Believe in the board
Some free advice to Ray Farmer and the men responsible for the thinking behind the 10 Browns picks in this weekend’s National Football League college draft extravaganza.
Be true to your board.
Do not factor need into your decisions. That is a recipe for disaster. You must stay loyal to your draft board and select the highest ranked player at all times.
You gentlemen have 10 picks in seven rounds with which to build a promising future, seven of them in the first four rounds. Do not be swayed by need-based decisions at any time.
And for goodness sakes, don’t try and get cute. Hold on to these precious choices and be wise with your decisions. Why try and add more choices by either trading down or up along the way? Aren’t 10 picks enough?
As much as this team desperately needs a quality quarterback, if one is not in the top five on the Cleveland board, take the linebacker or wide receiver or offensive lineman. The whole idea is to strengthen the team with a total disregard to position.
Hopefully, Farmer will believe his scouts, as well as his eyes. Do not necessarily look at the numbers a particular player posted at the Indianapolis combine or in a private or pro day workout. Game videotape does not lie. Numbers can and usually do.
It has always been my belief you win football games with football players, not athletes who happen to play football. And you win football games by being better in the trenches. That is where most games are won and lost.
Teams that win the line of scrimmage consistently invariably wind up winning a majority of their games. All you have to do is look at the personnel on teams that win or compete on an annual basis to come to that conclusion.
It is so easy to be seduced by college athletes whose numbers strongly suggest they will be able to make a successful transition to the professional ranks. Many general managers mistakenly believe their head coaches can coach up these athletes to the point where they can become productive. More often than not they fail.
Perfect examples of the type of football players the Browns should seek are former linebackers Chris Spielman and Ray Lewis. Both men had outstanding NFL careers.
Lewis is four years away from landing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Spielman was one of the best backers in the league for many years before injuries cut short his career. They epitomized the kind of players Farmer should seek.
Neither man blew scouts away with their athleticism. But both men possessed an ingredient that foretold their greatness: A determination to play the game the right way. Neither was physically imposing, but a fire burned inside that helped elevate their game.
Spielman was a high second-round pick and Lewis a late first-round selection. Both were overachievers in college and continued on that path in the NFL. They played well beyond their talent. The Browns need players like that. They need young men who are fundamentally sound, smart and play the game correctly.
Give me a team full of football players who do not blow assignments, bring a strong mental edge to games, trust their instincts and talents and play with a nasty streak and I’ll beat your team of underachieving athletes every time.
Opportunities like this to significantly improve the Browns do not come along often. It is imperative that Farmer and his men get this right. No margin for error. They have a chance to add to a growing core of outstanding players with a draft considered by many the deepest in talent in recent memory.
One huge reason the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers have not suffered as the Browns have the last 15 years is the intelligence with which their respective front offices construct teams. They do not build or rebuild. They reload.
Poor front-office decisions by the Browns, especially in the college draft, have predictably produced poor teams. This franchise has not had one solid draft since the resurrection in 1999.
And don’t say they haven’t had the opportunity. Selecting in the top 10 year after year after provided that opportunity and they blew it every year.
Yes, there have been some solid choices along the way, strengthening the belief that every now and then, you’re going to get lucky. But they have been too few and far too in between.
It’s now time for the Browns to get smart, flush the stupid pills, and make wise decisions with the greater picture in mind.
The outcome of this draft could very well wind up being another defining moment for a franchise bereft of memorable positive defining moments. Hopefully, this one will fall on the positive side.
Lord knows the Browns need something spectacular with which to reward their long-suffering fan base. Maybe, just maybe, this is their time.
We’ll find out starting around 8:30 Thursday night.