The Cleveland Browns have to fight antiquated thinking.
Ever since they returned to the NFL in 1999, they have drafted the safe pick, players who would not rock the boat. Most of the time, the prospects they selected didn’t end up rocking much of anything in the NFL.
We are less than 24 hours from finding out who is headed where, and still no one knows what the Browns will do. It looks like all the hype around the Browns selecting Johnny Manziel was unwarranted. Jay Glazer of FoxSports.com says that neither the Browns nor the Oakland Raiders will be selecting him with the fourth or fifth picks.
Don't know how I can make this clearer for those arguing against it: CLE would take ME over Manziel at 4 & I totally botched the Wonderlic— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) May 7, 2014
So where are the Browns going to turn? Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer dropped some nuggets of knowledge on Wednesday. She says that general manager Ray Farmer is “enamored” with Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and would like to select him with the 26th pick. She also said they have talked about trading up from that spot to select him.
She then tweeted that the Browns' version of a perfect draft would include a lineman, quarterback and skill position player in the first three picks.
In a perfect world, I'm hearing #Browns would want: 4. Greg Robinson 26. Teddy Bridgewater 35. WR or RB such as Carlos Hyde— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) May 7, 2014
First of all, it seems like tackle Greg Robinson will likely be gone when the Browns make the fourth pick. The Auburn prospect has tremendous upside, but I'm not sure Cleveland can justify taking him that high should either Sammy Watkins, Jadeveon Clowney, Mike Evans or Khalil Mack be available. Passing up any of those blue-chip players for Robinson would be insane.
As for the interior of the offensive line, I have ranted about the Browns' need to upgrade the guard position as much as anyone, but there is plenty of talent to be had in the second or third rounds. Guard is similar to running back these days: You can find top-tier starters in the middle rounds and using a high pick is often a waste.
There have also been rumblings that the Browns could select tackle Jake Matthews with the fourth pick. Once again, this makes no sense. The Browns already have a cornerstone left tackle in Joe Thomas. While he is no spring chicken, he is not even 30 years old yet.
Farmer cannot fall into the trap of taking the safest pick. The Browns need impact players and are guaranteed a shot to select one with the fourth pick. Great teams have star power and weapons all over the field.
I still think the Browns should go ahead and select Manziel with the fourth overall pick, but that seems very unlikely now. So if they are not going to, why not take Clowney, Mack or Watkins? One of them will still be available at No. 4. In fact, why not take Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans? Many, including me, feel he could end up being a better receiver than Watkins.
Just take anyone besides a lineman. The Browns have two Pro Bowl players on the line already and just need to find solid pieces for the guard positions. Solid, not amazing—those guys are found in the later rounds.
The places where they need amazing production are receiver, linebacker, defensive line and running back.
If Farmer selects a lineman with the fourth overall pick, he might as well be saying, “I am afraid to miss with this selection.” You cannot run the draft scared. The fourth overall pick is meant to help you rebuild your franchise by obtaining game-changing talent, not solid offensive linemen.
It is time the Browns started turning these picks into players against whom other teams must game-plan. They need to start obtaining guys about whom opposing coaches have to think all week long. You don’t get that type of talent by hedging your bet or playing it safe.