Saturday, April 27, 2013

Puzzling beyond belief

OK. I confess. I have no idea what happened the past three days.

It’s like I’ve been lost in a dream.

I dreamed the Browns entered the National Football League college draft with high hopes of strengthening the team.

And then that dream turned sour because all the Browns did was make some of the strangest moves I’ve seen any team make in the annual lottery.

I dreamed they made their first pick a relatively inexperienced defensive end who projects as an outside linebacker. Kind of a bummer since a very good cornerback, a position of great need, was available.

Nonetheless, I dreamed on.

The second round drifted by without attempting to retrieve the pick they lost when selecting Josh Gordon in the supplemental draft last summer. Why not? Joe Banner makes dreams come true, doesn’t he? Not this time.

All right. No need to panic. There’s always the rest of the draft and Joe will come through for Browns Nation.

I dreamed he chose a little cornerback from San Diego State in the third round. What’s going on here? You have a chance to get a bigger, better corner in the first round and then take a guy who needs to stand on his tiptoes to reach 5-10 in the third round?

This dream is beginning to take on a foul aroma. What’s going on here? I began to stir. What in the world is the rest of the draft going to look like for Cleveland?

It got worse. Much worse. I dreamed Banner made a trade with the Steelers in the fourth round. Yep, the Steelers of Pittsburgh. The dreaded Pittsburgh Steelers. The hated Pittsburgh Steelers. Picked up a third-rounder in next year's draft  for the effort.

Total blasphemy. Damn deal almost woke me up.

The last time the Browns and Steelers swung a trade, Lyndon Johnson was in the White House, the draft lasted 17 rounds and the Browns were a very good football team.

Forty-five years ago, the Browns swindled the Steelers out of quarterback Bill Nelsen and safety Jim Bradshaw for quarterback Dick Shiner, defensive tackle Frank Parker and a draft choice. Nelsen gave the Browns four very good seasons (36-19-1) before his knees finally gave out.

To make matters worse, Banner snubbed his nose at the draft again in the fifth round and collected a second fourth-rounder next year from Indianapolis. What? The Steelers didn’t want to go for the daily double?

Five rounds, two defensive picks for a team crying for help on the other side of the ball. Hope the denizens of the Ivory Tower brought some good reading material because they weren’t doing much drafting.

They perked up temporarily when they picked up a veteran wide receiver, Davone Bess, from the Miami Dolphins in a meh kind of a deal.

The dream picked up speed in the final two rounds with three selections. Either that or someone spiked the decaf.

A safety, defensive end and guard just like that. Wow!! A veritable bonanza. It was as though the middle-round talent stunk, but for some reason the talent level picked up as the draft sped toward its conclusion.

Then something very strange happened. I woke up and found out the dream was not a dream after all. It was very real. And it was every bit a nightmare.

I have watched many drafts over the years. I’ve seen good ones and bad ones. Smart ones and stupid ones. But this one is clearly the most bizarre I’ve seen produced by a Cleveland group. And that takes some doing, especially in the last 14 years.

It actually makes the work of Dwight Clark, Butch Davis, Phil Savage and Eric Mangini look relatively good. Won’t include Tom Heckert Jr. here because he was good to begin with.

When all the dust had cleared, we were all treated to the humming of the Browns’ spin machine. The spinmeisters took center stage on Berea and patted themselves on the back.

Predictably, they used Gordon when rationalizing the events of the past three days “We think of our draft as the five players we drafted today, plus Josh Gordon, plus Bess, plus two quality future draft picks,” Banner told the media.

“When you look at what we did take, before the (Colt) McCoy trade, we had six draft picks. What value did we turn that into? It’s Gordon, Bess, plus the players we picked, plus the two future assets we’ve acquired. And hopefully, we made good decisions with the undrafted guys.”


The rationale continued. “Listen,” he said, “we’re not asking for a free pass this year. We expect to improve. We expect it to be conspicuous. We expect, as you look at the individual players we’ve added and the way that coaches bring them together, get them in sync and be better, we’re not saying we don’t expect to get better. We’re not going to reach all of our goals or fill all our needs this year. But we think we’ll play exciting, aggressive football.”

That’s an awful lot of bullroar packed into one thought. He never uttered the word “winning” in his remarks. Aggressive? Yes, if Rob Chudzinski follows through on his pre-season promises. Exciting? That remains to be seen. As for the free pass, don't worry, Joe. That ain't happening

By pandering to those fans who buy tickets, Banner is just doing his job. Still, he should be made to listen to that nonsense again as a fan rather than the man charged with running the team.

The smart fans will read between the lines and see the three-day exercise that just concluded did not make the Browns any better than they were prior to 8 p.m. Thursday.

Adding Bess and draft selections Barkevious Mingo, Leon McFadden, Jamoris Slaughter, Armonty Bryant and Garrett Gilkey will have little, if any, effect on where the Browns will finish this season. And we all know where that will be.

Don't believe that? Take a look at how the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals did in the draft. Then draw your own conclusions.

No, the likes of Paul Kruger, Desmond Bryant, Quentin Groves and David Nelson will have a much greater impact on how well the the team performs this season.  

Banner was correct in one aspect, although he did not mention their names. In coordinators Ray Horton and Norv Turner, the Browns have hired two of the best. Their acumen in bringing out the best of the talent on board will be put to a severe test, though, since Banner did not help them in this draft.

If this is a portent of things to come from the Banner team, hang on Browns fans. The ride will be exceedingly bumpy.

Final draft grade (trying very hard here to be fair): C-------. About as close to a D as you can get without actually getting it.


  1. As a Browns fan the only thing to look forward to anymore is the annual draft and the promise it brings for next year, and now they've ruined that...First I gave up my season tickets, then I gave up the NFL package on Direct TV. Hopefully there will be something next year to bring me back into the fold.

    1. Hi Anon,

      If there is something to bring you back next year, I can't see it from here. Maybe it's the never-ending feeling that one of these years, things will break right for the Browns. Maybe it'll be their turn.

      There is always hope. Perhaps not this year, but you never know what next year will bring. That's the beauty of sports. We've seen it happen in the NFL. Gotta keep the faith. It's hard, I know. The hard part is battling through the frustration .

      But Browns fans are strong. You've got to be strong to be a fan of this team the past 14 years. Don't give up. It'll happen and when it does, it'll be that much sweeter.

  2. Hey Rich, Do you think maybe the genius Lombardi is gearing up to make a killing in the Supplemental Draft?
    When they announced that trade between The Steelers and The Browns I thought, "This must be a mistake." I believe I was right but not for the original reason.

  3. Hi HOF,

    Did you just mention Lombardi and genius in the same sentence? Careful, your sarcasm is showing. Otherwise, I'd accuse you of uttering an oxymoron.

    The only "mistake" the Browns made this week was showing up in Berea. For all their efforts, they might as well have phoned in this draft from home.

  4. Replies
    1. I wonder how big the choir is, Elf.

  5. Alright Rich, My exploding head is back in place, (thanks for the advil tip), and I am able to really see the draft with a clear head. I may be wrong, but did the Browns just pick another situational pass rusher, another DE that was arrested in Oct. for dealing pot and surgery for a torn labrum, a safety that is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, sign a FA WR that didn't play last year because of knee surgery, a 5'9" CB, (I can already hear AJ Greene licking his chops), and a OG that has a heart problem? And then take a pass on rounds 2, 4 and 5 opting to "wait until next year".....Uh Oh, My head is exploding again...Where is that darn Advil.

    BTW: Giving the Browns a C- for this draft is very generous! I would have to say D-, and that is only because I like Gilkey, or maybe an incomplete would be more appropriate.

  6. Actually, Marc, I attached seven minuses to that C. I'd have given it even more except my finger slipped and I was too lazy to put it back on the minus sign.

    You're right, though. They did deserve a D. Can I have a do-over?