BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – As Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown and head coach Hue Jackson sat down after entering the media room, the 2 smiled and gave each other a fist bump.
They felt really good about what they were able to accomplish in round 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft that saw the Browns make 2 trades, pick 3 players – a first for the franchise in the opening round of the draft – and add a 2018 first-round pick as the cherry on top.
Here are some thoughts on what turned out to be a rather eventful night.
– When the smoke cleared, Myles Garrett was the guy. Everyone can exhale. The Browns didn’t outsmart themselves and took the obvious choice. Some will argue that long-term Garrett might not end up being the best player or won’t have the best career, but he was the consensus top player and athlete in this class. It’s hard to justify applauding the Browns for doing what 31 other teams would’ve probably done in their position, but these are the Browns where the victories are so few and far between, feel free to celebrate.
– The Chicago Bears surprised everyone by flipping spots with San Francisco to select Mitchell Trubisky whom was linked to have the Browns interest as well. While it would’ve been a great story for Trubisky to end up with his hometown Browns, he likely is better off playing elsewhere – for him, his family and Browns fans. He’ll get an opportunity to make a fresh start as a professional without the weight of trying to help salvage a franchise and starved fan base on his shoulders.
– The Browns are really going to go with Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler at quarterback this year. Seriously. As of today, that’s what they have to work with. The thud you might hear would be fans slamming their heads against the nearest brick wall. Hue Jackson must be just as thrilled.
– At some point this group needs to get their heads together and pick a quarterback. Last year the Browns passed on Carson Wentz at No. 2 and traded out. He went on to win 7 games for the Eagles as a rookie with a less than stellar supporting cast and despite making a bevy of rookie mistakes. The Browns have won 4 games in the last 2 seasons combined. Thursday night they passed on Clemson’s Deshaun Watson at 12 and traded out again. They opted not to make a move to get Mitchell Trubisky or Pat Mahomes – both players valued by the Bears and Chiefs enough to warrant a trade up to get. Maybe Mahomes was their guy and when he went off the board they punted instead of taking the best player on the board. More on that in a bit but it stands to reason, and it wouldn’t be fair not to note, that obviously the Browns did not like Wentz, Trubisky, Mahomes or Watson enough to aggressively pursue them. But it begs the question – what on earth are they looking for in a quarterback and what will it take for them to actually go all in on one? Are they afraid of the Jimmy Haslam doomsday clock beginning the countdown once they do commit to one? Well, that clock is probably already ticking anyway, so find a legitimate quarterback. For the health of the franchise and the sanity of whatever fan base that miraculously remains, stop kicking the can down the road.
– The run on offensive players in the top 10 was a pleasant surprise and opened the door for the Browns to land another blue chip defender or tight end at 12 which was a nice thought while it lasted before the trade with Houston.
– Sashi Brown admitted that there is a point where trading down is not productive. He’s clearly not reached that point. Despite Ohio State safety Malik Hooker, Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen, cornerback Marlon Humphrey and tight end O.J. Howard as well as Temple linebacker Haason Reddick all being available at No. 12, Brown traded down to 25. Giving up the chance to have 1 of those 5 players was apparently worth an additional first-round pick for next year.
– The Browns will have 5 picks in the first 2 rounds in 2018 – 2 in the first and 3 in the second. It’s great to have the bullets if you actually use instead of trying to multiply them.
– Brown made up for passing on O.J. Howard by trading back into the first round with Green Bay to select Miami tight end David Njoku 29th. It feels like in a sense he simply robbed Peter to pay Paul and on top of that it cost him the first pick Friday – No. 33 overall – as well as the first pick Saturday – No. 108 – to do it. Njoku is a complete tight end, meaning he likes to block as much as catch footballs. But again was passing on picking 12th worth giving up the opportunity to take the best player remaining to start the final 2 days of the draft?
– It’s a similar argument with opting for Michigan linebacker-turned-safety/returner Jabrill Peppers at 25 instead of staying at 12 and taking Malik Hooker who is an absolute ball hawk, which the Browns could’ve definitely used. The concern with Peppers is that they used a first-round pick on a jack of all trades but a master of none and those type of players can be found later in the draft. Jackson said that Peppers will plug in easily at safety but it’s hard not to wonder if he would’ve preferred to plug in Hooker instead, especially considering that Peppers is on the league’s drug program radar after producing a diluted sample during the NFL Combine. Regardless of Peppers’ guilt or innocence, that is not an ideal situation to be in – for him or the Browns.
– What the Browns did Thursday makes all the sense in the world on paper and it is hard to criticize the strategy. The potential ceiling for Garrett, Peppers and Njoku is extremely high and it will be interesting to see just how they deal with the expectations that they will provide a significant impact this season and in the years to come because they are the foundation of what the Browns believe they are building.