The Case for Keeping Heckert

There are many rumors about an upheaval in the Browns organization after the season ends, mostly because of the new ownership.

Jimmy Haslam brought in Joe Banner as the team’s CEO, and much speculation has abounded that the latter will want to bring in his own people to run the football operations.

Here’s hoping that Banner doesn’t make judgments on any people involved based on anything besides their current performance on their job.

Mostly, this concerns the future of GM Tom Heckert.

Whether or not Heckert and Banner were friendly when both were in Philadelphia should have nothing to do with the former keeping his job.

If Banner has made up his mind about jettisoning the current GM, then it is likely a decision made out of spite.  Meaning he simply doesn’t get along with Heckert.

Although many people were glad to see Mike Holmgren leave the organization, you can’t argue that the Cleveland Browns are in better shape now than they were when The Big Show arrived.

And one of the reasons for that was the hiring of Heckert as general manager.

There are many people around football, both coaches and media members, who believe the Browns are finally putting together a pretty solid football team.

There is no doubt that Tom Heckert is a huge reason this is happening.

Has he hit on every single draft pick he has made over the last three years?  No, but name a general manager who does.

The misses are magnified here because that’s how it is, but other teams miss on choices as well.

That said, look at the Heckert draft choices that are making significant contributions to this football team.  Lower round choices like DT Billy Winn, CB Buster Skrine, and CB Trevon Wade are all getting regular playing time.

And before people complain about Skrine, he does a fine job covering slot receivers as the nickel back.

Think about free agents such as LB Craig Robertson, CB Johnson Bademosi, and S Tashaun Gipson, who are all very important players for this team, especially Robertson who has made several big plays this season.

And while critics bring up the Montario Hardesty pick in round two, and some are questioning the pick of Brandon Weeden, look at the guys Heckert selected in the first few rounds of the draft.

Joe Haden is the Browns’ best defensive player and the Browns are 3-3 with him playing and 0-5 without him on the field.  That reflects the impact he has on this defense.

DT Phil Taylor has missed some time with a torn pectoral muscle, but he is back now and together with Ahytba Rubin and two other Heckert picks, John Hughes and Winn to make up a defensive tackle rotation that is quite formidable.

And Trent Richardson and Weeden were starters from the first game this season, and both have shown promise.

These players were all picked in the first round.

The second round picks under this regime were S T.J. Ward in 2010, DE Jabaal Sheard and WR Greg Little in 2011, and T Mitchell Schwartz this year.

Critics will point out Little’s inconsistency, but the other three players are at the least solid starters.  Others will point out the lack of free agents signed, but successful organizations build through the draft, and the free agents Heckert did sign last off-season, Frostee Rucker and Juqua Parker have been productive.

From here, it looks like Heckert has done a damn good job procuring talent and building the depth this franchises hasn’t seen since 1999.

Banner may have already made his decision, but keep this in mind.  If he sends Heckert packing, he has to find somebody better to replace him.  That won’t be easy based on the success he’s had in adding talent to the Browns.

JD

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