4. RB Trent Richardson B+
I would have given the Browns an A for taking Richardson at 4 because he was the 4th rated player on my board, but I’m giving them a B+ for moving up to 3 and taking him for two reasons. For one, I don’t think they needed to move up to get him. I think Minnesota was bluffing. Kalil was their guy and they didn’t want to move any further down than 4. Two, even if they were, the Browns wouldn’t have been much worse off at all settling for Blackmon at 4. In fact, they could have taken Kalil at 4. He would have been a great bookend for Joe Thomas.
22. QB Brandon Weeden D
I have made it really clear I don’t like Brandon Weeden. I think he’s a 28 year old developmental prospect. I would have had a 2nd round grade on him, similar to Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler, had he been 22, but given his age I basically made him untouchable on my board. I like the fit in Cleveland even less. He made sense to a team that is competitive and ready to win now. Cleveland is more likely a 3 or so year rebuilding project, at the least. That means that by the time the Browns are competitive, they’ll have a 32 year old quarterback heading into a contract year and a decision to make, at the earliest. This isn’t an F because at least it’s a quarterback.
37. OT Mitchell Schwartz C-
There were plenty of capable receivers that fit the range here and that’s their biggest need and there were also better right tackles available. I had Schwartz in the 3rd round so this is a big reach for him, especially with who is left on the board (WR: Stephen Hill, Rueben Randle, Ryan Broyles, Mohamed Sanu and OT: Jonathan Martin, Cordy Glenn).
87. DT John Hughes F
When the Browns made this pick I joked on Twitter that by the time Brandon Weeden has any capable receivers, he’ll be heading into retirement. In all seriousness, this was one of the worst picks of the draft. I don’t give out a lot of Fs, but this absolutely made no sense. Defensive tackle wasn’t a pressing need and I didn’t even have Hughes in my top 250.
100. WR Travis Benjamin C
Well, it’s the right position, but it’s a 7th round prospect. Benjamin is a good kick returner with developmental abilities at wide receiver. I think he makes a lot of sense to a team in the late rounds who needs a return man and has time to wait on a receiver that might never come around. He doesn’t make any sense to a team in the middle rounds that already has a good return man (Josh Cribbs) and needs receiver help right away. Poor Brandon Weeden.
120. MLB James-Michael Johnson B
Finally a pick that makes sense. Depth at linebacker was a need and they have 2 marginal starters and an injury prone middle linebacker in their linebacking corps so JMJ has the potential to maybe break into the starting lineup at some point. Worst case scenario, he’s a solid special teamer and he’s only a minor reach by my board.
160. G Ryan Miller A
Another good matchup of need and value. Both Jason Pinkston and Shawn Lauvao were awful at guard last year. They’re still young so there’s time to turn it around, but the Browns needed to get another guard in the mix just in case. Miller fits the draft range well too.
204. OLB Emmanuel Acho A
A 2nd linebacker? Why not? I mentioned the Browns had questions at all 3 starting spots in their linebacking corps and Acho is a very good value here in the 6th.
205. DT Billy Winn A
A 2nd defensive tackle? It wasn’t really a huge need, but you can’t argue with getting a value like this in the late rounds. I had Billy Winn rated higher on my board than Hughes. Of course this makes the John Hughes pick even stupider because they couldn’t have used that on another position, but I already gave that an F. This is an A.
245. CB Trevin Wade A
There’s no such thing as a bad 7th round pick, but there are good ones. Cornerback was a big need of theirs and Wade had a 7th round grade.
247. TE Brad Smelley B+
The Browns already have 2 tight ends and they spent a 4th round pick on a fullback last year, so I don’t see where Smelley fits, but it is the 7th round and you can’t knock a team for picking a pure football player like Smelley. Worst case he’s a hustle special teamer.
I joked that Weeden would be heading into retirement by the time he had capable receivers, but I might not be too far off. If I’m going to be fair, I have to bash the Browns for not building around Weeden after I praised the Colts (and to some extent the Redskins in free agency) for building around their new quarterback. It’s even more imperative in Cleveland’s case because Weeden, at the very least, has 6 fewer years to wait around than Luck or Griffin.
Yes, Trent Richardson will be a stud, but at the same time, they were duped into moving up 1 spot to get the guy who was an obvious pick anyway. Mitchell Schwartz fills a need, but there were much better players available at various positions of need. Travis Benjamin doesn’t make any sense at all. He’s a return man, which they already have, and a developmental receiver. Who is Weeden going to throw to next year? He has the same shitty receiving corps that made people argue that McCoy deserved another shot.
I also have to bash the pick of Weeden itself. I don’t see Weeden as a day 1 or year 1 top-15 quarterback, which he almost has to be because of his age and where he was drafted. It’s almost like the Browns just spent the 22nd overall pick on Matt Cassel (similar age and ability). That makes even less sense for a rebuilding team because Weeden will be 32 and in a contract year, by the earliest, by the time the Browns are competitive. Some solid late round selections make up some for terrible picks in the first 3 rounds, but the first 3 rounds are what count.