Sunday, May 1, 2016

The grade is in

Something was missing for the Browns and their large global fan base during the three-day extravaganza in Chicago last weekend, a.k.a. the National Football League college draft.

The wow!! factor.

Not once during the seven-round grind, during which the Browns traversed the lottery at least five times, could a tried and true Browns fan honestly say, “Wow! What a great pick!”

Fourteen times the Browns were placed on the clock and not once did the name ultimately called register anything more than a perfunctory clap because “these guys know more about these players than we do. We’ve got to trust them.”

Only the draft-o-philes, the small number of fans who follow the draft religiously almost from the end of the previous lottery, can tell you everything you need to know about a certain player.

No, this was a Browns draft that most likely will be known more for its quantity than its quality. Drafting an average of two picks a round, they selected many players who didn’t come close to appearing on most fans’ recognition radar.

It’s not as though Sashi Brown and his crew didn’t have a chance. They certainly did, but opted to draft down twice from their original overall No. 2 slot, thus taking themselves out of the running for a crack at the short list of elite players.

They opted to initially address the wide receivers, one of the many pressing needs on the club, surprisingly taking speedy Baylor wideout Corey Coleman, rated by many analysts as the third-best at the position behind Laquon Treadwell and Josh Doctson. It foretold a draft full of surprises for Browns fans.

It more than likely was a nod to the Browns' draft board, which undoubtedly told them their No. 1 target was gone by No. 8, necessitating the second trade down. But that does not absolve them from close scrutiny in the remaining six rounds

Slotted either first or second in all but one of those rounds enabled them to take the best player off the board. They led off the second and third day of the draft and yet made some rather bizarre selections.

Second-guessing decisions made by those whose job is to make those decisions is a fun sport and always rears its homely little head in matters such as the draft. So here we go.

At the beginning of day two, the Browns were in position to take UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, a wow! factor player who would have been a top five pick until revealing  recently he might need microfracture surgery on an injured knee. Scared everybody in round one and he slipped into day two.

Word filtered out during day one that noted orthopedic surgeon James Andrews said Jack did not need that delicate surgery and was not the risk factor originally believed. So he was there to be taken the next day.

Either the Browns either didn’t buy what Dr. Andrews said or didn’t want to take the chance he might be wrong and selected defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah instead to kick off day two.

Four picks later, the Jacksonville Jaguars couldn’t get Jack’s name up quickly enough to the NFL clearing house. The Jags wind up with a sure-fire starter and the Browns wind up with a player who might be good enough to crack the starting lineup.

The way it works in the NFL is you expect players selected in rounds one and two to come in right away and win a starting job. The Browns have failed spectacularly in that department the last few years with one exception: guard Joel Bitonio.

Round three produced Carl Nassib, who could be a situational pass rusher; offensive tackle Shon Coleman, a standout in Auburn’s running game; and another surprise, quarterback Cody Kessler with Connor Cook still on the board, prompting coach Hue Jackson to caution, “You’ve got to trust me on this one.”

At the beginning of day three, the Browns had the first two selections in round four, opting for outside linebacker Joe Schobert with the first pick and trading the second to Oakland.

Linebacker definitely needed to be addressed, but the secondary, which lost both starting safeties, was a more urgent position. Strong safety Miles Killebrew, a big hitter who has linebacker size at 6-2, 215 pounds, was sitting there. Detroit took him later in the round.

Killebrew would have been a much better replacement for the departed Donte Whitner, giving the Cleveland secondary some size. Schobert has to beat out Paul Kruger, Armonty Bryant, Scott Solomon (update: the club has terminated Solomon's contract) and Barkevious Mingo to get playing time.

Other second guesses involve the other three peculiar picks in the fourth round – wide receiver Ricardo Louis, safety Derrick Kindred and tight end Seth DeValve.

Louis comes out of a run-first, run-a-lot program at Auburn, Kindred is a smaller version of Killebrew and DeValve will never be as famous as he is now as the most surprising selection of any draft in recent memory. All received extremely low grades from analysts, considerably lower than where they were taken.

Rashard Higgins, a highly productive wideout from Colorado State with much better credentials than Louis, was disregarded. Surprisingly, he was there in round five and the Browns did not make the same mistake. He will be a better pro than Louis and could see a fair amount of reps.

Where the Browns really hit it big was, ironically, their last choice. Inside linebacker Scooby Wright III will come in and play well enough to force Christian Kirksey back outside and partner with veteran newcomer Demario Davis in the middle

The most unfair grades in the sports world, those awarded immediately following any draft, are in for the Browns from around the NFL universe. They range from an A grade by the folks at Pro Football Focus to a C- from more than a few.

At the same time they drafted for the present, Brown and Co. began stockpiling choices for the future, concentrating on the early rounds. The only problem there is securing a large number of draft picks means nothing if those selecting do not apply wisdom to those selections.

If this year’s Browns draft by the Browns is any indication, there is some cause for concern for the future. In order to consider this draft a success, they need to get at least four starters and at least four other significant contributors out of it.

The Berea brass say they are pleased and excited about what went down last weekend. Of course they are. What else would you expect them to say?

It’s encouraging the wide receivers corps and pass rush have been upgraded, as well as the overall team speed. The offensive and defensive lines remain iffy, as well as the secondary.

There were some hits, most notably Corey Coleman, Ogbah, Nassib, Higgins, Wright and possibly Shon Coleman. But the misses outweigh the hits. The fourth round was a huge mess. The biggest beneficiary for those selected after round three is special teams coach Chris Tabor.

Final grade: B- (and that’s being extremely generous)


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  2. By your own admission nearly half the picks were hits, so a B grade would be justified. The trouble with the Browns is that not only do they screw up the draft, but then on those occasions when they hit on a player, they often let the player walk after a few years. Schwartz, Sheard, and Skrine come to mind.

  3. Not to mention Alex Mack, Travis Benjamin and T. J. Ward. This could have been a much better draft with some intelligent selecting.

    Don't be a stranger here, Robert.

    1. So your point is we're supposed to draft based on name recognition rather than ability??? I'm really sorry you weren't in the war room during the draft, you could have provided advice on some "intelligent selections".

  4. Yes I could have. But so could about a few hundred more like us who believe we know everything and they know nothing. Continue to drink the Kool-Aid, Brownie. It's been delicious the last 17 seasons.

    BTW, you did notice I liked a few of the picks. In fact, I love the Rashard Higgins and Scooby Wright choices.

    1. Why do you continually lay the sins of previous regimes on the current staff? These guys didn't create the current pitcher of Kool-Aid

  5. Based on their start, they will.

    1. Lame answer, but that's OK, I'm used to it!