As someone who’s followed the Cleveland Browns for the majority of my existence, I find myself far more nervous about this upcoming draft than I have in past instances. The reason for this sounds strange, at least on the surface.
I’m genuinely afraid of the fact Cleveland owns the No.1 overall pick.
Allow me to explain. The draft is almost always an exciting time for the Browns, considering they typically have a selection early in the night. However, if you’ve watched this team draft for the past few decades, you know the picks it makes are rarely good.
Cleveland is now coming into this spring with the highest selection possible, knee-deep in a rebuild where every pick is crucial, owning a draft record which is historically embarrassing.
You can see why the whole scenario is leaving me uneasy.
That said, the Browns do appear to have one thing going for them. Instead of being pointed in many different directions by draft experts and scouts, everyone is telling Cleveland there’s indeed a consensus best overall player available – Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. Almost every pundit is in agreement the former Aggie is the top prospect, additionally insisting he’s the man the Browns should take with the first overall pick.
If that’s the case, Cleveland should definitely take Garrett. It might not sound like a mind-blowing suggestion, but considering how the Browns have handled drafts in the past, it’s one I feel necessary to make.
Again, nine out of ten mock drafts predict Cleveland grabbing Garrett. Various NFL execs have also suggested this should be done. Heck, even Browns left tackle Joe Thomas insisted the team should take a pass-rusher first instead of reaching for a quarterback.
So why, then, am I so nervous Cleveland will ignore all of this? Blame it on the incessant need to outsmart the room. Lately, the Browns have shot themselves in the foot come draft day by trying to think outside the box.
Trade up one pick to select Trent Richardson? Sure. Pick Brandon Weeden as the quarterback of the future despite him being older than half the team? Of course. Run an expensive study which concludes Teddy Bridgewater is the best quarterback in the draft then pick a drunk burnout instead? You know it.
Mind you, these instances happened with different front offices. As did last year’s trading out of the No.2 selection, passing on Carson Wentz due to the higher-ups claiming he wasn’t a Top 20 quarterback.
The jury is still out on this most recent instance, but the point is the Browns always seem to go against the grain come draft day, resulting in their being relentlessly mocked.
It’s important to note the last time Cleveland selected someone everyone agreed was a good first-round pick, it was defensive tackle Danny Shelton, who just came off a very productive season. I’m not saying it always works this way, just noting the fact that going with a consensus pick seems to have a higher success rate than trying to prove you’re smarter than everyone else with an obscure selection.
So, when everyone says Garrett is the sure-fire best player available, my immediate thought is “what are the Browns going to do instead of selecting him?” Despite the calls to draft the defensive star coming from everywhere including Cleveland’s own locker room, it would be far more surprising to me if this scenario actually played out. It’s alarming how much more plausible something like reaching for a quarterback or trading down ten picks would be far more believable.
It can’t be stressed enough how badly the Browns need to avoid such a thing. There are so many holes on the roster, especially on defense. In Garrett, Cleveland would have an elite pass rusher it could build a defense around. To choose instead to try and prove something to the league, to pull off some sort of “people just aren’t looking at building a team the same way we are” move, would have disastrous ramifications.
The Browns are in an intense rebuild, and cannot afford to swing and miss on such an important pick. The world is telling them Garrett is the player they need to take with said pick. As a result, Cleveland needs to stay out of its own head and take Garrett.