With all of the discussion that takes place before the NFL draft, what comes after the selection meeting, which is what the NFL calls it, the so-called grading period, can be even more ridiculous.
Usually these grades are given based on where the person assigning the mark had them rated. Which means if you like player A, and your team takes player A, then that team gets a good grade. Really meaningless if you think about it.
The Browns went into the draft needing to improve their offense, and their first three selections produced three likely starters, which for those with limited math skills, is 27% of the starting lineup.
While we can all debate on the wisdom of taking QB Brandon Weeden with the 22nd overall pick, if GM Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur felt that Colt McCoy was part of the problem with the offense, then Cleveland moved quickly to improve that position.
And the supposed failure to draft a wide receiver in the first three rounds is also predicated on that opinion. Obviously, the front office and coaching staff felt McCoy was the reason the receivers were not as productive as they could be and will be with Weeden under center.
Really, what comes first: The “#1” receiver or the franchise quarterback?
Green Bay has a tremendous passing game, right? Well, their two leading receivers (Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings) were both 2nd round picks out of Kansas State and Western Michigan respectively.
Drew Brees’ favorite targets in New Orleans were TE Jimmy Graham, a 3rd round pick and former basketball player, and WR Marques Colston, picked in round seven.
The other top three passing team in the NFL was New England, and Tom Brady’s favorite guys to throw to are Wes Welker, an undrafted free agent, and TE Rob Gronkowski, another 2nd round pick.
All of these receivers are talented, without a doubt, but they weren’t regarded as future All-Pro’s at the time they were drafted. The guys who throw the ball made them that.
Both Shurmur and Heckert seem to feel the production of players like Greg Little, Josh Cribbs, Ben Watson, and others will increase with a stronger armed passer throwing them the football.
The Browns also addressed the weakness on the offensive line by draft T Mitchell Schwartz from California to replace Tony Pashos as the starter on the right side. If he’s as good as advertised, Weeden and new feature back Trent Richardson will operate behind a young group, with Joe Thomas being the oldest.
Nevada LB James-Michael Johnson is another selection who figures to be on the field quite a bit as a rookie. Johnson played inside in college, but several reports have him possibly beating out veteran Scott Fujita on the outside.
Cleveland needed some depth at linebacker, so Johnson and 6th round pick Emmanuel Acho from Texas should provide that.
The other picks made by Heckert also addressed depth. G Ryan Miller, DE Billy Winn, and CB Trevin Wade should be able to help out positions where you can’t have enough good players.
In addition, Winn and Wade were both graded as 2nd or 3rd round talents by CBS Sports, so they were good value picks in the 6th and 7th rounds.
Most of the critics of the draft cite the picks of DT John Hughes in the third round and not picking a wide receiver until the 4th when speedster Travis Benjamin was picked. If those critics are to be fair, they have to give Heckert kudos for Winn and Wade.
No matter what people want to say, the Browns identified their weaknesses, the same ones the fans could see, and they picked players who can improve the team in those areas.
What else did anyone want them to do?