When the 2017 NFL Draft rolls around on April 27th, the Cleveland Browns will have the #1 overall pick for just the third time in nineteen years. There has been a lot of speculation as to who the eternally struggling franchise will choose at the number one slot. However, I agree with most NFL Draft experts that the highest pick will likely be used on Myles Garrett.
For those who don’t know or aren’t that up-to-date on college athletes, Garrett is a 6′ 5″, 270-pound edge rusher from Texas A&M who is hyped to be as good as Joey Bosa–a player who won the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award this past season.
Last season, Garrett suffered a knee injury early on; however, he still managed to be named a first-team All-American, recording 15 tackles for a loss and 8.5 sacks in 9 starts of 11 games played. While the fear of injury problems may worry some in Cleveland’s front office, he is regarded as the best defensive lineman (and player) available in this year’s draft and I believe that picking Garrett is the Browns best option.
Please No Quarterbacks
While Garrett seems to be a sure bet for the top pick, people worried about his desire to play for the Browns when a video surfaced of him asking the Dallas Cowboys to trade for the top pick so he could play in his home state. However, since then, Garrett has tried to make it clear that he wants to be the number one pick regardless of what team picks him.
Other analysts have suggested that the Browns should pick a quarterback to help with their offensive woes. The mere notion of this sincerely makes me cringe.
The quarterbacks on the roster this past year each showed their different strengths and weaknesses on the playing field. I believe that RGIII can still be a contender while Cody Kessler showed that he has the talent to develop into a better player.
Many people have viewed the struggles of the Cleveland quarterbacks as them being too unhealthy or untalented to lead a team. However, it is clear to me that the offensive line is mostly to blame. Besides the veteran leadership of Joe Thomas, the Browns’ offensive line is very young. While they did do what I thought they should last year and got some younger offensive lineman in the draft and free agency, I feel like their line wouldn’t have been as bad if they had kept Alex Mack at center.
I understand the need to rebuild and get young players. But the Browns have continually underestimated how valuable veteran players are in developing young players. It is impossible to show proof of this with stats and it is difficult to explain; but there is clearly an advantage of having a player familiar with the league and the game in helping young players develop and adjust.
So, while I understand people’s grievances towards the offensive production and quarterback play of the Browns, they need to look at why the team went through six different starting quarterbacks in a season’s time. The evidence for faulting the offensive line is in the stats as the Browns were dead last in the league in sacks allowed with 66. For the record, the second worst team in sacks allowed was the Los Angeles Rams who gave up 49.
The fact that the Browns are an outlier in this category shows that the offensive line needs improvement. I’m not saying that the Browns will win 12 games if their offensive line improves and I’m not saying that RGIII and co. will become elite quarterbacks in the league. But I am saying that a good offensive line can make teams with just an average quarterback win games. At least more than one.
Garrett is a good pick because the Browns defense needs to continue to improve. It seems, for whatever reason, the best players that Cleveland has drafted in the years since their reinstatement into the league have been on the defensive side of the ball. While several offensive players have been flops or showed declining numbers, defensive players have tended to be more effective and stayed with the team longer. I can’t say why but only that it seems to be the case.
The defense has plenty of talented players; they just need to continue adding more. Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib proved to be effective players as rookies and they show no signs of slowing down in years to come.
Last year, Cleveland’s defense was 30th in sacks (26.0), 25th in interceptions (10), 31st in forced fumbles (6), and 31st in Yards Allowed per Game (392.4). Furthermore, they were 30th in Points Allowed per Game (28.2) while offensively they were 31st in Points per Game (16.5).
Now a lot of this will improve as young players get more experience and continue to work at improving themselves. However, getting more young players on the defensive side of the ball will only further help the process.
My advice to the Browns is to do the smart thing and take Myles Garrett with the #1 pick. With their other picks, I would focus on getting more offensive linemen and more defensive players. As far as the other positions are concerned, I think that Isaiah Crowell established himself as an above-average running back this past season and he has the potential to continue to grow. The plethora of young receivers will only continue to get better especially under the surprising rise to prominence of former quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Finally, I believe that RGIII has what it takes to help the Browns improved as long as he stays healthy. No team can turn it around in a year. But if they can win 4-6 games it shows they are moving in the right direction. Give him protection and give him a chance to prove himself.
My parting words of advice for the Browns would simply be: For all that is good in this world do not use your number one pick on another quarterback. Please don’t. Just pick Garrett. I don’t know if I will be able to take another misguided draft pick on a quarterback.