We’re a little over two weeks away from the NFL Draft. I’d like to think I’m not alone in hearing this fact and thinking “thank God.”
In two weeks, we’ll finally reach the end of silly season. We’ll finally stop the endless over-analyzing of thousands of mock drafts. We’ll finally put an end to the constant stream of conflicting rumors.
For the Cleveland Browns, the need to put the aforementioned stresses of pre-draft season to bed is even more important. In owning picks No. 1 and 12, the Browns have been linked to so many different scenarios. Rookie QBs, consensus top pick Myles Garrett and even New England Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo have all been associated with Cleveland in some way or another.
The most recent rumor involving Cleveland’s draft plans came from CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, who hinted yesterday LSU running back Leonard Fournette might be in play for the Browns’ first overall pick. While a very talented player, many would agree Fournette would be a significant reach at No.1.
The rumor was quickly squashed for the most part, though it also opened up the talk regarding Cleveland potentially trading down from the top pick.
This specific scenario hasn’t received a ton of discussion, and for good reason. Said rumor hasn’t had a ton of traction because, quite frankly, the Browns shouldn’t be even remotely considering trading away the No.1 overall pick.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure such a trade would net a significant haul for Cleveland. Lord knows if there’s one thing this front office loves more than anything else, it’s draft picks. The team would be sure to get plenty if it traded out of the top spot.
At the same time, that’s all the team’s been doing over the past year or so – collecting as many draft picks as humanly possible. The Browns have been aggressively adding to their collection of selections, to the point where they have six picks within the first four rounds this year.
Collecting this much draft capital is all well and good, but eventually you have to actually use it. Cleveland can keep piling up picks all it wants, but if they keep going unused, it only pushes the rebuild back further.
For reasons obvious, delaying progress is bad news for the current regime. After a putrid 1-15 season, the Browns have to prove they’re moving in the right direction this year. Patience is not something owner Jimmy Haslam is known for, so the idea of prioritizing assets over impact players once again wouldn’t bode well for the team.
Also, who’s to say continuing to collect picks is a bulletproof strategy? The Browns had a boatload of selections last year and, out of 14 selections made, none truly stand out as a home run. Sure it’s still early, but I still wouldn’t consider last year’s draft as evidence to add to the “more is better” argument.
At the end of the day, it’s time for the Browns to finally start cashing in on the selections they’ve been piling up. They lack talent across the board, and therefore aren’t in the position to give away high picks. A team in this dire a need of game-changing players shouldn’t be trading away its best chances to find them.
As a result, the Browns have to hold on to the top pick. This regime has to start turning this pile of selections into impact players. Despite the returns they may get in return, the upcoming season is simply too crucial to be passing up a chance at the draft’s top available talent.