You can’t judge an NFL draft in the first year, let alone the day after when most grade letters are assigned. This year when we were talking about the draft, I made sure to look at the process and try and grade the team based on how well I think they maneuvered. In this case, I think the Browns played it safe and didn’t necessarily have the best luck when positioning and maneuvering to take guys. You can support the case for where they took Brandon Weeden, but only because they seemingly missed out on another player first, which most of us assume to be a receiver. That’s all in the past though. The bottom line in the next week is that the Browns come to camp with a whole host of young players that will be counted on to hopefully step in and contribute right away.
In the name of Tony Pashos and John St. Clair and Terry Cousin that’s a good thing. At the same time, think back to Alex Mack’s first few games. The kid looked nervous. He was having trouble tossing the ball back in shotgun formation. He seemed so energetic off the snap that he was actually somewhat ineffective. It was a few games before he finally started to get the groove and look like the guy we were all referencing by the end of the season with, “at least Mangini got that pick right.”
That’s the way it could be for Mitchell Schwartz. That’s the way it could be for Trent Richardson. I know people hate the comparisons to Adrian Peterson, and mostly rightfully so, but look at his rookie year anyway. Minnesota went 8-8 that year, Adrian Peterson won the Offensive Rookie of the Year while running 238 times for 1341 yards under second year head coach Brad Childress.1 Seems all good right? It isn’t that easy.
Imagine living through the ups and downs of the season in order to read the end-of-year stats with any perspective. Peterson had games where he rushed for 234 yards and 296 yards, but he also had games of 66, 63, 70, 45, 27, 36, and 3. The game where he ran for three yards was against the 49ers. Chester Taylor ran for 101 yards on eight carries, and Offensive Rookie of the Year Adrian Peterson ran for three yards on 14 carries. Yes, the Vikings won that game handily 27-7, but the point remains. Rookies, even exceptional rookies, have a tendency to play inconsistently and Browns fans need to be ready for it.
If Brandon Weeden wins the QB job and starts all 16 games for the Browns, he will almost undoubtedly have one where he throws enough interceptions that you’ll be questioning your existence as a Browns fan. Mitchell Schwartz will probably be bested by a defensive end or outside linebacker for an entire game at some point this season. Trent Richardson might have a game (or ten) where he’s bottled up completely and totally. It won’t doom the draft to doom and gloom, but these are growing pains that you can more than likely expect to show up this season.
I know you know, but he’s the new offensive coordinator. If you didn’t know or forgot, now you know. [↩]