CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – As the hours tick away prior to the NFL Draft Thursday night, Mitchell Trubisky fever has hit Brownstown.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter and others are reporting that they believe it will be Trubisky’s name that will be called by the commissioner at approximately 8:10 in Philadelphia and not Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, who is believed to be the consensus best player in the draft.
Trubisky over Garrett won’t necessarily be a stunner because everyone, and I mean everyone, is now talking about that scenario.
I wonder why that is?
On Wednesday, Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown told NFL Network’s Mike Silver that the decision on the No. 1 pick was made 2 weeks ago and only 3 or 4 people “in the world” know who it will be.
The Browns’ need for a quarterback is not a secret and that’s why everyone is ready to tie them to Trubisky, who grew up a mere 20 minutes up interstate 90 to the east of Cleveland in Mentor, Ohio. It would kick off the fairy tale story – hometown kid saves woebegone franchise – but there has to be a reason why other than where Trubisky grew up as to why his name is so prevalent.
It could all just be a giant smokescreen orchestrated by Brown.
And if so, it would be brilliant.
NFL teams are built on 2 principles: find a quarterback and find someone that can knock them down or take it away.
Garrett would immediately fit the bill for the first part and adding a safety or corner fills the second.
The Browns have the ability to do both.
Joe Haden, a 2-time Pro Bowler selected seventh overall in 2010, is clearly in the cross hairs of Gregg Williams and will have to prove himself to the new defensive coordinator and adding either his counterpart or replacing him altogether has to be in the back of their minds. While Haden has battled injuries that have kept him off the field for 14 games over the last 2 seasons, the Browns lack consistent impact playmakers in the secondary.
Which brings us to all of the phone calls that Brown has made recently to teams in the top 10 as he explores his options to see what may or may not be available Thursday night.
Although recovering from surgery to repair a hernia and torn labrum, Ohio State’s Malik Hooker is considered to be the top safety in the draft. LSU’s Jamal Adams is a very close second and some say that from a talent perspective the separation between them is minimal. Ohio State cornerback – and Cleveland native – Marshon Lattimore and Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey are thought to be the best of the class at their positions as well.
Any of those 4 players would immediately bolster a defense that ranked 31st against the run, 21st against the pass, 31st in points allowed, 32nd in touchdowns allowed and 31st in forced turnover percentage in 2016 and provide Williams with the tools to turn those numbers around.
The whole purpose of all of this maneuvering that Brown has done over the last 15 months since taking over this gargantuan rebuild project was to position the team to be able to add elite, blue chip level talent through the draft. Owning 8 picks in the top 2 rounds in 2017 and 2018 provides him with the ammunition he needs to pull that off.
Because this quarterback class is not thought to have any players ready to make an immediate impact, it stands to reason that although the Browns desperately need to find a franchise quarterback, the greater value to add is on defense.
When the smoke clears, that may be the Browns’ plan all along.