The Biggest Questions the Cleveland Browns Must Answer over Draft Weekend
Organizations are built in the draft. It is their lifeblood. Since that is the case, it is no wonder that the Cleveland Browns have been so bad for so long. Bad drafts equal bad franchises.
Bad teams always have a litany of questions entering draft weekend and a plan to answer all of them. Unfortunately, it usually does not happen that way.
If the Browns can answer the majority of their questions during the draft, including the most important one, then they may actually be able to pull themselves out of the gutter in the AFC North. They are not that far away.
So what exactly do they have to answer? Let’s take a look at five questions plaguing the Browns heading into the draft.
Who is their quarterback moving forward?
If you wrote this article about the Browns every year for the past decade, then you could just copy and paste this section. You would have to change the names pretty frequently, but the rest would be status quo.
Since 1999, the Browns have failed to draft and develop a quarterback who can lead them to consistent playoff contention. Once again, they will need to try to find that guy in the draft.
That does not mean they have to take someone with the fourth overall pick and start him immediately. It just means they need to find the guy.
As much as some Browns fans want to believe in Brian Hoyer, he did not prove much last season. In two full games, he did win twice but also threw four interceptions. The fact that he did not prove anything says way more about the span of time he actually played than his skills on the field, though.
Perhaps he is the guy to turn the Browns around. Unfortunately, they cannot afford to bank on that fact and will need to bring in someone else to compete. Hopefully, one of those two can put a stop to the revolving door at quarterback.
How much say does Haslam have in the fourth overall pick?
When Browns owner Jimmy Haslam cleaned house for the second time in his very short tenure as owner, it seemed as though he would be taking a more active role in how the Browns operate. That can be a good thing, or that can be a bad thing.
Owners like Robert Kraft in New England have an active role but let their football guys handle the decision-making on the field. Owners like Jerry Jones in Dallas think they are football guys, and it kills the teams every year.
Which type of owner is Haslam?
General manager Ray Farmer told the media in his pre-draft press conference that Haslam is very involved but does not necessarily make demands.
“He is involved; he is in meetings; he comes around; we keep him up to speed on what we’re doing and why we’re doing it,” Farmer said. “He’s not a guy that applies pressure. He’s very supportive, and he wants to make sure that we are doing our due diligence in all factors.”
Is that lip service so people do not know the level that Haslam actually controls the team, or is that factual? Haslam would have every right to select the player of his choosing with the fourth overall pick.
He paid $1 billion for this franchise, and if he thinks there is a marketing machine who can also win sitting there, then he should take him. However, the owners who listen to good general managers instead of their pockets succeed.
What type of GM is Ray Farmer?
The reason the Browns are such an unknown during this draft is because their general manager has never done this before. He is a rookie with no track record and a ton of picks as ammunition.
“I’ve definitely worked to get here,” Farmer said in his pre-draft press conference. “I wouldn’t say it’s overwhelming; it’s actually intriguing. It’s interesting from my perspective that everybody is so juiced about the NFL Draft. This is bigger than a lot of sporting events. Nobody is playing anything, yet still everybody is fired up to see what happens.”
Intrigued is a great word to describe most fans’ feelings.
Is Farmer an aggressive general manager? Will he be wheeling and dealing picks to move around and get the guys he wants? Will he select guys many had later in the draft and not care what others think? Will he stand pat and take the top guy on his board in every round?
These are all questions that will define Farmer as a general manager moving forward. In that job, the draft is your resume, and Farmer is about to add the first bullet point to his come Thursday.
Does Pettine care more about offense or defense?
While Farmer will have final say in whom the Browns select, head coach Mike Pettine will be a close second. Despite Farmer not being there for the interview process, he still swears by Pettine and says they are on the same page.
So what page is that exactly? Is it the page that overloads a defense because that is the coach’s specialty, or one that diversifies the picks to balance the roster?
Let’s say the Browns draft defensive players with their first two picks. It does not necessarily mean that Pettine is running the draft board, but it certainly means he has a lot of say in the process. The Browns need so much offensive help that it would be mind-boggling to leave the first round without one.
Still, this is very real possibility. If the Browns select linebacker Khalil Mack or defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney with the fourth overall pick, then they could very well take a cornerback with the 26th.
If that is the case, then the Browns better get ready to hold teams to 14 points per game if they want to win.
How much confidence do they have in Gordon to stay out of trouble?
If you think wide receiver Josh Gordon’s past brushes with the NFL’s substance-abuse policy do not factor into the fourth overall pick, you are crazy. The only way they do not is if Sammy Watkins is not even on their draft board.
If the Browns select Watkins with the fourth overall pick, they would be making a huge statement. Part of that statement would be that they are trying to make one of the most formidable receiving tandems in the NFL, but the other part would be that they need insurance for Gordon.
If he slips up one more time, he is gone for a season and possibly more. Look at what is happening with Justin Blackmon in Jacksonville. Watkins would be a great second receiver, but he could also be a very good first.
If Gordon were to get suspended and the Browns were left with a rookie quarterback and 32-year-old Nate Burleson as their primary target, they could be in some serious trouble offensively.