Browns, NFL Draft

There should be no sad pandas for Browns fans after Round 1

My parents didn’t have much money growing up but they always cobbled together enough for something nice each Christmas, somehow. One fall, when I was about 3 maybe 4, I wanted this stuffed panda from Marc’s. It was a great, big panda. Bigger than me. Christmas morning, I lost it when that panda awaited me under the tree.

I loved that panda but as stuffed animals are wont to do when they are so beloved by a child, it grew rather ragged, rather quickly. The stuffing flattened from too many times serving as the Ultimate Warrior to my Macho Man. The seams ripped multiple times as the panda dutifully served as a weapon in sibling wars. The thread mouth was torn. The nose had a visible crack with plastic pieces missing despite the best efforts of super glue repair. The fur more white than gray, the black dulled.

The Cleveland Browns of the 1980s were my sports panda. A constant well of joy supplied endlessly to my childhood despite the rips and stains from the heartbreak of playoff losses. The wonderful journey and attached memories that preceded each January finality worth the price.

As I grew older, the panda shifted from bedroom centerpiece to closet after thought. Throughout all the years, it remained. When I began my first fulltime job as an adult, a limited portion of my lifetime collections were able to trek across the nation with me. Tucked inside one box sat my panda.

The expansion Browns brought my sports panda out of the box, but despite the familiar appearance, some things cannot be relived. The pure fanhood of my youth was replaced with a growing desire for analysis and understanding of the game itself. The nuance more important than the outcome- perhaps due to the final score rarely aligning with my rooting interest.

My stuffed panda still lives with me in the attic above where my children play. Each child has their own particular stuffed animal whom they love. None is bigger than themselves though except for my youngest daughter’s. As I walked through a store near this Christmas last, a six-foot tall pink teddy bear called out to me. I bought the bear not knowing if she would cry in terror or laugh with glee. Relief washed through when she ran to it, tumbled onto its belly, and giggled uncontrollably as she struggled to embrace the cuddly monstrosity. Despite gadgets and toys and puzzles galore, her favorite present was one with the true gift being a silent bond between us.

The Harvard Brain Trust are the new hope for the Browns. We do not know if we will curse their names or be thankful for them turning around our team. One night of one draft is doubtful to define their legacy. Yet, despite the pundit calls for Mr. Local Savior (Mitchell Trubisky), for Mr. Intangibles (Desean Watson), or even for Mr. Falling Star (DeShone Kizer),1 the Browns front office stuck to their board.

In a trio of selections who would make Al Davis froth at the mouth from their athleticism, defensive end Myles Garrett, hybrid safety Jabrill Peppers, and tight end David Njoku were added to the roster. Another first-round pick in 2018 made six for the first two rounds in a year’s time. A 2018 first-round pick was also added to the future stash of assets.

There are questions about each player. Will Michigan Man Peppers will be accepted by the Ohio faithful?2 Can Njoku make the leap to NFL tight end or do the Browns plan to utilize him as the next Marques Colston? Will Garrett break the all-time rookie sack record (14.5 sacks from Jevon Kearse in 1999)?

There are no answers today though. Today is the Browns Christmas, enjoy the toys left under the tree.

  1. I will readily admit I was surprised the trade up was not for Kizer. []
  2. Or has Peppers already found himself in the NFL drug program due to a diluted sample at the NFL Combine? []

  • JNeids

    I promise I’ll get around to reading this as soon as the comments stop rolling in on the WWW.

  • Chris

    Anthony Lima was a sad panda today

  • mgbode

    Maybe reading this one would help him.

  • Chris

    A little thing, but I like that Njoku holds on to the ball well after he’s reached the end zone.

  • mgbode

    I’m not a huge fan of the bobbles he has at times receiving the ball though.

  • mgbode

    So, never?

  • JNeids

    They do not appear to be slowing down…yet…

  • NankirPhelge

    Nice hook, Michael.

    1. I think all this Browns-fans-hate Michigan-guys is way overblown. We’re gonna cheer Peppers like crazy, unless he’s a bust. We loved Braylon for a while, before he reverted to hands of stone.

    2. With the clock ticking down under five minutes for the Browns first pick, Gruden (I think) said something like “The Browns are waiting in case that phone rings and someone gives them an offer that blows their socks off.”

    Yeah, right, some team that has had months to work out a deal with the Browns instead decides to wait until the last minute to spring a blockbuster offer on them. Right then I knew it was going to be a long night of inane expertbabble.

    3. I’m so happy the Browns didn’t fall into the we-need-a-QB-so-let;s-take-one trap.

    4. I’m trying hard to convince myself that the Browns did the right thing with the two trades. But, Jeez, we need IMPACT players, not just starters. So all we can do now is hope.

  • Eric G

    Your picture is my house exactly, save that giant teddy bear. We have every single one of those books, toys, letter mat, and baby jail enclosure. Had the same exact set and everything, until she started climbing. It’s been downhill since. She’s almost 5.

    I have said it so many times since Rd1 ended, but I’ll say it one more time here: I am pretty stoked with this draft. Before it started I said, “Garrett, then idgaf about what else,” and that held true. The cost of the “ok” QB this year was unfathomable – FOUR picks to move up one spot??? I do like Peppers, mainly because I don’t have the natural hatred for that team like most of my WFNY brethren, and I’m crazy stoked we jumped in front of the Steelers to get that TE they apparently wanted. My only bummer for the night is that the Steelers got the Watt kid. I hope he’s not as good as his brother.

  • mgbode

    A new modern day WFNY record. We are so proud of you guys.

  • mgbode

    Thank you sir.

    1. I agree. I think that the Browns passed up Hooker for Peppers (after trade down) is part of angst alongside that Peppers hype was out of control due to the Heisman-machine. We’ll all love him when he’s making plays.

    2. The Mike Ditka package. Crazy as it sounds, it does happen.

    3. Same. I do think they would have taken Mahomes at 12.

    4. Garrett & Peppers are impact players. Njoku might be some day (rookie TE is a tough spot – maybe we flex him out and let him ease into it that way). Zay Jones would be a sneaky impact guy because he’d help the other WRs. Same with S.Jones or Awuzie at CB (for DBs).

  • mgbode

    save that giant teddy bear

    Well, no one is perfect πŸ™‚
    And yeah, she’s since too mobile for the enclosure, so the wall’s are down. It’s good times and crazy times.

    Watt was the 4th LBer on my personal list for that spot. So, I’m not too displeased with it.

  • NankirPhelge
  • WFNY_DP

    Thankfully, this Watt is a different player. Not so thankfully, he plays a position (OLB) in a 3-4 that the Steelers always seem to nail.

  • tigersbrowns2

    LMAO !!

  • Eric G

    Exactly

  • Pat Leonard

    Excellent words Bode. My daughter has that same purple Care Bear in the photo. “Purple Bear” is what she named it… her most prized possession.

  • WFNY_DP

    So, you’re mad, but lack the energy to do much about it beyond sleep and eat eucalyptus? πŸ™‚

  • tsm

    One of the reasons I watch NFL network coverage rather than ESPN.

  • JNeids

    I just got back from lunch and It looks like I have to go read ~40 new comments. Total is at 369 right now.

  • mgbode

    swap eat eucalyptus for drink beer and I think you have found the common Browns fan metaphor

  • mgbode

    Thanks. Our daughter named her Lolly (for the lollipops on the tummy). Obvious names are the best names, huh.

  • mgbode
  • jpftribe

    Beats a friggin dog named Swagger.

  • Replace “eat eucalyptus” with “drink whiskey” and you actually have yourself a pretty accurate description of how I cope with emotions.
    http://www.reactiongifs.com/r/bcga.gif

  • BenRM

    I am super excited that you used the “Sad Panda” thing from the other day!

  • BenRM
  • jpftribe

    That Peppers video is must see. I gotta say, I am really, really interested in seeing him with Ogbah, Garrett and Collins on the field. And a return guy, and a threat in the backfield. Hard to complain about this pick.

    The Njoku video says he is pretty good at the football thing too.

  • jpftribe

    If DeValve can become a decent run blocking guy, the pick makes a little more sense. Run blocking TE has been the Achilles of this offense for years.

  • jpftribe
  • Garry_Owen

    The video was good. The slow jam music in the background was really distracting.

  • BenRM

    That was a shocker

  • JM85

    Yeah, but who cares about lima?

  • mgbode

    need a TE who can do both. Njoku was pretty bad at blocking though he gave effort at it (not sure if that is good or bad). didn’t see any positives from DeValve there but Barnidge also bad at blocking. Telfer can block but cannot do anything else.

    Maybe Cam Erving is our new 2-way TE?

  • mgbode

    you can go to jail for such an offense

  • jpftribe

    There was a quote from DeValve at year end where he basically said he is going to need to be a run blocker to get playing time. Hue is talking up Njoku’s blocking as well.

  • mgbode

    Like the rest of us, he’s a good guy (most of the time πŸ™‚ )

  • mgbode

    Njoku tries, I’ll give him that. He whiffs a bunch but he tries.

  • mgbode

    I wrote the opening paragraphs immediately after our conversation. Now, imagine the narrative arc had the Browns FO somehow not drafted Myles Garrett.

    As a story, it would have been much, much better. But, still glad it didn’t happen that way, I think. I mean, I do love a good story.

  • jpftribe

    That would explain Sashi’s “likes contact” comment.

  • mgbode

    397 but it is 5:30 EST — can it be done?

    it won’t count if it happens after today fwiw

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  • Believelander

    The Jabrill scouting breakdown by Kollman is the best analysis of him and really made me feel good about the Browns taking a man who is pretty clearly going to be a Strong Safety who also has the versatility to stand in any role Gregg Williams gives him, and whose ability to study 3 facets of the game simultaneously will reward him enormously when learning Gregg Williams’ deep, complex schemes.