A Few Things I learned from the NFL Draft – Rounds 1 through 3
1 – Overall, not a flashy draft, but potentially one with long-term players:
When reviewing the Cleveland Browns eleven draft selections in the 2012 NFL Draft, one does not see many likely (excluding the first round picks) perennial pro bowlers. However, with the type of athletes selected (lineman) one could envision members staying on the team for several seasons. Building in the trenches on both sides of the ball is important for two reasons. First these players are key when giving “playmakers” an easier chance to showcase their skills. Next, these players will be on special teams if they do not latch on the offensive or defensive units; looking at the unproductive 2011 unit and these players are important.
2 – The Richardson pick was a great one and was worth it:
It was abundantly clear that the Browns needed someone the offense can build around while the quarterback situation is not stable. Trent was highly touted and is expected to make the offense improve drastically. We fans should be excited that we finally get a back that can perform all three areas a running back needs to excel; running, catching, and blocking. It never really seemed like a Browns running back could achieve all those (consistently) in recent history.
Some analysts have been critical of the franchise for trading up one selection and relinquishing a fourth, fifth, and seventh round selection in order to secure Richardson. For several reasons, I feel like this was not a negative for the team. First, the team had thirteen picks (at the time) and not all are guaranteed to make the roster in 2012 (even if they do their chance of excelling is not great). Next, after missing out on Griffin III, the Browns needed a skilled offensive talent in the draft that could improve on the 31st ranked offense in terms of scoring. The team simply couldn’t afford to lose out of Trent. Finally, I firmly believe the Buccaneers were in hot pursuit of Richardson; trading back after the Browns selected him and trading up for running back Doug Martin at pick number 31 only solidifies this.
3 – After initial negative response, the Weeden pick can prove to be solid:
Admittedly, I was somewhat disappointed that the Browns selected Brandon Weeden and number 22; not because I don’t think he will be a good player but that he could have been taken at number 37. However, with all the trades early in the first round and not wanting to miss out on the play caller, Cleveland felt they had to make the pick at that position. I find it hard to argue that drafting Weeden is not an upgrade at quarterback; the team is always looking to get better at all facets of the game and Brandon is just one of the many examples of the team accomplishing that. Granted, his window of opportunity may not be as large as other quarterbacks, but several productive seasons behind center will be huge for the franchise.
4 – Although it was not expected by, Mitchell Schwartz is a smart pick:
Tom Heckert stated there were only three wide receivers in the draft that could have come in and start right away (Blackmon, Floyd, and Wright). After all were taken, the Browns looked at other areas where the team could find an opening day starter instead. Forgoing Stephen Hill and Reuben Randle was the front office’s way of stating these may be projects that might not produce for a little while.
On the other hand, Mitchell Schwartz will (barring unforeseen circumstances) be the starting right tackle on opening day. Personally, I felt he was the third best offensive lineman available at that spot (behind Cordy Glenn and Jonathan Martin), but I will trust the talent evaluators who know more about the players. Provided he pans out, the Browns will only have to draft offensive lineman later in the draft as depth for years to come; beginning next season the team can (hopefully) focus primarily on playmakers with their early picks.
5 – John Hughes has a chance to prove his doubters wrong:
I was completed shocked the Browns took a defensive tackle this early, but I get why they took one. Picking Phil Taylor last season at the 21st spot last season and having Athyba Rubin entrenched as the other starting defensive tackle, and one wonders why the team chose another player at this area. However, these two athletes both played over sixty percent of the total plays the entire season. The team vastly needs depth and additional talent to bolster the run stopping part of the franchise (that was ranked 30th overall).
However, many talent evaluators had Hughes going much later, some even project the tackle to not be drafted at all. Again, I’ll give Heckert the benefit of the doubt that he knows what he’s doing; it just is surprising the team took a projected backup in the third round. I hope Hughes comes in and can take many snaps away from the other starters; if he can help against the run then the pick will not be as dreadful as some have declared it. Time will obviously tell though.