After asking the NFL Draft, “Who’s your daddy?” over the first two days, the Browns should have just passed on Day 3 (“No thanks! We’re good!”).
But that would have been poor form for the host city, so the Browns stuck around Saturday and played nice with the other kids in the sandbox.
By Day 3, of course, the Browns were playing with house money, having jackpotted their way back to Berea with three home runs in their first three picks.
General Manager Andrew Berry, who rebuilt the Browns offense in his first year on the job, has rebuilt the defense in his second year. The finishing touches of the latter project came during the three-day Mel Kiper Invitational.
For the first time since your mother was born, the Browns had a very low draft pick this year. Normally accustomed to having a top 10 pick, even a couple top 1 picks, the Browns this year, thanks to their 11-win season, were down in the basement of the first round, sitting on the sump pump, with the 26th pick.
That sounds like having to sit behind a guy with a huge hat in a crowded theater. But Berry and his staff made the most of their view, especially in the first three rounds when anything that could have gone right did go right.
First, cornerback Greg Newsome II, who said he thought he should have been the first overall pick, but would have grudgingly accepted second overall, tumbled all the way down the basement steps and into the lap of the smiling Browns.
On the second day of the draft, in the second round of the draft, the Browns had their eye on Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, whose name is a mouthful, but whose tackling style is a snootful. When the Browns became mindful that another team was sniffing around the same tree, Team Berry hastily constructed a trade allowing the Browns to move ahead of the potential party crashers.
Owusu-Koramoah called the Browns drafting him, “a glorious feeling … a monumental feeling.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall any player using those words during the Hue Jackson Era.
The Browns then closed up shop on Day 2 by addressing their need for more speed for their offense. But instead of drafting a fast guy, they drafted THE FASTEST guy, Auburn receiver Anthony Schwartz, whose 4.2 time in the 40-yard dash translates to turning off the light in your room and being in bed before the room gets dark.
Speed like that should make Schwartz unoverthrowable. Indeed, it sounds like his approach to the game is very simple.
“Every time you throw it deep,” he said, “I’m grabbing it and it’s going to be a touchdown.”
Grab and swag, baby!
Draft day, of course, is a day for all NFL teams to dream on. Analysts who tend to look for all the warts on players before the draft, suddenly flip and extol all that is worth dreaming on after they are drafted.
One of the overlooked realities of drafting where the Browns drafted this year, 26th in each round, although trades altered some of the positioning, is that there’s a reason the good teams draft low. The reason is: they are good teams.
Good teams obviously don’t have as many holes to fill as bad ones. The Browns in this draft seemed to fill three important spots on their roster with their first three picks.
On paper, on tape, and according to Mel Kiper’s hair, Newsome, Owusu-Koramoah and Schwartz all look like impact players who are being added to a team that was an impact team last season.
The Browns are no longer rebuilding. They are reloading. They were a load for other teams last season. They should be an even bigger load this season.
Certainly, this roster, this front office and this coaching staff is, collectively, the best the Browns have had since before the Browns were hijacked to Baltimore.
After years and decades of wasted drafts, blown picks, questionable scouting and poor talent evaluation, all the holes in the organization appear to have been fixed. Including and especially, the roster itself.
On paper, further bolstered by the top three of this year’s draft class, this should be the best Browns roster since the Marty Schottenheimer/Bernie Kosar group in the mid-to-late 1980s.
The addition of Schwartz should fill the need for speed. Owusu-Koramoah fills the need for a mobile, wrecking-ball linebacker and Newsome brings some of that Hanford Dixon/Frank Minnifield swagger to a defense that should be much better than the leaky group of last year.
Fixing the defense was the last frontier for Berry.
Injuries are always a wild card, but with the addition of a handful of free agents and three key additions from the draft, is there a more complete team in the NFL than the Browns?