So the 2017 NFL draft is about an hour away and most likely even closer by the time this gets published. But no matter… Whatever I write here won’t change any of the minds that are about to draft future NFL players. Future players that will hopefully be able to help rebuild a failing franchise or can be that missing piece that carries them one step closer to the promised land.
When you think of failing franchises, one cannot help but think of the Cleveland Browns. Yes, there are other teams out there that have been battling through some tough times. But you may be hard pressed to find one that has been worse than the Browns. What was once a great and storied franchise has become the laughing stock of the NFL. To be honest, much, if not all has been brought upon themselves.
I can trace it back to when the Browns were reactivated into the league as an expansion team in 1999. They were given the first overall pick that year. I remember it well… For me it is like a bad dream! I kept thinking to myself, why don’t they make a deal with the New Orleans Saints? At that time, Mike Ditka was willing to give up the farm to be able to draft Ricky Williams. They eventually traded with the Washington Redskins, giving up all their picks 1999 and a first & third in 2000. (http://www.espn.com/blog/nfcsouth/post/_/id/64262/saints-ricky-williams-trade-still-one-of-most-infamous-in-draft-history). Just imagine what the Cleveland Browns could have done with a haul like that? Especially for an expansion team which is basically a roster filled with throw-away players from the leagues teams. In fact, they might have been able to acquire a little bit more based on the Saints position in the draft. What a SOLID roster building move that could have been! Instead, they drafted Tim Couch. Most of us know where that went… Maybe analytics could have been useful back then? Or just plain common sense in terms of how to rebuild a franchise?
Fast forwarding to the infamous draft of “Johnny Football” in 2014. The text heard round the world, sent by Johnny Manziel to the owner or someone in the Browns war room. Well, Johnny didn’t exactly “wreck the league” as much as he wrecked himself and ANOTHER first round pick. Now blame has circulated but the smart money says that the owner Jimmy Haslam was the driving force behind that pick. To his credit, Ray Farmer did nab a couple decent players out of that draft; Christian Kirksey and Joel Bitonio. But two good picks a rebuild does not make! Neither does a meddling owner!
So here we are… The Browns are on the clock holding the first pick in the draft. Again there is the potential to either send this franchise into the right direction or even faster into the opposite direction. A direction they and unfortunately Browns fans are WAY to familiar with! The overwhelming favorite talent-wise is Myles Garret, a phenomenally gifted athlete, with astronomical potential! Then there is a quarterback with a total of thirteen starts; Mitchell Trubisky. His 206 season was very good statically speaking but… Does that warrant the number one pick? Even over an established resume such as Mr. Watson from Clemson? But the Browns ownership and upper management seem to be ready to throw caution to the wind and a potential franchise changing draft pick to the trash. Jimmy Haslam cannot just see that without a good/great defense, a franchise QB still won’t help you get too far. Case and point; Andrew Luck. While he has helped the Colts win more games than they should, they have yet to really contend for the Super Bowl. Build the team, then get a QB that can help lead the team. There are WAY too many holes to fill and too many potential defensive studs waiting to help solidify a defense!
The draft now being 1 hour away… I will give you my picks on who I believe will help not only the Browns but, whichever team they land on. The picks will be based on who I think will still be available and I am only going to go through their picks from rounds 1-3. Let’s see if these old eyes can see any better than the so called “experts” and NFL GM’s.
Pick 1: Myles Garret
Pick 12: Malik Hooker or Johnathan Allen (I think both will be gone by then but if not?) or Marshonn Lattimore. If they are all gone? OJ Howard
Pick 33: Obi Melifonwu (Imagine that secondary!) or TJ Watt
Pick 52: If they miss on filling either safety position? Jabril Peppers (for SS) or Antonio Garcia (can possibly fill the RT spot) or Budda Baker (for SS). Maybe even Joe Mixon?
Pick 65: Bucky Hodges (Helps rebuild the TE spot if Howard not taken) or Cooper Kupp or Gareon Conely (if he falls to this spot)
It is my belief that ANY of these players will be an asset to their teams. For Browns fans, let’s hope some of these players are on the future roster.