NFL Draft: Browns' First Round Pick Isn’t Everything

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While getting coffee in the break room
Dude A: Colt McCoy will never be any good with these receivers. If A.J. Green falls, we simply have to take him.
Dude B: Yeah, we need to get a deep-threat so we can see what we have in Colt, but can’t you find receivers later in the draft also?

And on the radio
Dude A: How can you pass on Patrick Peterson? The guy runs the 40 in 4.3 at 6’1” and 220 lbs! He’s the best athlete in the draft.
Dude B: It’s totally a passing league now and having two pro bowl corners would be nice, but they drafted a corner first last year.

A conversation during a bachelor party
Dude A: The Browns need to use all this hype around Cam Newton to their advantage by just trading down and taking a right tackle or something.
Dude B: They probably have to take a chance on a skill player eventually, but on the other hand I won’t complain if they load up on extra picks.

Or in a cab riding home from the airport
Dude A:
I am so tired of never having a pass rush, the Browns have to take Da’quan Bowers if he falls to them right?
Dude B: Yup, they spent an offseason with no free agency cutting all their defensive lineman so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go that way, but what about getting a receiver for Colt?

But what about this for a change…
Dude A: I heard this Robert Quinn guy would’ve gone #1 overall last year if he hadn’t been suspended. You can’t pass on game changers!
Dude B: Calm down Dude A. This isn’t some impossible puzzle everyone’s trying to solve, like there is only one possible solution, and we have to crack some mysterious code to figure it out.

First round draft picks are important, but they’re not everything. At what point are we getting carried away?

First of all, we love our first rounders because we’re Browns fans. The draft is always about the future, and our present routinely smells. That first round pick is the most written about, and most obvious representation of a new bright future. The first round has star quality, the names we all know.

What I mean is, we’re not general managers. We don’t spend our water cooler  time arguing over John Jerry type players when we have literally hundreds of first round mock drafts on the internet to chew on (Jerry was actually a decent third round dart by the Dolphins last year, appearing in 12 games).

Second, I know it’s hard to hear, but the Browns are not one player away from getting to the Super Bowl. They certainly better grab a good player with their first pick in this draft, but they’ll need to do that again in the 2012 draft, and the 2013 draft, and so on. They need more players than one single draft can provide.

A.J. HawkThis 2011 NFL Draft commercial we’ve all seen actually makes a good point – the Packers didn’t get to the Super Bowl in just one draft either. So if the Browns are smart, they’re looking at this draft like it’s just one step, a chapter in the overall story of their rebuild.

Do they want to stick a guy like A.J. Green next to Colt McCoy? Of course they do. But if Cincinnati grabs Green with the fourth pick the world is not going to end. Tom Heckert himself said, at 6th overall the Browns are going to get a good player who fills a need, no matter what. The Browns aren’t that good remember, they have many needs.

And it’s not like there won’t be an A.J. Green in next year’s draft. It’s not even like there won’t be another A.J. Green in this draft.

That’s because finally, when we talk draft we always seem to forget that the first round is only part of the picture. The Browns could still get a stud receiver in the second round if they go defensive line in the first round, or vice versa. Sometimes those high picks turn out to be average players anyway, so you need to make contact in the later rounds as well.

Last year, nobody was talking about T.J. Ward prior to the Browns taking him. Most of us didn’t even know who he was, but now everyone loves the guy. I have a hunch we’ll all be running over to NFL Draft Dudes.com to read about our second round sweetheart this year as well. That player’s success, combined with the successes of the players picked before him and after him, years before him and years after him, will eventually make up a competitive team.

This is not the NBA where everything is riding on one dude at the top of the draft. The Browns are finally on the right track here and they’ll get a good player.

So go to your local Browns backers bar, have fun watching the draft, and remember what happens Thursday is important, but it isn’t everything.

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