Can the Cleveland Browns start to get well when the draft begins Thursday night? – Washington Post

The Cleveland Browns are going to begin to fix their problems in this NFL draft beginning Thursday night, using the lofty picks they have amassed to start building a pathway from last season’s 1-15 calamity to on-field respectability sooner rather than later and, eventually, reach the promised land of contender status.

Or, they’re going to remain the same, old Browns and find a way to squander their draft-night riches.

Either way, it will be a draft to remember for Cleveland.

The Browns begin Thursday with the first and 12th overall selections in the draft, and with five of the draft’s first 65 picks through the opening choice of Round 3. If they aren’t significantly better next season and beyond, they have only themselves to blame.

The conventional wisdom is that the Browns will use the No. 1 pick on Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett, then worry about their dire need at quarterback next. That could mean trading the 12th choice as part of a package for a veteran quarterback such as the Washington Redskins’ Kirk Cousins, the New England Patriots’ Jimmy Garoppolo or the Cincinnati Bengals’ AJ McCarron.

But with few indications that such a deal is feasible, it likely means that the Browns will target a quarterback in the draft from among North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes.

“Cleveland has got to address the quarterback position,” former NFL coach Jon Gruden said. “It all depends on what they think of Trubisky, Mahomes, whoever else — Deshaun Watson — they may be considering at the top of the first round …. It all depends on how they value the quarterback at the No. 1 and the No. 12 slot.”

The Browns appear focused on Trubisky, a native of Mentor, Ohio. To get him, they might have to trade up from No. 12. The quarterback-needy New York Jets choose sixth. If the Browns want to get to No. 5, that could mean a deal with the Tennessee Titans.

“I think in Myles Garrett, they’ve got a player that’s got a lot of upside,” former Dallas Cowboys executive Gil Brandt said. “He’s a little different type of guy. He’s a guy that enjoys some classical music and poetry, and you don’t expect that out of a defensive end, really. But he has all the measurables. I think that the Browns did a great job of accumulating draft choices. And when you’re there with their second pick and you want to get ahead, if you figure the Jets are gonna take a quarterback and you want to get ahead of the Jets, I guess you’ve got to get up to [No.] 5 to get ahead of the Jets.

“And you’ve got the firepower to get ahead of them with those extra choices. … I think this is a case where you look and you say, ‘Watson’s there. Trubisky is there. Is it worthwhile to get ahead of those guys?’ They’ve got a chance to move up. The Jets don’t have any chips to move up to block the chance of them getting the fifth pick from the Titans.”

There has been some speculation that the Browns might even take Trubisky first overall, passing up the chance to get Garrett. Some observers say that would be a mistake.

“I’ve been on record from day one saying I think they have to take him at number one,” Mike Mayock, the draft analyst for the league-owned NFL Network, said of Garrett. “You can continue to try to move down the board all you want and pick up more picks, and I get that and I respect that. But at some point you better start taking some difference-makers, and I think he’s a difference-maker. If you compare him to Von Miller, who came out of the same college four or five years ago, this kid has the same explosion off the ball, the same bend, the ability to pressure a quarterback. And he’s 20 pounds heavier.

“So I think his upside is he should be a Pro Bowl defensive end. He should be a huge difference-maker in the NFL in the pass game. The only way that doesn’t happen is one of two reasons: one, he gets hurt or number two, he doesn’t want it bad enough. But his physical talent is awesome.”

Phil Savage, the former general manager of the Browns, expressed a similar view.

“I think the immense potential that Myles Garrett brings to the table is just going to be too difficult for the Browns to pass,” Savage said. “They’re moving to a four-man [defensive] front. They’ve got Gregg Williams coming in there as the defensive coordinator. So I think that’s almost an automatic send-in for them.

“So then that brings you to the quarterback spot. And, to me, that was the main reason they hired Hue Jackson [as head coach] was because the Browns have had a quarterback problem over the years. He’s a quarterback coach. And so I think that project has to begin sooner rather than later, and they’re gonna take the quarterback that they think and that Hue thinks that he can maximize. I don’t know if that is Mitchell Trubisky or Deshaun Watson or somebody else. But at least in theory, you would suspect that they’re gonna come away with these first two picks as some combination or another with Myles Garrett and a quarterback.”

Last year, the Browns traded the draft’s No. 2 overall pick to the Philadelphia Eagles, who used it on quarterback Carson Wentz. So their moves must be measured against that backdrop: Will they emerge from this draft better off or worse off than they would have been if they’d kept the second selection last year and chosen Wentz?

The answer might be years in the making.

Can the Cleveland Browns start to get well when the draft begins Thursday night? – Washington Post

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