The Cleveland Browns front office is a smart group
By Roger Cohen
The newest front office for the Cleveland Browns may feature the best group since the team’s return in 1999.
Sometimes the guys who try to be the smartest guys in the room really are the smartest guys.
That’s my take on the Firm of Brown, Berry, Jackson and DePodesta — at least until September.
Doing what successful enterprises do when recruiting new employees, the Browns brain trust combined “new school” analytics with “old school” personal contact, and avoided overthinking simple stuff — like picking Jordan Payton, the UCLA receiver who has demonstrated the most basic skill for the position: catching the football.
And valuing real-world, on-the-job achievements of Biletnikoff Award winner Corey Coleman and finalist Rashard Higgins, All-American and Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year Emmanuel Ogbah and Big Ten Linebacker of the Year Joe Schobert.
Shrewd businesses don’t hire a receptionist without a face-to-face sit down. Former Browns GM Ray Farmer never even bothered to attend group interview “Pro Days” while new Head Coach Hue Jackson spent countless hours talking with Cody Kessler, who started 40 games (more than any post-1999 Browns QB not named Couch) for USC.
Most importantly, there don’t appear to be any “it’s 11 o’clock, do you know where your children are” Manziels or Gordons in this draft crop, and I believe this is where the Browns put analytics to use. Every big-time college football player possesses the basic tools – -size, speed, strength, etc. Pro football is a whole different business, requiring commitment to find that “something extra inside” to overcome challenges at the next level.
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Like Ogbah escaping a Nigerian dictatorship, emigrating to the US at age nine. Like Carl Nassib earning All-American as a walk-on at Penn State. Like Seth Devalve graduating from Princeton. But none more than Shon Coleman who played against the toughest competition at Auburn, earned an undergrad and a master’s degree — all while undergoing chemotherapy to beat life-threatening leukemia.
Sure, the Pittsburgh Steelers zone blitz will scare the hell out of most rookie tackles — maybe not as much for Coleman who spent two years hooked up to a poison-filled IV poison just to stay alive.
So at least until September, I am going to ignore critics like Mel Kiper and the legions of Browns-haters who mock the Ivy League approach. After last year’s 3-13 melodrama — like the performance evaluations emphasize — “there is plenty of room for growth”. Anyways, the Browns’ did throw a bone to the throwback fans last weekend, a player whose posse will love tailgating in the Muni Lot:
In the seventh round with their final selection the Cleveland Browns select the newest addition to the Dawg Pound: Scooby Wright.