April 17, 2014

The impact of free agency on the Browns’ draft strategy

DeeMillinerStop me if you’ve heard this one- which came first, the chicken or the egg? When it comes to the Browns and the 2013 NFL Draft, the question might apply.

When the Browns made wholesale coaching changes, it appeared that a certain draft strategy would be in place. Ray Horton’s defense would require several pieces. An outside linebacker/edge rusher seemed the highest priority. A number of candidates emerged. At pick number six the Browns would certainly be in line to have their choice of pass rushers that are projected to go somewhere in the top ten, meaning nobody would accuse the Browns of reaching for a need.

And then, free agency began.

The Browns were aggressive early on in securing their front 7. They pursued arguably the biggest free agent of the year in LB Paul Kruger and got him. Desmond Bryant added depth to the front line and Quentin Groves brought experience in Ray Horton’s defense.

For a while, it seemed as though the Browns had addressed the need for pass rushers, and were actively seeking to replace Sheldon Brown with a quality free agent CB. It was then that I felt like the Browns were putting themselves in a perfect position to actually take the best player available with that 6th pick.

Teams say that they selected the best player available all the time. It is interesting how many times those players also happen to fill a position of extreme need. Truth be told I’m ok with that strategy. If there is a talented player that fills a need it is a logical match. But the Browns were looking like a team that could go any number of directions with that first pick and not go wrong.

Laughably, I thought about looking back over the Browns recent draft history to find a first round pick that wasn’t a player at a position of need. I thought about it for around 2 seconds before asking myself what hasn’t been a position of need since the Browns returned.

But the Browns missed out on Brent Grimes and Aqib Talib and even Captain Munnerlyn. They signed Chris Owens and Kevin Barnes, but those aren’t the starters you were hoping for.

Which puts the onus back on the draft.

The defensive backfield is an area of extreme need. The Browns have the sixth pick. Alabama’s Dee Milliner is head and shoulders above the rest of the corner backs in the draft. Best player available, meet position of need.

Now in fairness, there are other areas of need on this team. The new offense needs a solid TE. The Browns have an untested group at that spot. Jordan Cameron has the physical tools the staff wants, but may not be ready for the full-time gig. The safety spot opposite TJ Ward is also completely up for grabs. And many fans would still love to see a marquee wide receiver brought in.

The problem is that the players that would fill those needs just aren’t in the top ten of this draft.

Because of what the Browns did in free agency, they have set themselves up to grab the best corner available- one who has the skills to give the Browns a great tandem. If not, they could move down in the draft and grab a TE or Safety or even a RG. And get an additional pick or two later in the draft.

Maybe that was the strategy all along.

  • mgbode

    unless JAX, Philly, or Detroit takes Milliner

    (never go into a draft with an obvious, urgent need if at all possible)

  • Garry_Owen

    In other words, never be the Browns.

  • Natedawg86

    The mere fact that we have several holes makes us less predictable

  • Garry_Owen

    Ah, cold comfort.

  • saggy

    I can see a situation where they trade down to take a chance on Warmack. That wouldn’t be my favorite move, but it’s one i can see them doing in order to then take a CB in the 2nd round. If the chips fall the right way, they may even be able to get a 2nd AND a 3rd or 4th from someone.

    But i think this draft has trade-down written all over it.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Free agency and the draft work in concert and I like what the Browns have done. I’m the polar opposite of being fiscally responsible when it comes to professional sports I feel like every $ available (refunds aside) should be spent to better the team. That aside the Browns have improved the team without breaking the bank. Now it’s time for the draft. Like Rick I feel like Milliner is without a doubt the pick now all we need is for him to be available. Oh and of course the Browns to select him if available.

  • mgbode

    in related news, KC is allowing Miami to talk to Albert.

  • Kildawg

    Trading down would be a solid option and we could still draft Rhodes in the first round, or Vaccaro the safety. For all we know, we could trade back multiple times in the first round, as long as we can get back in the 2nd round with a trade down.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I hope not. As much as Warmack and his fellow OL are represented in this draft I don’t want another first round pick to be an OL. For me that comes later after you’ve filled just about every other deficiency and have a wealth of playmakers on both sides of the ball.

    That being said if Milliner is gone by #6 I would probably look to trade down. That is if Dion Jordan and possibly the kid out of BYU are both gone too. If not I’d have to make a decision based upon the offers made for #6.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I think it’s almost impossible to enter a draft without at least one urgent need it just so happens that the Browns have a glaring one at CB.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Along with the fact of the ever changing front office. Even knowing that CB is a huge need and that the perfect answer is potentially available in Milliner ask yourself how good you feel about him ending up on the Browns. If he somehow lasts until #6 I’m not completely convinced that the Browns take him instead trading down in order to get back a second round pick. And then I’m not totally convinced that they won’t draft Geno Smith. You see what they have done to me, I’m a mess! LoL

  • TSR3000

    Jordan, Milliner or trade down.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    That sounds like a beer slogan. Personally, I like beer companies to sell me on how cold their beer is rather than the taste & quality of the beer, which is why I’m a Coors Light man through and through.

  • JNeids

    “Take a chance on Warmack”…I see what you did there!

  • Garry_Owen

    Oh, don’t get me started. As an amateur brewer, I have yet to figure out how to “ice brew” a beer. Every time I try it, I have to boil the dang thing. And another thing, the coldest you should ever have a beer is about 45 degrees (with some exceptions – but never “ice cold.”). Beer is just not as good when it’s “ice cold;” however, water IS really good when it’s “ice cold” – well, just above “ice cold,” anyway (otherwise, you have “ice”) – which leads me to believe that Coors Light is really more “water” than it is “beer” (which really isn’t a stretch). But hey, as long as the can glows blue to show you that it’s “coldest.” (Oh, and if you can’t get it from the tap, the only beer that is better from a can than from a bottle is Guinness!)

    See? You got me started. Now I need to go have a nice, room temperature Porter.

    [I know you were being facetious. You were being facetious, right? Please tell me you were being facetious.]

  • Natedawg86

    Ugh smith… please no

  • JHop

    Can’t wait until Miami is forced to blow up their team in 3 years due to all of its back-loaded contracts

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Amen but I’m having nightmares of it’s possibility!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I don’t know which to feel sorrier for Mrs. Owen or your liver! ;o(

  • mgbode

    the more I watch of Trufant, the more I like him. I think he’s above Rhodes on my personal board (though not by a ton)

  • mgbode

    and I’m not sure what they are doing is going to get them better than the 7-9 to 9-7 area of the NFL either.

  • maxfnmloans

    is Milliner that much better than Xavier Rhodes? I was high on Milliner for a while, but after seeing more of Rhodes, I’m not so sure. He’s humongous as far as corners go, and the 40 time was something like 5 hundreths slower (4.42 vs. 4.37). Do those 5 hundredths of a second get negated by Rhodes’ length?

    Assuming Milliner and Jordan go in the top 5, of course. If the end up taking a DT, I’m going to drown myself in a pool of Dewar’s.

  • mgbode

    that reminds me that I need to visit the Buckeye Beer Engine next time I’m in Ohio.

  • JHop

    Unless the Fins magically win the Super Bowl this year, my bet is that Jeff Ireland will never be working in the NFL again after 2014

  • saggy

    Totally agree. and with all the new offenses coming out, it shows that OL play is regarded differently. I don’t see OL guys being top-15 picks anymore unless they’re Orlando Pace-esque.

  • saggy

    Patrick Peterson.

    oh wait…

  • mgbode

    you mean you don’t think they are worth top15 picks, right? because KC is almost assuredly taking a LT (w/ talks about Albert ongoing) and there may be up to 5 OL taken in the top15 this year (Joeckel, Fisher, L.Johnson, Cooper, Warmack)

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I was being more feces-cious (full of poop). I want to smack the hands of the Coors Light marketing people and rub their faces in their own “business”. “Bad Coors Light! We don’t do that in a bottle!” I do get a nice hearty laugh whenever they try to sell me on how cold their beer is though, so that’s gotta be worth something.

    I went to a craft beer brewery in downtown Richmond last night… it’s called Hardywood Park Brewery. Got a flight of their Singel and Dubbel (Belgian Blondes, the Dubbel is a little more potent) and got two stouts… a coffee stout and one they call “Nitro stout”. All of them were great with very different flavors. I’m a fan… their distribution is only Central VA right now, but I think they’re taking bids from the 2 big distributors in town (Brown and Loveland) to increase their range. Wunderbar!

  • Garry_Owen

    Let’s leave my liver out of this, shall we?

  • Garry_Owen

    Ausgezeichnet!

  • Harv 21

    I advocate putting Kim Jong Un in the war room. That will freak out some teams behind us.

  • mgbode

    a whole bunch of bluster but never amounting to anything. didn’t we already have Mike Holmgren in the war room?

  • saggy

    i know – it’s crazy. but i think those are true NEEDS. but we have already seen LT’s being less-valued than ever before. I mean, Jake Long knows all about it.

    With more 3-step drops and read-option thrown in there, the tackle position, in particular, has gone down in value. Not to say they have no value, just less than the Pace/Ogden/McKinnie/Thomas, etc… group.

  • Garry_Owen

    I like this. He can threaten to trade players he may or may not have in order to get draft picks that the whole world knows he doesn’t have. Maybe hold up the entire first two days of the draft while the Browns are on the clock while the rest of the NFL figures out how to appease him.

    Somebody get the Worm on the phone to see if we can make this happen! Gilbert’s got to have his number somewhere.

  • Harv 21

    Um, language barrier … let’s see … Got it. How about putting him in the ballroom, having him take a stadium hot dog shooter and send cans of Coke Zero blasting over the tables of other teams picking ahead of us while they’re on the clock. The soda maybe falls harmlessly (or not so) into the obnoxious contingent of Jets fans. So, win-win.

  • Garry_Owen

    No language barrier. I’m pretty sure ol’ Chub Scout went to school at the U of Michigan.

    (Unconfirmed)

  • AkronPoppy

    I thought that was status quo there?

  • the Other Jim Brown

    Let’s just stop it with Warmack already. With Pinkston looking like he will be healthy for OTA’s and another year under the belt for Lauvao, the priority just isn’t there. SPOILER ALERT!…. I believe Ryan Miller will be our LG coming out of the camps. 6-7/ 340 man that showed some success regularly against Ndamakong Suh during his unbelievable senior season. This would allow Pinkston to go back to his true position thst he was drafted for…. RG. In a perfect world, of course.
    Outside of that, the Browns have seemed to commit to Kyle Long in the 2nd/ 3rd round. He’s been checked out 3 times already. Further outside, this draft class is deep until the 5th round. There is even some C/ T’s that can convert. Remember that Greco also did an admirable job and is fairly young and healthy, too.

  • Old Coach

    @The_: After reading your post I assume it is safe to say that you would not have drafted Alex Mack or Joe Thomas? I agree that Miliner would be the best pick if he’s available.