Cleveland Browns: A baseball-style rebuild begins in next phase
Second, the Cubs built their roster around a certain style of player to promote a specific culture. The point mainly concerns roster construction. The mistake the Cubs sought to avoid was viewing their roster as basically static with holes at certain positions. Instead, the idea was that rosters are fluid. Some players break-out, some regress, some are injured, etc. Viewing the roster as fluid allowed the Cubs to acquire talent regardless of position to build depth.
Browns fans have seen the static model used since 1999 and may not be familiar with the more fluid concept of roster construction. The static model examines the roster and assumes that key players will play at a certain level. Then the “holes” in the roster are identified. A typical goal would be to fill those holes.
The result is a reactionary roster development plan. For example, the Browns may fix all the holes in their roster heading into any particular season. But during that season a key player may get injured or may leave via free agency, which opens new holes in the roster. The general manager is then left plugging holes like plumber. This plans leaves teams perpetually behind when it comes to fixing a roster. Browns fans have seen firsthand how this model fails to produce a winner on a consistent basis.
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The more fluid method first identifies the type of team the organization would like to build. It then looks for players who have the characteristics to make that team a reality. In this model, it is important to acquire as many players with the right characteristics as possible regardless of position. This may seem counterintuitive, but if the Browns acquire more talent at one position than necessary, they could trade older players for future assets. The point is to put as many players with the right characteristics on the team to build the organizational culture.
In the 2016 draft, the Browns sought to change their culture by drafting players who play with meanness and attitude. They also targeted players who had overcome some sort of adversity in their lives. During the later rounds, the Browns placed a premium on athletic players whom the coaches could mold into football players. Look for more of the same in this year’s draft.
In 2017, expect the Browns to continue acquiring players with the characteristics necessary to build the organizational culture. Like the Cubs, this may look like drafting players who fit the characteristics regardless of position. The Browns have plenty of holes on the roster, but they may be filled through free agency and undrafted free agents. Look for the Browns to use the draft to put the right players on the roster.