First and 10: Looking back at the draft
The hoopla got so much about the NFL Draft this year that it was necessary to get away from it for a day or two. The yard needed cutting, the gardens had to be raked and the dadgum dog ate an old hard-bound copy of Gone With the Wind (go figure). After a day’s reflection — and cleaning up after the dog — here are some random thoughts in a post-draft First and 10:
1 – It’s always interesting what riles up the masses, especially when it comes to the draft. The Browns trade up one spot in the first round. They give up their first pick and picks in the fourth, fifth and seventh round to move up. And they did it in a draft when they had 13 picks. There was never any intention of using all those picks. That would have overloaded the roster. So the Browns used three of those picks — in the bottom half of the draft — to move up and get the one player they wanted most: running back Trent Richardson. Then come the stories that the Browns got fleeced, duped, that they fell for a ploy by Minnesota to give up three picks. This, that and the the other thing. Here’s what I wonder: So what if they did? Or to phrase it another way, are you going to take a chance on losing the guy you really, really want for the 118th best player in the draft? The thinking was the same on trading up for Robert Griffin III: You’re going to worry about passing up a premier quarterback for the third best offensive tackle?
2 – Look at it this way. Some draftniks went ballistic when the Browns took John Hughes of Cincinnati in the third round. Wow, they said. Way too soon, they bellowed. This organization is a joke, they barked. Well, let’s suppose John Hughes were drafted in the fourth or fifth round where all the “experts” said he should go. That means Hughes, a third tackle that very few folks thought was anything real special, would have been the guy the Browns would have insisted on keeping if they did not trade up to ensure themselves Trent Richardson. Are you going to give up the chance to acquire a guy you believe will be a standout running back, a player at a premier position, for a third defensive tackle? If the John Hugheses of the world prevent a team from trading to ensure it has the player it wants, then it’s time to start repairing picket fences for a living.
3 – The draft is all about risk and reward. Is the potential reward worth the risk of taking the guy? Ryan Leaf wasn’t really worth the risk. Braylon Edwards seemed worth the risk, but it turned out he wasn’t. Andrew Luck will be worth the risk. In the Browns case, it seems to me that the risk of not trading up one spot was not worth the reward of keeping those three lower-round picks. It’s possible they got taken, sure. But so what. It ensured the Browns that they got the back they wanted. And after missing out on the quarterbacks at the top of the draft, it was pretty important to get the back they wanted. And needed.
4 – The Browns treated their decision not to draft any top receivers with a shrug. “No one is in a panic about how the draft went as far (receiver),” team president Mike Holmgren said. Because, simply, the Browns expect the receiver to be better. “We will not drop the ball like we dropped it last year,” he said. “We will have a running game to go with our passing game. Those things by themselves it will be better.” This sounds a bit like an echo of last season, when the Browns said the system would help the receivers. Whatever happened, they weren’t very good. But that’s what the Browns believe.
5 – Clearly the Browns have a higher opinion of their wideouts than most of the general population.
6 – Just as clearly, the Browns obviously were a lot less happy with Colt McCoy than they let on last season. To say a new quarterback will help the wideouts pretty much explains that feeling.
7 – Which again brings up an interesting point about how folks look at the draft. The Browns took receiver Travis Benjamin in the fourth round. He didn’t have great numbers at the University of Miami, but the thinking was that his numbers would have been better with better quarterback play. Folks seemed to accept that premise. Yet when the Browns put out the premise that their receivers will be better with better quarterback play, folks throw their Cheez Its. It’s not that either is right, mind you. A player usually is a player. And who knows how this receiver group will be. Past performance isn’t exactly encouraging. It’s just that it’s tough to have it both ways. If the quarterback’s play hurt one receiver, then the quarterback’s play at another team hurt those receivers as well.
8 – Pittsburgh did an outstanding job with its first round pick when it took guard David DeCastro. That was a no-brainer pick that will pay dividends for years. Then the Steelers gave much of that away with their second-round pick. Pittsburgh had taken Mike Adams off their draft board when he tested positive for marijuana at the Combine. Make of smoking pot what you will, but when a guy knows he’s going to be tested and he still tests positive, there might seem to be a problem. That was only one element of some very odd behavior by Adams prior to the draft. One good thing he did was drive to Steelers headquarters and make a complete admission. The Steelers told him they might consider drafting him if he met certain conditions. He met them. So Pittsburgh drafted him in the second round. It seems odd that a guy who contributed to the forced resignation of Jim Tressel, who still didn’t have it together enough to pass a test at the Combine … it seems odd he could convince Pittsburgh to put him back on their draft board. But he did, and Pittsburgh took him. It will be interesting to see if this reward will be worth the risk.
9 – Most impressive interview from the Browns standpoint: Sixth-round Linebacker Emmanuel Acho made no secret that he uses the “platform” football provides to help the needy in Nigeria, where his parents were born. Acho has made many trips to Nigeria with his brother and parents, with n0 nurses and doctors along to help those in need. “We just stay in a village for about a week, giving people free medical treatment, and see about 7,000 patients in that time,” he said. Oh, just that … Acho’s long-term plans: “For no other reason people respect you because you’re talented at playing a game. It allows you to impact people’s lives for the better, and I think that is what I am called to do on this earth …” This is the point where I think: Gee, i can type fast. Based on these two statements alone, Acho must make the team. Period.
10 - The Steelers are better after the draft. So are the Bengals, who suddenly have become a model of sorts for picking players. And the Ravens, who landed yet another premier defensive player without a first-round pick. Are the Browns better? They have to be. And one would think they are. But the problem is these three beasts in the same division. With those three monsters, the Browns can be better and not improve the record much. Especially with that beast of a schedule. This is the old “double beast” problem that many, many teams have been unable to overcome. The unfortunate reality of the Browns situation is that though the team may be better, the record might not show it.
Wallace on 92.3: Weeden will be playing in 2012
Browns backup quarterback Seneca Wallace had an interesting interview with Andy Baskin and Jeff Phelps on 92.3 The Fan on Tuesday. The entire interview of a very open and candid Wallace (did he miss an NFL memo or something?) is here.
A lot was made locally about Wallace saying he’d help rookie Brandon Weeden, and that once the 2011 season started he was willing to help Colt McCoy, contrary to popular opinion (some of it started by Wallace when he said mentoring is not for him).
Me, I was more interested in the matter-of-fact way Wallace addressed what the drafting of Weeden means: “We all know the business side, that you’re going to see that kid playing on Sunday. If it’s week one or week seven, he’s going to be playing.”
Which should put all that talk about “letting” McCoy compete for the job to rest. Teams don’t draft a 28-year-old in the first round to wait.
It seems almost certain that Wallace will be Brown in 2012. McCoy, who knows. But Wallace said if McCoy, he and Weeden are all on the team it will be “a sticky situation.”
“I’m sure they’ll make the right decision,” Wallace said.
Translation: Don’t expect McCoy to be around.
Pat McManamon appears courtesy of FoxSportsOhio.com