Now that the NFL combine is over and we’re less than two months from the NFL Draft, speculation is running rampant over what the Browns will do.
NFL teams ran roughshod over the Browns in 2016, and now speculation is running rampant over them in 2017.
That’s because Team Tire Tracks has the first pick in the draft, the most salary cap space in the league ($102 million) and a front office with all the predictability of an overcaffeinated squirrel trying to cross a four-lane highway during rush hour.
Fortunately, there is a sane, rational approach for how best to fix the Browns, and it begins by creating a shopping list of the team’s needs, which range from “most urgent” all the way down to “urgent.”
Here, specifically, is the industry-consensus list of all of the Browns’ needs, listed in order of importance:
Now that we’ve sorted through all that, let’s roll up our sleeves, and then roll them back down and wonder what the Browns are going to, you know, do.
Their job was made a little easier by Myles Garrett’s galaxy-rattling performance at the combine, in which he stunned scouts by doing
33 reps in the bench press while simultaneously reciting verbatim Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy.
Garrett, quite simply, killed it in all the combine events. The only blemish was the league’s curious refusal to release his results in the pole vault, the swim suit competition and the chainsaw juggling.
Nevertheless, the 6-foot-4, 272-pound Garrett’s work at the combine was so overwhelming that the Browns have no choice but to select him with the No. 1 pick and trust that coach Hue Jackson can turn him into the franchise quarterback the Browns so desperately need.
Another option for the Browns, who have a well-established track record of picking the wrong option, would be to play Garrett at a position other than quarterback. Just for the sake of discussion, let’s say they use Garrett as an edge rusher. That would mean the Browns would have to find a quarterback through other means, perhaps through the draft, free agency or craigslist.
I hear Johnny Manziel and Josh Gordon are, or may soon be, available. Gordon, of course, is not a quarterback, and neither is Manziel, as it turns out.
Jimmy Garoppolo, on the other hand, is a quarterback, and he’s such a great one that five-time Super Bowl champion coach Bill Belichick is willing to trade him. Belichick doesn’t normally do dumb things, so we have to assume that in this case Belichick feels that not trading Garoppolo would be a dumb thing.
I mean, it’s not like Belichick has a 40-year-old starting quarterback who is one blindside hit away from the end of his career, in which case Belichick would need another starting quarterback, such as Garoppolo, like immediately.
No, wait. That’s EXACTLY what it’s like.
On the other hand, Jimmy Garoppolo has one of the coolest names in the NFL, which also is an area of need for the Browns. I mean, really, “Joe Thomas”?
Trading for Garoppolo’s name comes at a price, however, and it could be the Browns’ second first-round pick, which is No. 12 overall. You can find good names AND good players at No. 12 overall. The list of those who have been selected No. 12 overall in previous drafts includes names and players such as Odell Beckham, Marshawn Lynch, Haloti Ngata, Warren Sapp, Clay Matthews, Chuck Foreman, Herb Adderley and Joe Namath.
Of course, before the Browns could even consider trading the No. 12 pick in such a deal they would have to ask themselves the following question: Is Garoppolo a better quarterback than Myles Garrett?
I’m not smart enough to answer that question, so maybe — as if my level of intelligence would ever dictate what the Browns should do — the Browns should instead draft a quarterback with one of their two first-round picks.
The problem with going that route is that none of the top three quarterbacks in this draft move Mel Kiper’s hair.
The top three are Mitchell Trubisky and the flinging Deshauns: Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer. The knock on Trubisky is that he’s not the next Tom Brady. The knock on Watson is that he’s not the next Joe Montana. The knock on Kizer is that he might be the next Brady Quinn.
There are also some wild-card free agent quarterbacks out there, such as … oh, never mind.
The Browns could always stand pat at quarterback. There are worse ideas than that, right? Actually, no. There’s not.
If the Browns really want to get creative, there is one interesting free agent quarterback out there: Terrelle Pryor. But he’s now a wide receiver, and I hear that when it comes to throwing the deep ball he’s no Myles Garrett.
Where’s Ray Farmer when we need him?
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