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Browns Draft Lessons Learned from 2012

MarkC's picture
May 6, 2014 at 8:38am
58 Comments
Maybe one of these guys can block for whichever QB we reach on next.

OK, so here’s the deal.  The Browns finish the 2011 season with the 28th best rushing offense, averaging less than 100 yards/game and a paltry 3.7 yards/carry (good for 31st out of the 32 NFL teams).  Simultaneously, the Browns have the 24th ranked passing game, averaging 193 yards/game and 5.8 yards/attempt (again, 31st in the NFL).  But the future is looking bright because the Browns have the #3, #22, and #37 picks in the upcoming 2012 draft.  With a stout defense already in place, the Browns decide to use all three picks to improve their offense.

So, how did we use the picks?  Well, our running game was bad.  So, logically, we picked up the Heisman finalist running back from Alabama, Trent Richardson.  After all, he did average about 6.0 yards per carry through his college career.  Plus he can catch passes out of the backfield.  Ok, improve running game?  Check.

Next, we need to improve the passing game.  Well, what better way to do that than to pick up a new passer?  Clearly Colt McCoy was not effective enough, nor was any other name on that photo of the Browns’ #2 jersey.  Hey, that heavily “seasoned” Weeden guy was pretty good for Oklahoma State last year.  Let’s get him.  Ok, passing game improved?  Check.

Now, the receiver we wanted (Kendall Wright) is gone, but our last few quarterbacks and running backs have been getting injured.  Maybe we should pick up someone to at least fall down in front of opposing rushers.  Hey, that guy from Cal was pretty mediocre, wasn’t he?  What was his name?  Something from Spaceballs?  Schwartz! That’s it.  Okay, I think we have a team.

What went wrong?  Well, first of all, poor quarterback and running back play were symptoms of the problem.  In drafting Weeden and Richardson, the Browns addressed the symptom without fixing the problem.  The problem was the offensive line stunk.  Colt McCoy was getting pressured 1.5 seconds into every pass play.  The San Francisco offensive line, in contrast, consistently gave Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick 4 seconds to throw the ball.  Most any NFL receiver can get open in 4 seconds.  Most any NFL corner can cover any NFL receiver for 1.5 seconds.  NFL quarterbacks don’t need howitzer arms capable of throwing a football through the locked door of a bank vault.  Everybody’s favorite New England QB sure doesn't have a Favre-like cannon.  They need to be hyper-accurate, make solid pre-snap reads, and be agile enough to avoid running face first into a 300 pound lineman's butt.  Colt McCoy has all three of those traits. 

What went wrong with the running game?  Well, it turns out Trent Richardson only averages 6.0 yards/carry when he doesn't get touched until 4.1 yards downfield, which is what his line at Alabama did for him on average.  It seems like Browns running backs have been getting hit around 0.5 yards BEHIND the line of scrimmage.  Turns out, it's hard to run the ball in high level football unless you have an offensive line that completely dominates the opposing defensive front on every run play.  Trent Richardson averaged 3.6 yards/carry in 2012 (and significantly less in 2013) and suddenly the franchise running back taken 3rd overall in the 2012 draft looks a whole lot like the running backs from 2011, Peyton Hillis (3.6 yards/carry) and Chris Ogbonnaya (4.6 yards/carry).  The Browns line still stinks and now Mitchell ("You Can't Possibly Underestimate the Power of the") Schwartz is getting bull rushed back into the pocket or burned on the outside pass rush regularly.

What should the Browns have done?  First of all, you address the problem.  The problem with the running game is the running backs (who are basically interchangeable in the NFL) have no holes through which to run and no push from the line.  There is nowhere to go.  The problem with the passing game is the receivers don’t have time to get off the line against press coverage before the revolving door of quarterbacks is hit by a defensive lineman.  With the 3rd pick in the 2012 draft, the Browns should have made huge strides towards both ends by drafting Matt Kalil and inserting him at right tackle.  Kalil was a Pro-Bowl left tackle for the Vikings as a rookie in 2012 and, combined with Joe Thomas (also a perennial Pro-Bowler), you have the makings of the best offensive line in the league.  All of the sudden quarterbacks have time to find receivers who have time to get open.  Running backs have room to run. 

Second, with Hillis gone as a free agent, you can go ahead and get your running back or wide receiver at the #22 slot.  Know who was still available at this point?  Doug Martin.  You remember him from the Pro-Bowl after rushing for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns his rookie season in Tampa Bay.  He also caught 49 passes out of the backfield for 472 yards and another touchdown.  Between Kalil and Martin, the running game has been addressed.

With the third pick (37th overall), the Browns could have addressed the receiver position or again helped the line.  Now with two stud tackles, the Browns would not have been forced to settle for the slow but weak Schwartz.  Alshon Jeffery (24 catches for 367 yards in 10 games his rookie season), Ryan Broyles (22 catches for 310 yards in 10 games his rookie season), and Stephen Hill (21 for 252 in 11 games as a rookie) were all available receivers.  Jeffery went on to have 89 catches for 1,421 yards and 7 TDs this past season.  Jeff Allen, the offensive guard from Illinois, was still available as well.  He has started 28 of the last 30 games for the Chiefs who ranked 5th in the league in rushing yards/attempt in 2013.

With Kalil and Allen as the right side of a line including Joe Thomas and Alex Mack, Doug Martin would have had plenty of room to run and Colt McCoy would have plenty of time to find open receivers.  On the other hand, going with a wide receiver at #37 the Browns would now have a solid O-line with legitimate weapons surrounding a quarterback who completed over 70% of his passes in each of his final two seasons at Texas. Still don't think Colt McCoy can lead you to victory?  Fine.  Take Michigan State's Kirk Cousins with the 87th or 100th pick.  He led Michigan State to back-to-back 11 win seasons. He then went on to win his only start of his rookie year (happened to be AT CLEVELAND) by completing 70% of his passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns. 

What should the Browns do this year?  Address the problem!  The entire offense needs help, both passing and rushing the ball.  Quarterbacks need time to find receivers who need time to get open.  Running backs need somewhere through which to run.  The correct offensive line makes both possible.  With the #4 pick in the draft, you take either Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews, whichever one is available and plug him in at right tackle.  As poor as both offensive guards were the past two years, you could move Swartz and/or newly signed Paul McQuistan to guard a la Alex Boone at San Francisco.  Between Joe Thomas, Alex Mack, and Matthews/Robinson, you have a line through which newly signed RB Ben Tate can run.  The running game has finally been addressed.

With the #26 pick, pending no trades up or down, the Browns can add a weapon to compliment Josh Gordon and their new-found running game.  Basically, GM Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine can take their favorite receiver of Odell Beckham, Marquise Lee, Kelvin Benjamin, and Brandin Cooks.  I see a lot of projections for a QB here.  Don’t do that.  With Washington signing Colt McCoy and RG3 allegedly healthy, the Browns may be able to acquire Redskins backup Kirk Cousins for a mid-round draft pick.  Kirk Cousins (backed up by Brian Hoyer) handing off to Ben Tate and throwing to Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron, and Marquise Lee behind the aforementioned offensive line?  Now we’re on to something.

With the #35 pick, the Browns could go with a second running back to work with Ben Tate.  Carlos Hyde would be a fantastic fit as a power back with good vision behind that line.  LSU’s Jeremy Hill would be a fine option if Hyde goes earlier.  The Browns could also go receiver with Penn State’s Allen Robinson, Indiana’s Cody Latimer, Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews, or Fresno State’s Davante Adams.  If UCLA guard Xavier Su’a-Filo falls to the second round, he could be an option as well.  With limited needs on defense, I would lean towards Hyde if the Browns have injury concerns for Ben Tate, or Allen Robinson if not.

How could the Browns screw this up?  First pitfall: don’t fall in love with Sammy Watkins’ highlight film at Clemson against such defenses as Wake Forest, Syracuse, Virginia, and Ohio State’s deep zone.  Remember Peter Warrick (#4 pick in 2000 from Florida State), Reggie Bush (#2 in 2006 from USC), Darren McFadden (#4 in 2008 from Arkansas), or even Teddy Ginn Jr (#9 in 2007 from OSU)?  Each was the most exciting skill position prospect in his respective draft with a highlight film that looked just like Sammy Watkins’, only against better defenses.  None has lived up to their draft position in the NFL, let alone made the Pro Bowl.  That’s because the NFL is a different game.  There is no space to bob and weave through a defense full of guys who are just as fast, all of whom are adept at tackling in space.  This isn’t the original John Madden Football, where Randall Cunningham could simply run around the other 21 players on the field on the way to the endzone.  That style doesn’t work in the NFL.

Sammy Watkins' future in the NFL, particularly with the Browns' line and a QB with no time to throw.

Second pitfall: don’t pick a QB to fix your offense.  That is simply addressing the symptom instead of the problem again.  Take another look at that Browns #2 jersey.  We’ve tried that approach before.  All of them got crushed behind terrible offensive lines with no rushing game to speak of.  Behind this line, Johnny Manziel would be running for his life like a guppie dropped into a shark tank and every game would look like his game against LSU (16-41, 224 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs).  Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater aren’t the answer either behind this line and with the 2013 squad of receivers.  Both would be chucking and ducking on a three-step drop to a tightly covered receiver on a quick slant.  If one of those guys is available in the second round and you have already addressed the offensive line, maybe.  But only if you don’t like any of the running backs, receivers, or offensive guards still available.  If trading for a QB like Cousins doesn’t work out, the Browns can take someone like Pitt’s Tom Savage, Georgia’s Aaron Murray, or LSU’s Zach Mettenberger with one of their two third round picks (#71 and #83 overall).  Savage, Murray, or Mettenberger behind the Thomas/Mack/Matthews line throwing to Gordon, Cameron, and Marquise Lee would be far more effective than Manziel running for his life behind Thomas/Mack/Schwartz.

Unfortunately, the Browns have successfully turned their 2012 #3 overall pick into the #26 pick in this year’s draft, their #22 pick of that draft into a player to be released and replaced by yet another quarterback next year, and their #37 pick into an under-strengthed right tackle who will continue to get the next Browns quarterback (Weeden out injured) and running back (Richardson broke 2 ribs as a rookie) beat up.  But it's ok.  The Browns have 2 first round picks again this year to go along with a high second round pick.  We can't possibly botch that twice in three years, can we?

Go Browns!

Baroclinicity's picture

The popular way of diagnosing the offensive line is through the play of the QB and RBs.  I go the other way.

I don't think you can truly evaluate the worth of the line until you get a competent QB back there.  When you have a QB that can't make the decisions in a timely manner (Weeden, Campbell, everyone), of course the line is going to look like a sieve. 

The draft is loaded.  For once, it's loaded and we're not sitting at #6, just outside the window of the elite talent.

Grab a playmaker.  Gotta be Watkins, and if necessary, Johnny.  Maybe even Evans. 

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Furious George 27's picture

In fairness hard to make quick decisions when you have no run game and the D is sitting back in coverage. Not a knock on the OL, more on the fact that McGehee is just old and bad.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

+2 HS
Baroclinicity's picture

It's chicken and egg, right?

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

+3 HS
MarkC's picture

It seems like we've rotated enough QBs and receivers through there. Don't you think it's time for a different approach? 

"Well then draft a good one and stop picking bad ones." Browns management thought they were taking good ones. None of them have worked out. The constant has been terrible offensive line play. 

+3 HS
Baroclinicity's picture

Different approach?  We've tried it all, haven't we?

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Il_Padrino's picture

Not yet, we've never had the Defense play Offense, and the Offense play Cheerleader, and the Cheerleaders play Defense. 

Living the life!  Go Buckeyes!

ECBeastor's picture

I'd say they have failed at there approach to draft a good QB.  It's not like ANY of them have gone on to even marginal success on other teams.  They stunk with the Browns because they were bad QBs.

Weeden was the best that team has seen since Derek Anderson's body was possessed by a good QB for 14 games.  Their line is suspect at certain positions but the reaching for QBs late in the 1st round is almost never a good approach. If a QB isn't good enough for your top 10 pick, he probably isn't good enough to reach for in the 20's.  

 

SavannahBuck's picture

Johnny Manziel WILL be a bust. The browns are much better off with Hoyer. After all the bad qb picks this franchise has made, do we really want another flavor of the month quarterback with a pee shooter arm?

+4 HS
Furious George 27's picture

I wouldn't say he is a bust because we don't know... But I'd say this draft is loaded outside of the QB position that you could get players that can contribute right away. QBs are always hit or miss

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

+2 HS
Baroclinicity's picture

What about having Manziel sitting for a year or two, unless Hoyer turns out to be great?  Just throwing out ideas.  I'm not necessarily endorsing Johnny.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

-1 HS
Furious George 27's picture

If the Browns did not need top 10 draft talent at other spots then sure..... All these QBs could be great if they are in the right system learning for a couple years. At #4 your almost having to start them day 1 and who knows how they handle the pressure of NFL Ds

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

+1 HS
luckynutz's picture

We seem to think a lot alike. I want bookend tackles. And with the new rookie wage structure, it can happen. Robinson or matthews opposite big joe thomas? Pretty sure the qb would be feeling mighty secure on dropbacks. And moving schwartz inside would be big for the running game. Hes much more adept as a run blocker in confined space. Hes terrible in space...doesnt have the quickness to step out and cut off a speed rusher. Hes far Bette suited to be a guard, much like his brother. That would, in theory, shore up 4 out of 5 spots on the line. And leave a dogfight for that led guard spot. Which, in all honesty, is a wash anyways...seeing as how they would be locked in between 2 pro bowlers in mack and thomas. And hell, lets say they take the guard from UCLA with that 26th pick? You've addressed what has been a glaring issue with flying colors.

Wide receiver is quite deep as a position group in this draft. Not to mention the work done in free agency gives farmer a little room to be creative in addressing this position. Hawkins has proven to be an effective slot guy when healthy. And burleson brings an effective veteran presence and knack for catching first down passes. His presence should serve as a steady force for the uber talented gordon, and a wake up call for the stone handed Greg little. So you wait til the second to draft a wide receiver. Evans and Watkins are long gone....maybe even lee as well. If lee falls there...snatch him up and dont think twice. Same with Kelvin benjamin...huge and fast. Im also intrigued by allen robinson...very underrated in my opinion. Any way you go...its an upgrade and pushes guys who have underperformed in thw past to step their game up or find themselves looking for work.

Running back? Tate is a nice pick up at a friendly price tag. Hes shown flashes of brilliance in backing up foster in Houston, but has also shown an affinity for injury as well. I like what baker showed late last year. And also thought Dion lewis showed promise early before the injury. Would be nice to draft a guy as some insurance, but not something I believe is terribly necessary. Hyde will be long gone in my opinion...based on the success of le'veon bell last year. Very similar backs...in terms of being every down guys. Maybe guys like Sankey or mason are available at that point. Maybe not...either way I dont believe its a big need.

And qb...hoyer wants it. And believes he can do it. And he seems to have support from his teammates as well. So why not? I love the prospect of getting a guy like aaron murray a little later. If he hadn't been injured, I believe fully he'd be in the convo as one of the top guys available. the injury is also a blessing...gives him the opportunity to come in and learn the position and get a feel for the speed of the game. All while not being rushed into playing early. Hes got the arm and the football IQ to succeed. Also has the maturity to handle being groomed going forward. I freaking love the idea of aaron murray.

I have a belief that ray farmer will get this right. Hes done some good work thus far in adding pieces where they needed to be added. And seems to have a very clear plan laid out behind closed doors as to what he sees this team being. Im hopeful...eternally optimistic as always.

+3 HS
Hovenaut's picture

Who's psyched for the draft?

 

+2 HS
Deshaun's picture

Please please PLEASE go O-line with the #4 pick! I am so sick of seeing Browns QBs getting broken. In our last 7 drafts, we have taken seven offensive skill players (Brady Quinn, Brian Robiskie, Mohamed Massaquoi, Montario Hardesty, Greg Little, Trent Richardson, Brandon Weeden) in the first two rounds compared to just three O-linemen (Joe Thomas, Alex Mack, Mitchell Schwartz). All but maybe Massaquoi and Little were busts among the skill players. Only Schwartz hasn't been good to great among the linemen. Drafting exciting players high and "Eh, we'll get someone to block for them later" shortcuts don't work in the NFL. 

This isn't basketball where you draft Lebron James and he is a star. The exciting players don't make Sportscenter highlights without a good line. Ours stinks!

+2 HS
Furious George 27's picture

Your gripe should really be with the last 2 drafts when they selected Richardson, Weedon and Mingo in the first round.... All of the other years they went OL and D predominately in RD 1... Its the players they pass on that annoy me and it keeps them in search of a WR, RB or QB. Hoyer got hurt because he didn't slide properly, not because the line was collapsing.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

+1 HS
DefenceWinsChampionships's picture

I agree with you, but not to the extremes you mention. And hindsight is always 20/20, its easy to look at that draft and say Doug Martin! It was so obvious! But the problem is, it wasn't obvious. Numerous scouts had Martin as a second round back and TR as a transcendent talent. I will admit I was fine with the richardson pick. I didnt like the trade, but I was fine with it. That wasn't where we messed up. Where we messed up was reaching for a QB that was covered in question marks (Johnny Manziel anyone?). I hated the pick and i feel the same way now. None of these guys is Payton Manning or Andrew Luck, I wouldn't take them at #4 or #26. You take the transcendent talent and then you secure the trenches, then you can go with your luxury pick. In 2012 I wanted Richerdson, Riley Rieff, and Alshon Jeffery. I know TR went bust, but no one was predicting that. I will gladly use the same strategy this year: Watkins, and Filo in round 1. At 35 you can take your Bridgewater/Carr guy and actually put him in a good situation. If Watkins is gone, I agree with you that Robinson/Matthews should be the pick, but you don't ignore a guy with Watkins skill set, at least not when the alternative is starting Greg Little. And can we please stop the Hyde in round 2 stuff. I love Hyde, I think he will be great. But the Browns do not have the luxury of taking a 2nd RB that high. Not when they have as many holes as they do. Round 2 should be QB/CB/OL/WR/ILB. An area of GREAT need that we didnt select in round 1.

P.S. Murray, Mettenberger and Savage are all VERY average QB's... so average that they aren't even mentioned in the same breath as the other average QB's who are expecting to go in rounds 1 - 2. No one in that group will save a franchise.

+1 HS
luckynutz's picture

Murray isnt average my friend. The only thing keeping him out of the conversation is a torn ACL in his last college game. Thats why he isnt mentioned as a potential high pick. Had he not injured his knee, he'd be in that conversation. Was a 4 year starter in college. At Georgia. Not something you serious a lot at a school like that. Solid arm, very smart and extremely mature. Dont get why you think hes average. Hes hurt. Big difference.

+3 HS
d5k's picture

He's also tiny for an NFL QB.

+1 HS
luckynutz's picture

Umm...so is drew brees. Your point?

+1 HS
DefenceWinsChampionships's picture

The point is you can look at the last two decades and count the number of successful QB's under 6'1" on one hand... Wilson and Brees are the anomaly not the rule. 

luckynutz's picture

So it applies to murray, but not manziel who is shorter than him? May only be an inch or so but still...cant use the argument to indict one guy, then praise another who is in the same boat size wise. If murray is too small, so is manziel. Yet everyone thinks manziel has this it factor. I happen to appreciate what murray brings far more than manziel. Because of the fact one is going to be a high first round, high risk pick. The other will be a much safer, lower risk pick in the second or 3rd.

DefenceWinsChampionships's picture

Umm, IDK if you read my post, but I hate Manziel as a prospect. He is my least favorite of the big 4 this year. I like Bortles, then Bridgewater, then Carr. Manziel may be a media Godsend, but I don't want him on my team, not unless it was at #35... which will never happen so its a moot point.

luckynutz's picture

Didn't realize who replied to it. Was more directed at the guy whon initially said he was tiny. I dont like any qb enough in this draft to pin the hopes of our long suffering fanbase to. Id much rather build a complete offense around hoyer and give him his shot. And bring someone along slowly behind him in case it does work out. Not the typical cleveland front office response of throwing all the eggs in the high risk qb basket and having no foundation on which to build. Instead of sending another lamb to slaughter, build the foundation and go from there.

GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

I wonder how many more QB's that are over 6'3'' and suck worse than Brees and Wilson?

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

d5k's picture

Aaron Murray is not Drew Brees or Russell Wilson.  This auto-comeback is very cliche.  Being tall helps in the NFL, it is one of a litany of attributes that a team looks at.  Murray is going to get drafted so obviously he has enough talent and tape to overcome poor measurables.

luckynutz's picture

Its not a comeback or cliche. Its a simple point. Simply using measurable against a guy isnt always valid. What about the point of manziel being just a bit shorter? Yet everyone believes he will be a winner at the next level? How is one different than the other? There isnt much different. Other than you didnt hear much about murray outside the season. Murray isnt a polarizing figure. Hes just a damn fine football player.

+1 HS
Deshaun's picture

When Trent Richardson was taken #3 by the Browns in 2012, my SEC friend (Tennessee and Colts fan) told me he would average >5.0 yards per carry, fix our offense, and make the Pro Bowl. I told him Richardson would average less than 3.0 yards per carry and get knocked out for the season in less than 8 games behind our "line." He was better than I thought but nowhere near transcendent. Sammy Watkins does have Peter Warrick and Reggie Bush written all over him. Go O-line. All the sudden every skill player just got better. 

+1 HS
DefenceWinsChampionships's picture

I didnt say he wound up being transcendent, I said he was seen as that kind of talent. A back on the level of AP. Anyone who says they knew he was going to be a bust is lying... unless the reason was they knew he was going to be a bust strictly because the browns drafted him. And peter warrick was 5'11" and a buck ninety, he was too small for the league. Same with bush. He was always going to be a scat back at best in the league, and I said that when he came out. Watkins is steve smith meets percy harvin in a 6'1" frame with enough bulk to deliver a blow... hes a different beast entirely

MarkC's picture

I do know some who thought he would be a bust solely because the Browns line wouldn't give him anywhere to run. Put him behind Seattle's line and who knows, he could be a 1,000 yard back. 

Collegiate highlight film skill players almost universally bust in the NFL. There are few exceptions and most of them have solid to great NFL offensive lines. Most of Watkins' highlights were against some really bad ACC defenses. His longest catch against Florida State? Just 18 yards. 

d5k's picture

Most of those QB's are attempted re-treads, mid round guys who should have been career backups, and guys who just failed elsewhere.  Brady Quinn and Tim Couch are the only exceptions that I see there as far as QB's drafted as franchise guys.  Weeden pick was a complete joke.  If there's a QB they think is a franchise guy, you draft him at #4.  Especially with the rookie wage scale.  Hoyer is not a franchise QB.  Browns fans are so enamored when they see semi-competent play from their QB (Hoyer, McCoy) that they start wanting to upgrade other positions.  

If you go with Greg Robinson at #4 if he's there I can't fault you too much, similarly with Watkins.  But you aren't going to turn the franchise around without a franchise QB.

-1 HS
luckynutz's picture

There is no franchise, cant miss guy in this draft. It has nothing to do with competent play. It has more to do with the cart before the horse mentality that has plagued this franchise for years. You cant just take a qb and expect it to fix all your ills. If theres no one in front of them to block, no one to get open and catch passes or no running game, what good does a qb do you? How do you know hoyer isnt a franchise guy? He started 3 games. May as well kick the tires on it? He could be bernie Kosar. You never know until you give him a shot.

+1 HS
d5k's picture

Manziel and Bortles are better than the QB's in last year's class and are both way better prospects than Weeden was coming out of college.  They are actually consistently rated as top 15 picks on draft boards per reports as opposed to being huge reaches.  They aren't Andrew Luck but if they were they wouldn't be available at #4.  Bortles might be the next Roethlisberger and Manziel might be a revelation.  "You never know until you give them a shot..."

Joe Thomas is pretty good.  You can get and develop guards and right tackles in later rounds.  Hoyer was an undrafted free agent who the Patriots didn't want as their backup and couldn't stay on a team until he landed on the Browns.  He is a career backup who played well in 3 games.  These are the kinda guys the Browns keep falling in love with over the years.  Derek Anderson, Charlie Frye, McCoy were all guys who would be backups on other teams at best but the Browns keep convincing themselves they have a starting caliber QB.

Deshaun's picture

We've tried taking linemen later and developing them over a few years. That doesn't work. You need to have studs on the O-line and then magically all the other skill position players become much more competent. Even exciting or electric. 

Are Bortles, Manziel, and Bridgewater better than Sam Bradford, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, and Ryan Tannehill? Those guys were all rated at least as high as the three guys from this year. 

I'm not saying Hoyer is a franchise QB. Maybe, maybe not. I am saying the difference in impact on the offense between Hoyer and the best QB in this first round is less than the difference between a loaded line and one with Schwartz at right tackle. In other words, until we fix the line, it doesn't matter who the QB is. Then again, that trade for Kirk Cousins (or similar) thing is intriguing too. 

+2 HS
d5k's picture

The difference is that the Browns have one of the best left tackles in the league and drafting an O-lineman to play a non-LT position isn't really getting good value at #4 overall.  And you see more consistent turnarounds from teams that landed a solid QB toward the top of the draft.  If they didn't have Joe Thomas I would be on board with this logic though.  The existence of past busts is not a good deterrent just like the existence of past hall of famers isn't by itself a good reason to draft a QB in the top 5.  The Jaguars' cap and draft pick situation isn't any worse than it was before taking a shot on Gabbert.  The new CBA is a factor and makes it easier to take a shot at upgrading the most important position by far which is obviously QB.  St. Louis is in a terrible spot with Bradford's record contract although the RG3 trade helped immensely.  

Nitpicking, but Ponder and Locker were not rated higher than these guys in their draft and that draft class was less deep than this one.  If there wasn't so much pass rushing, WR and OT talent there would be little debate about taking one of these QBs in the top 10.

MarkC's picture

It's finally trendy to value at least one offensive line position (left tackle). But right tackle is nearly as important, as any Browns fan should realize through the Schwartz debacle. Also, with regards to value at #4, not only would Robinson/Matthews solidify the entire line by moving Schwartz and/or McQuistan to guard, but Robinson/Matthews would likely slide to left tackle whenever Joe Thomas retires.

Several outlets had them in the same class as the three guys this year. Manziel has grades all over the place, Bortles is a little more consistent. But the point is, they are in the same ballpark and they are mostly guesses anyway. NFL films did a documentary on Brady in which Mariucci said you don't know how a QB will respond until he feels NFL linemen and linebackers who want to kill him trying to get to him on every play. Nobody knows how Manziel, Bortles, and Bridgewater will respond to that scenario yet, but Matthews/Robinson would almost surely make a profound difference on our offense. Plus we have the #26 and #35 picks to upgrade offensive skill positions.

Deshaun's picture

An average to decent QB looks great behind the right O-line. Look at what Matt Cassel did in 2008 behind Tom Brady's line. Then look at what he did for KC and Minnesota since. Robinson or Matthews. That's the pick. 

+1 HS
d5k's picture

That was the right system/coach not the right O-line.  If you take Robinson you might want to just wait until round 2-3 for a QB because you will likely be picking high enough next year to go after Winston or Mariota.

Deshaun's picture

Hoyer (or Cousins, or whomever) handing off to Ben Tate and throwing to Gordon, Cameron and Lee behind a line of Thomas-TBD-Mack-Schwartz-Robinson is far more potent than Bortles getting sacked before Sammy Watkins can get off the line. 

DefenceWinsChampionships's picture

Believe me, I love the idea of having big hogs in the trenches. But the fact of the matter is one o-linemen does not make THAT big of a difference. Do we need an upgrade? Absolutely. But I think that upgrade can come at #26 or #35 if necessary. Saying that thomas/mack/shwartz/robinson gives us 4 seconds but with thomas/mack/schwarts/and a 2nd rounder spent on Moses gives us only 1.5 is delusional. Take THE BEST PLAYER at 4. If its robinson or watkins, I have no qualms either way, I like both players and I would be happy with both. But your argument is ridiculous...

Baroclinicity's picture

The Really Big Show is on fire right now...  #brownsgoodkarma

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

FROMTHE18's picture

IMO, Bortles is the best NFL prospect at QB with Murray a close 2nd. Manziel to Cleveland would be awesome, just because I'd love for his name to be added to the QB Jersey list of failed QBs in Cleveland, forever immortalised. Could he succeed there? Maybe, but I don't see it. With all this stuff he is doing off the field before the draft, like trademarking Johnny Football (alright, sure its more money in his pocket), it'd be great to see him fall flat on his face, but thats just me. 

+2 HS
AJBor41's picture

So, to appease everyone, it simply looks like the Browns will need to select a 6'6", 310 pound guy that runs close to a 4.4 40 and has great hands in the #4 spot.  With the #26 pick, they only need to secure the best available WR, assuming he has good height and can also step in and make perfect decisions playing QB, if Hoyer doesn't pan out.  As for their pick at 35, picking the best remaining talent is a must, unless he's the best RB in the draft, because we are completely set at the position with experienced, proven players  also need a CB and/or ILB. 

Piece of cake.

 

bedheadjc's picture

Very well done, Mark!

+1 HS
MarkC's picture

Thank you, Bedhead

Go1Bucks's picture

Hoyer starts, yes to a backup QB (one thats sits for a year and learns (Carr, McCarron, Metz or KG) and release TY and VY - maybe get something for them), no to Johnny Bigmouth, yes to the Lineman- though would rather not waste a 4 on it.  Need a WR, it does not have to be Watkins. And we NEED a good RB, Tate is not the future.

Please Browns, don't screw this up.  That's my yearly mantra.

 

Go Browns!

Go Bucks!

krazy12's picture

The browns do not learn lessons. They just fire everyone, and start the cycle again. Geez I hate to love the browns. BTW enjoyed your post, but way too much logic though.

"If you are going to win any battle, you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do... the body is never tired if the mind is not tired."
-General George S. Patton

+1 HS
Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

I disagree.  I think the Browns OL is fine, maybe even great.

In support of my opinion:

This guy has Browns' line ranked 12th in league https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2014/01/13/2013-offensive-line-ran...

This site has them 6th http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/nfl/43265/179/2013-offensive-line-rank...

another good writeup here, despite ranking of 17th http://www.fantasypros.com/2013/07/nfl-offensive-line-rankings/

Read my entire screen name....

MarkC's picture

One of those was heading into the 2013 season and all seem to have the Browns higher based on how awesome Thomas is (and he really is), Mack as a solid center (he is), and maybe the rest of the guys can step up (they didn't). This is the unit holding the Browns back. Fix it!

d5k's picture

pro bowl right tackles and guards are routinely acquired in middle rounds.

MarkC's picture

We only have two good linemen, Thomas and Mack. We have only drafted two linemen in the first round in the last decade. Thomas (#3 in 2007) and Mack (#21 in 2001). Putting offensive line off till later because they are "routinely" developed from mid-round picks isn't working. 

+1 HS
d5k's picture

Here's one thing I will say, if the Browns do take a QB they need to keep that coaching staff intact and give them 3 years together.  They keep drafting guys and then a new regime comes in and doesn't care about developing the old regime's QB.

NCBuckeye1's picture

Peter King had an interesting take on his Mock Draft for Sports Illustrated:

--  Trade the #4 to Atlanta for the #6 and another pick, and draft Mike Evans.

--  Luck into Bortles at #26 and get him

--  Move back into the 1st round by trading a pick or two to Seattle and draft Xavier Sua'Filo or whatever his last name is.

If that happens, I would be happy with the draft for the Browns.

"Without winners, there wouldn't even be civilization." -- Woody

+1 HS
MarkC's picture

I am a Browns fan #1 and a 49ers fan second. Watching those two teams play back to back every weekend the past couple years has really made it clear. Our offensive line stinks and it completely sabotages everyone on the offense, many of whom do have some talent. Gore is not a great running back because he is so talented. His line almost always get a push a few yards downfield and consistently creates holes. The receivers are not individually that great, but the have time to get open. It's incredible. 

Then I turn on the Browns. It looks like I went from watching the varsity to the JV squad. Trent Richardson or McGahee is getting hit the instant they take the handoff from whichever QB is temporarily healthy. Receivers diving at rushed throws while still tightly covered. If you draft Watkins #4 (or Evans at #6) and any QB at #26, Watkins/Evans will not be given time to get open. He will be labeled a bust, a lot of people will be stunned and then complain, the Browns will either release him or trade him and then we will draft another exciting skill player to jump start the offense. 

Go1Bucks's picture

Don't think Bortles will last to 26, otherwise, good logic.

Go Bucks!

Buckeye Beast's picture

I'll admit I didn't read everything, the first few paragraphs then bits & pieces after that. But I remember wanting Trent more than RG3, I was probably the only one. But with our 2nd pick, I really wanted David DeCastro. And I was a big fan of Cordy Glenn in the 2nd round. Last year, I was a huge Chance Warmack fan, I wanted him pretty bad. I'm a big fan of O-Line play. You're right, we need to fix things up front. Oneil Couisins used to have me shutting off the damn tv.

It's 5 o'clock somewhere, & Michigan still sucks

+1 HS
Becool12's picture

The problem is thinking the Browns will learn any lessens. 

+1 HS
Shangheyed's picture

WR, QB, RB(or CB) first three picks, then OL, (CB or RB depending on first three picks and who is availible), and LB help for rounds 3 and 4.  That is 4 picks to get two starters in a position in the draft that are not usually high round picks so some good players will be availible, would at least add depth in areas of need.  

Skilled position early as they are harder to come by and other positions fall with solid potential starters in the middle rounds. 

It might be interesting to go after another RB in free agency rather than draft here.... need depth at the very least, best case is find someone who can compete for carries with Tate... one and a spare.  

d5k's picture

* This is the eighth time since 1999 that the Browns have had a top five pick -- and they've drafted one quarterback. Therein lies the problem with this team.

- Mary Kay Cabot

I agree with her completely as I've said earlier in this thread.  The Browns need to stop passing on opportunities to turn the franchise around with a QB. 

+1 HS