Browns 2017 Draft: Intro and Trade Grades.

Well, that first round was a lot more entertaining than I expected it to be. The takeaways, in my eyes, are:

  1. The Browns didn’t throw away any draft picks taking Mitch Trubisky, which means
  2. Hue Jackson’s authority has taken a huge hit.
  3. They didn’t throw away any picks.
  4. They didn’t take any clearly terrible players.
  5. They did take three players with potential.
  6. If things go as they hope, they might have improved the team a lot.

I’m not over the moon about any of the choices, but I’m pleased.

Since these are the simplest components, let’s start with the two deals and one non-deal.

1. Not giving their draft away for Mitch Trubisky: A+. The Bears made it very easy for the analytics crew to stand their ground. Chicago made one of those panicky deals like the Browns made for Trent Richardson in 2012. The Bears, who were picking third, gave San Francisco:

  • That third pick
  • Their picks in rounds #3 and #4 this year
  • A #3 next year.

Since the 49ers wanted defensive tackle Solomon Thomas anyway, it was a no-brainer for them. Free picks: whooo!!!!!

Most Chicago columnists think the deal was a no-brainer too– not in the same way. The kindest is saying “Follow your heart!” This guy is over the top. Jimmy Garappolo wasn’t coming for a #1 and #4… though Bill Belicheat probably would have taken the deal San Francisco got. A rookie also doesn’t have to start.

He’s not entirely wrong about the team being nuts. The Bears just paid Mike Glennon $43.5 million for three years. They signed Mark Sanchez as his backup. And their offensive coordinator is Dowell Loggains– who failed with the Titans, then came to the Browns and lobbied them to draft Johnny Manziel. With Loggains as his coach, Trubisky probably has no chance.

To beat Chicago’s offer– when the best pick they could offer this year was the twelfth– the Browns would have needed to offer much more. Probably what the Bears offered– plus their #1 pick next year. Maybe more.

Were the Browns seriously thinking about trading up? I now have two moles on Lou Groza Boulevard– both say Hue Jackson absolutely was. He had enough clout to get the front office to ask teams (which they were willing to do– phone calls are cheap). But it never went further than that.

Jackson still had enough clout to get an “all hands on deck” meeting called Thursday, so he could make a pitch. But it was apparently the same pitch he made for Corey Coleman and Cody Kessler: “I know I can make Trubisky a great quarterback if we bring him in.”

That doesn’t work as well the second time around. Especially when he also said he could go 8-8 last year, and the team narrowly escaped going winless.

Jackson also said something like “We need a big time quarterback. No NFL team can make the playoffs with the kind of quarterbacks we have here.”

Apparently he forgot that Houston did made the playoffs last year. Brock Osweiler started 14 games and went 8-6 (Tom Savage went 1-1). Houston also made the playoffs in 2015 with Brian Hoyer (5-4 in his starts), Ryan Mallett (1-3), T.J. Yates (2-0) and Brandon Weeden (1-0). You don’t want to overlook things like that when you’re arguing with a lawyer.

2. Trading pick 12 for pick 25 and a 2018 first-rounder likely to be even lower. B-. This wasn’t a great move. The Texans will probably make the playoffs again this year– if Deshaun Watson is as good as he thinks he is, they might reach the AFC Championship. That means pick 29 or 30– not a lot better than a #2.

The chance to get the 12th-best player in one draft is much more valuable than the chance to get two players at the bottom of the round. On paper, at least.

In real life? It depends on who you have to pass up. This was a draft that allowed them to gamble:

  • 3 linebackers– none of whom were overwhelming
  • 3 corners– each with problems (coverage or legal)
  • 2 defensive ends (of whom they already have scads)
  • 2 tight ends
  • 1 safety

Both tight ends were excellent prospects– but the draft had a bunch of them, and they got someone pretty good. The safety (Malik Hooker) is excellent in coverage but not much of a tackler. Some people think he’ll learn– others think he’s Justin Gilbert Jr.

Maybe, five years from now, we’ll say “How could they have passed up [DE] Jonathan Allen?” but right now it looks like they didn’t lose much.

3. Trading pick 33 and 108 for pick 29. C-. It’s one of those deals where “traded back into the first round” makes the move seem more heroic than it really is. Cleveland moved up four spots– they gave away a player in order to do it.

Was there a chance that Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Seattle, New Orleans (who had picks 29-32) or some other team (San Francisco did trade up) would have taken their pick away from them? Yes. Was it a big one? Probably not.

Is it worth screaming about? Yes, but I’m not going to. They got a good prospect at a position they needed to address. The next-best tight end would have been a step down. Had the player they took not been available, they would have been looking at a lineman or a running back. They did pretty much trade out of round four (they still have a pick, but it’s the 30th), so it isn’t a good deal. But if they got the right player, this makes sense.


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