The Case for Offense in the First Round: Cleveland Browns
Which direction should the Browns go with their twelfth and nineteenth selections in the 2015 draft? Assuming neither are traded, the team could a few ways – doubling up on offense, defense, or getting a guy on each side of the ball. In a two part series, we’ll discuss reasons why the franchise should strengthen one unit with both picks during the first round. First up is the offense.
Name of the Game
Recent rules of the game (defensive holding, pass interference, and personal fouls) have hindered defenders in the NFL and allowed offenses to put up points. It’s no secret that the Browns have struggled in this department, and grabbing a pair of excellent weapons should help the team find the end zone. I understand that the team is far from a finished product, but this draft is an example to strike when the iron’s hot. They have an opportunity to do what no other team can, securing two of the best twenty prospects in the league. If the Browns can hit with two offensive guys, perhaps they can get at least into the middle of the pack in terms of scoring (assuming they have decent-to-good quarterback play).
Good, not Great
The free agency period saw the team acquire two solid wide receivers (Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline). Both are chain-movers, and could find the end zone here and there – but the team is still lacking a top-end wide out who teams have to game plan for. Here is where the first round pick comes into play; nabbing a DeVante Parker, Amari Cooper, or maybe even a Jalen Strong might transform the receiving corps to one of the better ones in the NFL. I anticipate each to have solid careers, and the NFL is now set up for wide receivers to succeed.
Additionally, Jordan Cameron’s departure left a void at the tight end position. While he played little in 2014, the veteran must be replaced. Should the Browns draft Maxx Williams in the first round of the draft and forget about the former Pro Bowler? There’s a chance that this occurs, but the team must get a reliable pass catcher during draft week regardless of the round.
Having an exceptional offensive line should only improve the odds that the Browns put more points on the board, right? A La’el Collins or Ereck Flowers could give Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel, or whoever else time to throw consistently. This rookie might make life easier for Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell when toting the football as well. It would not be an exciting selection, but grabbing a lineman might improve the unit more than many would think.
Obviously, the position of quarterback can throw the first round of the draft for a loop. The Browns could opt to go all-out for Marcus Mariotta (by trading up) or reach for a Brett Hundley with the nineteenth selection. Clearly, this would be an interesting decision and the face of the franchise would likely change. The offense would hopefully improve as a result, but by how much and how quickly?
Conclusion: Personally, I would want the Browns to get two offensive weapons during the first round of the draft. They need a number one wide out, and either a tight end or offensive linemen (the other can be had later in the draft). I’m sick and tired of seeing field goals and turnovers in the red zone – it’s time to finally witness the Browns scoring touchdowns regularly.