Cleveland Browns 2014 Draft: The Good, the Bad and the Baffling
The Cleveland Browns' 2014 draft is in the books. While the draft grading begins, the true value of each of their six new players won't be known until at least a year from now, if not longer.
However, we can take a look at each of their selections and, based on what we know of the team's needs and the collegiate careers of those they picked, divide them into three camps: Good, bad and baffling.
Here are the best, the worst and the just plain weirdest decisions the Browns made in this year's draft.
List of All 2014 Draft Selections
Here are all the players the Browns selected in the 2014 NFL draft:
- Justin Gilbert, CB (Round 1, eighth overall)
- Johnny Manziel, QB (Round 1, 22nd overall)
- Joel Bitonio, OT (Round 2, 35th overall)
- Christian Kirksey, LB (Round 3, 71st overall)
- Terrance West, RB (Round 3, 94th overall)
- Pierre Desir, CB (Round 4, 127th overall)
Justin Gilbert, CB (Round 1, Pick 8)
The Browns needed another shutdown cornerback to pair with Joe Haden and they wasted no time, trading down to ninth overall with the Buffalo Bills and then back up to eight to take Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert.
Gilbert has 182 career college tackles, along with 12 interceptions, and is an upgrade in size, speed and power over Buster Skrine, who can move back into slot corner. The Browns now have the secondary needed to run Mike Pettine's aggressive defense.
Johnny Manziel, QB (Round 1, Pick 22)
There was no question that the Browns needed a quarterback, regardless of the status of Brian Hoyer. The Browns wasted little time, making sure they could move up a quartet of spots from 26 to take Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel.
Manziel's signing prompted Browns fans to order over 2,000 season tickets in the 24 hours after he was selected. But, more than that, Manziel gives the Browns their quarterback of the future and someone to build an offense around.
Joel Bitonio, OT (Round 2, Pick 35)
While the Browns certainly needed to address wide receiver early in this draft, if they did in Round 2 they would have lost out on the opportunity for an upgrade on offensive line. Nevada tackle Joel Bitonio was a smart use of their third pick in the draft, allowing the Browns to potentially kick Mitchell Schwartz from right tackle to guard. Bitonio could be a Browns lifer, much like his counterpart on the left, Joe Thomas.
Terrance West, RB (Round 3, Pick 94)
Yes, the Browns have Ben Tate and yes, Dion Lewis could come back with guns blazing after breaking his leg in the preseason last year. But offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan would certainly love to have a stable of backs on the roster. And the Browns certainly need all the run-game help they can get after ranking a dismal 27th in rushing yards last year.
West has 4,854 career collegiate rushing yards, including 2,509 last year. He also caught 26 passes for 258 yards in 2013. The Browns met a pressing need perfectly with the productive West.
Pierre Desir, CB (Round 4, Pick 127)
The Browns may not be lacking for cornerback starters or depth, but that doesn't mean they wasted their fourth-round selection on Lindenwood's Pierre Desir. With 25 career interceptions dating back to his two seasons at Washburn College in Kansas, 93 tackles over the last two years and great speed and size, he could easily catch on in Cleveland and eventually become a starter. With his background, his work ethic won't even begin to be a question.
The Bills' First-Round pick in 2015
To move down first from fourth overall to ninth, the Browns received the Buffalo Bills' first-round pick next year. There's nothing wrong with adding a second first-round pick—especially one that could very well be in the top half of the draft.
No Wide Receiver?
The Browns went into the 2014 draft with 10 picks. They left with six players. And despite the news on both Josh Gordon and Nate Burleson—and need at the position despite it—they didn't take a single receiver. In fact, they only took one guy who could ever catch a football, running back Terrance West.
There is ample time for the Browns to find more receivers, whether it's from the undrafted free agent market, the pool of players who will be getting released in the coming months or their own depth chart. But it does seem odd that, in a draft deep at receiver, the Browns didn't take one and maybe didn't have big plans to do it to begin with.
This could play out well. This could play out poorly. However, it just seems like a bad decision for the Browns not to add at least one wide receiver in this year's draft. It's the only bad move they made in the three-day event.
Christian Kirksey, LB (Round 3, Pick 71)
There's nothing all that wrong with linebacker Christian Kirksey. He's fast and he's versatile, able to work as an inside or outside linebacker and is an asset in coverage. He had 140 tackles in 2013 with Iowa and has four career interceptions, two returned for touchdowns. While smaller, his athleticism is well-suited for the spread-offense influence currently invading the NFL. He has Mike Pettine written all over him.
So why is the selection baffling?
Because the Browns are, or are about to be, thin at wide receiver. At least to us outside observers. Browns general manager Ray Farmer emphasized on Friday that he's "Not concerned with [his] depth at wide receiver," and that opportunities to add to the position will come up throughout the summer.
Still, was it worth it for the Browns to get a versatile, if smallish, linebacker instead of a receiver? We won't know for a year or more, certainly, but right now the Kirksey pick does seem a bit baffling.