Throughout the NFL Draft process Cleveland Browns fans were divided. In one corner were those who loved Sammy Watkins and saw him as the perfect compliment to Josh Gordon. The other corner were those who didn’t think you build your team around wide receivers, citing the limited playoff success of top flight guys. The latter were victorious when the Browns traded down with the Buffalo Bills who selected Watkins. The Browns drafted top corner Justin Gilbert with their top pick.
In a story on ESPN Cleveland, they have really been knocking out Browns stuff this week, they note that Pettine said that the team would have drafted Watkins at #4:
Pettine confirmed to ESPNCleveland.com that Watkins would have been the Browns’ pick at No. 4 if Buffalo had not floored the team with its offer.
Obviously that didn’t happen but given the Gordon situation it creates interesting what ifs. What if Gordon was suspended the day before the draft? What if Buffalo’s offer didn’t “floor” the team? What if they drafted Watkins, would they still have drafted Johnny Manziel or would they have gone after a corner there?
The Bills deal, with next year’s first and fourth rounders to move down a few picks, is indeed a flooring deal for the Browns. The Browns were able to pick up a huge asset for their team’s development and still get one of the Top 10 guys. Unlike the Julio Jones trade where they fell far down the draft, this deal still allowed them to pickup top flight talent.
The impact of the trade can not be understated. Many reading this still wish the team drafted Watkins. The likelihood of the Browns drafting both Watkins and Manziel seems slim. If they had taken both offensive players would Joel Bitonio still be the pick in the second round or would they have looked defense there? Where would Manziel have fallen to if the Browns passed on him? What team would reap both the benefits and the media backlash of Johnny Football?
It is surprising to see Pettine be so straight forward and honest as he has been so far. It is refreshing to hear a coach lay things out to the media for fans to digest appropriately. It also gives hope, to fans who want a big time receiver, that the team might spend money or draft picks to bring in a top level guy. Their currently philosophy seems more focused on making the best of what they can piece together. They are still unlikely to trade for a player like Andre Johnson, and maybe this is all smoke from Pettine. Either way it is a different twist from the Browns.
Are you surprised by this? Are you still upset the Browns didn’t draft Watkins?