Cleveland Browns draft subterfuge: The game is afoot
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns have plenty of options in the 2016 NFL Draft, but the only certainty is that no one knows for sure what they will do.
With just a wee bit more than two weeks until the 2016 NFL Draft there are rumors galore about what the Cleveland Browns will do with the second overall selection in the first round.
As we get closer to draft night it is important to remember the words of the late, great Marvin Gaye, who once cautioned everyone to only “believe half of what you see, son, none of what you hear.” Which goes double as it concerns the Browns.
The team is reportedly going to select Cal quarterback Jared Goff, the rumored favorite of assistant head coach/offense Pep Hamilton. Unless they select North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz, reportedly the favorite of head coach Hue Jackson and in possession of a Browns’ offensive playbook. (If it comes down to it, Jackson outranks Hamilton, and while the boss isn’t always right, at the end of the day he is still the boss.)
Jason La Canfora at CBS Sports got the ball rolling on the Browns being sweet on Goff (while taking his usual weak shots at the organization), opining that:
"And while there is some natural debate as to which of these quarterbacks is best, and some believe the margin is close, sources say Hamilton – hand-picked by new head coach Hue Jackson (a quarterback guru himself), doesn’t see it that way at all. His reports have Goff far and away the better candidate and it wouldn’t take a major leap to infer that might just be how Jackson sees things himself. And while things between Jackson and the front office haven’t exactly gotten off to a sterling start (as the Browns’ free-agent foibles displayed), in this instance he and The Stat Boys might actually be on the same page."
As to Wentz, Jackson is not deterred by the fact that Wentz did not exactly face college football’s top competition while playing at North Dakota State
“I don’t think we get concerned about the school or level of play,” Jackson said last month during the NFL owners meetings. “It’s can the guy play? … He has great stature, great ability. … He looks the part. He has all the attributes that you look for.”
Cleveland may bypass a quarterback all together, opting to strengthen a porous defense by adding a dynamic player like Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey, Oregon defensive lineman DeForest Buckner or UCLA linebacker Myles Jack. Or they could pull off the always popular “trade down for more assets” maneuver, which they have employed in recent years, just not always with the best outcome.
That is a scenario floated out there by NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein who, citing an unnamed NFL team executive, claims that the Browns are not “enamored with a single player” and would be open to make a trade.
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The possibility of yet another draft day trade was discussed today by executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown.
“There’s been some interest in the pick,” Brown said on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “But there always typically is toward the top of the draft, just teams feeling each other out. I think in all honesty as you get closer to the draft, we’re probably a week’s time from getting real calls, with more substance and traction to them.”
So what does this all mean? At least for now, probably not much. The fact is that no one outside of a small handful of people inside team headquarters in Berea truly knows what the plan is for draft weekend. And even among that group there is probably still some fluidity as it relates to the final draft strategy.
The only thing that is certain is that the Browns will do something come draft night and it will be quite fabulous.
The uncertain part is whether that will be a good thing or a bad thing.