If you peruse the Internet’s mock drafting, Geno Smith will land in Cleveland more often than my tolerance for first-round quarterback chasing will allow.
I get it. There’s been a seismic shift in Cleveland during this offseason that may or may not involve dirty fraud and shattered dreams. But as it stands right now, Jimmy Haslam is the Browns’ new owner, and he’s flanked by Joe Banner, new general manager Michael Lomdardi, and new head coach Rob Chudzinski. The word “new” was used three times in the preceding sentence.
Smith’s projections are widespread, and sometimes outright zany and crazy, or absolutely absurd. So falling out of the top five is a very real possibility for him, and if that happens the appetite for change and new-ness in Cleveland may be overwhelming, even though the Browns just spent a first-round pick on a quarterback last spring. In a QB class where every name is followed by a question mark or three, giving up on Weeden immediately seems unwise at best, and crippling at worst.
Our draft previews continue to chug towards their conclusion with some Browns chatter today. Scott Sargent from Waiting For Next Year was kind enough to pull himself away from his Jimmy Haslam tears for a few minutes. I swear I didn’t search the web for someone who shares my Weeden opinion. Honest.
1. Assuming he’s still on the board, Dee Milliner seems like the near consensus Browns pick in the first round. Do you agree with that direction? Cornerback may not necessarily be the strongest area of need, but Milliner and Joe Haden would form one of the league’s best young tandems at the position.
The more I read about Milliner, the more I fall in love. Personally, I would have much rather the team used a few of their league-leading available dollars in free agency to address the cornerback position—in which case I would have gladly taken Oregon’s Dion Jordan and not thought twice—but this is the bed they’ve made. I’m not sure how much to buy in to those Sports Science bits, but Milliner’s was off-the-charts good.
A crazy athlete at a position of need. That said, there’s no guarantee that Milliner is available at No. 6, so this could all be moot. Hey, speaking of…
2. What about a guard? If Milliner is gone, the Browns could be among the many teams in the top ten set to give Chance Warmack a long look.
Warmack would also address an area of need, but I find it difficult to believe that the team would spend a top-ten pick on an interior lineman, regardless of how much better this kid is than the rest of his peers. I truly believe that trading down is a goal of Cleveland’s, so Warmack could be on the radar if they can execute a trade and select him later in the first round while acquiring a second-round pick.
3. Of course, another possibility is Geno Smith if he escapes the top five. If Smith is there, should the Browns take him and use a first-round pick on a quarterback in two straight drafts? Or should they give Brandon Weeden one more year?
I’m fully in Camp Weeden and the reasons are two-fold. First, I don’t think Smith is a surefire upgrade over Weeden. A higher ceiling? I’d listen to a debate. Instant starter at the next level in a non spread offense? I think things get a little murky there. Couple all of this with the fact that I want to see what Weeden can do in an offense that suits his abilities—more shotgun, fewer batted balls due to more efficient routes—after a year in the league. The kid (OK, grown man) seems to understand what he did wrong last season. Let’s see how much he learned.
4. With the switch to a 3-4, can we expect an inside linebacker to be targeted sometime on Day 2?
I wouldn’t count on an inside linebacker in Day 2 as much as Day 3. If anything, I expect the areas of focus to be the defensive backfield, wide receivers and pass-rushing linebackers. Given that Day 2 will be only two rounds and the Browns do not currently have a second-round pick, they’ll have to address their needs. And right now, D’Qwell Jackson and Craig Robertson are slated to be the starting inside backers. Robertson had 93 tackles last season, so he’s no slouch—he’s also an asset in the pass-coverage game, which is huge for a Horton defense that deploys two linemen and sticks with four linebackers in nickel situations. Robertson will be spelled by one of last season’s Day 3 picks in James-Michael Johnson.
5. What other needs should be addressed?
I think we covered a lot of them, as there are many. The offense is essentially set outside of the potential for another wide receiver. I’d be shocked if Cleveland selected a quarterback within the first three rounds, but then again, little surprises me anymore.
if I’m the Browns, I’m loading up on defense and letting last season’s offensive additions gel. You need to find out what you have before you go wasting assets on ego-driven decisions. All Browns fans can hope for is that, come next Saturday night, their team is better than it was on the preceding Thursday. That said, the bar is set very low.