The following is an article that I had written about the Cleveland Browns and the different options the team could go with in the 2016 NFL Draft. Originally published for Tricycle Offense.
Last week, I talked about the Browns offseason up to this point. Since then the Browns released Donte Whitner, who was a starter for the team the previous two seasons. As the roster reconstruction continues, it brings about questions about what areas are the team going to address in the draft. What areas are of the utmost importance? What positions do they feel confident enough to not make an immediate change to? And how will those changes translate on the football field.
I’ll attempt to provide some insight on these, in the very least; you’ll know my interpretation of the situation surrounding Cleveland.
There are three blatantly obvious options the team could decide to do when it comes time for the draft; keep the second pick, trade down or trade up. Let’s take a closer look at the three options.
Keeping the second pick
Many of the “experts” are projecting the Browns to take a QB, either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz. Either would be a logical choice given the state of the roster and the QB carousel that was established and haunted Cleveland since 1999. However, for this situation, I want to play devil’s advocate. Personally, I think if you take either one with the second pick without making any attempt to replenish the offensive line would end with the pick being wasted. That means in two to four years, the team would be hitting the reset button on the QB position yet again.
If they covet Goff or Wentz so much that they feel they can ill-afford to miss out on either one with the second pick, then their next pick needs to show they mean business for their future by selecting an offensive lineman. The Browns lost two starters on the O-line, so this should be an area of higher priority. What good is Goff or Wentz going to be if they are constantly on their back?
To further complicate it, there’s the possibility that Laremy Tunsil will be available at #2. Tunsil would be a cornerstone LT and heir apparent to Joe Thomas. If the Browns have the choice between Goff, Wentz or Tunsil, I would much rather see Tunsil become a Brown. By doing that, the Browns could still make an effort to grab Paxton Lynch as a QB by trying to trade back up into the first round. While that isn’t a guarantee, it’s a possibility that could play out.
I think keeping and using the second pick is a very likely scenario, it just depends on how everything will play out if they do.
Trading Up from the 2nd Pick
This probably will not happen because Tennessee will probably have better offers from other teams. The only reason I see the Browns trying to do something like this is to effectively block the Chargers or Cowboys from leapfrogging the Browns to take Goff or Wentz as heirs to each teams aging QB’s. If for some reason the Browns do successfully trade up, it basically assures that the Browns are going to take Goff or Wentz.
Hypothetically, let’s say this scenario does play out and the Browns take Wentz (he’s my preferred QB of the two), they again have to make an effort to solidify the line with their next pick. Only now, they probably won’t have the 32nd pick as they will probably use that to get the 1st pick. It’s harder to rebuild a stripped down roster with less draft picks. This would also run counter-intuitive to what the front office has been preaching since they took over, which is that they will build through the draft. You can’t build with what you don’t have.
Trading Down from the 2nd Pick
Trading down would give the Browns some flexibility in how they construct the roster, in my opinion. It’s going to give them more picks, which is definitely needed. However, could they live without having (possibly) either of the top QB’s in the draft at their choosing. With this scenario, that may very well happen. It all depends on who they trade with and where the Chargers and Cowboys value having a QB to groom and ready to take over. The Chargers are less likely because Rivers has stayed pretty healthy throughout his career, but the Cowboys could possibly be thinking for the future.
The variations of the scenario would depend on how far down the Browns are willing to trade, if they in fact do trade down. I think in all likelihood the Browns could trade down to the #6 spot and still feel good about getting either Goff or Wentz, but I wouldn’t drop any lower than that. The most likely would probably be to trade with Jacksonville with the fifth pick, but that’s also assuming Jacksonville will want to trade up.
Overall, I like the idea of trading down the most because I think there’s going to end up being a lot more value come from it as long as the team drafts well. No matter what happens, I know I’ll enjoy watching how the draft transpires.