Who said it couldn't get worse?
Three rounds of the National Football League college draft over a two-day period and all the Browns come away with are Mutt and Jeff?
This is what Browns Nation waited for the last several months? Outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo and cornerback Leon McFadden is all they could come up with? A definite disappointment.
Not that I expected the club to come away with a couple of future Pro Bowlers, but my goodness, what a letdown.
It’s as though Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi, Ray Farmer and Rob Chudzinski sat on their hands for the better part of two days, staring longingly at their draft board, while the rest of the NFL feasted on all that talent.
During the second round, I kept waiting to hear Rich Eisen on the NFL Network or Trey Wingo on ESPN declare there’s a trade involving the Cleveland Browns.
Surely, Banner would try to recoup the second-round pick the Browns lost when they selected Josh Gordon in last summer’s supplemental draft. There were three deals in the round, but not a peep from Cleveland.
Maybe he tried. I don’t know. If so, he didn’t try hard enough.
One explanation we might hear out of the Browns’ relative non-participation in rounds two and three is that “Gordon is our second-round pick.” It’s a spin that will be bought by sycophantic Browns fans.
Sorry, that doesn’t wash. It’s nothing more than rationale.
By the time the Browns finally were placed on the clock at the top of the third round, most of the good players, those not quite good enough to receive first-round grades, were gone.
One can only guess there wasn’t anyone they deemed worthy enough of trading back into the second round.
A lot of second-rounders who were chosen could have filled a critical need for the Browns. Players like tight ends Zach Ernst and Gavin Escobar, inside linebackers Kevin Minter and Jon Bostic, guard Brian Winters from Kent State and cornerbacks Jamar Taylor, Johnathan Banks and David Amerson were there for the taking.
The club needs help in all those areas. And the best they could come up with in Friday’s exercise was McFadden, who can’t reach five-foot, 10 inches on a good day.
This is the guy the club wants to play opposite Joe Haden in the Cleveland secondary. After passing on the larger and more experienced Dee Milliner in the first round, a lot of hope and pressure is going to be unduly placed on McFadden, who was given a fifth-round grade by Mike Mayock of the NFL Network.
Known for his feistiness, probably to overcome his lack of ideal height, McFadden is way too small to compete against some of the AFC North’s large wideouts.
I find it hard to believe that Banner, with all his connections, could not find a willing trade partner. The best they could do was a deal for veteran Miami wide receiver Davone Bess that also involved swapping mid- and late-round draft picks. It’s appears to be insurance pending the recovery of free-agent signee David Nelson from ACL surgery.
Wonder what Norv Turner is thinking. Throughout his NFL career as a coordinator and head coach, he has always benefited from terrific tight ends. He was smart enough to build offenses around them.
Right now, the tight ends on the Cleveland roster are Jordan Cameron, Gary Barnidge, Kellen Davis, Dan Gronkowski and Brad Smelley. Based on that group, it looks very much as though Turner is going to dramatically change his philosophy and run the offense through another more talented group.
Ray Horton, his counterpart on defense, must have whispered more than sweet nothings in Banner’s ear considering the direction the club took in rounds one and three.
The two defensive selections are puzzling. Chudzinski is an offensive-minded coach. Unless he’s dumb, deaf and blind, he has to know the Cleveland offense needs some serious help.
Banner and his merry men have five picks in the final four rounds Saturday: No. 111 in the fourth, No. 164 in the fifth, No. 175 in the sixth and Nos. 217 and 227 in the seventh.
Given what we’ve seen the first two days, it’s hard to believe the Browns will be able to fill targeted needs with what’s left. Panning for those final-day gems will not be easy.
This is where the men are separated from the boys, the knowledgeable selectors from those who use darts.
Given what we’ve seen from the first two sessions, it’s hard to be optimistic about the direction this new regime is taking the club.
The overall grade after two days: C- verging on a D.