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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2017 NFL Mock Draft November 19

1. Cleveland Browns- Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

Hue Jackson believes in Cody Kessler and the rookie has shown that he can be an efficient passer. That means the Browns can make a smart decision and pick the best player in the draft class. Garrett is an elite pass rusher, who is also good at stopping the run. Cleveland needs help everywhere, but especially defensively. Garrett can be an impact player from day one in the NFL.

2. San Francisco 49ers- DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

No quarterbacks this year are worthy of a first round selection, but they always get drafted high. The 49ers need to move on from all of their quarterbacks. Kizer has good size and arm strength. His issues come with accuracy on throws that should be easy. Even when he hits the receivers, it isn’t usually in a good spot to let the receiver run after the catch.

3. Chicago Bears- Mitch Trubisky, QB, UNC

Trubisky has had a great year, in his first full season as the starting quarterback at UNC. Two games are blemishes on his record, against Virginia Tech in Hurricane Matthew, and Duke. For the most part though, Trubisky has played good, mistake-free football. The Bears have a lot of issues, but really need to move on from Jay Cutler.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Jacksonville has some young offensive talent, quarterback talk aside, but they have a chance to get even better with this selection. Fournette is a complete back, but is rumored to have chronic ankle issues. If he is able to get cleared by doctors at the combine, he will be a top five pick.

5. New York Jets- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

Darrelle Revis is getting old. The Jets shouldn’t reach and take a quarterback here. Humphrey is a solid all around corner, but if the Jets scout the helmet instead of the player, they might be afraid of Humphrey being another Dee Milliner.

6. Cincinnati Bengals- Jabril Peppers, LB/S, Michigan

The Bengals’ defense has disappointed so many times this season. They need fundamental football players in the secondary and at linebacker. Jabril Peppers can play anywhere in the back end of the defense. He doesn’t intercept passes, but tackles really well and is always in good position, which has led him to get mentioned as a candidate

7. Tennessee Titans (via L.A.)- Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida

Tennessee is in playoff contention and gets an extra first round pick this year via the trade last year with the Rams. One area that the Titans have to upgrade is their secondary. Many believe Tabor is a better corner than Vernon Hargreaves III, who was drafted very high in last year’s draft.

8. Buffalo Bills- Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

Allen is a very versatile defensive lineman, who is able to play multiple positions. He is great at stopping the run and rushing the passer, making him a three down player. Rex Ryan would love to get his hands on more players like this.

9. Indianapolis Colts- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

This is not a very deep class in terms of offensive linemen, but the Colts have to attempt to protect Andrew Luck. McGlinchey is versatile enough to play either tackle spot and has in college. He will most likely be a right tackle in the NFL.

10. San Diego Chargers- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

Phillip Rivers deserves the MVP award for doing so well with such a bad team. The offensive line is awful and they need to protect Rivers as he ages. Robinson hasn’t had the best season, as Alabama as a team struggled to run the ball against inferior competition, but he has gotten better as the season has gone on.

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jamal Adams, S, LSU

It seems like Adams has been at LSU for longer than he has because of playing big early in his career. He has the ability to come up and stop the run and also cover elite tight ends at the college level. The Bucs need secondary help in order to stop the good quarterbacks in their division.

12. New Orleans Saints- Adoree’ Jackson, CB/WR, USC

Is this Deion Sanders reincarnated? He plays both ways, returns kicks and baits quarterbacks to throwing passes before speeding up to intercept them. His biggest asset is his speed, as he almost qualified for the Olympics in track. New Orleans’ defense has been better, but they could still use help all over.

13. Carolina Panthers- Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

Jones has been flying up draft boards with his play this year as much as Washington has flown up rankings as a team. The Panthers have missed Josh Norman a lot, whether they want to admit it or not. Jones will have to learn to play their zone scheme, but he is more than capable of doing so.

14. Arizona Cardinals- Malik McDowell, DL, MSU

Can Calais Campbell play forever? If he can’t McDowell seems like a perfect guy to replace him. He is big and has unprecedented quickness off of the line for a guy that big.

15. Green Bay Packers- Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama

Yes Aaron Rodgers is struggling, but the defense isn’t that great either. The Packers need a good inside linebacker to be able to keep Clay Matthews on the outside. Foster is one of the best linebackers that Alabama has had and is easily a top fifteen talent in this draft.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers- Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

How is Mike Mitchell still a starting safety? He has actually played decently for the Steelers this season, but they still need help in their secondary. Hooker is a ball-hawk safety, who could cover the mistakes of Pittsburgh’s corners.

17. Miami Dolphins- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

The Dolphins have been playing so well lately that they might make the playoffs. Taking Derek Barnett here would help there already good defensive line. Pressuring Tom Brady is the first step to compete for the division.

18. Tennessee Titans- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Marcus Mariota needs more weapons in order to become a complete quarterback. Williams has good speed and size, but needs to clean up some of his route-running, which is something that can be taught by NFL coaches.

19. Washington Redskins- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

Washington is playing running backs such as Matt Jones, Robert Kelly and Chris Thompson. Needless to say they need a play-maker at the position. Cook can is a speedster, who will also give Kirk Cousins a good receiving target out of the backfield.

20. Cleveland Browns (Via Phi)- Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

The Browns have a chance at a really good draft if this becomes a reality. Lattimore, like the rest of the Ohio State secondary, is great at intercepting passes. He is tasked with guarding the other team’s best receiver and usually shuts them down.

21. Baltimore Ravens- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri

The Ravens need pass rushers to make their defense truly elite again. Harris has to work at stopping the run, but is effective rushing the passer.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (via Cle)- John Ross, WR, Washington

If the Eagles want the Carson Wentz era to go well they have to get him some good receivers to throw to. Ross is a burner, who might be the fastest player in college football.

23. Detroit Lions- Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

Cunningham isn’t the fastest or strongest guy, but he makes plays. He has had games of 19 tackles this season. The Lions need defensive help and will get it with this tackling-machine.

24. Houston Texans- Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida

Houston weak on the interior of their defensive line. Brantley is great at stopping the run and can free up J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney to get sacks.

25. New York Giants- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

The Giants don’t have a running game to speak of. Rashad Jennings is over the hill and they have a chance to pick a running back that is elusive as they come. McCaffrey can also line up in the slot and return kick, making him very versatile.

26. Atlanta Falcons- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

Jacob Tamme just suffered a serious injury and Austin Hooper is unproven. Howard can provide the Falcons with yet another weapon for Matt Ryan to throw to.

27. Seattle Seahawks- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

Does anybody else want to see what Russell Wilson can do with a good offensive line? If they can get an offensive lineman with decent value, they will take him here.

28. Denver Broncos- Ryan Ramczyck, OT, Wisconsin

The defense will be solid again next year, so drafting an offensive lineman will be important. Their tackle play hasn’t been great. Ramczyck might be a little bit of a reach at this spot, but it fills a need for the Broncos.

29. Oakland Raiders- Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

Oakland’s defense isn’t where it needs to be in order for them to compete for championships. Improving their secondary will be important as their corners haven’t produced. White is a shut down corner and team leader at LSU.

30. Kansas City Chiefs- Desmond King, CB, Iowa

King is a fundamental player who stops the run and makes tackles. The only question with him is his speed. The Chiefs have a good corner in Marcus Peters, but could use some help behind him on the depth chart.

31. New England Patriots- Dawaune Smoot, DE, Illinois

Watch for the Patriots to trade this pick to a team desperate for a quarterback, but if they don’t Smoot would be a good pick. He has good pursuit of the ball carrier, but is most known for his pass-rushing.

32. Dallas Cowboys- Tim Williams, DE/OLB, Alabama

The Cowboys have had a great season and still don’t have a good pass-rusher who doesn’t get suspended. Williams is one of the best pass rushers in the class and has even improved his run-stopping abilities this season.

 

For more good mock drafts visit: DC Pro Sports Report

 

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“From Our House to Yours”

Defensive Players Who Can Win The 2016 Heisman Trophy

Everyone knows that the Heisman Trophy goes to the best quarterback or running back on one of the best teams in the country. Since 1997, when corner back Charles Woodson brought home the award for Michigan, a player from a position other than quarterback or running back has not won the Heisman Trophy. This award is supposed to go out to the best player in college football, but defensive players are often overlooked. This shouldn’t be the case, as a lot of years the best player in college football isn’t even on the offensive side of the ball. With that being said, here are the players that have the best chance to win the Heisman Trophy, while PRIMARILY playing defense this season.

Photo courtesy heavy.com.

 

  1. Adoree Jackson, CB, USC

Jackson is one of the most athletic players in the country and proves that by playing defense, offense and special teams very well. He also had a chance at qualifying for the Olympics in Rio for track and field. At corner back he doesn’t make too much noise, because opposing quarterbacks are afraid to throw to where he is covering. He only recorded one interception last season, but that number should increase this season with the emergence of the corner playing on the opposite side of the field of him, Iman Marshall. No wide receiver will have a great game against him, but he will be tested in week one against Alabama.

USC doesn’t let Jackson play offense too much, but when he plays he is always a threat. Jackson hauled in 27 passes for 414 yards last season, while also rushing for 36 yards. These offensive statistics would increase exponentially if USC played him on offense more often this season.

He also is a play-maker on special teams with four career return touchdowns, two on punts and two on kick-offs. This is a huge key for a defensive player to win the Heisman, as Woodson also was a great returner for Michigan. If Jackson continues to do returns well, it could be the icing on the cake to get the Heisman voters to cast their ballot for him.

Photo courtesy freep.com.

 

2. Jabril Peppers, LB/S, Michigan

Peppers is making a position change to linebacker this year after being successful at corner and safety last season. He will still play those positions sparingly, but will be mainly focused on the linebacker position to start the season. His coverage skills will be the best of any linebacker in the country, due to his history playing defensive back at a high level. Even though he is undersized for a linebacker, his range and closing speed will be unmatched. Michigan is hoping his run-stopping ability will hold up against some physical Big Ten offenses.

The position change makes this a little bit harder for Peppers, but he should see an increase in tackle numbers due to playing closer to the line of scrimmage this season. He will still be able to make plays at his new position, but will have to do a lot to impress Heisman voters. Peppers also played running back and was a returner for the Wolverines, but did both sparingly. If he really wants to be considered for the Heisman Trophy he needs an increase in numbers (on defense, offense and special teams) and have big plays for the voters to be sold on him.

Photo courtesy nationalfootballpost.com.

3. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

The likely number one overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Myles Garrett has been dominating SEC offenses for the past two years. He had 11 sacks in 2014 and 11.5 in 2015, which makes him the nations premier pass rusher heading into this season. The 11 sacks in his freshman season broke Jadeveon Clowney’s record for sacks by a freshman in the SEC. He currently sits 13.5 sacks away from the all-time sacks leader in college football (records kept since 2005), as Hau’oli Kikaha totaled 36 in his career at Washington.

Garrett won’t have a chance to play on both sides of the ball like the other candidates, but with a record breaking season in his Junior campaign, the Heisman Voters could be won over.