi Brown's press conference, that seems like a decent sized if.
They took a kicker! Those that follow me on Twitter, or any of the places I provide audio content, know that I support this pick. I support the pick not because Cody Parkey wasn't good but I like the idea of the Browns drafting the best player at any position. While Zane Gonzalez wasn't the first kicker chosen, he was considered by most to be the best. The Browns got the best kicker in the Draft in the 7th Round. Their other options were their 9th OL, 8th CB, 5th RB, etc. I'm okay with the kicker.
They ended the day with RB Matthew Dayes. Maybe nothing special but with Isaiah Crowell still not signed, adding another back for competition is an okay option. Short at 5'8", Dayes was basically the workhorse of the North Carolina State offense.
The Browns have also done well with Undrafted Free Agents. While looking at Pro Football Focus' list of Top 50 UDFA's, the Browns took home some talent. While not officially acknowledged by the team, the Browns got #2, 8 24 and 41. Big ones for me are Kenneth Olugbode, a LB who can run and play in sub packages, Najee Murray, a former Buckeye corner from Kent State, Kai Nacua, who could be in competition at Free Safety right away and BGSU's Ronnie Moore, who can compete in the slot as an electric receiver.
How do I summarize Day 3? The Browns knew they have limited roster spots so they swung for the fences. While fans think the team needs players to compete right away, the team believes in the players they have brought in developing as well.
Wilson and Johnson are 1 to 2 years away from being able to play their assigned positions well, if coached right, but the Browns want to build this thing for the long-term. With that many picks, and even more coming next year, these developmental players make sense.
This is what good teams do. They draft for the future, especially on Day 3. While the Browns aren't good, never too early to start acting like good teams do. Right now, besides the kicker, none of the players drafted, or signed after, are needed to play right away. This allows them to grow, mature and gain confidence until they are needed.
Brantley is the huge swing here. IF the reports are true, they cut him and waste a 6th Round pick. While that is odd, the Browns are now in a position that they will either be cutting draft picks or good young players due to all the picks/players they have brought in. Brantley could be a rotational defensive tackle this year. He could learn and develop under Gregg Williams and pay off like a guy some thought was a 2nd Round prospect.
I get it, even if I don't love it.
The Browns are being universally praised for their Draft. That doesn't sit great with me but there is a reason for that. Everyone they drafted in the first 2 days fits their template and plan. In Day 3 and with UDFA, they took players with upsides knowing they are going to have to cut some players they like this year.
Not a bad plan.
Now it all has to come together, starting with Rookie Camp next week.
No Draft is perfect. I would have loved to see a starting level FS taken somewhere but that likely would have been at the expense of another player that fits as well. Thankfully, some players will be cut from other teams that the Browns could sign right away or after 53 Man Rosters are set.
The Browns also have 5 picks in the first 2 Rounds of next year's NFL Draft, as well as a plethora of other picks. Free Safety and Cornerback are likely going to be high on the list next year, at least for me.
What did you think of Day 3 of the Browns Draft?