July 24, 2014

2014 NFL Draft: Thoughts after the first round

Johnny and Gilbert

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.

 

  • Tim Sielschott

    Sounds and looks like that we had three guys we were willing to take at four, when they were not available we got an extra first rounder. I thought that was a great move. If Gilbert can cover, should be able go one on one on the outside, and nine on nine, in the box. It is how HC had success when he was with the Jets, and their Defense was really good, and drug them to a couple of AFC title games. QB is such a crap shoot, that you need to throw assets at the position until you get it right. Build the whole team, so when you get QB, you can make a run. Ask the Ravens, and Seahawks if you can win still win a title with defense. I’m hoping for Carlos Hyde tonight, unless they have WR, they think can come in and play right away, like Lee from USC. Don’t do it for a living, but Hyde, Lee, best lineman, best ILB, unless their is a guy that is a beast and can come start at any position except QB. Go Browns!!! WOOF WOOF

  • cmm13

    “Manziel and Quinn have almost nothing in common”

    Tell that to a certain AFC North Coach who believes that like Quinn; Manziel will quickly become exposed.

  • MrCleaveland

    Yeah, the happiness of Buffalo fans has to be offset by the loss of next year’s No. 1. If the Browns had done that, I’d be mad too. Ol’ Ray hosed ‘em pretty good.

    I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself, but I listened to some of the Gilbert/Manziel press conference this afternoon. Man, these media people ask some of the dumbest questions. “Johnny, you’re the first quarterback blah blah blah blah since 1953. How do you feel about that?” “Johnny, the Browns have had 20 different QBs start a game since 1999. How do you feel about that?” Sheesh!

    Also, I think MK is smitten.

  • Harv 21

    agree with all of this. I did not want Manziel but would be thrilled to be wrong. Most of my thoughts today have been about the most important guy in the org, this Farmer guy who until last night we could judge only knew by public appearances:

    We still know nothing yet about the most important part of Ray Farmer’s job, the ability to competently identify talent. But here’s what I think we learned.

    1) He is fearless and his apparent self-confidence in public is not a front. He believes in himself. Three trades in the first round with 3 different teams by a rookie GM? That’s ridiculous.

    2) In the weeks leading up to the draft he played the media and speculators and other teams as well as any old pro exec. I was sure the “QB Analysis Favors Bridgewater” story was a classic leak by a disgruntled former employee. Now I have no idea – could have been that, or also disinformation from Farmer without a fingerprint to be found.

    3) He did not get ripped off in his trades. He clearly wanted Manziel but was not going to leave his board, was not buying bluffs by the Rams that they had interest. To the contrary, Farmer soaked Buffalo but good. The Buffalo FO has to impress a new owner this year. Farmer smelled weakness and went after their slot. And now if Buffalo doesn’t make the playoffs this year their GM has some ‘splainin’ to do when they sit through next draft’s first round.

    Generally, our new GM showed that he does well under pressure and that his preparation worked well. Overall, the boldest first draft I can remember for any new GM since Jimmie Johnson in Dallas. So for all those elements of his job, beautiful. Now let us hope that he also has the big hammer, the player evaluation thing, in his toolbox.

  • nj0

    Has MKC ever not been smitten by a rookie QB of ours?

  • Harv 21

    I don’t even have to listen and know exactly what MKC tone of voice you’re talking about.

  • MrCleaveland

    Yeah, before he left, Banner dropped off the keys to the self-assuredness cabinet on Ray’s desk.

  • Paul

    Immediately following the Justin Gilbert selection, my feelings were mixed. On one hand, this regime addressed the need for a press corner, something the past few regimes neglected. But from my little bit of tape study, I thought Kyle Fuller, not Gilbert, was the best press corner in the draft. The more I thought about it, though, Gilbert’s ball skills make him the right pick in Cleveland. Teams will force throws his way because of Haden, so it’s imperative to have a guy who can break on the ball and convert deflections into interceptions.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    She just wanted to know about LeBron.

  • whosevelt

    My ex-post feeling about Manziel (I would have preferred Bridgewater) is that it is a great move. The comparisons with other Browns failures are completely irrelevant. We know why Manziel wasn’t picked earlier – because of his height and arguably his personality. Quinn, Weeden, etc. were different – they were simply not good enough for the top ten.
    We know other short quarterbacks who couldn’t make it, and we know a few who did. Manziel has a resume that blows Brees out of the water, that blows Vick out of the water. Physical measurements are nice but the most important thing to see is accomplishment and Manziel might have the best college resume of all time. OF ALL TIME. Unlike many quarterbacks who are slated high (as Juniors) and make the mistake of sticking around, he performed even better as a sophomore than as a freshman. I understand why you might not want to take someone who was merely really good, if you think his physical dominance won’t translate. (Like Trent Richardson or Ron Dayne). But Manziel was more than good – he was epic. Do people really expect the 1/4 inch that Vick has over him to result in a substantially different level of success?

  • mgbode

    I accept your apology for not believing Farmer could handle draft trades ;)

  • Harv 21

    but hid the key to the condescension drawer. Maybe Ray will find it one day when he can crow, “Well, our thought process worked pretty well in 2014.”

  • Harv 21

    apology necessary? it scared the crap out of me because it should have. Wait, you knew he could do what he did before he did it?

    Ok ok, but then I accept your apology for challenging Weeden’s arm strength before the ’12 draft, when that turned out to be his only asset. ;-) ]

  • saggy

    such great strategy to fleece Buffalo. He knew (most of us didn’t even think about it) that the GM would have no choice but to go big this year. The chances of him being retained are small anyways, but the only way to ensure his chances is to win. Now.

  • Tron

    Well said Craig.

    Love that Shurmur speak! “He’s a bit sore, that’s all”

    I’ve never been more jacked about the Browns. I love Johnny. However, the one concern is Hoyer and the controversy that will ensue. I will not be surprised one bit if Hoyer is named the starter and on day one plays and plays well.

    What then?

    Johnny’s going to have the #1 selling jersey in the country. I don’t care what Pettine says. How do you blunt that force?

    Also, I like Gilbert but I’m not convinced he was the best prospect at corner. Personally I liked Fuller better. Seems like a better football player as opposed to pure athlete.

    Either way, congrats to Ray Farmer and Mike Pettine so far.

  • OR PICK A NAME

    “Play like a Brown” and “Practice like a Brown” brings out my inner Beavis and Butthead every time. “A heh huh huh . . . a brown what?”

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    They’re really committing to this motto it seems…

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Buffalo was desperate to move up many people reported it heck a few even had them using the Browns #4 as a bridge to #1 with Houston. I read today on Yahoo! that Buffalo’s GM wants to win now which is why he traded a first round next year to the Browns for that #4.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    If it’s Jim Brown AMEN!

  • mgbode

    :)

    no apology actually necessary, but our main disagreement before the draft was that I wanted Farmer to trade down to target Gilbert, Ebron, or Evans and you said a rookie GM should not be tasked with making the job more difficult with trades. I contended that if we don’t trust the GM to make them now, then we never should. that is all.

    had no idea if he could pull it off, but knew that it was likely a pass/fail thing no matter what year he tried.

  • mgbode

    and I submit for my initial reaction to Weeden:

    http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2012/04/2012-nfl-draft-cleveland-browns-select-qb-brandon-weeden/

    (1) everyone knows what i think of weeden. dangit, can’t believe the draft fell to us like that and we screwed it up

    (2) I figure we should at least protect statuesque Weeden with Glenn

  • mgbode

    from the same thread, I did discuss his arm strength and once again noted how long it takes him to throw.

    and, yes, that is an interesting thread to read in light of the Johnny thread now. much more positive with Mr. Manziel by all accounts.

    when he steps into his throws, he has a slightly above average arm. however, he also usually doesn’t step into this throws and has a baseball windup motion on his deeper throws (takes too much time to get them out and gives the S’s a tell as to where he is throwing).

    i’m hoping for the best, but not expecting it at this point.

  • Harv 21

    crap, I can’t read 2 year old threads now mg – I’ve been on this site way too much today and I’m going off grid for a day or two to punish myself.

  • RGB

    Don’t forget Courtney Brown.

  • steve-o

    Who?

  • CavsFanSF

    “Who has it better than us?” Has got to be the best motto in football. Not a big Niners fan but love that

  • saggy

    dont you think Manziel is superior in every way to Brady Quinn? I can’t think of one trait that Quinn has over Manziel.

  • The_Real_Shamrock
  • mgbode

    that’s why I gave you excerpts :) and I cannot believe how negative I was on that thread. I usually look so hard for that silver lining.

    and, 2 days off the grid is more a reward than punishment in my book.

  • maxfnmloans

    dreaminess…duh!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Gordon may have screwed up again, ugh!

  • Natedawg86

    Mcdonalds all American trophy >= heisman

  • cmm13

    What I think is that Manziel is a far superior QB than that of Brady Quinn…. Who will get severely exposed as a flashy college highlight reel when facing NFL defenses and NFL defensive coordinators.

    LB’s and DE’s will be lining up to take 15 yard PF’s in order to collect the bounty checks that will be on his head.

  • Pat Leonard

    His resume blows a national championship appearance and carrying an entire college offense out of the water? Vick was the most elusive QB I’ve ever seen in college. He didn’t have Mike Evans and Jake Matthews. He had Andre Davis and honestly I can’t even remember who the left tackle was. He had two teammates taken in the NFL draft that year… Ike Charlton and John Engelberger. Manziel just had a great college season, but I don’t see how it predicts NFL success particularly comparing with Vick.