Every year I expect something different. Like a kid waiting on Christmas morning, I always think, “I can’t wait to open up my gifts and get what I asked for.” Every year I feel that way, and every year in April, I open up that beautifully-wrapped box only to unveil several pairs of socks. I always set myself up for disappointment when it comes to the NFL Draft and this year was no different. Watching the 2018 NFL Draft I realized that the Cleveland Browns are never going to change—but not all hope is lost.
The terrible, yet expected
Coming to a theater near you this fall: Johnny Manziel: The Sequel" I hear it is to be a rollercoaster of a movie that ultimately ends in disappointment and wasted time and money. #Browns #NFLDraft18
— Jacob Gurney (@jacob_gurney) April 27, 2018
That’s what I don’t like about Mayfield. In almost every aspect, he resembles Johnny Manziel. Discarding Johnny Football’s current attempts to turn his life around and make a comeback, which is commendable, his tenure with the Browns was on a downward slope from the beginning. Not only was his play insufferable, but his off-the-field antics gave unsavory attention to an organization not needing any more distractions. Other teams may have been able to put up with that behavior, but for a long-suffering franchise, it only further diminished the aura surrounding the team.
Mayfield has shown signs of the same behavior and that is what worries me moreso than his shortcomings as a quarterback. I think he is overrated and hey, I could be proven wrong. I hope I am. I never willfully desire for anybody to fail, and it is counterproductive to do so. If he turns out to be a positive and talented asset for the team, I will rescind my harsh condemnation, but that is a long way off. I don’t think Mayfield was the right choice for Cleveland. Only time will tell.
For now, I will just be here wallowing in another annual disappointing draft pick:
You know as a society we never let men express themselves emotionally. While this is an issue, I'm glad each year I have the #NFLDraft to cry for hours about the #Browns draft picks and purge myself of all emotion.
— Jacob Gurney (@jacob_gurney) April 27, 2018
The unexpected, yet decent
With the fourth overall pick, the Browns selected Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward. This was a surprising pick as many had thought the team would select North Carolina State Defensive End Bradley Chubb, but this is a decision that makes sense to me.
The Browns have been building their defense with young talent for the past couple of years. The team is pretty set when it comes to its front seven. Linebackers Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey led the team in tackles last year with 144 and 138 respectively. The defensive line also has been effective with players such as Myles Garrett (who managed 31 tackles and seven sacks in his rookie season), Carl Nassib (32 tackles, three sacks), Larry Ogunjobi (32 tackles, one sack) and Emmanuel Ogbah (29 tackles, four sacks).
However, while the Browns defense has thrived in shutting down the run and being on the whole fairly good, the weakest link in the chain has been in the secondary. While the Browns saw some heightened play from Briean Boddy-Calhoun last year, Jabrill Peppers is coming off a successful rookie season and Jamar Taylor has improved, the defensive backs have still consistently underperformed. In 2017, the Browns allowed the seventh-fewest rushing yards (1,566) in the league but were 19th in fewest passing yards (3,684).
Ward creates some additional competition for the defensive backs groups and is a talented addition to the defense. In his junior season at Ohio State, Ward earned All-America and first-team Big Ten honors, broke up 15 passes and had two interceptions. Though undersized at 5-11, 183 pounds, he recorded a 4.32 40-yard dash and 39” vertical. Ultimately, I think Ward has the talent and athleticism to improve the Browns’ secondary and brings some much-needed assistance to the team’s pass defense. Many scouts have said he has what it takes to be an effective starter as a rookie.
The #Browns select cornerback Denzel Ward with the fourth pick of the #NFLDraft2018 Definitely need defensive backs and this should certainly help. pic.twitter.com/RUlx8S3Esg
— Armchair Browns (@ArmchairBrowns) April 27, 2018
While the Browns disappointed me per usual with their choice of Baker Mayfield, choosing a talented defensive back in Denzel Ward helped ease—not all, but some—of the pain from their first pick. As of now, the Browns are still slated to have three picks on Friday, with the 1st, 3rd and 32nd pick of the second round, and four picks Saturday, with one fourth-, one fifth- and two sixth-round picks. Hopefully, the team can add some talent to the offensive line as they need to fill the void left behind by the great Joe Thomas. After that, I’m not too certain what they’ll do. Who they choose to pick is sure to turn some heads—it always does. Will the Browns ever change? At this point, it would be weird if they did. Will their picks be more of the same or will there be some surprisingly good choices? Observing history, it is likely to be more of both.