Connect with us


Browns Analysis: 14-man draft class lacks difference-makers, hasn't had desired impact

Culture change and continuity are important, but the most pivotal part of the Browns’ rebuilding plan is the acquisition and development of young talent.
The new regime, led by executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown, made it a priority to stockpile draft picks, including 14 in 2016 and an extra first-rounder in 2017. The logic was sound and the approach necessary to upgrade a roster that was in need of an overhaul.
The plan only works if the picks are used wisely. The Browns have had extra picks before and wasted them. If the draft is going to be the lifeblood of the organization, the Browns must get it right.
It’s time to review the 2016 draft class, which may shape the course of the franchise for the next several years. Ten games aren’t enough to make complete judgments, but the sample size is sufficient to form preliminary opinions.
Through an 0-10 start, the Browns haven’t gotten nearly enough from the giant class. The draft needs to provide difference-makers, but not one of the rookies has been able to take over a game and bring home a victory.
And they’ve had plenty of chances, as many of the picks have seen significant playing time. This will accelerate their development, but only if the talent is there.
Brown said Monday he believes in the organization’s process for evaluating talent – he better be right — and doesn’t regret any of the controversial decisions, including trading the No. 2 pick and choosing Cody Kessler over Dak Prescott at quarterback. He said few rookies “hit the ground running” and multiple years are necessary to get an accurate read on a player.
The problem is the Browns don’t have two or three years to decide if receiver Corey Coleman, defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah and Kessler are cornerstones. They could have a choice of players at the same positions early in the next draft and must decide where to allocate their resources.
Here’s an early evaluation of the 2016 draft class:
Coleman has explosive talent and proved that with five catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns in Week 2. A broken hand sidelined him for six games and stopped his momentum. He’s been held to eight catches and no touchdowns in his other three games.
The lack of an established quarterback doesn’t help, but the No. 15 pick in the draft must be more consistent and fill the role of No. 1 receiver. A strong finish over the last six games will put Coleman in great position to take a big leap in Year 2.
** Kessler hasn’t done enough to win any of his seven starts but has shown he belongs in the NFL. Brown believes he has the chance to develop into the long-term starter, but I think the lack of arm strength and quickness slot Kessler as a career backup.
That’s OK for a guy who was overdrafted in the third round.
** Ogbah, a second-round pick, was asked to bounce between linebacker and end, which stunted his growth. He’s found a bit of a groove with three sacks over the last five games and has the physical tools necessary to rush the passer.
The Browns need to find the right position for him, keep him there and turn him loose on the quarterback. He can play, but he needs to prove he can be a difference-maker.
Some people would place defensive end Carl Nassib in the previous category, but I haven’t seen enough from the third-rounder. He has 1.5 sacks and four batted passes but there should be more impact from a guy who’s been given several chances to rush the passer.
His size (6-foot-7, 275 pounds) and effort give him the opportunity to be more than just a rotational player, but he has to turn the attributes into performance.
** Safety Derrick Kindred (fourth round) and offensive lineman Spencer Drango (fifth round) have been inconsistent when given the chance to play. Kindred makes his presence felt with big hits but has to improve as a tackler and in coverage.
** Tight end Seth DeValve (fourth round) caught his first touchdown Thursday night and receiver Ricardo Louis (fourth round) has 16 catches. Both have the desired physical traits — big, strong, fast — but they must be converted into production.
Third-round tackle Shon Coleman can’t get on the field despite the offensive line’s struggles and coach Hue Jackson’s willingness to shuffle the lineup. That’s not a good sign.
** Fourth-rounder Joe Schobert looks overmatched. He doesn’t have the body (6-1, 245) to play outside linebacker and may be limited to special teams in his career.
** Receivers Rashard Higgins (fifth round) and Jordan Payton (fifth round) haven’t broken through despite opportunities.
** Cornerback Trey Caldwell (fifth round) and linebacker Scooby Wright (seventh round) are on the practice squad and not ready to contribute.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or Like him on Facebook and follow him @scottpetrak on Twitter.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


More in Analysis