The draft performance of the Cleveland Browns was not like any other team because of the bold moves they made as the draft was unfolding. So, does it make sense to review them like any other? Absolutely not! Ivan Reitman, the producer of the recent film, Draft Day, could only wish for a script this good in Hollywood. Because, like the movie, this was all about Ray Farmer and the moves he made and did not make.
First, Farmer traded out of the 4th slot in the draft, when the Browns were in perfect position to snag the speedy Sammy Watkins. Watkins was one of the top pass-catchers in the draft, a burner who could really help out a rookie quarterback like Johnny Manziel. But, Farmer dealt the pick for and moved down into the 9th slot for Buffalo's 1st and 4th..and later he moved one spot for fifth rounder with Minnesota.
Already, this was more exciting than the Kevin Costner film.
With the 9th pick, the team chose Justin Gilbert. There is no question he is a shutdown corner with a 4.37 40 time that topped all secondary prospects and will greatly help in the secondary. But with the uncertain future of top wideout Josh Gordon, the Browns had a card all ready to select Watkins with the 4th pick instead. They should have done that because they may have to replace most of Gordon's 1,600 yards receiving. Gilbert had seven interceptions, including two interception runbacks for touchdowns last season and he averaged 26.3 yards per kickoff return at Oklahoma State but he is not the deep offensive threat the Browns needed at this slot, unless he can play both ways. Great athlete and a great prospect..not a great choice given team needs. Grade: B
Like in the movie, the Browns made a deal with the Seahawks to help them secure a hot quarterback whose stock plunged in the War Rooms of other teams. But, we're going to have to wait a few years before we can even see how the Manziel pick plays out here. He blatantly signed autographs for cash over the summer of 2013 and was suspended for the opening half of the Aggies' season opener against Rice. You have to wonder how he's going to mesh in the locker room, even if he the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner threw for 4,114 yards, with 37 touchdowns passes and 13 interceptions last season. He posted a 4.66 40 time, but the scrambler surely won't duplicate 759 rushing yards in three touchdowns. Will he be an instant star or a bust of a #22 pick whose freestlying abilities landed him the same underachieving label that now haunts Michael Vick? Johnny Football has all the talent Vick has, but will he continue to flaunt it the way he did in college and underachieve? A lot of people seem to be saying this pick is a surefire home run for the Browns, but it's not that. It's a classic high-risk and high-reward selection. Talk to me again in five years. I think Cowboys fans could be wildly cheering then about not drafting Johnny Football. Grade: B
T Joel Bitonio was taken with the 35th pick overall in the 2nd round, and it's a selection that few fans will recall but I think he might make a bigger impact on-the-field impact than Johnny Football. A left tackle at Nevada, he should move to the inside in the pros. Mel Kiper Jr. thought he might even sneak into the first round. With the ability to play any position on the offensive line and his durability record of never missing a game in three years, he'd stand up to the NFL grind. He's coachable and was a team leader in college, so it should be easier for him from the two-point stance to the three-point stance and master it. Grade: A
LB Christian Kirksey was the team's fourth-round pick The 233-pound Iowa graduate has a 4.5 40 speed, agile enough to track down NFL ballcarriers. He can effectively stop runners from getting to the second level, amassing 309 tackles, five forced fumbles and four interceptions. Definitely an impact rookie this season for me. Athletic as he is, he'll fit in somewhere. Grade: A
With the trade of Trent Richardson in week 2, the Browns now look to third-rounder Terrance West as a future feature back. Although Townson plays in the FCS, West's college stats are eye-catching and he has a promising future as a pro. He ran for 2509 yards and scored 42 total touchdowns last season and scored at least two touchdowns in 14 games. He's not a burner, but he has the ability to make defenders miss. But, can a guy with a 4.66 40 and a reputation as an inside runner excel in this league? I'm not sure, but he's better than any other back the Browns have and would provide a boost if he starts right away. Based on sheer ability, he should.
The selection of another cornerback in the draft with the Browns' fourth-rounder was inexcusable given their dearth of receivers, especially since they already drafted the best one available with the 9th pick. Still, Pierre Desir has a nose for the football, using his 4.5 speed in the 40 and superior leaping ability to track down balls. The Lindenwood College graduated picked off 25 passes in his four-year career. I know the Browns wanted the 6-foot-1 prospect for his size, but I guess his nose for the ball might mean a conversion to offense in the future. That's the only way I can defend or explain this pick. Simply a wasted one because the Browns needed an offensive guy here badly, especially since they traded away their final pick to the Ravens.