I had a lot of mixed feelings on draft night last night at The Map Room in downtown Cleveland. My Cleveland sports brethren who were on hand and witnessed my exit (somewhere between the Browns’ trading the 12 and not waiting for the 25) know that I wasn’t really all that pleased. It was jokingly said, but I was dropping verbal bombs and said, “I’m done!” before half laughing it off. These are the Browns. You have to allow yourself some temper tantrums from time to time, right? After watching the rest of the first round play out and after a night’s sleep, I’m still not elated or excited, per se, but I do think the Browns did some nice things, so let’s break it down.
The only way to describe the feelings after the Browns drafted Myles Garrett is relief. Obviously, you don’t want to live your life by everyone else’s rules or going by worldwide consensus, but in the 2017 NFL Draft, Myles Garrett was the only real choice for first overall. By the time the Browns turned in their card and Roger Goodell dodged all the boos to tell us who the Browns picked, it wasn’t even so much excitement about one of the most dynamic athletes available in the past five years. Because of that, I find myself kind of just passing over Myles Garrett as I think about the Browns’ first day of the draft. It’s not totally fair, but it’s like an offensive line not giving up any sacks in a game. It’s impressive, but when the unit accomplishes that it just feels like they did their job.
The Browns then did what they do when they traded the 12 to Houston for 25 in 2017 and a Number 1 in 2018. While that drop was taking place I was pissed. In the scheme of things, dropping just over 10 spots in the draft and adding a future first rounder is always a good idea. As a draft philosophy, you can’t argue with it. After enduring a 1-15 season, it’s a tough pill to swallow. The Browns have pushed value down the road for so long that it hurts to face the truth that 2017 is once again not the year. Sashi Brown flat out said, “We’ve got a long way to go to get our roster where it needs to be,” when asked about if there would ever be a time that trading down is inappropriate for the Browns.
Once the shock of reality subsided a bit and the Browns finished up their first round, I started to come around on the philosophy. Just like I don’t know if Myles Garrett will turn out, I also have no idea if Jabrill Peppers or David Njoku will be keys to the Browns turnaround. What I do know is that the Cleveland Browns came into Thursday night of the 2017 draft with three picks in the top 33. They ended the night with three players from the top 29 and a first rounder in 2018. In terms of playing the game of poker, it feels like a pretty good sitting.
It’s not all sunshine and roses, however.
The Browns finished another first round of an NFL draft – and one where they were able to select three players – and yet didn’t identify or have access to a player that they felt could be their prospect for the most important position in sports. It’s not fair to completely blame the Browns for not getting a quarterback because not everything is in their control. The Bears traded up to two to take Mitch Trubisky and obviously the Browns didn’t care for Deshaun Watson because they handed him to the Texans, but the point is that’s two years in a row where the Browns have punted on the a top quarterback very directly after handing Philly Carson Wentz in 2016. It might be fine, and the Browns might find someone with an overwhelming SPARQ score in the second round, but the realization that the Browns are working with teams that are a quarterback away like Houston rather than being that team is frustrating.
I am not saying the Browns shouldn’t have selected Myles Garrett. I’m just saying that if Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes become five-year NFL starters at quarterback there’s almost no way that Myles Garrett can ever be as valuable at his position. But I don’ want to be a total downer. The Browns grabbed three first rounders and it appears like there are three new potential playmakers on the roster. That’s no joke.