After months of prognostications, predictions, mocks, mocking, talking and a hundred expert having a hundred opinions the results are in for the #1 and #4 picks in the NFL draft and the Cleveland Browns.
I was wrong. Mostly. Many were wrong. Mostly. Some were right. Mostly. The Browns took a QB at #1. It wasn’t either of the two I expected (Sam Darnold or Josh Allen), and it wasn’t the guy who graded out as the most elite talent on the board. In the end, the Browns put their faith in Baker Mayfield.
Talk about planting your flag, that is exactly what John Dorsey just did. Many will discuss this pick as a reach. Many will call it a mistake. Browns fans are already bemoaning the next decade of sorrow. Personally, it’s not what I would have done, but here is the cold, hard truth – you have to trust the guy in the room.
John Dorsey is in the room. John Dorsey is running the room. The new Browns GM has had months to weigh all the information and he has made his decision. To date, he’s made several decisions and they’ve all looked good on paper. Until his decisions yield results, you have to trust the process.
So, what did the Browns get with Mayfield? They got “swagger”. They got motivation. They got attitude. These are all things a young team needs. Mayfield isn’t the biggest. He isn’t the fastest. He isn’t the strongest. He isn’t the best. He is the Browns franchise QB. He has said repeatedly he is the best QB in this draft, now he has to prove it. He has to prove his size doesn’t matter. He has to prove his skill set translates. He has to disprove the rampant failure of every Big 12 QB to enter the NFL in the past 20 years. He has a lot to do. But Dorsey believes he can do it, and so does Mayfield.
Mayfield wasn’t the only pick the Browns made in this draft, and many may say he wasn’t the only surprise pick they made. At #4 overall, the Browns took Denzel Ward, the top-rated cornerback on many draft boards this year.
No one will dispute Ward’s play-making ability at corner, and he fills a massive need in the Browns secondary for a lockdown, true #1 CB. The questions will surround whether the Browns should have taken him over defensive end, Bradley Chubb, arguably the top talent in the draft. Did they have to take him at #4 and not trade back and take him later?
Chubb would have been a delightful compliment opposite of Myles Garret, but it Ward was who Dorsey wanted. Trading back was likely seen as not an option after Denver Broncos GM John Elway leaked earlier that Denzel Ward was high on their board at #5.
We armchair GM’s can second guess the moves, but once again, Dorsey as in the room. You have to trust him to make the call until his calls are proven to be wrong. When looking at round 1 and the Browns picks, it’s best to remember the facts and the facts only.
Fact: Baker Mayfield is talented and motivated.
Fact: Denzel Ward is an elite cornerback talent.
Fact: the Browns needed long-term solutions at both positions.
Fact: Dorsey hasn’t had a singled failed move in his GM tenure.
I give the picks a B+ grade. Very good to excellent talents at key positions. Better talents were available, so they don’t get an A grade, but they did well with both of these picks.