Coming into this off season we heard a lot from Browns owner Jimmy Haslam about this being a crucial off-season and that it would setup the franchise for years to come. He wasn’t far wrong as the Browns were the winners of the draft and managed to get three picks for next year’s draft as well. It all started off with there first pick at #4, with Clowney,Robinson and Bortles gone the top player left was Sammy Watkins and many expected the Browns to snap him up to play opposite Josh Gordon. Instead the Browns managed to broker a very one-sided deal with the Bills, they switched first round picks this year and the Browns got Buffalo’s 2015 first and fourth round picks. While Watkins has elite potential, he would have to have a hall of fame type career to justify two top 15 picks and it looks like the Browns have gotten the better end of the bargain. With the Browns back at nine now no one was really sure what the would do and we’re a bit surprised when they traded their fifth round pick with Minnesota to move up a spot and take Justin Gilbert out of Oklahoma State. Gilbert was the consensus number one cornerback in the draft and will make a nice pairing with Joe Haden on the other side. It was a bit surprising that Browns spent their first pick on cornerback but it was a wise as he was the best player available and with his man coverage skills will allow Mike Pettine to run his Blitz heavy defensive scheme but one hopes he less of a bust than the Browns last Oklahoma State player, Brandon Weeden.
Justin Gilbert onstage in Radio City Music Hall in New York with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
With the Browns first pick in the books it was time for them to turn their attention to their second pick and potential QBs and there was plenty of choice with Bortles the only one gone in the top ten. This looked like it was going to change when Dallas came on the clock though as hype levels surrounding Johnny Menziel to the Cowboys reached all time highs after he still on the board when many expected him to be gone but at the last minute Jerry Jones made the sensible decision and selected Zach Martin out of Notre Dame instead. It was all quiet at QB until the Eagles were on the clock and some suggested that Chip Kelly might consider Manziel and the Browns pulled off their third trade in the first round sending their third round pick to Philly in exchange for switching picks. That’s when all he’ll broke loose, as the Browns draft party exploded into noise and all the fans in Radio City Music Hall broke into chants of “Johnny, Johnny, Johnny” as the commissioner walked on stage to announce the Browns pick. The with the moment everyone was waiting for Johnny Manziel was selected. Fans in Cleveland started dreaming of a Manziel to Gordon and 2300 season tickets were sold on the Friday but these were premature.
Johnny Manziel after being drafted
On Friday evening before the second round ESPN broke news of Josh Gordon possibly being suspended for the entire year because of a failed Marijuana test. This lead for many fans to call for a wide receiver to be drafted but Ray Farmer resisted by shoring up the line by picking Joel Bitonio out Nevada in the second and Christian Kirksey out of Iowa in the third. He then traded back into the third and grabbed RB Terrance West out of Towson. Bitonio is expected to slot in at right guard as a rookie and replace the departed Shawn Lauvao who signed with Washington in Free Agency. Kirksey is expected to compete for a starting role along Karlos Dansby with Chris Robinson and many have West tipped to be the sleeper at RB and some reckon that he may end up being the best back in his class. West scored 38TDs and had 2295 yards rushing last year at Towson and some believe West could beat out Ben Tate as the starting RB this year. Kirksey played inside linebacker his first year in Iowa before moving to outside linebacker but is expected to move back inside for the Browns.
Then in the fourth round the Browns grabbed a steal in small school prospect Pierre Desir out of Lindenwood. Desire was an elite prospect coming out of High School but academic problems meant he couldn’t play division I. A tall CB with a lot of range and who spent the last four years shutting down the opposition best receiver he could potentially see a lot of playing time this year as a nickel CB. The Browns also traded their 7th round pick to Baltimore in exchange for their 6th round pick next year.
Although Josh Gordon’s suspension cast a disappointing shadow on the Browns draft, GM Ray Farmer excelled in his draft and addressed all of the Browns needs bar WR. After the draft Farmer said he was confident he could address the need in Free Agency. Despite this I would give the Browns an A for their draft and I was very impressed with Ray Farmer particularly in getting a first round pick from Buffalo to move just five places.
Final Grade: A