Let's Stop Talking About the Browns Not Drafting Julio Jones, Shall We?

Cleveland Browns beat writer Tony Grossi has said that the team might regret not taking wide receiver Julio Jones in this year’s NFL Draft. He isn’t wrong in pointing out the Browns’ continuing need for playmakers at the position, which is only amplified by the fact that, yes, Jones most likely will be a playmaker in this league.

However, was it really that bad a decision not to draft him? Think of it this way: with the Browns’ transition to a 4-3 defense, the defensive line was going to be as vulnerable as ever, and the front office couldn’t just assume that they’d pick someone up in free agency who could help (look at how that’s turned out for them so far).

Besides, championship teams are built on the offensive and defensive lines. Look at what an improved offensive line – featuring young studs such as perennial Pro Bowler Joe Thomas and Alex Mack - was able to do for running back Peyton Hillis. With Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard in place, 2011 could be the defensive line’s opportunity to turn heads. A better defensive line improves the linebackers and takes pressure off of the secondary – it’s the most important cog in the defensive machine.

Plus, you have to consider what the Browns got in return from the Atlanta Falcons for the trade that would allow them to draft Jones. For the sixth overall pick, the Browns received five picks in return, including the Falcons’ number-one pick in 2012, giving the Browns two first-round selections next year.

Just as true as the importance of a team’s offensive and defensive lines is the importance of building a team through the draft. The trade with the Falcons not only allowed the Browns to address their pressing need for defensive line depth, but allowed them to stockpile picks for 2012 that gives them the flexibility to either make two first-round selections or parlay one of those picks for an even better pick like, say, a playmaker.

The process of rebuilding the Browns will be a long one, and simply drafting Julio Jones wasn’t going to magically solve every one of their problems. He’ll be a fine wide receiver but let’s face it, the Browns play in the AFC North where defense is king. One solid wide receiver won’t mean anything if his offensive unit can’t get on the field – to compete with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens of the world means to finally develop a brand of defense that can carry the Browns through the division and into the playoffs.

The big playmakers will eventually find their way to Cleveland, or possibly be developing right under our noses now. The quicker path to the playoffs lies with the offensive and defensive lines, and that’s the route the Browns front office is taking. All the fans have to do is remain patient and hope Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard both develop into something special. And if that doesn’t happen then, well, there’s always that drawing board we can go back to.


Tags: 2011 NFL Draft Cleveland Browns Jabaal Sheard Julio Jones Phil Taylor

  • Natron

    I’m with you. Jones may be great, but I hear he has been going to the Edwards institute of ball handling. At this point the browns need to (sigh) continue to build the team as a whole. Drafting the playmaker that high works if you need the piece that puts you over the top, but is useless if you don’t have the team to back him up. (see detroit lions draft 19?? to 2010). The browns did what they needed to do, build a core and add picks.

    Please excuse punctuation, spelling and logical errors. This was composed on a cell phone!

  • DW

    This is why H&H are paid to make decisions while Grossi is paid to have an opinion about decisions. BIG difference!

  • monte W

    I think we are way past the draft. I’m mad we didn’t address specific position needs with top free agents. Even in the past couple days there were free agent signings of players more talented then anyone we have at their position but our plan is wait till next years draft? Then it will be wait 3 years till these guys mature right. I’m tired of waiting. Make some moves and generate excitement. People are mad cuz we got an extra first rounder? That’s the only smart move we made.

  • dawgpounddaily

    @monte W I’m not necessarily saying that people are upset that we got an extra first rounder, but I still believe there are people out there who would rather have seen the Browns draft a “playmaker” like Julio Jones to help the offense improve. That isn’t helped by the Browns not addressing the need in free agency either. I think the front office will make the right signings when the team is truly ready to contend.

  • dawgpounddaily

    @DW Very true!

  • dawgpounddaily

    @Natron Citing the Lions was solid, because that organization is essentially the poster child for poor draft – or overall organizational – strategies. Sure, the Browns could have really gone hard after free agents this year but it will do nothing without the other proper pieces in place.

  • monte W

    @dawgpounddaily @Natron Whose roster would you rather have right now? A promising QB that beat the Browns on a final play or McCoy, Calvin Johnson is big time, 2 top draft picks in the backfield and the big book ends on the line. With one being an all-pro. Or a team hoping the QB can make us believers, hoping the RB can do it again. Wondering if any WR is worthy to be in the NFL, and a DT and DE that went higher than expected in the draft.

  • Natron

    @monte W @dawgpounddaily 

    Im  taking the browns over the lions. I’ve stuck with them this long, why switch now for the lions roster?  

    At this point, honestly, I’ll take my chances with colt over stafford. The guy has barely played due to injury and while he has been impressive at times, he has been very limited.  Colt looked like a rookie last year. Go figure.  I would call that comparison a wash currently. Keep matthew stafford in for a year and I might flip flop.  Best is a nice running back, but he kind of disappeared at times last year. Calvin is awesome, no question there.   I like what the lions have done with the draft the last few years. 

    I don’t see any reason Hillis couldn’t do it again. The biggest change he had was losing vickers. Our wideouts, well, we’ll see. I hope the WCO is better for them as promised. As for reaching in the draft, I think a reach could be a sign of recognizing talent and heckert supposedly has a knack for that. If the guys aren’t going to be there next time you pick, then you should take them given no other option. right?

    My point was more that the lions have drafted some studs coming out of college without having all the pieces for them to succeed. And in strange fashion too. They had that string when they drafted qb in the first round like three years in a row. They did the same thing with receiver several years later. I don’t know my history that well or at all but I imagine you could trace it back to the Barry sanders years where they just didn’t have the foundation for these kinds of talented players and they floundered. 

    This kind of stuff kills players. Look what we did to poor tim cOUCH. What might have happened to him if the patriots got their hands on him back in 99?  

    I’m not trying to slam the lions. I live in Toledo so they’re my back burner team. I would never buy any of their merch, but they’re easy to root for. I can at least sympathize with their plight so I’m actually pulling for them. Here’s hoping that both teams turn a corner this season.

    Once again, cell phone writing… Hate me for my ideas, not for my grammar and punctuation.