NFL Draft: The Cleveland Browns

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills     Have you ever opened your fridge, looked inside and realized it was empty? Sure, you got your condiments (Jamie Collins, Joe Haden and Joe Thomas), stale beer (Isiah Crowell) and one rotting piece of $16 million-dollar meat (Sorry Brock Osweiler). That’s what it’s like running the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are in a constant rebuilding phase. Just three years ago they were fighting to finish at .500 behind Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel. The Raiders nickname for their stadium, The Black Hole, could also be described as the Browns quarterback position. They have had 26 QBs since 1999 and whoever starts this year will be lucky 27. The next QB might also become a member of the 27-club considering the luck of the Browns. But this isn’t a hate piece on the Browns, in fact change is on the horizon. With the Cavaliers winning a championship last year and the Indians making it to the World Series, the luck of Cleveland has seemed to change. So without getting into further discussions of superstitions lets break down the Browns Draft.

In the first rou27nd, with the first pick, the Browns got a generational talent in Myles Garrett, DE out of Texas A&M. An obvious comparison to be made strictly based on the alma mater is Super Bowl MVP Von Miller. Garrett will provide much needed pass rush for the Browns which will be needed in a division where Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger reside. This pick allowed the Browns to have one good to great player at each level with Garrett, Collins and Haden. I’m a firm believer in having a player at each level that can impact the game.

With their next two picks the Browns added versatile safety out of Michigan, Jabril Peppers and tight end out of Miami David Njoku. Peppers is similar to Deone Bucannon linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals. Peppers has enough athleticism to play safety but he is likely to get taken advantage of when lining up with tight ends because of the size different. But Peppers won’t just affect the Browns on the defensive side of the ball, he can also impact the return game and might even get a couple of carries. I like this pick because at the very least the Browns improver their special teams. With Njoku the Browns added another weapon for their offense. Njoku will pair with last year’s first rounder, Corey Coleman, to help stretch the field. After drafting Njoku the Browns released Gary Barnidge, so the starting position is all for Njoku. One aspect of his game that Njoku needs to work on is his ability as a blocker. He needs to add strength over the offseason workouts, otherwise Njoku will be a solid pro.

Day two of the Draft saw the Browns select QB out of Notre Dame, Deshone Kizer and DT out of Charlotte, Larry Ogunjobi. Kizer is the next QB to try his hand in the Black Hole. Kizer has all the measurable to succeed in the NFL but it’s the mental aspect of his game that causes teams to worry. Kizer has the raw tools and a decent upside, if coach Hue Jackson can unlock his potential Kizer will be the starter come week one. As for Ogunjobi he will help the Browns with their run defense. He can get interior pressure and force QBs to move outside the pocket. He’s quick and strong, another solid pick for the Browns.

The day three picks went like this. CB-Houston, Howard Wilson, T-Florida State, Roderick Johnson, DT-Florida, Caleb Brantley, K-Arizona State, Zane Gonzalez and RB-NC State, Matthew Dayes. A head scratching pick was Brantley, right after the Browns drafted him they said they may release him because of off the field issues. It doesn’t make sense to draft a potential contributor to your team and then admit you may cut him. Draft someone who is going to be there for the long-term. Brantley is the worth the risk if his off field issues come back positive but it certainly is a gamble. With Wilson the Browns added cornerback depth and with the state of the league now, cornerback depth is huge. In general depth matters, as we see with the New England Patriots every year. Another big aspect of the NFL these days, is the kicking game. Gonzalez, a Lou Groza award winner, will help their kicking game. PATs make all the difference since they were moved back 15 yards. Looking at the two Super Bowl kickers last year Matt Bryant and Stephen Gostkowski were integral parts of their team. Offense defense and special teams are equal parts of a team.

The Browns did enough in this draft to show glimmers of hope. They might only win three or four games but improvement is improvement. This refrigerator is slowly getting stocked with fresh products. gfr

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