The draft is less than 48 hours away. There is a different feeling surrounding Cleveland entering this year’s version of the draft. It’s hard to put a finger on it. Is it optimism? No, I think that the draft has always brought its share of optimism. Last season for example there were plenty of positive signs heading in. It’s actually hard to put a finger on exactly when feelings started to turn south. There were several trade downs, followed by the double whammy of wide outs in the second round. The draft that brought in Joe Thomas and Brady Quinn was quite an optimistic draft, even after the weekend wrapped up. So I wouldn’t say that the presence of optimism is what is different.
Could it actually be confidence? The Browns have 3 men at the top (Holmgren, Heckert and Mangini) with experience running the draft. They have all had success to point to as well. Is it safe to say that the trio should excel when the responsibilities are divided and then collectively they pull the trigger on players and deals? Perhaps, but then again there is the argument that too many cooks can spoil the soup. Sometimes a gut feel is necessary when making decisions like these, and a consensus doesn’t always allow for that type of gamble.
The fact remains- Mike Holmgren is the most experienced personnel man we’ve had in town in quite a while. Not only that, but he is the most charismatic as well. You just can’t help but feel like they have things under control. They aren’t going to panic and push the wrong button.
New subject. Every year there is a new catch phrase or way to look at the draft. Perhaps it is a new philosophy that the team employs. The Patriots showed that trading high picks for multiple lower ones can be an effective strategy. That strategy falls flat when the players that you select in the later rounds don’t pan out. Draft experts grab phrases and talk about the most important thing that teams need to do. This year I have heard several experts or read articles about how many players you should realistically expect to get out of a draft that contribute to your team.
The Browns currently have 10 selections. In his weekly chat on Cleveland.com Terry Pluto said that you would HOPE to have 3 starters and possibly 3 or 4 part time contributors from the combination of draft choices and/or traded players from those t10selections. Tony Grossi said he expects 3 starters from the Browns first 5 picks in the first 3 rounds.
Here’s the question- are we expecting too little from our drafts? Too much? I am very curious to see in two seasons how many starters the Browns land with these 10 picks. For fun here are the results from the last few Browns’ drafts. We’re going to say that the 2009 draft is too close to make judgments. In ’08 the Browns had only 5 picks, and none of those were until the 4th round, thanks to trades. Beau Bell, Martin Rucker, Ahtyba Rubin, Paul Hubbard and Alex Hall were picked. Rubin is a contributor and would start on many teams. That’s it. The ’07 draft brought Joe Thomas, Brady Quinn, Eric Wright, Brandon McDonald, Melila Purcell, Chase Pittman and Syndric Steptoe. Thomas and Wright are solid starters. McDonald has started, but thankfully won’t be this season. The rest? Well, we got a draft pick for Brady Quinn this year, does that count? Um, no.
The best draft in recent history for the Browns? That would be ’06. Kamerion Wimbley (now gone) D’Qwell Jackson (in contract limbo) plus Jerome Harrison and Lawrence Vickers. The only other player selected by the Browns before 2006 who is still on the team? Long snapper Ryan Pontbriand. We’re only talking about 4 drafts ago people.
That’s why it is vital that the Browns get 3 or 4 starters from this draft. The only way to build a team is to stockpile players that can perform at this level. And for the first time in a while the vibe in Cleveland is that we may have the decision makers to get the job done.