Reviewing The Tribe So Far

It’s hard to believe, but the Indians 3-2 win over Detroit on Wednesday means the ballclub has completed 1/6th of the season.

Their record is 15-12 which doesn’t sound very impressive, but over a complete 162 game season, winning at that pace computes to a 90 win season.

Terry Francona’s club has been a little inconsistent, but it does say a lot about this baseball team that they have a winning record despite only one phase of the team, the bullpen, performing up to expectations.

The offense ranks just 7th in the American League in runs scored (they were 2nd last year), and they have scored three runs or less in 14 games to date, more than half of the schedule.  They are 4-10 in those games.

This means when they get to four runs, they are virtually unbeatable at 11-2.

Why has the offense struggled?

Edwin Encarnacion is off to a slow start at .198 with 4 HR and 10 RBI (667 OPS).  This is his history, so we aren’t concerned about that.  His lowest numbers in his career by month are in April.

What is concerning is his strikeouts.  Encarnacion has struck out 39 times in 118 plate appearances, well above the normal rate for his career.

We believe he is just trying to justify his new, hefty contract, and once the weather gets warmer and he relaxes, he will be fine.

Carlos Santana is also off to a slow start, with a 663 OPS and only 2 home runs.  He does continue to take his walks with 17 compared to 13 strikeouts.  The walks rank second to Encarnacion.

Jason Kipnis didn’t get many at bats in spring training, and it has shown, as he is hitting just .132.  Perhaps he would have benefited from an extra week in the minors for rehab.

On the other hand, the two youngsters in the batting order, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez are raking.

Lindor is taking his place as one of the game’s new stars, adding power with 7 homers, 17 RBIs and a 976 OPS.

Ramirez is showing his 2016 season was not a fluke (we didn’t think it was), batting .323 with a 986 OPS and a team leading 23 RBIs, tied for 4th in the American League.

The starting pitching has also been up and down.  Corey Kluber is now on the disabled list with lower back tightness, and has an ERA of 5.06.  He’s pitched some very good games, but has also had clinkers.

Carlos Carrasco has been the best starter, with a 2.18 ERA and allowing only 26 hits in 41 innings.  If Danny Salazar can get past the first inning he has been solid as well.

However, Josh Tomlin hasn’t pitched like he did in the post-season last year (currently an 8.87 ERA) and Trevor Bauer has had only one start where he allowed less than four runs.

Still, if you remove his two starts vs. Detroit, his ERA is 5.00.

The bullpen has been the strength of the team to this point.

The combination of Cody Allen and Andrew Miller has been spectacular.  In 24-2/3 combined innings, they have struck out 42 batters, and allowing just one run.

Bryan Shaw continues to be a workhorse and has been effective, but newcomer Nick Goody has impressed as well.

Acquired from the Yankees over the winter, he has thrown nine scoreless frames, allowing just two hits.  He seems to have moved ahead of Zack McAllister in the bullpen pecking order.

The offense will get more consistent and so will the starting pitching, so you have to be very satisfied with the Tribe’s start to the 2017 season.

There is nothing to change our mind that this edition of the Indians will win the American League Central Division.

MW

 

Cavs-Raptors Set To Do Battle…Again

Last season, the Toronto Raptors were the only Eastern Conference team to win a playoff game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

They won both games three and four in Toronto to even the Eastern Conference finals, before the wine and gold won the next two contests to advance to the NBA Finals for the second straight year.

We all know what happened there, right?

This year, the two teams meet one round earlier, in the conference semi-finals, and they finished the regular season with the same record.

The Cavs have home court advantage by virtue of winning the season series, 3-1.

Toronto is a top ten defensive team, so it will not be a picnic for the Cleveland, who like to win by outscoring their opponents.

In defending the Raptors, they are a team, much like Indiana, that doesn’t shoot a lot of three point shots, ranking 22nd in the NBA in attempts and 13th in percentage from beyond the arc.

Where the Cavs should have an advantage in on the boards.  Toronto is one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, so Tristan Thompson should be able to buy Tyronn Lue’s squad some extra attempts, and they defending champs must control the defensive glass when they force a miss.

The Raptors also take care of the ball very well, 4th in the Association in least turnovers.

Toronto holds opponents to 44.9% shooting, slightly better than Cleveland’s 45.8%, but they are slightly ranked lower in defending the three pointer.

Remember last year, Dwayne Casey was so afraid of the Cavaliers three point barrage against Atlanta in the conference semis that he placed too much emphasis on that and let the Cavs parade to the basket in the first two games.

It will be interesting to see how the Raptors play it starting tomorrow night.

No doubt the Cavs have to defend Toronto’s high scoring backcourt of DeMar DeRozan (27.3 PPG) and Kyle Lowry (22.4).  They account for 43% of the Raptors’ field goal attempts.

DeRozan doesn’t take many three point shots, less than two per game, so the Cavs may give him that shot, which he is not comfortable in taking.

Serge Ibaka, who came over at the trade deadline, likes to shoot from out there and he can make them too, shooting at 40% since arriving in Canada.

The Raptors also have a solid big man in Jonas Valenciunas, at 12.0 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.  Lue will likely combat him by using Channing Frye to draw him out of the paint, and perhaps off the floor.

Casey started using Norman Powell instead of the big man in the first round series win over Milwaukee.

Toronto also picked P.J. Tucker at the deadline, presumably to guard LeBron James, but he shot slightly over 40% with Toronto, which means the Cavs don’t have to honor him on defense.

Offensively, the Cavs need Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to make shots, which they struggled doing in the first round.

Irving shot 42% from the floor and just 22% from the three point line.  Hopefully, the time off allowed him to rest his legs and get them back into his shot.  He also needs to average more than three assists per game, even if the offense is running through LeBron James.

Love also shot just 42% from the field, although he was much more successful from beyond the arc, knocking down 41%.  He needs to continue to attack the basket when he gets the ball near the basket, and also has to be a force on the defensive boards.

This doesn’t figure to be an easy series if both teams play well.  Keeping DeRozan from having big nights is probably the key to the series.

If the Cavaliers aren’t playing well, and don’t continue to improve defensively, they could be pushed to the limit.

JK

 

 

Leave Browns Alone…They Drafted a QB

Picking up where we left off after round one of the NFL Draft, any criticism about what Sashi Brown and the rest of the Browns’ management did on day one had to do if you are one of those who are QB-centric.

If you are a fan obsessed with the quarterback position, you bemoaned the fact that Cleveland didn’t draft Mitch Trubisky with the first overall pick (a massive reach), and then didn’t trade up for Patrick Mahomes II (very raw), or just sit at #12 and pick Deshaun Watson (our choice).

The lure of getting another first round pick was too much for the front office, and when it was all said and done, Cleveland still got two excellent athletes in Jabrill Peppers and David Njoku, who should have inside tracks to start in 2017.

We even joked that apparently the QB drama queens must have thought that the draft ended on Thursday although several good passers currently in the league (Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson, and the great Tom Brady) were picked after round one.

Those people can relax today because in the second round, the Browns drafted DeShone Kizer out of Notre Dame.

Kizer was expected to be a first rounder, so there is good value in the pick.  He’s also the big guy (6’4″, 233) that some feel is necessary to win the cold and wind of the AFC North.

The downside on Kizer is his Irish team went 4-8 a year ago, and he is inconsistent.  He appears to need a lot of work on his mechanics, which makes him a good pupil for coach Hue Jackson and his “quarterback whisperer” credentials.

We said before the draft that even if the Browns drafted a QB in the first round, that Cody Kessler should be the starter coming into the season, and the rookie should sit back, learn, and develop.

Remember, that at the beginning of the college football season, the consensus best two signal callers were considered to be Watson and Kizer.  Notre Dame’s losing season hurt Kizer’s stock.

There are also rumors about Kizer’s love for the sport, but perhaps he didn’t take well to Brian Kelly’s constant temper tantrums at practice and on the sidelines.

One thing we won’t know if would Kizer have stayed at ND had Kelly left.  There are some who speculate he would have.

No doubt Kizer is a boom or bust pick, but the same can be said about Trubisky and Mahomes.  The difference is the Browns did it on round two, which is what we have been advocating since the end of the season.

Cleveland also bolstered its defensive line with the pick of Charlotte DT Larry Ogunjobi, who may end the tenure of Desmond Bryant, another player over 30 years old in Berea.

He could be next to Danny Shelton at DT and join Emmanuel Ogbah and Myles Garrett on the Browns’ front four.

Ogunjobi played in the Senior Bowl, so Jackson and his staff got a real good look at him, and must have been impressed.

There are still picks to come today, but isn’t it refreshing to not hear the commentators saying the Browns have no clue as to what we are doing?

The media who wanted “football people” running the show must be thinking hard to themselves today.

Of course, these players still have to play, and the Cleveland Browns have to start getting better.

JD

Browns Draft Athleticism For Most Part

After all the rumors about the Browns taking local favorite Mitchell Trubisky with the first overall pick, common sense took over and they selected pass rusher Myles Garrett with Texas A & M with the choice.

Garrett was at the top of most analysts draft boards, so Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta didn’t overthink it, they took the best player available, which you should if you have the first pick in the draft.

As we have written before, we have followed the Browns for over 50 years, and they’ve never had a dominant pass rusher.  Hopefully, they filled that need today.

As for possible scenarios talked about during the day of the draft, that is trading up from #12 for Trubisky, those plans were thwarted when the Bears moved up to #2 to take the Mentor native.

There were several potentially good players waiting with the Browns’ second first round choice, but instead of taking Ohio State S Malik Hooker or Deshaun Watson, they traded with Houston, who did take the Clemson QB.

In return, Cleveland picked up another first round pick in 2018 and received the Texans’ 25th selection this year.

This gives the Browns five picks in the first two rounds next year, and infuriated fans who wanted the team to take somebody, anybody.

When they finally picked at #25, they took versatile defender Jabrill Peppers from Michigan.

We would have to classify this as new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ new toy, as we would bet he will primarily be a strong safety, but he can be used near the line of scrimmage too, and also fills a need as a punt returner.

The best thing we can say about Peppers is he’s a football player.  He can be used all over the place, and he played at a big time program which this regime likes.

There was one more move to be made when Cleveland moved back into the first round to take the 29th pick to take Miami TE David Njoku, another freaky athlete.

Our guess is it will not be long before Gary Barnidge is let go by the Browns, as he is over 30 years old, and this front office doesn’t seem to want anyone of that ilk besides Joe Thomas.

What do all of these picks have in common?  They are phenomenal athletes.  If you watched the NFL Combine, you saw what Garrett can do.  He’s got speed, power, and great leaping ability.

Peppers played some tailback at Michigan as well as his defensive duties, and at the combine, did drills with the linebackers and the secondary players.

Njoku is considered a rare athlete, with speed agility and explosiveness.  He’s only 20 years old, so he can get bigger as he matures.

As for the quarterback, remember that the draft did not end last night.  There are still six rounds to go and the Browns have a lot of picks.

Second, even if Cleveland would have drafted a QB last night, we would have started Cody Kessler at the beginning of the season anyway.  And if they draft a guy today, there is no pressure to start him right away.

If you are one of the quarterback obsessed, we understand you are not happy with the what happened last night in regards to the Cleveland Browns.

However, if you are about adding talent to a football team that needs it, you are happy today.  The Browns have helped their defense, and whoever the starting quarterback will be in 2017.

JD

Was Cavs’ Defense Better Than You Think Vs. Pacers?

The Cleveland Cavaliers wrapped up another first round sweep in the NBA Playoffs, taking care of the Indiana Pacers in just four games.

It was the 10th sweep in LeBron James’ great career and he has now won 21 consecutive first round games.

The Cavs had defensive issues throughout the regular season and the analytics had Tyronn Lue’s squad as the third worst in defensive efficiency in the four game sweep.

Statistics have the Pacers having the shortest distance per field goal attempt of the 16 playoff teams, showing Indiana didn’t have much of an issue getting into the paint.

On the other hand the wine and gold’s field goal percentage against ranked in the bottom of the top half (7th) of the teams that qualified for the playoffs.

Cleveland did some good things against the Pacers, though.

Although Paul George averaged 28.0 points per game in the sweep, he did it by volume shooting.  A 46% shooter in the regular season, the Pacers’ star shot just 38.6% against the Cavaliers, as Lue threw several defenders at George, including JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, with James helping on double teams.

And the All Star really struggled from the middle of game three throughout the completion of the series.

The other player the coach mentioned in terms of limiting before the series was C. J. Miles, who torched the Cavs in the regular season for 17.0 points per contest.

Miles was stifled by the Cavaliers, scoring just 7.3 points per game in the series, and he shot just 31% from three point range.

Lue’s defensive philosophy is to identify the opponent’s strengths and try to take them away.  It seems he did just that against the Pacers in this series.

In order to do that, the coach is willing to give something up, and to this point, it’s hard to argue with his success.

So basically, if the Pacers were going to emerge victorious, it was going to have to be because Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young, Myles Turner, and Lance Stephenson had huge performances.

Those four combined for 56 points per game on 49% shooting.

However, out of those four players, only Stephenson, who played only six games for Indiana this season, has the personality to be the lead dog.  The rest are complementary players, forced into a big spot.

Not everybody can handle that situation.

That’s Lue’s philosophy, but opposing players into situations that they aren’t comfortable in.

As the playoffs go on, it will be more difficult to do this because the better teams have better options and more players capable of producing under the bright lights of the post-season.

Luckily for the Cavs, they have veterans who have stepped up in these situations throughout their careers.  Channing Frye was huge a year ago for the Cavs.  Two years ago against Atlanta on the road, the wine and gold won because Smith got hot in game one.

One of the new veterans acquired by GM David Griffin had a huge impact in this series, and that is Deron Williams.

Williams seemed to not be sure of how he fit when he first arrived in Cleveland, but he gave Lue some very good minutes in the second half of game three and in the second quarter of the deciding game.

There is no question that Cavs can be better on defense than they were vs. the Pacers, but they did accomplish some of the things they set out to do in the series.  That’s something to watch in round two.

JK

 

 

 

Draft Week Brings Out Crazy Talk

One week from now, the NFL Draft will be over, and as a by product, so will the endless talk about what the Cleveland Browns will do in the three day selection process.

And if they don’t draft a quarterback, fans will be sentenced to three months, until training camp actually opens, of hearing about how the front office passed on the “most important position in sports”.

By the way, it probably is, but we put it in quotes because of the righteous indignation media people use when talking about signal callers.

We’ve heard people say the Browns are sentenced to another 1-15 type season in 2017 if they don’t get a QB early in the draft.  That, of course, supports their notion that Cleveland has to take one with the first overall pick if they “really like the guy”.

Consider these names:  Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, Andrew Luck, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Carson Palmer.

Most people would consider these players as among the better quarterbacks in the NFL, correct?

None of them made the playoffs a year ago.

Why?  Because other parts of their team were found lacking,  Either the team’s defense was poor, or they didn’t have a sufficient running game, or their offensive line had gaping holes.

The point is, you have to have a complete team to win in the NFL, it isn’t enough to just have a great quarterback.

No doubt it helps considerably.  The only team that made the playoffs a year ago with shoddy QB play is the Houston Texans, and they continue to search for their guy.

Still, having a good player at that position doesn’t guarantee that you will make the post-season.  You still have to have solid players around the QB.

Remember, the Browns were 1-15 a year ago.  Clearly, they aren’t lacking only a quarterback, that’s why we stick with the premise that if you have the first overall pick, you have to take the most talented player, which by all accounts is Myles Garrett.

Also, our opinion is that the greatest improvement for a player is between his first and second seasons, because it becomes their job.  They get to spend the off-season getting bigger and stronger for the upcoming season.

The Browns have many holes to fill, they need secondary help, a tight end, a linebacker, and maybe another wide receiver.

So, while Garrett should be the pick at #1, the Browns’ front office still should address the quarterback spot at either #12, or with the first pick in the second round (#33).

We feel one of these three passers (Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes) will be there at #12, and since they have Garrett, they can afford to reach a little to take a QB.

If one of the three aren’t there, then Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta can take solace in grabbing another blue chip talent, either someone for the secondary or Alabama TE O.J. Howard.

And if they take a QB at #12, we would still plan on starting Cody Kessler against Pittsburgh in week one.  Let the rookie quarterback observe for awhile before throwing him in there.

There will no doubt be plenty of noise, misinformation, about what the Browns are going to do next weekend.  The good thing is a week from now, the speculation will be over.

Finally.

JD

 

 

Lindor-Ramirez Combo Bodes Well For Tribe’s Future

We started saying this last season, but one of the best things about the Cleveland Indians is their best players are 23 years old (Francisco Lindor) and 24 years old (Jose Ramirez).

Although everyone recognizes the talent of Lindor, who is not only the Tribe’s best players, he is one of the games’ premier players.  But including Ramirez could be construed as controversial, seeing that many people in media still consider him a utility player.

That’s despite the fact that the switch-hitter collected 565 at bats last season.  He is an everyday player, it’s just that he played two different positions, starting the season in leftfield, before shifting to third base when Cleveland released Jose Uribe.

There is no question that Terry Francona is managing a very talented roster, with many players having made All Star Game appearances.

Having a team with Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, Edwin Encarnacion, Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar on it is a good start, but add in Carlos Santana, Cody Allen, and you can see why the Indians are the favorite to defend their American League Central Divison title.

But the young duo of Lindor and Ramirez are arguably the stars of the team.

We all know Lindor’s pedigree.  He was a first round draft pick and the organization’s top prospect from the minute he signed his professional contract.

He quickly rose up the list of top 100 prospects in minor league baseball, finally arriving in the top 10 in 2015, when he was (finally) called up to the Indians in June 2015.

Ramirez was never ranked as a top prospect, despite consistently being one of the youngest players in each minor league he participated in.  People forget he was just 20 years old when he arrived in the big leagues in 2013, primarily to serve as a pinch-runner for the playoff push.

Perhaps if he was drafted and not an international free agent signing, he would have received more love from the people who cover prospects.

Check out these minor league numbers:

Player A:  .279 batting average  354/384/738
Player B:  .304 batting average  355/411/766

You may be surprised that the player with the better minor league hitting numbers is Ramirez.  That’s why we shake our heads at the thought that his hitting in 2016 could somehow be an aberration.

His minor league statistics show the man can hit.

Ramirez is probably the best defensive second baseman on the club too, but we understand Kipnis’ position on the team, and that Francona is loathe to move an established player out of his spot.

Remember that because of the duo’s ages, they should get nothing but better over the next four to five seasons.  We are already seeing the pair developing power, with both having four home runs in the first 14 games this season.

We can easily envision both being 20+ homer guys, perhaps as soon as 2017.

It struck us the other night what a great era for sports our area is having.  We get to see LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love on a nightly basis on the basketball court.

And right next door, at Progressive Field, we see Kluber, Miller, and two of the game’s best young and up and coming stars in Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez.

We can’t wait to see what kind of players they will be in two or three years, because they are certainly special right now.

MW

 

 

 

Cavs Biggest Opponent Now Is Themselves.

The probability of the Cleveland Cavaliers losing their first round series wasn’t very high at the start of the matchup.

However, someone forgot to tell the Indiana Pacers that, because they almost won Game 1, and recovered from a 19 point deficit in the second half to make the second game closer than it should have been, but the wine and gold prevailed, 117-111 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

So, the Pacers have the daunting task of having to be a LeBron James led team four out of five games to advance to the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

While publicly James says it doesn’t matter how many points the Cavs win by, as long as they win, the point is in a first round match up, style points do count, especially if the team struggled the way Tyronn Lue’s squad did over the last month of the regular season.

In game one, Cleveland had trouble on the defensive glass and shot just barely over 50% from the free throw line.  That’s not a good recipe for winning in the playoffs.

Last night, the Cavs won the battle of the boards, but only because the three frontcourt starters (James, Kevin Love, and Tristan Thompson) all had ten or more boards, because no one else had more than two rebounds.

And the home team hit 20 of 23 from the charity stripe, with the only three misses coming from James, who is working on a new free throw routine after a career low percentage from the line.

Again, only three players took free throws, with Love and Kyrie Irving making all 17 of their shots.

Iman Shumpert provided a lift in the second half after JR Smith left with a hamstring problem.  Shumpert seemed focused after getting a DNP-CD on Saturday, playing solid defense on Paul George, and chipping in with five points.

The bench still isn’t providing a lot of scoring.  Deron Williams had nine, but in total, the subs only scored 21, compared to the Pacers, who had 32 points off the bench.

Don’t blame Kyle Korver though.  Although the veteran has only taken five shots in the two games, he has captured the attention of Indiana, because his man isn’t helping off him.  That leaves the lane open for James and Irving to get to the basket.

Cleveland was +10 with Korver on the floor.

We understand it is early in the playoff chase, but the defensive issues which plagued the wine and gold recently haven’t been totally cured.  Indiana shot 51% in game two.

Nor have the issues with a fourth quarter lead disappeared.  The Cavs move the ball very well to get the lead, and then revert to isolation sets, which are resulting in long, missed shots on offense.

This allows the opponents to get back in the game.  And the culprits are usually James and Irving.

The Cavs only had 19 assists on 42 made shots in game two.  James had 7 assists, but Love was the only other Cleveland player with more than two.

Look, we don’t want the Cavaliers to be playing at their best right now.  Hopefully, they will get better incrementally as the playoffs move on, so they are playing at peak efficiency when and if they return to the NBA Finals.

Unfortunately, they can’t play poorly enough that they don’t win the Eastern Conference.

The best thing for Lue’s team is to make short work of the Pacers, and get plenty of rest before the second round matchup.  The quest for that begins Thursday night in Indianapolis.

JK

 

 

Cavs-Pacers Preview

Today, the Cleveland Cavaliers will start a journey in which they hopes ends in a repeat of last season…an NBA title.

They will also try to prove that a team’s performance in the regular season is absolutely meaningless.

The Cavs are limping into the post-season, going just 12-15 since the All Star Game, and basically playing at a .500 level since the beginning of the calendar year.

However, they still have the sports’ preeminent player in LeBron James and for the most part, the same cast and characters that brought home the Larry O”Brien Trophy on June 19, 2016.

Most of the concern surrounding Tyronn Lue’s squad is the defense, or rather, the lack of it, through much of the last three and a half months.

Can Lue and his staff correct the problems that befell the team during that span?

They start the playoffs today at Quicken Loans Arena against the Indiana Pacers, in a best-of-seven series.  While the Pacers were the 7th seed, and the wine and gold have the home court advantage, they do represent some challenges for the Cavs.

First, they have one of the game’s better players in Paul George, who happens to play small forward, the same position as James.  While we don’t expect James to guard him for 48 minutes, he will have to check him during crunch time.

George is a 39% shooter from beyond the arc, and overall, the Pacers rank 4th in the NBA in three point field goal percentage.  That has been one of the Cavaliers’ weaknesses throughout the past several weeks.

Lue pointed out C.J. Miles as a problem for the Cavs, and he shot 41.3% from distance as well.  Add in Glenn Robinson , Thaddeus Young, and back up point guard Aaron Brooks, and Cleveland has its work cut out for them.  They have to get a hand in the face of these shooters.

On the other hand, George will have to expend a lot of energy guarding James, and we all know that takes its toll on everyone, especially over a long series.

What it comes down to for the Cavs is can they get decent minutes from the bench in this series, and also, is Tristan Thompson’s thumb going to allow him to be effective.

Lately, the team has received very little from Richard Jefferson and Iman Shumpert, leaving the bench scoring to have to come from Kyle Korver and Channing Frye.  Deron Williams played well in the last two games, but has yet to show he can be effective when on the floor with James and Kyrie Irving.

We know what a gifted offensive player Irving is, but this post-season will hinge on his defensive play.  He has to be able to keep his man in front of him.

Lue also needs JR Smith to regain his shooting touch too.  And it wouldn’t hurt to establish Kevin Love in the post early in games.

However, it still comes down to defense.  The Cavs don’t need to get in a mode of having to outscore everyone in the playoffs.  They need stops.

Failure to improve defensively may not be a problem in the Indiana series, but it could hurt them down the road.

That’s the key thing to watch in this one.

If the Cavs want to get extra rest, it would behoove them to win the first two games at home.  Failure to do that could result in a six or seven game series.

JK

Browns Could Take QB At #1, But They’d Be Wrong

The NFL Draft is two weeks away, and things are getting downright insane.

This week, in separate reports by national writers, the Browns are thinking about not taking Texas A & M pass rusher Myles Garrett with the first overall pick, because either Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta want to take a quarterback, or they want to take Garrett, and Hue Jackson doesn’t.

Of course, that got the quarterback hysteria that often occurs in Cleveland going again, supporting their argument with insanity.

Our favorite is that if the Browns really love somebody at the QB in the draft, then they should go ahead and pick him with the first overall pick.

By that logic, let’s say the front office like Cal’s Davis Webb a lot.  So they should take him at #1?  Even though he could quite possibly be there with the first pick in the second round?

That’s crazy.

Let’s look at the top quarterbacks in the NFL.

Here is our top five at the most important position in sports–

Tom Brady
Aaron Rodgers
Ben Roethlisberger
Matt Ryan
Drew Brees

What do all of those QBs have in common outside that they have all played in or won a Super Bowl?

That’s right, none of them were the first overall pick in the draft, and only one of them (Ryan) were picked in the top five selections the year they were drafted.

How is that possible if you have to take a quarterback with the first pick if you get the chance?

Here are five more names to ponder–

Andrew Luck
Philip Rivers
Russell Wilson
Eli Manning
Matthew Stafford

Three of those quarterbacks were the first overall pick, but the only one who went #1 and won a Super Bowl is Manning, who has won two with the Giants.

Luck was a consensus first overall choice, and he got as far as an AFC Championship Game, while the other first selection, Stafford, has never won a playoff game.

Wilson, who has gone to two Super Bowls, was a third round pick.

The point is despite the quarterback hysteria, you don’t have to use the first pick in the draft to get a signal caller who can take you to the playoffs consistently.

We aren’t ready to evaluate the passers taken early in the past two drafts (Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Jared Goff, and Carson Wentz) yet, although the first two would rank in the 11-15 range for us.

And for fans of Wentz, it is convenient they forget the 2-9 record in the middle of the season for the Eagles.  Look, he might wind up being very good, but right now, he’s a lower tier guy.

Let’s go back to the premise we have talked about time and time again.  If you have the first pick in a draft, you take the most talented player.  We said the same thing when the Cavs had the first pick in the NBA draft.

This year, the most talented player is Myles Garrett.  So, the Browns need to take him.

They have plenty of other picks in the top 100 choices to take a quarterback.  Use one of them to address that need.

JD