How the Front Office Turnover Impacts the Draft
After hearing about the change in leadership (from Joe Banner and Michael Lombardi to Ray Farmer), my vision of the Browns’ draft board changed significantly. Envision an Etch a Sketch with a finalized picture on it and then shaking it to erase everything (that may be a little extreme, but that’s where I am at). Many media outlets had the draft selections pegged under the old regime; the same cannot be said under Farmer. A major reason is due to his inexperience as a general manager and the minute information many have about him – including the types of players he supports, dislikes, etc. Let’s see how the draft weekend will be different now for the Cleveland Browns than it would have been under Banner and Lombardi.
Free agency may affect the draft more this year:
The previous regime did not have to deal with several expiring contracts for top-tier free agents, as well as whether to keep or release multiple tremendous athletes. With the statuses of Alex Mack, T.J. Ward, and (to a lesser extent) D’Qwell Jackson unknown, as well as decisions to be made surrounding Davone Bess and Greg Little – Ray Farmer will have a tough time in the next month. He will have a larger assemblage of both solid options to re-sign or acquire and underperforming guys to release.
Having said that, whether the general manager re-signs veterans or not will force the team to alter their draft selections based on the team’s needs. Will Farmer try to sign several free agents in dire areas or use the draft? Additionally, could he replace athletes he got rid of with other free agents or go with some fresh out of college? It’s safe to say that the choices made in February and March will greatly affect what the team tries to accomplish in May.
The fourth overall selection is a wildcard:
If you have been reading my previous articles, you sense my strong impression that the team will no doubt select a quarterback with their first draft pick. Following the front office overhaul, that still may be true – but I am far from confident about what the franchise is thinking (which is probably a good thing).
The new general manager, ironically, reminds me of coach Pettine; a no-nonsense, detail-oriented, hard worker who is focused on the team concept. Clearly the franchise needs their future signal caller, but both men in charge strive for the best athletes possible – regardless of position. That is my speculation after hearing the general manager’s interview on “Cleveland Browns Daily”. I anticipate some tough, physical guys (on both sides of the ball) will be selected by the Browns during the draft. Which guy, especially with the fourth-overall choice, continues to be a mystery.
Trades could be plentiful, but in different ways from last year:
In 2013, the Browns were a part of a few trades during the draft weekend. Two of which were surrendering current selections for future ones, and while those were successful (securing an earlier-round choice as a result), I do not expect that to occur again in 2014. However, I could still envision moving up to obtain a talented athlete or dropping some spots in order to gather additional options. There were rumblings that those in the league would be more open to “work with” the Browns now that a change was made in the front office. Assuming this is the case, the odds are likely that there will be movement by the Cleveland Browns.
The odds of hitting on late round picks increased:
This is not a knock on the past regime, but after listening to the new general manager and others who have met the guy, Ray Farmer comes across as a passionate football guy who eats, sleeps, and breathes the sport. Much has been made of the Senior Bowl week and how he was the lone representative for the organization there. Being with the Browns for an entire year, he should have a good handle on what the team needs as well as the value of draft prospects. Granted, last year’s draft was smaller due to trades but the team only got one guy (Armonty Bryant in the seventh round) who made an impact during the season. I have an extreme amount of confidence that the new guy in charge can pull some playmakers in the later rounds – they may not be day-one starters but should definitely help the team.