I have a lot of random thoughts after the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, so here goes…
“Johnny Manziel is a good draft pick regardless of how it works out if for no other reason than because of the rookie wage scale. In talking about this draft before it happened, there was a lot of talk about Brady Quinn at No. 22 in 2007. Of course it’s easy now to look back on that and say how stupid it was because Quinn never played well, but almost nobody said that on draft day. It’s with that in mind that I’m thinking about Johnny Manziel.
Manziel and Quinn have almost nothing in common except that they were both drafted 22nd overall by the Browns with the team’s second first-round pick in the respective drafts. The value proposition on taking a chance on Manziel is so much different though. The Browns aren’t paying anywhere near the same price.
Consider the Browns had to trade a future pick to Dallas to get Quinn. The Browns already paid that bill when they traded away Trent Richardson. Also consider the rookie wage scale. Brady Quinn’s deal in 2007 was for five years and $20.2 million with $7.75 million guaranteed after he held out. I obviously think Johnny Manziel is a much better QB prospect than Brady Quinn ever was, but Manziel’s predecessor at 22 in the 2013 draft — ATL corner Desmond Trufant — was signed to a deal for four years and $8.16 million with a signing bonus of $4.31 million.
Buffalo gave up what? Look, I didn’t want to trade down. I really didn’t. I also didn’t have a cornerback – even the best one in the draft – on my radar going into the first night of the draft. It’s a good time to remind yourself why restraint is important. The Browns ended up with another first round pick for next year. This is the kind of move that helps to build dynasties if you get picks right.
Part of my first experience at Sloan was listening to Paraag Marathe of the 49ers get praised as he talked about how many accumulated picks the 49ers seemed to have at all times. It seems that the Browns have taken a keen interest on hoarding that finite resource as well. Obviously the Browns need to get the picks right and just win already, but this team accumulated both current and future assets simultaneously last night. It was the perfect balance of considering today and tomorrow. Sammy Watkins is nice, of course, but Buffalo fans have to be grinding their teeth a bit.
“Play like a Brown.” I have no idea what this means. It’s a recurring motto coming out of Berea with Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine, but I honestly don’t know what it means. It’s good to have a motto and to be building something of an image and a style, but it’s always a bit awkward when you “dress for success” before you actually become successful. That’s not me being critical, just noticing is all. I hope it ends up meaning something meaningful, but it doesn’t yet.
While talking to my wife about it, she mentioned that the Colts had a motto in 2012 called “Build the Monster” with Chuck Pagano. While it was kind of fun at first, as it leaked into every training camp story in the Indy Star that year, it was irritating. I’ve noticed that happens where team vernacular is picked up by the media. That’s why after practices and training camp sessions with Shurmur, reporters would talk about who “flashed” out there.
Last but not least, here’s the final word on the Trent Richardson trade. You know, I said it all depended on what the Browns got and that it wasn’t a blockbuster trade just because the Browns had some nebulous asset for the future. Well, that nebulous asset was used by a guy that I didn’t know was going to end up using it for a coaching staff I didn’t know would be here, but I’m completely happy and satisfied. I’m still hung over from the punted 2013 season and the lack of urgency shown by the previous crew that traded Trent Richardson, but consider every one of those demons exorcised.
None of this is to say that the Browns have guaranteed themselves anything, but the bottom line is this. I think the Cleveland Browns drafted the #1 cornerback in the 2014 NFL draft and (arguably) the best prospect at quarterback too. Oh yeah, and they locked up the Buffalo Bills’ pick for next year at the same time.
It’s a good day to be a Browns fan. It should be celebrated. Don’t talk yourself out of that. Even if it doesn’t work out in the end, you’re not wrong to be happy today. We’ve earned a day like this.