Cleveland Browns Fans: Satisfied with the Wentz Deal?
Fans who have been bashing the Cleveland Browns for trading out of the 2nd overall pick in 2016 need to take a look at who we actually wound up with.
If you are one of the fans who has been bashing the Cleveland Browns for trading out of the 2nd overall pick in 2016 — used by the Eagles to draft Carson Wentz — you need to take a look at who we actually wound up with.
Without questioning the great value of Wentz to a team that was ready to contend for and win the Super Bowl, the Browns wound up with five starters headlined by rookie star Denzel Ward. It’s not nearly as one-sided as you might think.
Carson Wentz was instrumental in getting the Eagles to the Super Bowl, even though he wound up injured and Nick Foles had to take over. If your team wins the Super Bowl, the moves that got them there really can’t be questioned.
So let’s not say that they made a bad trade or that they would like to take it back. Wentz went solid platinum for the Eagles. But at the same time, you can’t make the claim that the Browns would have taken Philadelphia’s place in the Super Bowl with Wentz. That just was not going to happen.
The Brandt point system (named after Gil Brandt of the Cowboys who created the system in the late 1980s, along with GM Tex Schramm), is sometimes used to estimate the value of draft picks from different rounds.
In the Brandt system, the theory is that’s a mid-first round pick is worth 1000 points, with first overall at 3,000 points. So, in other words if you trade three mid-first round picks, that is worth about the same as the first overall pick.
Second round picks are worth less than first-round picks, and so on down the line. This chart is not sacrosanct, and other NFL teams have modified the original concept. But the Brandt system is about the closest tool we have to compare the value of draft pick trades.
To recapitulate the original deal, the Browns sent the second overall pick and a number four pick to Philadelphia. In return, the Browns received:
In 2016: 1st round (8), 3rd (76) and 4th (100)
Brandt/Schramm value: 1,710 points for the Browns, For the Eagles, 2642 points.
In 2017: 1st round pick, estimated at mid-first round: 1000 points
2018: 2nd round pick (mid). 260 points.
Total for 3 years: Browns 2970, Eagles 2642.
The deal was structured such that Eagles would benefit the most early on, but the Browns would benefit later on. The difference in “draft capital” is only 10 percent and it was spread over three years. That’s kind of ho-hum, and plus you have to consider that the Browns really needed a quarterback. With 20-20 hindsight, we know now that Carson Wentz is a legitimate star, but three years ago not everyone was on board with him.
What sets Wentz apart is his ability to process information and make decisions quickly, a vague skill that requires someone like John Dorsey to see. Sashi Brown is more in tune with measurables. Wentz did not put up huge numbers for North Dakota State in the Missouri Valley Conference, an FCS conference.
Wentz has good size and runs well for a big man, but did not scorch the running track like Michael Vick. So it was tough for Sashi Brown to pull the trigger on him at second overall. If John Dorsey had been the GM, he probably would have made the call, but he wasn’t here.
The Browns traded the five picks from the Eagles to eventually total 14 picks, three of which are still in play in 2019. Notably, they could have drafted DeShaun Watson with the 12th overall pick in 2017, but they turned that around to the Texans in exchange for two additional first round picks, which became Jabrill Peppers and Denzel Ward.
These deals followed the blueprint of Sashi Brown, who was determined to bring the Browns to respectability by investing in the future rather than the present. That meant getting rid of big contracts to conserve salary cap space and hoarding draft picks in the future.
The most controversial aspect is that he seemed to devalue wins, since the draft system rewards teams for losing. Can we just say the T-word? Sashi Brown TANKED the team. It’s horrible to say that, but it’s true. Even more horrible is the realization that he may have been right that this is the best way to build a team because the NFL draft rules reward losing records with better draft position.
Here’s what they actually received when all is said and done:
2016 Corey Coleman, 1(15), WR, traded for a 2019 number 7
Shon Coleman, 3(76), OL, traded for a 2019 number 7
Cody Kessler, 3(93), QB, traded for a 2019 number 7.
Ricardo Louis, 4(114), WR, currently IR, #4WR and first string special teams.
Derrick Kindred, 4 (129), S, borderline starter and special teams.
Jordan Payton, 4 (156), WR, cut.
Spencer Drango, 5 (168), OL, cut
Jabrill Peppers, 1(25) S, Starter, and special teams.
DeShone Kizer 2(52) QB, traded for Damarius Randall, CB/S starter
Denzel Ward, 1(4), CB, Starter
Chad Thomas, 3(67) DE, benchwarmer
Antonio Callaway 3(105), WR, Starter
Some of the Sashi draft picks were so bad that they had to be cut from the team,namely Shon Coleman, Spencer Drango, and Jordan Payton. But the worst pick was first rounder WR Corey Coleman who was traded for a song (a 7th round draft pick, which is about the same thing). Similarly, QB Cody Kessler was traded to the Jaguars, also for a 7th round pick, which is kind of the going rate for backup QBs.
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You might think that DeShone Kizer was a total disaster but this is not true, because the Browns traded him to Green Bay for Damarius Randall, who is a starting defensive back for the Browns, logging snaps at both safety and cornerback.
So, after all that, the Browns have four starters from that trade in CB Denzel Ward, CB/S Damarius Randall, S Jabrill Peppers and WR Antonio Callaway; or five starters if you count . S Derrick Kindred, who has 17 starts in his Browns career, but normally gets his snaps as a third safety or extra DB. He also plays special teams. WR Ricardo Louis, who is on IR this year, started 9 games in 2017 and as crazy as it sounds, his 357 receiving yards led the pathetic wide receiver corps that year. But in 2019 he may not make the team.. The Browns also have Chad Lewis on the roster, a third round pick who thus far has shown little inclination to play football. There’s still a chance that he might turn it around, but let’s pencil him as a bust at this point.
For the Browns, the key player was Denzel Ward, the cornerback from Ohio State taken 4th overall in the 2018 draft. Even more importantly, though many fans question the team-tanking tactics of Sashi Brown, the team was able to draft Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick. Neither player would have likely appealed to Sashi Brown
And it still isn’t over! The Browns used the Eagles’ picks to trade forever more picks in the future, and some of the draftees were also traded for future draft picks. Hence the Browns have three number seven picks in 2017, resulting from the trade the two Colemans to Buffalo plus Cody Kessler to Jacksonville.
Eagles fans had a Super Bowl, partly because of front office moves including the Wentz deal. So you really can’t have serious regrets about that trade if you are an Eagles fan. However, if they are wondering why the 2018 team is not as good as the 2017 team, maybe they miss some of those five starting players who are on the Browns this year.
The Browns received an enormous infusion of draft picks and it ultimately paid off when John Dorsey was brought on board to take advantage of these draft picks. He made the difference between a bad deal and a good one. Sashi Brown’s great draft position was diminished because his picks tended to crash and burn.