Takeaways from the 2015 NFL Draft – Cleveland Browns
Well, the draft is finally in the books for this year. Many Browns’ fans, myself included, were pretty content with the outcome. I was not overjoyed, but relieved the team did not reach for several potential busts (or trade away the draft like in 2013). Five things quickly came to my mind after witnessing what occurred for the orange and brown in the past three days.
#1 – The Trenches Matter
Clearly each NFL team needs a franchise signal caller to succeed, but without great linemen – everything else becomes more difficult. Offensively, the team got Cameron Erving – who will challenge John Greco and Mitchell Schwartz for playing time on the right side of the line. Defensively, Danny Shelton and Xavier Cooper figure to be solid rotational guys upfront who can wall off opponents.
#2 – Pass Rushers From All Over
Many expect the Browns to have rushers come only from the edge. While the outside linebacker is the primary spot to rush the quarterback, Ray Famer found a few guys who can attack from other positions. This includes defensive end and even defensive tackle. If the guys up the gut can dominate and can generate a rush, and the outside linebackers do their job – opposing quarterbacks should be scared.
#3 – Draft for the Present and Future
This refers primarily to two guys the team acquired; Cameron Erving and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. The former will start either as a guard or tackle in 2015 and can slide to center in 2016 (should Alex Mack depart via free agency) and beyond. The latter was seen as a first or second round talent, but tearing his ACL last winter caused him to slip to the seventh round. Getting that type of talent is huge – if he can rehabilitate well, the 2016 version of the athlete will be a steal for the Browns.
#4 – Minimizing the Role of the Quarterback
Let’s face it; we are probably not going to have a single 300-yard (or more) passing performance by a Browns’ quarterback this season. Therefore, the team must excel in all other areas of the game. This includes their running attack, and Duke Johnson should help with that. Also, stopping opponents is a priority – the front seven appears to be improved. If all other areas are clicking, the quarterback should only be required to make a few plays and not commit a critical mistake.
#5 – No Such Thing as a Franchise Wide Receiver
In addition to not relying on the guy under center very much, the Browns appear to feel that the position of wide receiver is “a dime a dozen”. They want to not put all their eggs in the basket of finding a potential Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green, but instead continuing to bring in solid contributors each season. If one or two guys can stretch the field, while others can simply get open and move the chains – then this spot will have been filled brilliantly. A ton has to go right, but Farmer and company feel this is the best strategy for his team.
Conclusion: In addition to getting several “good character” athletes, the Browns bolstered their roster from top to bottom. Hopefully either Manziel gets his act together or Josh McCown play over his head this campaign. It’s a lot of ifs and hopes, but there’s a slight chance the Browns can improve upon their 7 – 9 record from 2014 tremendously.