I make no claim to be an expert when it comes to professional football and, specifically, the Cleveland Browns. I'll leave that title to Big $ and K-Dubs the Soldier from the North Coast Posse. But still, as another NFL season is upon us, I find my thoughts increasingly cluttered with the wreckage of Browns recent 1st round draft picks. In fact, it's become so distracting that I have a hard time completing simple tasks, and service at Colin's Coffee has suffered accordingly. I hope that by putting some of these thoughts on paper, I will once again be able to enjoy a good night's rest and stop giving people regular instead of decaf. Let's get started:
Johnny Manziel - 2014 - Pick #22. What words jump to mind when I say Johnny Football? Entitled? Arrogant? Questionable character? Sure. But those also apply to Tom Brady. The words that best describe John have nothing to do with his hard-partying lifestyle or money- sign-waving shenanigans. The two words that really matter are: small and slow. That and, uh, sore elbow. Which he recently mentioned has been hurting him since high school. Nice. So the Browns used a first round draft pick on a small, slow quarterback with a sore elbow and well-documented personal demons.
The fact that his career has been a disaster is about as surprising as that the decision to invade Iraq was a bad idea. All sorts of really smart people warned us about both well in advance, but who wants to listen to a bunch of nerds spouting a bunch of know-it-all facts and figures. Pfftt... Not the Browns front office and certainly not a large cross-section of the Dawg Pound. We go with our gut, baby! One wonders how Johnny Football would have been treated in Cleveland if he looked more like Terrelle Pryor? (Click here to read "What if Johnny wasn't white?" by Big $)
Staying in 2014, lots of people knew Manziel would be a bust, but how did the Browns miss on #8 pick Justin Gilbert? Isn't a cover corner one of the easiest players to scout? I mean the guy is on an island shadowing guys all by his lonesome. Certainly somebody taken that high must have some ability. At the very least, when you are paying big money for a high pick they shouldn't get beat out by an undrafted free agent like Gilbert did. Think about that: Gilbert, who is getting paid millions, got beat out for his job by a guy getting league minimum. Ah yes, money well-spent.
What went wrong? In hindsight, it appears that while Gilbert is blessed with impressive size and speed, it turns out he cannot cover anybody and he cannot tackle. At all. This wouldn't be much of a problem if he were playing, say, center field for the Cleveland Indians, but this skill set presents a challenge for an athlete hoping to play defensive back in the NFL.
So, to summarize the Browns 2014 first round draft, they picked two players who should be PAYING the Browns to stay on the roster. They have contributed nothing to the team.
Boy, imagine a team blowing two first round picks in the same year. Bet that doesn't happen very often. I mean these front-office types get paid big bucks just to scout talent. I wonder how far back we have to look to find another situation like this....
Browns Draft 2012
The Browns TRADED UP one pick to grab Alabama RB Trent Richardson at #3. It is worth noting that by this time, most successful franchises had stopped wasting high draft picks on running backs and had gone to a committee approach in the backfield. As luck would have it, the team the Browns traded valuable picks to move up one spot was the Minnesota Vikings, who happened to have the highest-paid and most valuable running back in the league ALREADY on their team: i.e. The Vikings were never going to draft Trent Richardson in the first place, but somehow convinced the Browns they might and got a couple of extra draft picks out of the deal. As I was watching the draft I said out loud to my 8 year old son Owen, "That was a sucker trade, though I can live with it as long as we don't do something really stupid with our next pick and draft somebody like Brandon Weeden."
"With the 22nd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select...... Brandon Weeden, Quarterback from Oklahoma State".
I got up and started kicking the sofa.
Here are the actual Brandon Weeden Wiki page opening sentences "Weeden was drafted by the Cleveland Browns with the 22nd pick in the 2012 NFL Draft; he became the oldest player ever taken in the first round, at 28 years old. The Browns gave Weeden the starting job. In his first game, Weeden had a 5.1 passer rating after throwing four interceptions in a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, which is the sixth lowest in a season opener by any QB attempting at least 15 passes in league history."
I believe Weeden and Richardson are both out of the league as of opening day 2015. So is 2011 Browns first round pick Phil Taylor BTW.
Take heart Browns fans, it's not all doom and gloom, 2013 first round Barkevious Mingo is still on the squad and rumor has it he might contribute on the special teams and some selected 3rd down situations. Value!
OK, It feels good to get this out of my system. I better start sweeping up this coffee shop before I start my next essay, "Cleveland Hates God."
Colin Gawel started Pencilstorm and wrote this at Colin's Coffee. He doesn't know very much about football.