The Cleveland Browns are not in a position to be trading away draft picks
The Cleveland Browns should not have traded a draft pick to add to an already deep if unspectacular corps of safeties. No offense to Ronnie Harrison, who is a talented player who has proven himself in the NFL, nor to my colleague Mitch Zoloty at Dawg Pound Daily, who loved the trade for the Browns, but this trade does not make sense for a team coming off a 6-10 season. However, just about everyone at DPD loved this trade except for the Village Elliot.
You can say that a fifth-round draft pick is not worth very much. Well, okay, but what if the Browns had given up 2020 fifth-round draft pick Nick Harris for Ronnie Harrison straight up? The Dawg Pound would go absolutely nuts if Nick Harris were to be traded, even if there were some backup guy obtained in the same deal.
Harris may be the opening day starting center, because it looks like J.C. Tretter may need more time to recover from knee surgery. So, apparently the fifth-round pick does have some value. Plus, Harris is going to be with the team for four years. Ronnie Harrison is going to be on the team for only two seasons and then he will be a free agent in 2022.
Cleveland cannot take the position they have already proven themselves to be division contenders and they no longer need to close the talent gap with the Ravens. Holy kazoo, Mr. Berry, the Ravens were 14-3 last year while the Browns went 6-10. The Browns have to plan on getting better players than the Ravens, which means getting more players and more draft picks, not giving up draft picks.
The talent gap will never close if the Browns have fewer draft picks than the Ravens. This is the kind of trade that the New Orleans Saints might make if they need to add a player for Drew Brees’ last Super Bowl run. Or if your team went 14-3 you might do it.
Baltimore, however, is very good at hoarding compensatory draft picks, and wound up with an extra third-round pick and an extra fourth-round pick in 2020. They do not give away draft picks without a clear reason for doing so. The Browns historically like to act as if they have proven that they are contenders without having actually won anything. That may be sending the wrong message.
If you look at the grades assigned by Pro Football Focus, Harrison is the fourth highest safety on the Browns right now behind Andrew Sendejo, Karl Joseph, and Sheldrick Redwine. In limited snaps, J.T. Hassell, who was cut in order to create a roster spot, was also graded higher than Harrison, by the way. Harrison is valuable because he has been a starter, but let us not confuse the Jacksonville Jaguars with the 1985 Chicago Bears.
At this time of the year, there are always salary cap casualties such as Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who is also a very good player, but one who the Dallas Cowboys had to cut to squeeze under the cap, especially if they intend to make any kind of pitch to free agent Earl Thomas. As it is, it would not be a shock to see Dix wind up with the Ravens, who suddenly have cap space and a big fat open roster space for him. So if the Browns truly needed to upgrade J.T. Hassell, which is doubtful, Ha Ha Clinton Dix would have been a much better move, without costing a draft pick.
There are always going to be a few players like Dix available at roster cutdown time. The Browns should have been patient and should have taken the player away from Baltimore instead of grabbing a non-impact player and losing a draft pick.