I think reasonable people would agree that my ten year old son Owen could have drafted for the Cleveland Browns the past five years and been as "successful" as their highly paid front office executives. Hell, let's be frank, he probably would have done better reading names off Peter King's website. See, that is the dirty little secret about the NFL draft: for all the non-stop coverage and cheat sheets, it really isn't hard to maneuver through unless you're a local sportscaster or an ex-player who has suffered multiply concussions. This isn't rocket science. Sure you may miss here and there, but overall, the smart teams do well, the others not so much. Always.
Before I lay down my elementary two-step strategy for a successful Browns draft, I would like to present a list of every quarterback taken in the first round since 2000, picked 4th or lower. The Browns are picking 4th this year so this should give us a good idea of what quality of player to expect between the 4th pick and 32nd pick overall in the first round. In chronological order starting in 2013 working back to 2000.
-- Ok, Browns fans, it is going to start to get better, but only a little.
Twenty-three QB's were taken in the first round picked 4th or lower since 2000. As you can see, most of them were terrible. Two became superstars (Rodgers and Rothlisberger), while three others have had good careers (Flacco, Cutler, Rivers).
Or put another way, if the Browns use a first round pick on a QB in the 2014 NFL Draft, that player has a 8.6% chance of becoming a superstar, a 17.0% chance off being pretty good and a 78% chance that he will become yet another embarrassment for an embarrassing franchise. If those numbers don't scare you, than have at it, tough guy. Go get Manziel or Blake Bortles with the 4th or 26th pick, but don't say I didn't warn you. The numbers don't lie. And keep in mind, none of these 2014 QB prospects are considered in the same class as Rodgers or Big Ben, they just happen to be coming out in a year with thin talent at that position.
"But the Browns need a franchise quarterback to win the Super Bowl. They need to hit a home run on this one."
Before I put my fingers down my throat, let me explain why this line of thinking makes me sick.
1) As a Browns fan, the last thing I am worried about is winning the Super Bowl. How about we keep a head coach for longer than 12 months or keep our owner out of jail for less than 24. If and when we sniff .500 for two consecutive seasons, we can start jawing about winning the Super Bowl. Until then, draft the best talent available and shut up about the QB. It makes us all sound dumb and Bill Belichick LOL.
2) Sure, hitting a home run is nice, but there is another baseball cliche that may be more appropriate for this draft: "You can't get it all back with one swing."
So here we go. Two simple steps to a successful Browns draft.
1) Four players are considered "can't miss" superstars by the super-majority of experts. The Browns are drafting 4th, so take whomever is left of Clowney, Robinson, Mack, Watkins.
I realize it may not be exciting to take Mack with the 4th pick as our defense is already semi-respectable, but if Sammy W. is gone, that is the right move. But after watching sports science I suppose we can take Mike Evans if we are hellbent on a WR. As the previous list of QB's makes painfully clear, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD THE BROWNS TAKE A QB WITH THE #4 PICK IN THE DRAFT. Got that?? NO QB at #4. And really, not at #26 either.
2) After step one is complete the Browns should take the best available OL, WR, or CB according to who they (and experts) like most. If they take Watkins or Evans at #4 they only have to fill the other two needs and then…..
They can spend the rest of the draft trying to hit a "home run" looking for a franchise QB to lead them to the promised land.
So to summarize: The Browns first three picks should fill in no particular order, WR, OL, CB and then just go crazy looking for shitty QBs they will cut in two years.
There you go. Easy stuff.