Cleveland Browns draft board is “locked in”
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns are ready for the 2016 NFL Draft. The only question now is if they have the heart to stick to the plan.
The 2016 NFL Draft does not kick off until Thursday evening, but the Cleveland Browns have reportedly done their homework, finalized their draft board and are ready for the bright lights of Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre.
“We’re set, locked in, know who we’ll be taking,” executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown told the team’s website. “And if that player’s not there, or if we get another offer that just blows our socks off, we’ll know how to react to that.”
The hay is apparently in the barn, as they say.
It’s a good sign that Brown feels confident that the team is prepared for whatever comes at them this weekend. This is a big draft as the Browns currently hold 12 selections, including the No. 8 overall selection in the opening round (at least for now). It will also be the first opportunity for Brown, head coach Hue Jackson and vice president of player personnel Andrew Berry to put their stamp on a franchise that they have been tasked with finally rebuilding the right way.
But, as Mike Tyson once said, everyone has a plan until they get hit. It’s one thing to feel confident about your plan of attack sitting in your office in Berea on a warm Monday evening; it is something else altogether to have the conviction to stick to the plan once the spotlight comes on.
We’ve seen the Browns fall apart at just the wrong time before on draft weekend, from Bill Belichick panicking in 1995 and trading to the bottom of the first round to select linebacker Craig Powell, to former general manager Ray Farmer ignoring all logic and alarm bell in selecting quarterback Johnny Manziel in 2014.
So what makes this draft different?
“Stay calm and keep an open mind,” according to Brown. “And then make great decisions, go into the draft knowing the players that you want, have conviction and don’t worry about the ‘what might’ve been’ but just make the best possible decision for yourself.
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“Be prepared for every type of scenario that might come up. That’s what we’re going through now.”
While Jackson, Berry and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta are new to the team, Brown is a holdover from previous regimes and has clearly learned from their mistakes, most notably the ones committed in 2014.
“I’ll tell you, in terms of what we think is critical to the guys we’ll bring to the roster — particularly high in the draft — is that they love football,” Brown said. “Yes, they’re talented but we want guys that love to play, that play a hard tough brand of football.”
The Los Angeles Rams will open the draft when they go on the clock a little past 8 p.m. on Thursday. The Browns say they are prepared for whatever happens.
We’ll all find out, one way or another, soon enough.