Final thoughts before the draft: While We’re Waiting


Happy Tuesday, WFNY!

Finally, nearly four long months since the end of the 2016 Cleveland Browns season, we have arrived at NFL Draft Week. I’m already eagerly anticipating whichever gif RGB is going to use in the comments below to announce that the draft is now just two days away!

We’ve all heard the jokes. “The draft is the Browns’ Super Bowl”. Well, it is. It is damn near the only thing that gives Browns fans hope. At some point the Browns have to luck themselves into a good draft, right? Statistically, the odds of blowing as many drafts as the Browns have seems really hard to achieve. At some point you’d think they would fail upwards into a successful draft class.

So will this be the year? The Browns have so many picks in this draft (11 of them, to be exact…four of which are in the first two rounds). Will the Browns follow through on the approach of casting a wide net and drafting many players in the hopes of playing the odds and coming out with some impact players? Will they bundle the picks to move up in the draft to take fewer players, but get those players higher in the draft? Or will they yet again trade down and accrue even more future draft picks?

Personally, I don’t want the Browns to make any trades. I agree with what Paul DePodesta said about the draft when talking to Peter King a few weeks ago:

We’ve looked ourselves in the mirror and said, ‘Do we think that we are actually superhuman when it comes to picking players?’ And we pretty easily answered that with a resounding no. So how are we going to increase our chances? We need to have more picks. So, if we have the same number of picks every year as everyone else, we don’t expect do better than anyone else.

Later in the piece, King points out that this is the Jimmy Johnson approach to drafting. And indeed, Johnson confirmed he has talked to the Browns about his draft philosophy. But Johnson also makes clear that it’s dangerous to think you have so many picks that it’s ok to take a risk and package them to move up.

This is why I cringe a little when I hear rumors about the Browns possibly packaging some picks to move up with their second pick in this draft to (presumably) take Mitchell Trubisky. I get why it makes sense to a lot of people. If you think Trubisky (or whichever QB it is that you like) is a franchise guy, then go get him. But if that’s the way you feel, then take him first overall. You’re still going to have a chance to get a good player at pick 12 and you will get to keep all of your other picks.

The allure of getting both Myles Garrett and a franchise QB is very, very real. I get it. But you have to be so certain that you are not going to miss on that QB. Because if you wasted draft picks to move up and take another bust at QB, you have completely set the franchise back yet again. That’s the reality of this situation.

The Browns are a bad team. They need more than a QB and a pass rusher, yes. But getting a franchise QB is the single most important step in rebuilding. So my argument is not to just not take a QB. I’m saying if you think one of these guys is worth trading up to pick four or five to get, then why not just take him first overall? Nothing is more important than getting a franchise QB. If you think you’ve found one, take him first and then use all those other draft picks to try to surround him with as much help and support as you can. In my opinion, the Browns will be a better team with Franchise QB and ten other draft picks than they will be with Myles Garrett, Franchise QB, and only six (or however many they are left with after the trade) other draft picks.

If you’re not comfortable taking a QB first, though, then you should absolutely not trade away valuable picks to move up to take him. If you don’t feel confident in taking a QB first, then you’re not confident he’s a franchise guy. Then take Garrett first, wait until pick 12, and see what’s there. If the Jets don’t take a QB (or take a QB that isn’t the guy you like), you might end up getting one of the guys you like there. Or you can take some other really, really good player. If the Browns draft well in the first three rounds and don’t trade away any picks, they can come away with up to five really good players.

Personally, I don’t think any of these QBs are worth taking first overall. I’ll go on record today in saying that my dream scenario is Myles Garrett first overall and then Malik Hooker sliding to the Browns at pick 12. I’d be ecstatic going Garrett first and Deshaun Watson at 12. I’ll be content with whatever outcome as long as the Browns make two first round picks and don’t trade away any of their other valuable picks in the process.

The Browns have made so many trades on draft day over the years. For once, I want the Browns to just sit tight and take the best player available to them with every pick. Again, it’s the Jimmy Johnson method. Cast a wide net, make as many picks in the first three rounds as you can, infuse your team with young talent, and let the chips fall where they may.

Whatever happens, the draft is two days away and that alone is a reason for us to be happy in Cleveland. For now, anyway. I’ll talk to you guys again next week when we will all rip the Browns draft. It’s the circle of life.