Still not tired of draft talk: While We’re Waiting


Happy Tuesday, WFNY!

I hope everyone had a quality weekend and are settling quite nicely into this new week. I want to spend my WWW this week talking about the draft, of course. Oh, are you tired of talking about and reading about the draft? No? Good. Oh, you are? Well, tough luck, we’re talking draft this morning anyway.

I know we’ve already had so much excellent draft coverage here over the weekend. How about another hand for Joe Gilbert and the amazing job he did (as always) with both coverage leading up to the draft and then his tireless efforts during the draft. And then we had Craig Lyndall and Michael Bode adding some coverage to fill in the gaps and Josh Poloha lending a helping hand behind the scenes and with his headlines. It was a great weekend at WFNY.

I’ll just start out here by saying, on a personal level, I absolutely loved what the Browns did this weekend. It started with the Myles Garrett pick, a move I was ecstatic about. I was watching the draft with a buddy and I joked that if the Browns took Mitchell Trubisky first I was going to get up and just walk out and go home. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that.

When the Browns traded the 12th pick with Malik Hooker, Jonathan Allen, OJ Howard, and Deshaun Watson all available, I was skeptical. When I found out they got a first round pick next year for it, I was…content. It seemed like a good return, but a lot would depend on what the Browns could do with the 25th pick. When the pick of Jabrill Peppers came in, I was sufficiently whelmed.

I went back and looked at a bunch of mock drafts from January and February, and then looked at mocks from March after the combine but before the report on his diluted sample. One thing that was fascinating was how inconsistent opinions on Peppers was even before his drug test came in with the diluted sample. Some had him top ten, a few had him lower than 25th, but the overwhelming majority had him going somewhere between 10 and 25. I thought the Browns got pretty good value for their pick at 25, a player that some thought was top 15 talent.

Just when I thought the night was over for the Browns, they traded back into the first round. But why? Who did they want? Was it Kizer? After seeing three other teams trade up for QBs in the first round, did the Browns think they needed to as well? I wasn’t happy. But when the pick of David Njoku came in, I was ecstatic. I had OJ Howard on my list of players I was interested in at 12, and I had viewed Njoku as a consolation prize that I thought might be available at 33.

So, the Browns came into the first round with three picks in the top 33. They finished the night with three picks in the top 29 and an extra first round pick in next year’s draft. Not a bad night for Sashi Brown and crew. This was the kind of draft night we, as Browns fans, could take pride in and feel good about.

In the second round, the Browns finally addressed QB by selecting DeShone Kizer. Here’s the thing about Kizer. When there was talk of the Browns considering him at 12, I didn’t like it. But at 52nd, I thought it was a tremendous pick by the Browns.

Prior to the draft, I read a lot of scouting reports on these QBs. One thing I noticed was that while many scouts did have some separation between the top three and Kizer, one thing a lot of them kept saying was that the ceiling for Kizer was in line with the others. In other words, the margin of difference in total potential was fairly narrow. So while three other teams actually traded up to take QBs that almost all scouts agreed had limited potential and were underwhelming as first round prospects, the Browns showed tremendous patience in waiting and taking their QB more in line with where his value is in this draft.

Not everyone will agree, of course. Some will say that one of these QBs will probably turn out to be at least a reliable starting QB in the NFL and the Browns should have made sure they got the first choice of QB in this draft. I get that. But I don’t agree with it. I don’t like a policy of reaching for a QB unless you really, really feel quite strongly that he is going to be a franchise QB.

Past those four players, I’ll admit I didn’t know much about any of the other guys the Browns took, so I don’t have much opinion on them. Overall, however, I will just say that I feel pretty good about the positions that the Browns addressed with this draft and I am starting to feel more and more confident in the approach that Sashi Brown and his front office are taking. I am just praying that the Haslams give everyone enough time and patience to see this through.

I mentioned this last week, but I absolutely agree with this front office’s policy of making sure they have more picks than anyone else in these drafts. I believe very much that the way to get this right is to cast a wide net and make as many picks as you can to give yourself the best chance of finding players who pan out. None of this is an exact science, so if it’s, to a certain degree, a probability game, then give yourself the best odds by making the most picks.

The only pick I disagreed with was Caleb Brantley. Obviously, I have no clue if he is guilty or not of assaulting a woman in a bar, but I don’t like the Browns risking a draft pick on it. As a fan, I don’t like having to justify the pick. I don’t like feeling like I’m turning a blind eye to what he is accused of doing to root for him. I also agree, again, with what Jimmy Johnson told Peter King about risking picks on gambles:

“But I’ll tell you, here’s the danger of having so many picks: You think, ‘We’ve got so many picks, let’s move up and take that guy with a little risk.’ You think you’ve got so many picks and you can afford to waste them on guys. I never looked at it that way. You have to look at every pick like it’s the only one you’ve got. Like I’ve told Bill Belichick, ‘You don’t have to use ’em this year. Bank ’em. Trade ’em.’ He knows. One time he told me he had a good team, and he had some extra picks, and he was afraid the guy they’d take might not be good enough to make his team. Fine. You don’t like what’s there? You can always find someone to take your four this year for a three next year. Like I said, bank ’em.”

When Sashi Brown says “if he’s guilty, we’ll just cut him and it will only have cost us a 6th round pick” it goes completely against what Jimmy Johnson said about valuing every single pick. Furthermore, the entire context of that statement feels off to me. It feels like it is trivializing and minimizing what Brantley is accused of. It feels like a flippant way of saying “If he did inflict that trauma on this female, oh well. At least he won’t be our problem because we can just cut him, lol.”

Regardless, I still think this was a very exciting draft for the Browns and with the improvements made in free agency, for the first time I feel like I can see this rebuilding plan somewhat coming together. We’re still a long way from this being a good football team capable of going above .500, but the groundwork is being laid and for once, it kind of makes sense to me. It feels good.

Anyway, that’s all I have today. Have a great rest of your week here at WFNY!