Grading the Browns Draft

It’s been a quiet past couple of days from me.  Part of that is because I’ve been kind of busy.  It’s hard work pretending to run a pretend sports media empire.  Another part of it was that I wanted to take a sufficient amount of time and really digest what the Browns did in the 2012 NFL Draft.  I didn’t want to just overreact and fly off the handle immediately, I know… I’m shocked too.  I thought things would best be served if I sat back and listened to what everyone had to say and then formulated my own opinion on what took place.

As for that opinion… I’m still scratching my head as to what to make of things.

I like that the Browns drafted Trent Richardson.  They desperately need playmakers on offense and if his track record means anything at all, Richardson will make plays for the Browns.  The one down side of this though was the fact that they felt it necessary to move up one spot to take him.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they made an aggressive move to go after him rather than letting Tampa Bay snatch him away in the same manner Washington did with RG3.  I just wish they didn’t give up assets in order to do it.  Would Tampa have really moved up?  No one will ever really know the answer to that unless they find a portal to an alternate reality in their closet.

Then there is the Branden Weeden pick.  Honestly… I think I like the pick for the following reason.  Weeden has the physical tools you want in a quarterback.  He’s big, he’s strong, and he has an insanely accurate rocket for an arm.  He’s basically everything Colt McCoy isn’t.  On the flip side, I know I HATE the pick because he’s going to be 29 by the time the season starts.  Seriously, the Browns just drafted a QB that is older than me!

Which frankly, I don’t understand why people are saying this is an asset.  It’s not like he’s a 29 year old veteran.  He’s going to be a 29-year-old rookie QB.  He’s going to see things and experience things like he never did at the college level.  To think Weeden is going to come in and be a pro-bowl caliber starting QB from day 1 is ridiculous.  There is going to be a learning curve there.  Throw in the fact that the Browns still haven’t resolved their issues at the wide receiver position (more on that in a second) and that learning curve is going to be even greater. 

This is going to be the pick that makes or breaks this draft and ultimately makes or breaks this regime of the Cleveland Browns.  If Weeden works out and they get a solid 5-7 seasons out of him with multiple playoff appearances then Heckert and Holmgren and maybe even Shurmer will look like geniuses.  If he fails, this will be one of the biggest flops in Cleveland Browns history and they will all be branded idiots for selecting a 29-year-old QB 22nd overall with odds currently in favor of the latter.  I’m sorry, it’s the truth.

As for the remainder of the draft, the Browns decided that rather than taking stud wide out Stephen Hill at 37, they would take offensive tackle Michael Shwartz out of Cal.  It’s good to see the kid that got his ass kicked by his mom in “A Christmas Story” finally made something of himself.  As for what he can do on the field, I have no idea.  He’s a tackle and was the 5th best one available at the time.  He’s going to block… great.  From that standpoint I can see why the Browns would choose hims over a 6’5″ freak who runs a 4.3 40 yard dash and could be the next Calvin Johnson.  After all, we have Mohamed Massaquoi.

After that the Browns took…

  • DT John Hughes – a reach by all accounts, but his directorial talents are like none other
  • WR Travis Benjamin – A “kick return specialist” that can’t really run a route to save his life
  • ILB James Michael-Johnson – a fair chance they confused him with Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson
  • OT Ryan Miller – fair chance they confused him with Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller
  • OLB Emmanuel Acho – Gesundheit!
  • DT Billy Winn – reportedly a steal and something they may have done right
  • CB Trevin Wade – Could help solve the issue of Sheldon Brown at CB, but this late in the draft it’s doubtful
  • FB Brad Smelley – He’s a 7th round FB, insert your own joke here

What we need to understand is that the Browns apparently are happy with having one of the worst WR corps in the NFL.  They did nothing to address the issue via free agency and did nothing of substance to solve the issue via the draft.  All that’s left is to go after bargain bin cast-offs like Braylon Edwards or Plaxico Burress.  Good Luck Branden Weeden!

So what what’s my final grade for the draft?  I give it a cautiously optimistic C+, and most of that grade is heavily weighted on the selection of Trent Richardson.  After that… I’m highly skeptical.  The Browns could have gone in other directions or wheeled and dealed their picks in a better manner in order to address the issues they were looking to address.  But… such is life as a Cleveland Browns fan.

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