For weeks, fans of the Cleveland Browns were wondering about what kind of offensive weapons they could get to instill life into this losing franchise.
They had to wait awhile, but Ray Farmer moved up from the 26th pick to #22 by trading with Philadelphia to get Johnny Manziel, the former Heisman Trophy winner out of Texas A & M.
With the fourth pick, Manziel would have been an incredible risk, and #22, he still is risky, but not as much.
And Farmer minimized the chance even more by trading for another first round in next year’s draft by trading down from the fourth overall pick to ninth, and getting the Bills first rounder next year.
Now, the pressure is squarely on Mike Pettine and Kyle Shanahan to decide who is the best player to take the snap in the opener at Pittsburgh, veteran Brian Hoyer or the much hyped rookie, Johnny Football.
Because we will not back down on our expectation for the Browns this season. It is time to stop looking toward the future, it is time to win and win now.
With Cleveland’s first selection of the night, GM Ray Farmer dug into the team’s history to find out the strengths of the team the last time they were a perennial playoff squad.
Those were the Browns of the late 1980’s. Yes, they had a good quarterback in Bernie Kosar, and a strong running game led by Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack, but the cornerstones of those teams were a pair of excellent cornerbacks in Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield.
Perhaps that’s why Farmer’s first pick as GM was Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert.
Gilbert was considered by many to be the top player at his position in this year’s draft and together with Pro Bowler Joe Haden, could form this generations pair of excellent corners to compare with Dixon and Mighty Minnie.
Having a pair of excellent cover corners allows the defense to be very creative in putting pressure on the quarterback because you don’t have to double cover any wide receivers. It allows Mike Pettine and defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil to come up with a variety of blitz packages knowing the wide outs will be taken care of.
Of course, picking Gilbert was Farmer’s third move of the night. He traded down from the 4th pick to the 9th pick getting Buffalo’s first round choice next year.
Normally, we criticize the Browns for always playing for next year, but the opportunity to get a first round pick in ’15 from a team not figured to be a playoff contender this season was too much to pass up. Plus, Gilbert appears to be the guy Cleveland wanted all along, so you have to like that move.
So, on the first night of the draft, Farmer improved his defense and took a gamble on a franchise quarterback. Only time will tell if the Browns have solved their woes at quarterback, or Manziel will be latest in a group of failures at the position.
Once again, we repeat, getting another first round pick next year does reduce the risk factor on Manziel.
So Browns’ fans, your football team will be noticed in 2014, whether or not it will be for winning or for a circus, only time will tell.