Coming off a dismal 1-15 2016 season, the Cleveland Browns had a total of 11 picks including two in the first round. Then the Browns even scooped up another first rounder in an eventful first round!
The Browns’ Super Bowl otherwise known as the NFL Draft is over for the Cleveland Browns and they added 10 new rookies.
The Browns were set on picking their spots and finding value. They were aggressive in finding their type of play makers who exhibited athleticism and versatility.
The front office and the coaching staff seem to share a singular vision, one that should set the team up in the right direction finally.
Overall, the Browns made four trades throughout the three days of the draft. They moved back in the first round (No. 12 for No.25 and Houston’s 2018 first-round pick) and grabbed safety Jabrill Peppers. Not long after they moved up to take Miami tight end David Njoku at No. 29 (giving the Packers No. 33 and No. 108). The Browns moved around the board on Day 3 and added the following players: Houston cornerback Howard Wilson (fourth round, pick No.184), Florida State tackle Rod Johnson (fifth round, No.160) and N.C. State running back Matthew Dayes (seventh round, No.252).
2017 NFL DRAFT REPORT CARD-
CLEVELAND BROWNS EDITION
1st Pick: Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M
Myles Garrett was the best player in the draft, and the Cleveland Browns had to take him here. Picking Myles Garrett as the difference-maker on defense made a world of sense. His upside is a perennial double-digit sack producer and All-Pro end.
The Browns could have addressed the QB need with this pick, but taking the best player available and filling another major need was the smart move.
25th Pick: Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
After trading away the 12th pick and a shot at QB DeShaun Watson, the Browns dropped 13 spots and took one of the more divisive members of this draft class.
For a player that didn’t have a position in college and wont have a position in the NFL, its amazing he could still be drafted in the first round. Peppers has the talent to become a dynamic defensive back, if he is given the chance to learn the position. He is a great athlete. However, by using him as a gadget player on defense, offense, AND special teams the Browns are hurting his development. For a guy with just one INT and 10 passes defended at Michigan, he is not ready to step in and be a play maker.
He may be too small to play linebacker and may lack the ball-hawking instincts to play defensive back.
A player without a position that is this much of a developmental project is NOT a first-round pick in the NFL Draft.
129th Pick: David Njokue, TE Miami (via Green Bay)
The Browns traded back into Round 1, trading picks 33 and 108 to snag TE David Njokue from Miami. He is very raw but a rare tight end talent and he has a huge upside.
Who is going to throw him the ball?
A tight end is a real luxury pick for a team with so many needs.
52nd Pick: DeShone Kizer, QB Notre Dame
At least, he fits the physical prototype at 6-foot-4 and 233 pounds. While his play in 2016 was a downgrade from his 2015 season, he showed enough flashes to warrant a high draft pick.
DeShone Kizer is not a great prospect, but he provided solid value in the middle of the second round.
He will enter the QB competition as the favorite to win the job.
65th Pick: Larry Ogunjobi, Defensive Lineman Charlotte
With 49 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and 33 QB hurries on his college resume, he is an intriguing player to watch out for.
Expectations are high for the Browns defense for the first year with Gregg Williams as the new defensive coordinator. It will be interesting to see the type of production he can get out of his new run-stuffing defensive tackle in Ogunjobi.
There is a level of concern over some rookies making the transition from smaller schools like Charlotte to the NFL. But when looking at his work ethic from over the years, Ogunjobi seems like he’s going to be a solid fit for the Browns defense.
126th Pick: Howard Wilson, CB Houston
The Browns coveted him enough to move back into the 4th round to get him. He totaled 9 interceptions, 15 passes defended, 77 solo tackles, 3 1/2 sacks in 3 seasons for the Cougars.
The big, athletic CB missed much of 2015 with an ACL injury but impressed in 2016 with his playing style and his instincts.
He will need time to develop but he will get the opportunity to play, probably in dime packages, and could grow into a starter.
160th Pick: Rod Johnson, Offensive Lineman Florida State
He is a developmental player and the Browns are not making that a secret. He will work at left tackle behind Joe Thomas.
He has the size, long arms and strong lower body but his technique is robotic. His progress may take longer than most rookies.
One of the biggest issues for Johnson heading into the draft was his ability to pass block, as most scouts believed he was more valuable at opening gaps for the run game.
185th Pick: Caleb Brantley, Defensive Tackle Florida
He is accused of punching a woman and is charged with misdemeanor battery. There are conflicting stories on what exactly happened.
Thought to be a second round prospect, the controversial Brantley totaled 20 tackles for loss, 5 1/2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles in 3 seasons.
After the Browns showed amazing patience and stuck to their draft plans, to pick Brantley was unjustifiable. If Brantley is found guilty, he should NOT be a Brown.
224th Pick: Zane Gonzalez, Kicker Arizona State
He made 96 of 115 attempts over 4 seasons. those are both FBS records. He made 7 of 9 field goals from 50-plus yards last season and 13 from 40-plus, more than any kicker in the country.
He may miss on some easier kicks but will be an asset on kickoffs and a weapon the moment the offense reaches the 40-yard line.
Any other round and this would seem like a foolish pick on Cleveland’s end, but the organization wouldn’t have made the selection if they didn’t already think he was an upgrade over their current situation with Parkey. The Browns would have won at least two more games last season if they had a better kicker.
Grade: B (I can not give an A for drafting a kicker)
252nd pick: Matthew Dayes, RB North Carolina State
The 5-foot-8 205 running back totaled 2856 yards in 4 seasons for North Carolina State. His production increased each season, including rushing for 1166 yards in 2106.
Dayes is a change-of-pace, third-down back with good pass-protection skills. The Browns coached him in the Senior Bowl, so it’s nice that they’re familiar with him.
Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta, who said there’s always room for improvement, added, “You take a step back as soon as it is over and take a look at the names on the card and feel really good about the three days as a whole.”
The Browns may not be any good next season, but they did a good job overall in this draft. This draft, though, will be defined by how well second-round quarterback DeShone Kizer develops. If he is their starter for a long time, this will be a great draft. Right now, it’s a fairly good one.
The Browns keep flipping draft picks into more picks choosing to bypass quality for quantity which is very frustrating.
The Browns drafted a solid foundation of talent to build upon, but did not address their three main needs-QB, DB, and RT. While they drafted players at QB & DB, they did not select the difference makers that are required to make the team more competitive and were available throughout this draft.
Obtaining the Texans’ 2018 first-rounder bumped their grade up one notch.
Overall Final Grade: B-
Getting anything over a C in the draft is like the Browns winning a Super Bowl. Where is the parade?