Calm Yourself Cleveland: Why the Browns Draft Strategy Makes Sense

Less than 24 hours in, national media outlets and local Cleveland Browns fans alike have condemned the Cleveland Browns draft strategy as an abject failure. All in response to the Browns decision to trade back from 12 with the Texans.

The result of the trade netted Houston their quarterback after promptly snagging Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. The Browns secured pick 25, which turned into Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, and a future first rounder.

Cleveland Browns Draft Strategy

Photo: Brandon Wade, AP

Now I can understand the national media’s annual witch hunt. If they aren’t clubbing Cleveland over the head, who else would they direct that pent-up aggression at? But Cleveland fans are better than this.

Now I understand the arguments, the anger, and some of it is completely justified. “It’s been years”. “You need players not picks”. “What good are picks if you can’t identify talent”. “At this rate, me and everyone I know will be dead by the time we win anything” etc, etc.

But let’s take a step back here and talk about why this is all going to work out in the long run.

“This front office can’t identify talent”

Really? We’re one year in. I understand several “regimes” have floated through Cleveland the last few years. That said, Sashi Brown and Co. have only had their finger on the trigger for one complete draft thus far. That same draft where they amassed an insane amount of capital for the future.

Granted, the jury’s still out on Corey Coleman, Emmanuel Ogbah and Cody Kessler. Writing off an entire draft class, based on one rookie season with little talent around them is premature at best.

Cleveland Browns Draft Strategy

Executive Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown addresses the media during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

How are we doing so far in 2017? Consensus top overall player in the draft. Fills a need.

Versatile safety, who can play multiple positions, on a team that needs athletes at multiple positions. Fills a need.

Sashi utilizing that “future capital” to move up and acquire the second ranked tight end in the draft. Fills a need.

Obviously, as with any pick, it remains to be seen how these decisions play out. What you absolutely can’t say is the Browns didn’t acquire starting caliber talent in round one.

“Players not picks”

“Picks are just a promise of something in the future, not guarantees.” If you’re searching for guarantees in the National Football League, keep searching. Guess what a good strategy is to hedge against one player being a bust, having another player.

“This team has holes everywhere.” Agreed, how would you like to fill those holes? I understand the Hue Jackson’s award winning smile helped the Browns net Jamie Collins, but free agents aren’t exactly breaking down the door to come to Cleveland. I know you want to fill all the holes now, or a decade ago, but you can’t have that.

Embrace the realization that the only way to plug this many holes is with a lot of picks. Collecting a lot of picks takes a lot of time. Sashi has done a fantastic job of amassing a lot of picks in a “relatively” short period.

I know it’s relative for us because we’ve been waiting near two decades for this, but we must hold on. Pink Floyd once said “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding, and you can’t have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat.” In this terrible analogy, getting picks is the meat, and getting wins is the pudding.

“You need a quarterback to win”

I’m so sick of this *insert expletive here*

Here you go, here are some quarterbacks…

2016     Robert Griffin III (5) / Josh McCown (3) / Cody Kessler (8)

2015     Josh McCown (8) / Johnny Manziel (6) / Austin Davis (2)

2014     Brian Hoyer (13) / Johnny Manziel (2) / Connor Shaw (1)

2013     Jason Campbell (8) / Brandon Weeden (5) / Brian Hoyer (3)

2012     Brandon Weeden (15) / Thad Lewis (1)

2011     Colt McCoy (13) / Seneca Wallace (3)

2010     Colt McCoy (8) / Jake Delhomme (4) / Seneca Wallace (4)

2009     Brady Quinn (9) / Derek Anderson (7)

2008     Derek Anderson (9) / Brady Quinn (3) / Ken Dorsey (3) / Bruce Gradkowski (1)

2007     Derek Anderson (15) / Charlie Frye (1)

2006     Charlie Frye (13) / Derek Anderson (3)

2005     Trent Dilfer (11) / Charlie Frye (5)

2004     Jeff Garcia (10) / Kelly Holcomb (2) / Luke McCown (4)

2003     Kelly Holcomb (8) / Tim Couch (8)

2002     Tim Couch (14) / Kelly Holcomb (2)

2001     Tim Couch (16)

2000     Doug Pederson (8) / Tim Couch (7) / Spergon Wynn (1)

1999     Tim Couch (14) / Ty Detmer (2)

 

Cleveland Browns Draft Strategy

Cody Kessler (AP Photo/David Richard)

Of the quarterbacks drafted in round one this year, how many are franchise guys? Of course, no one knows. What we do know is that in nearly every draft one to four quarterbacks are taken in the first round.

What we also know is that a small percentage of those end up being franchise guys. Of those franchise guys, a small percentage of them end up being in the top tier or even top 15.

The point here is that all teams, not just the Browns, are constantly reaching for quarterbacks. The mantra around the league is do what it takes to get your guy. Given the high failure rate for the position, if a team doesn’t feel like the guy is there, how can you fault them for not going that route.

Ultimately, do you need a quarterback to win? Yes. Should the Browns waste draft picks, on players they evaluate as mid-tier, during years they aren’t going to compete? No.

This is not a re-tool or re-load, it’s a re-build. It’s a completely unfair ask of Browns fans at this point but additional patience is required here. Even if you’re not sold on the names in the front office, at least there’s a strategy in place. It’s clear, it’s long term, and if they stick with it we may just see some winning football a few years down the line.

Stay strong fellow Browns fans!

 

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