In the 2014 NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns should consolidate picks

2012 NFL Draft

The Cleveland Browns have a lot of picks in the 2014 NFL draft, but they don’t need 10 new players by the time the weekend is done. The Browns have plenty of needs and should do plenty of work to address those needs in the draft, but more important than anything, they need as many star-level players as possible. I know a lot of this sounds very obvious, but I get the sense that because many think of this as a “deep” draft that the idea of trading down has become palatable to increase the number of picks. While I can’t lay out an actual game plan for what I want the Browns to do, as a general rule for this draft, I’m less interested in having all those third- and fourth-round picks become players than I am seeing if they could be consolidated into one or two picks in higher rounds.

The NFL is a league where depth is key. Nobody knows this better than Browns fans who have seen some amazingly unprepared players get thrust into action over the years. Given that fact, it would seem natural that the Browns would want to just pick all those ten players. The fact is that the Browns should already be deeper and more experienced organically in 2014. The last thing they should want to do is replace all those players with rookies.

QUOTESometimes it’s easy to forget that players like John Hughes, Mitchell Schwartz and Billy Winn are now entering their third years. Same with Travis Benjamin, Tank Carder, Johnson Bademosi, Tashaun Gipson and Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, just to name a few. As for second-year players, the Browns will have Barkevious Mingo and Leon McFadden, but also Jordan Poyer, Josh Aubrey, Armonty Bryant, Garrett Gilkey, MarQueis Gray, Fozzy Whittaker, Edwin Baker, Jamoris Slaughter, and more. That’s a ton of young guys filling out the Browns depth charts at various positions already. They’re young and on their rookie deals, so it makes sense that the Browns now reap the rewards of their experiences as green rookies.

Some of those guys can and should be replaced by drafted rookies with more potential, but how many before it becomes a detriment to the growth of the team? I’d prefer the Browns do some consolidating if they can. No, I don’t want to see them dump a bunch of picks trading up from No. 4 unless they know they have a franchise quarterback they need to go get. Short of that, I want the Browns to stay at No. 4 and then try to get the best possible players they can get, within reason.

Should the Browns trade up from 26? Maybe.

Should the Browns trade up from 35? Maybe.

Should the Browns combine third- and fourth-round picks to add another second rounder? I’d consider that. The Browns’ two third-round picks should easily get the Browns into the top half of the second round again. Could two fourth-round picks get the Browns back into the third? I’d find out.

Forget having ten picks. Take those ten and give me a draft weekend haul of two first-round players, two second rounders and a third rounder and I’ll be elated. That’s the kind of haul that could reshape a team and change its fortunes for a decade going forward. It becomes a top-heavy draft class as opposed to a giant one. That’s alright though. The Browns do need to get better, but as the acquisitions of Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner told you during free agency, they don’t necessarily need to get any younger.

  • saggy

    that’s exactly what i’m thinking.

  • saggy

    i’m gonna go out on a limb and say that’s about as good first round as there’s ever been in this league’s modern draft.

  • mgbode

    my employer thanks you 🙂

  • Petefranklin

    “freaking out” at the table was Heckarts M.O. He may have had a plan B, but definitely not a plan C, throughout his tenure here.
    I don’t know if the Trich trade up was worse than getting played by the Lions for “Sargent Winslow”. I would have waited for the Lions to draft him, then give them a second rounder to trade down one spot.

  • wingramm77

    I’ve actually espoused this same idea a couple months ago on DBN once this years draft class took form. Quite a few QBs, which made this years draft look so compelling, decided to return to school. At the time Bridgewater looked like a definitive 1st pick and everyone else came with serious question marks (now they all do). My thought then was that the Browns, if unsure about the QBs available at 4, should defy conventional wisdom and plan to go into 2014 draft with the mindset that they should build the overall talent of the team while planning for the 2015 draft to get the QBOTF if necessary (if Hoyer or a later round QB shocks the world for instance).

    I got buried in criticism for that thought back then but it’s good to see Max’ perspective on it….maybe it’s not looking like such a bad idea now.

  • Jeff

    you have no idea what you are talking about. This is the deepest draft. So your logic is to have less picks? Great logic drrrr. This draft has players in the 2nd who would normally be in the 1st. 3rd who would normally be in the 2nd. It is a rare draft where teams do not need to put all their eggs in 1 basket and hit gold. We have so many holes that trading down from 4 would be a gift. If we could find a team such as Buffalo or St. L who would trade an upper to mid round 1st, 2nd and 3rd for our 4th overall, we would have a monster draft. That means 4th overall for a 1st, 2nd and 3rd rounder. Which means we would have 2 1sts, 2 2nds and 3 3rds. Grabbing 7 top 100 players sounds a lot better to me. If you want to consolidate, do it towards the end. No problem with trading up if using 4-7th rounders. Here is what I mock and could happen:

    Round 1
    Trade no. 4 overall to Buffalo in exchange for no. 9 overall, 2nd and 3rd rounder.

    pick 1 – Mike Adams – WR
    pick 2 – Zach Martin – T/G

    Round 2

    Pick 1 – Su’a-Filo or Yankey – Guard
    pick 2 – Chris Borland – ILB

    Round 3

    Pick 1 – Stanley Jean-Baptiste – CB
    pick 2 – Charles Simms – RB
    Pick 3 – Zach Mettenberger or AJ McCaron – QB

    As you can see, that changes both sides of the ball and gives depth at every level. So which would you want? Grab as many players in one of the most impressive drafts in the past decade or place your eggs in one basket on a couple? Easy choice.

  • Thanks for stopping in Jeff. The Browns have an epic opportunity to have four or five very high picks in a deep draft. I don’t think the Browns need 10 new players. As long as they don’t get ripped off, my way makes sense too. It’s not “less” picks. It’s still more picks than most teams have. I just prefer to get fewer than 10 players and opting for 4-5 pretty highly drafted ones.

  • Partybuddha

    Not so sure about that in this draft, I’ve been hearing on NFL radio that picks #20 through #40 are all pretty close talent wise and many 3rd rounders would be 2nd rounders in different draft years, etc. If there is not much of a talent drop off from say 83 to 106, I say play the odds with more players. If they do trade up, I’d rather see them trade 5, 6 and 7 to get back into the 4th.

    If Clowney, Mack and Watkins are gone at #4, I hope we trade back a few spots as someone will covet a QB there and may overpay to move up in front of the Raiders.

  • scripty

    The 3rd rounders have very good value this year. You’re getting the equivalent of a late 2nd in most years with those picks based on overall draft strength.

    You want to hold on to those or improve them. Dont give up 3rds. Dump all the other stuff.

  • Root4Cleveland

    With all do respect, Craig, I totally disagree. I have a purist philosophy when it comes to the draft, summarized in the following Q&A: Do you know what the first pick and the last pick in any draft have in common? They both are within the top 2% of college football players.

    From 1 through “Mr. Irrelevant” there is only a 2% marginal difference in talent. That alone is splitting hairs. You know what the relative difference between No. 4 and No. 24 is? Almost zilch.

    You know what Jim Brown, Otto Graham, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, & Ray Lewis all have in common? None of them went first overall. Graham went the highest @ No. 4 overall. Montana was No. 83. Any one of those players – obviously – would warrant a No. 1 today.

    The point is that people (fans more-so than FO executives) forget that so much of one’s NFL success – the VAST majority of it – is determined by how one performs and trains after they’re drafted. We can’t accurately project that. The distribution of Hall-of-Famers and perennial pro-bowlers is such that picks (i.e. players with an opportunity to prove themselves) are almost always more valuable than draft position. Now if you have 14 picks (a-la San Fran last year?) you obviously can’t add 14 rookies to a team of 54. So yeah, you trade some for position or for future (higher round) picks. But I don’t think the Browns are there yet.

    I’ll concede they may be close. Your point about present youth is well made and well taken, but to me the Browns are in a position to trade two picks AT MOST and probably not any at all.

  • Dustyn

    Crazy idea…. I know Dallas is in salary cap purgatory, and there’s been rumors before of Tony Romo getting traded. Hypothetically what if Johnny Football were still available at 4, and Dallas comes to you with the offer of swapping first round picks and giving us Tony Romo. Would/should we do it?

    That would give us Tony Romo, pick 16 and pick 26 in the first round.

    Dallas would then get a potential quarterback of the future from the home state of Texas that is just as pre-Madonna as Jerry Jones. Plus it frees up a lot of cap space that Tony has taken up.


  • Big Z

    Do what you need to do to find a QB. ‘Tis concerning to know that KC couldn’t ID a competent field general during Farmer’s tenure there. Hopefully he had nothing to do with that.