Sure, the Cleveland Browns have the fourth-overall pick in 2014 NFL Draft, but would it surprise anyone if that orange helmet disappears from the corner of the television without a pick having been made? While fans of the Orange and Brown debate the merits of playmakers versus offensive linemen, there’s a considerable chance that the fourth pick is made by a team other than the Browns as national pundits throughout the league peg Cleveland as a likely trade partner for teams looking to move up.
Take Sports Illustrated’s Peter King for example. In his MMQB mock draft, King delivers a few surprises (Khalil Mack at No. 1, for example) in addition to Cleveland moving down from No. 4 to No. 6 in a deal with the Atlanta Falcons who land South Carolina’s Jadaveon Clowney. The Browns, in turn, land Texas A&M’s Mike Evans, a compliment to Pro Bowl wide receiver Josh Gordon and another target for whomever is under center on Week 11, in addition to having seven of the draft’s top 110 picks. What fans may not love, however, is that the Browns appear to have only gained a third-round pick for the move.
In a scenario-based column from Grantland’s Bill Barnwell, the Browns traded with Mike Pettine’s former team, the Buffalo Bills, as he was officially able to sell his peers on Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. In Barnwell’s scenario, the Browns net a future first-round pick in addition to the 2014 pick they obtain in the deal, and move down to the No. 9 pick.
As previously noted, Cleveland already has the most valuable set of picks in this year’s draft, but the opportunity to move up and draft Watkins could inspire somebody to make an offer the Browns can’t refuse. The Bills reportedly have the hots for Watkins; if Buffalo offered Cleveland its 2015 first-round pick to move up from nine to four, I think the Browns would bite.
Pouring on, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport says that the Bills and Detroit Lions have been pounding the phones in hopes of moving into the top five with Watkins and North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron as their targets.2
Many fans (rightfully) despise moving down—the team is terrible enough to garner the fourth-best player in the draft, after all. The 2014 NFL Draft, however, appears to be one of the more undecipherable in recent memory. While there is a top tier of sorts, the first eight-to-twelve players could go in any order and few would bat an eye. If this is the case, and the Browns could muster another first-round pick for their efforts, would fans react negatively? More importantly, would Ray Farmer be willing to pull the strings on a deal in his first rodeo?
If trading down isn’t your thing, but trading up is, you’ll be glad to know that King also reports that the Browns are looking to acquire a third first-round pick in hopes of leapfrogging Houston to start Round 2. And if it’s any silver lining, both Todd McShay and Mel Kiper have Cleveland selecting Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel with the fourth-overall pick. Something for everyone!
In King’s mock, Blake Bortles falls to Cleveland at No. 26—”As I made my calls in the past few days, I couldn’t find a Bortles lover.” [↩]
Rapoport also adds that “Cleveland scouts “like” Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater, and the team could use the No. 26 selection on him,” so there’s that. [↩]