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.
Sometimes 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.