Initial Thoughts on the 2014 NFL Draft: The Cleveland Browns
It was an up-and-down weekend for the Cleveland Browns franchise (and that’s a huge understatement). There were trades, draft picks, and the national spotlight given from the media. Let’s take a look at at what occurred between Thursday and Saturday of last week.
The first two selections:
After a huge trade from the fourth selection, Ray farmer dropped down five spots to ninth overall. In doing so, the shrewd move allowed his team two additional picks in 2015 – a first rounder and a fourth rounder. That move alone should merit praise, as the Bills now surrender two picks – their recent history suggest these will be early selections. The Browns then traded up to the eighth spot (forgoing a fifth rounder) and nabbed cornerback Justin Gilbert. Many scouts and pundits felt he was the best available athlete at his position.
The twenty-sixth draft position was eventually traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for a third-round choice. Now having the twenty-second pick, the general manager opted for the most polarizing figure in the draft – Johnny Manziel. While he was not my favorite signal caller of the draft, the Browns got great value for him and may have gotten a steal. The Browns made several superb decisions and hit a home run during the first round of the draft.
Josh Gordon and the second day:
Just before the second day of the draft began, news broke out that Josh Gordon failed another drug test and will likely be suspended for the entire 2014 season. The deflating news really took away the positive momentum the franchise built the day before. Without the services of the top offensive weapon, many felt the Browns would select another athlete at the receiver position.
However, the front office opted to choose Joel Bitonio (an offensive lineman), Christian Kirksey (a linebacker), and Terrance West (a running back). The latter was following a trade, where the Browns gave up their additional fourth and sixth round selections. I believe the first two players can be immediate starters with this team, while West can rotate with Ben Tate to carry the load. I was a bit surprised the Browns passed up talents like Marquise Lee, Allen Robinson, and Jordan Matthews – all could have been solid wide outs for this team. However, Ray Farmer felt the guys he chose were better overall players – so I can not blame him for that.
The final day
Only two picks remained for the Cleveland Browns on the final day of the draft. In the fourth round, the team selected Pierre Desir – a cornerback from Lindenwood. He will likely start on special teams but could possibly start (in nickel packages) down the road. After no picks in the fifth and sixth rounds, the Browns traded away their seventh round pick to the Ravens for a future sixth rounder. All in all, they went from ten picks to just six (with three additional choices in 2015). I still wished they had nabbed a receiver, but I will have to have faith in the quarterback getting the most from his targets.
Conclusion: I really liked what the Browns’ general manager did with his first draft. Despite omitting a now obvious weakness, the man in charge made this team better in many aspects. Maybe a Kenny Shaw (from Florida State), Chandler Jones (San Jose State), or Willie Snead (Ball State) can make the team and produce as a replacement for Josh Gordon. Initially, I would rate this as a very good draft (or about an 8/10) – which is obviously subject to change.