The Cleveland Browns made a lot of moves the first day all in the effort to squeeze as much value out of their #4 pick as possible. They did that very well, maybe the best job of any team but will it help them move the needle on wins and losses. No one judges a team by the wheeling and dealings that went on in the draft. The coaches and general managers are judged by the win-loss column. Did the Browns use their picks wisely and did the players they draft optimize their roster. Let’s look at the players in detail and see if they will positively impact the Browns and turn around what has been a dysfunctional franchise.
Justin Gilbert CB Oklahoma State Round #1 Pick #8
Arguably the best cornerback in the draft and Cleveland managed to trade down to the 8 spot and snag him and thus gambling that their Quarterback would be there in the later part of the round. This move proved to me that the Browns were locked on a group of QBs, not just one and had great latitude in adjusting to which one would be on the board. A definite case of “not falling in love with one guy.” Gilbert instantly upgrades their secondary and he is a starter the first day of the season. Also returned kicks and punts in college and played basketball and ran track, so he is extremely athletic. He is a 6’0″ speedster on a 200 pound frame. Will be a top cover corner in the league and has the ability to jump the route creating interceptions. Obvious weakness is playing the run and soft when hitting a player. Opposing teams may run sweeps and screen plays is his direction to test him early and often in his career.
Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M Round 1 Pick #22
The Browns used a trade up to snare Johnny Football. Whether it was a good or bad move, the future will only tell. The Browns needed a franchise QB and with Blake Bortles drafted by Jacksonville with the #3 pick, they had a choice of Manziel, Derek Carr, or Teddy Bridgewater. If Hoyer goes down, we might see Manziel huddle up in his first season, if not it could be a long bench ride for Johnny and who knows if Manziel won’t act like his typical “spotlight” self and demand to play or sulk. This could get ugly quick with the Browns visiting “Tebow territory” where the media makes everyone’s life miserable. I am neutral to the pick. I hope The Browns did their due diligence concerning Manziel but the leaked scouting report out of New England really scares me. Time will tell if the Browns got skunked by the pomp and circumstance surrounding Manziel. Wouldn’t be the first Heisman trophy winner to bust out of the NFL and won’t be the last.
Joel Bitonio OT Nevada Round 2 Pick #3
An underrated Offensive Tackle that probably was the best value pick of the Browns. 6’4″ 300 pounder who can afford another 30 to 40 pounds being put on by the Browns strength conditioning coach. Definitely has been underestimated by everyone in the NFL. Look at his college tape against Anthony Barr of UCLA and other quick edge rushers and he stopped them in their tracks. Bitonio has better technique, quicker feet and is extremely strong which should make him a premiere offensive tackle Pro Bowl player in just a few short years. A natural meanness and qualities that will make him a natural team leader, should make up for his smaller size till they bulk him up.
Christian Kirksey OLB Iowa Round 3 Pick 7
A 3rd round pick that can play inside or outside linebacker. Browns should use him on the inside but his versatility is a huge advantage. Two-time Captain at Iowa should mean instant leadership for the defensive unit of the Browns. Ran a sub 4.6 yard 40 at his pro day workout and ran track in college winning two state titles. Another undersized player drafted by the Browns, but fear not, they will put twenty pounds of muscle on him in the first year. His agility and speed with added muscle should translate to an excellent three down linebacker in a year or two. Won’t instantly impact the Browns but is a great project player and future starter.
Terrence West RB Towson State College Round 3 Pick #30
A power running back with good hands. Not afraid of running between the tackles and likes to score as evidenced by his 83 TDs in his three seasons at Towson. Needs coaching with ball handling and dexterity, but has good down field vision and runs with a purpose and fights for extra yards. Reminds me of a Jerome Bettis type running back. Should be a welcome addition to the Browns especially in goal line situations. Projected as a 3rd-4th rounder, Browns get good value drafting him with the 30th pick of the 3rd round.
Pierre Desir CB Lindenwood Round 4 Pick #27
Redshirted for Division II Washburn University in Kansas and then transferred back to his hometown and started for Division II Lindenwood University in St. Louis, Missouri. The 2013 recipient of the Cliff Harris Award, presented to the country’s top small-college defensive back as well as earning invitations to the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl. Recorded the second best broad jump at the NFL Combine and a bigger than average CB at 6’1 and 200lbs. A sub 4.6 40 should make him an excellent bump and run cover. Known to play hurt and plays mentally tough. He is married with two children so the maturity level and motivation will be there for this player who emigrated from Haiti and had two surgeries when he was younger to correct chipped bone in his left knee. Needs help transitioning from the bump and run to cover but that is just a matter of coaching. Could be the steal of the 4th if this player works hard in the next two years. The Cleveland scouts did their homework finding this raw gem.
Analysis and overall draft grade
Browns got a starting CB. Browns took a risk on Johnny Manziel, but the upside could be huge. Browns got a player that could be starting by week 8. The Browns filled a few need positions but the only thing that makes me wonder is the Josh Gordon situation. Knowing ahead of the draft that he failed a drug test for marijuana, makes you wonder why they didn’t target a wide receiver. Do they have inside knowledge that the NFL is about to announce a loosening of the marijuana penalty? Is the NFL considering this change because of the public stance on marijuana usage and the country legalizing it in some states that the NFL does business in like Colorado. Just a thought that would explain them not drafting a wide receiver when excellent talent was available.
- A minus–Josh Gordon doesn’t get suspended for a year
- B–Josh Gordon gets a 4 game suspension
- C minus–Josh Gordon gets sidelined for a year
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