CLEVELAND- The Cleveland Browns haven’t come close to winning a Championship in over 25 years so you can’t blame many of their fans that treat this week like it’s the Super Bowl.
This is the week of the season that always inspires hope and promise, but so many times ends up as a disappointment and tragic, due to the front office’s lack of intelligence regarding picking suitable NFL players.
The man in charge of collecting talent for the roster of the Browns is second year General Manager, Ray Farmer.
The Browns have two picks in the first round this year, numbers 12 and 19.
Similar to this year, the Browns also had two first round picks in last year’s draft. In his first year of picking players, Farmer wasted those two picks on an undersized, immature quarterback with a ton of off the field insecurities and a cornerback that was so lost on the field that he was beaten out by a 5’9’’ undrafted rookie free agent.
Looking back at last year’s draft it appears that the Browns made ONE solid pick out of the six that they made, that being left guard Joel Bitonio. Sure, running back Terrance West made an impression, but when you consider undrafted rookie free agent Isaiah Crowell showed much more playmaking ability, the fact that the Browns traded up to draft West proves Farmer reached.
This year must be better. Not just for the Browns to improve, but for Farmer to keep his job.
If you take a look around the league, the solid teams are built thru the draft and rely less on free agency. I give Farmer credit in that regard, as the Browns didn’t make a huge splash regarding the latter, which was the right move.
The most glaring weakness on the Browns last season, besides the quarterback position of course, was the defensive line. The Browns ranked dead last in the league at defending the run, as they allowed nearly 142 yards per game.
With no quarterback in this year’s draft being a ‘sure thing’ ala Andrew Luck two years ago, the Browns shouldn’t even waste their time considering a trade up.
Nose tackle Danny Shelton out of Washington should be there for the Browns at 12. This pick would make the most sense as it would help shore up a defensive line that badly needs aid.
Another area of need for the Browns is at the offensive line. This was proven last season when starting center Alex Mack was lost for the season after five games. The Browns averaged nearly 146 rushing yards per game when Mack was the starter. After he was lost for the season, the Browns average rushing yards per game plummeted to just 89 yards per game!
Taking an offensive lineman at 19 isn’t the sexy choice, but it’s likely the one that would benefit the team the most in the long run.
This year’s draft is loaded with edge rushers and wide receivers, making the choice easy not to pick one of those positions early as there will be similar value further down in the draft.
Regarding the wide receiver position, the NFL has adjusted its rules to highly favor the offense, especially the receiver position, which is why the undersized duo of Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel were able to have success last year.
Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline were picked up in free agency to help deal with the loss of suspended star Josh Gordon, and if the Browns were to draft a receiver, getting one in the later rounds would make the most sense.
This could be a make or break year for Farmer. Let’s hope he doesn’t waste the teams early picks like he did a season ago.
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