The Cleveland Browns will come to the 2022 NFL draft with far fewer needs than years past. This year the Browns will draft for strength, not need.
The Cleveland Browns will draft a tight end in the second round. Even though the Browns may not need to target the tight end position, they will draft one.
How do I know? I don’t. But all the signs point to it.
But to see the signs, one has to re-think the way they perceive the NFL draft. In the not-too-distant past, the NFL draft was the stuff of dreams. It was where future Browns legends were to be found. Fans hoped and dreamed a hero would emerge that will “turn the franchise around”.
If that pipe dream has not died within you yet, then take a moment and kill off that fairy tale. Once that’s done, it is time to enter the real world.
Good teams don’t draft franchise saviors in the NFL draft. And if you are looking for the one magical moment the franchise is “turned around”, then you missed the boat. Franchises aren’t fixed in one moment. They are reformed through a series of small steps that in the aggregate move the franchise in the right direction.
All of this leads to one salient point. The Browns are contenders. They are no longer building through the draft. They are solidifying and fortifying through it.
If they have a position of need, this regime is filling that hole in free agency. The draft is not the place to fill holes.
Instead, the draft is a place to solidify the team in later rounds. The Browns have a few needs on the defensive line. OK, get a cheap young player that can serve as a depth piece in round three and later.
The draft is a place to fortify the team. The early rounds are for improving the future of the team. Good teams take players that have the chance to serve in key roles.
For example, the Baltimore Ravens take tight ends early in the draft. Why? Because their quarterback only throws the ball to tight ends. Do they have enough on the team? Yes. But they keep drafting them because that is who they are. It makes their identity stronger.
Cleveland will start drafting to make who they are stronger. That means drafting the one position on offense that is a real difference-maker. There are some good tight ends in this draft. The Browns will draft the tight end position and keep drafting the tight end position because their offense works better the better their tight ends are.
Instead of drafting for need, Cleveland will draft toward their identity. Thus, they will draft a tight end in the second round.