Browns manuever to grab Justin Gilbert to pair opposite Joe Haden

justin gilbert

Let’s start with the trade quickly. This was obviously about value for Ray Farmer. Maybe they really wanted the big offensive tackle Greg Robinson and were prepared to move back when they couldn’t get him. Maybe it was part of the plan all along to use the fourth pick to get extra selections and fall back to a point where they could still grab Gilbert.

Whatever the case, the Browns got the first cornerback taken in the draft, and he’s a good one to be certain.

But why take a cornerback with their first pick? The best answer is that the Browns had a draft order set, and they valued Gilbert over any other player regardless of position.

What’s to like about Gilbert:

Let’s start with this- he was the fastest cornerback at the combine. The Oklahoma State senior (yes, he played out his college career) ran a 4.37 40-yard dash. Not only is he fast, but he has size. At just a hair over six feet tall, he is taller than all of the cornerbacks currently on the Browns roster. He has long arms. He also has strength. He pushed up 20 reps on the bench press in Indianapolis. That;s just three off the top mark for a defensive back.

The best reason to like Gilbert though is his ability to ball-hawk. He led the Big 12 in interceptions in 2013 with seven, and picked off twelve in his college career. Lining up opposite Joe Haden, he is going to get plenty of attention from opposing quarterbacks. Buster Skrine was in the top three in all the NFL in targets last year. If Gilbert takes his spot on the outside, he’ll get those looks. And he will push Skrine inside to the slot where he has better success.

Gilbert is also a kick returner. He has six touchdowns on kick returns.

What’s not to like about Gilbert:

Fair or not, this list starts with the obvious fact that he isn’t an offensive player. Fans wanted a wide receiver or a quarterback. If the Browns end up with a quarterback at 26, they will likely forgive that perceived flaw.

According to experts, he doesn’t play the run game very well. That’s the reason many had Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard ahead of him. He also had an off year in 2012, after a breakout sophomore season which has caused some to question his consistency. Another issue might be his vertical leap, which was the one measurable that he didn’t excel at in Indianapolis.

What about the trades?

So the Browns moved out of the fourth pick, and get Buffalo’s 2015 first round pick and fourth round pick. That’s kind of a haul to move down four spots. According to the infamous ‘trade value chart’ the move from four to nine is worth 450 points. That is equivalent to a mid-second round pick. Even if the Bills are much improved next season, the Browns will have gotten a good value and still got the player they wanted.

I believe they were targeting Gilbert when they traded to nine.

A whole lot of experts had Gilbert going to the Detroit Lions at ten. It makes a lot of sense for the Browns to trade just in front of them.

Now about the move trading the ninth pick to the eighth pick. It could be that the Lions were attempting to leapfrog the Browns to get Gilbert. Perhaps the Vikings were also considering Gilbert and needed a sweetener to go defensive line instead. Whatever the case, the Browns gave up a fifth round pick to get the guy they wanted. And they got a first and fourth next year already.

The player they wanted and an extra first round pick next season is a good deal. Now that player has to prove them right.

Update: Ray Farmer on the trades-

“The thought process was simple. We had an opportunity to move back, pick up some future considerations. We knew where we were in the draft and we felt like it was a good opportunity to continue to improve our team with the number of picks we could get so we made a deal to move back to Buffalo (No. 9). Second trade was another opportunity to get the player we thought we wanted. It didn’t cost us much to move back into position when he was on the board. We took that opportunity, and we took the pick with (Oklahoma State CB) Justin Gilbert.”

  • saggy

    At this point, with all the other CBs on the board, the trade to get Gilbert looks kinda amateurish. But their other deal looks nice

  • Ezzie Goldish

    That they flew out to Houston two days ago to meet with him seems to say this was their plan all along. Which is great.

  • Foghorn Leghorn


  • This won’t (and clearly isn’t) get the attention it deserves, but this sequence made the night for me. I’ll admit to be hugely disappointed to see us drop off of Watkins at 4 (and pass on a current-year pick yet again), and was prepared to be thoroughly crushed with a Manziel pick at 9, but to end up with Gilbert PLUS the Bills first next year? That’s a nice first round all on its own. I won’t claim to be thrilled with ending the night with JFF, but that risky move is easily trumped by this one. Now go get Joe Haden resigned, posthaste.

  • markn95

    No one else did (yet), so I gotta make the Dixon-Minnifield reference. Those guys were fun to watch and in a passing league, two shutdown corners in their prime will be great to have. Mingo pretty much can blitz every down now, which is great for an otherwise one-dimensional player.

    Of course, in a passing league, Gordon and Watkins would have been great to have, too. Sigh. Extra points on the trade, though, because I don’t see the Bills picking any lower than 15 next year. Top ten is probably more likely.

  • mgbode

    love the Dixon/Minnifield reference (but now with bigger CBs).

    and, on Watkins, he was the best WR in my opinion too, but do you know what he never was? a Heisman finalist. there is likely to be a WR who was a Heisman finalist available at our #35 pick. So, there’s that, which is nice.

  • mgbode

    for anyone that still needs to get on board the Justin Gilbert luxury bus (it’s way better than any bandwagon). I’m not giving up my seat driving it, but you are all welcome aboard. It’s a double-decker bus because we knew we would need tons of room.

    (1) He makes our entire secondary better. Haden can stick to the left side like he prefers rather than having to chase the best WR all over the field. Skrine goes back to being the slot CB where he should excel.

    (2) The AFC North has the best set of WR1s in the NFL. Gordon (in practice), AJ Green, Antonio Brown, Torrey Smith. So, having a pair of CBs that can lock any of those guys down along with whoever ends up getting paired with them is essential in this passing dominant league.

    (3) Elite measurables as Rick mentioned.
    40time = 4.37 (best DB at combine)
    Arm length = 33.13 arm length (2nd longest DB at combine)
    Vertical = 35.5 (only 23rd DB at combine though it’s still a good number)
    Bench = 20-rep (5th DB at combine)
    shade over 6’ and 200lbs (very good size for a CB especially considering the above measurable arm length making him longer than his height)

    (4) Elite Game Film

    (5) Potentially elite in the KR/PR game too

  • mgbode

    I honestly don’t care about the 5th at this point. It’s like Farmer decided to be absolutely sure he threw away the value of the extra 4th that the Bills gave us. I am okay with it (don’t like throwing away assets, but we got Gilbert!).

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Yes. At the draft party, everyone wanted Watkins, and when Jax went Bortles the place laughed and got incredibly excited. When that trade came up the place collapsed with “same old Browns” mantras… until people heard what we got. Suddenly everyone was nodding, saying “OK, all right, that’s solid” – and when Gilbert was picked most people were happy. (I screamed in joy.)

  • Ezzie Goldish

    While I’d wanted Watkins, a friend texted me a great point: Two top CBs > Two top WRs, especially in today’s NFL. Throw in Skrine at the nickel and McFadden as the dime, factor in that our rush D held teams to absurdly low YPC for a large chunk of the season… this is a great, great D.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    His anticipation is incredible, wow. You can see it both returning and covering.

    Agreed wholeheartedly. A secondary of Haden-Gilbert-Skrine-McFadden at CB, Whitner at SS, Gibson at FS (good enough with those CBs) is sick. Throw in a front seven that can rush the QB and stop the run? Wow. If we can improve at ILB#2 then it’s ridiculous.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    And more WRs available day two. I love getting Haden a running mate opposite corner finally. People always put the emphasis on the pass rush well with Haden and now Gilbert the pass rush just got a huge assist. I’m curious why Dennard dropped like he did I had him just ahead of Gilbert as best CB in the draft.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    This defense still needs work/help particularly/hopefully a young LB for depth purposes but Gilbert is solid. He’s a cover corner he needs to work on tackling but lets face it if your CB is having to make tackles you have bigger problems. I loved Watkins heck I loved Evans too but day 2 you still have a number of very good WRs sitting there for #35.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Marquize Lee. I kept saying the trade to 22 was for Lee to jump all the WR-needy teams, but deep down I knew it was for Johnny.


    Not to mention a new, defensive-minded coach.

  • mgbode

    I’m hoping for Dion Bailey or Dowling in the 4th/5th rounds to fill out the secondary.

  • mgbode

    Because Dennard, while good, isn’t as dynamic as either Gilbert or Fuller. I had Dennard 2nd, but it’s obvious that NFL teams were going for the man coverage with ball skills over the physical man coverage play of Dennard. He is still quite a good player though and I’m not happy he landed in Cinci.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I like Lee, Mathews and Robinson.

  • mgbode

    I will be disappointed if we select Robinson over Lee and Matthews. He comes off as a slightly better Robiskie to me and that scares the heck out of me.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Possibly but Dennard was a steal for Cincy. Fuller was the #3 CB IMO. How about Denver taking Roby? I still don;t like Roby so I’m glad he’s a Bronco now.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Lee is my first choice I don’t know if he’ll last to #35 tho. If not Matthews would be my next choice.


    I agree with all your points and love the pick except the NFC North #1’s might have beef with you (Megatron, Marshall/Jeffrey, Cobb/Nelson and Jennings).

  • mgbode

    Detroit and Chicago, yeah. Then, it falls off pretty hard. Jennings is past his best and I think Cobb/Nelson are more products of Rodgers than beasts in their own right.

  • mgbode

    yeah, the last few picks of the 1st round were really strange. but, it set us up for Lee if Houston takes a QB, so I’m happy.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I don’t think Houston or Washington need WRs so I’m thinking Lee at #35.

  • Eric G

    Am I the only one who thinks having our 1st round pick (number 8 nonetheless) returning kicks is a tremendously terrible idea??

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I like how Gilbert conducted himself at today’s introductory press conference as well as his answers. I’m excited to see #23 and #21 man the corners for the secondary.

  • mgbode

    Patrick Peterson is an elite PR for Arizona. And, he’s their only CB. Gilbert will be our CB2 by default.

  • architrance

    “Get the player we thought we wanted”

  • phil

    I think the picks were awesome. Yes, they have to actually play, but I think the game plan is strong. Picking up UDFA will help competition. WR will be ok. I am in to positive support of Farmer and Pettine. We have had too many changes. We need consistency and a chance to grow. The foundation is there. We should be all excited.