I added a bonus slide because I don’t know what to make of the draft class Cleveland put together.
In a vacuum, this is a very good group of players, many of which could have an immediate impact.
Justin Gilbert is a great scheme fit for the Browns and will be a nice match with Joe Haden. Johnny Manziel is an incredibly talented quarterback who, with a bit of seasoning, could be a fantastic.
Joel Bitonio will step right in at guard (or perhaps right tackle) and make a great line even better. Christian Kirksey is a versatile linebacker who will probably spend a lot of time clogging the middle and keeping an eye on slot receivers.
While I won’t go as over the top as NFL Network’s Charlie Casserly and say running back Terrance West “is going to beat out Ben Tate to be the starting running back this year,” I will say he has the talent to contribute early on in his career.
And some were saying Pierre Desir could go in the second round, so the raw cornerback is a great grab in the fourth.
What bothers me though, and keeps me from saying this team got tremendously better, is what they didn’t draft—a wide receiver.
Not one, which is surprising considering ESPN.com’s T.J. Quinn and Don Van Natta Jr. have reported that receiver Josh Gordon is facing a year-long suspension.
And to rub salt in the wound, ESPN’s Ken Sarnoff reported that Nate Burleson broke his arm again.
As I discussed in the Jacksonville slide, Cleveland approached this issue much differently than Jacksonville did.
In the most talent-deep receiver class in forever, Cleveland didn’t draft one. In fact, they traded away a pick they could have selected Sammy Watkins with.
No, the Browns stuck to their board, which was apparently bereft of wide receivers.
This seems insane to me. A new quarterback, a new system and a guy who, even when he returns, is a bad decision away from being kicked out of the league—but you draft no receivers.
It seems like a risky way to do business.
Of course, there is another way to look at it.
What if they really are determined to sit Johnny Manziel for the first year and, instead of worrying about a receiver for Brian Hoyer, they built up the rest of the team?
The Browns will have a quite a bit of cap room next year (allowing for an adjustment of the total due to rookie contracts), according to OverTheCap.com. They look to be hovering, as of now, under $100 million in salary total for next year.
They could make a huge splash in free agency next year, taking advantage of a returning Josh Gordon as well.
Clearly they have some sort of plan. It’s just not 100 percent obvious what they are doing.
The draft itself strengthened the roster. The events around the draft weakened it.
That’s why at the end of the day, I’d give it a push.
Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at FootballGuys.com and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him @andrew_garda on Twitter.