Preface: This post is not an indictment of the player selected, but the value ignored. After all (as realmccoy alluded to), maximizing value in the draft is the GM's job is it not?
As pick 22 was approaching I was praying for Kendall Wright, which is no surprise if you’ve read any of my draft articles. The unlikely Titans grabbed him at 20 instead, which meant Riley Reiff and David DeCastro had kindly slid down the board for excellent value. In my estimation the Browns were still on track for a great draft as these were solid consolation prizes. Indeed they did fly off the board to teams who understood their value at picks 23 and 24, just not to the Browns. No, the Browns bum rushed the stage at pick 22 to turn in a card that read: Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State Quarterback.
What?! A team that needs everything just took an gigantic reach while top 10 talent was still on the board? This reeked of a panic move, and exactly opposite of what Heckert was preaching the week before the draft:
Quote from April 22. "You just can't panic," Heckert said this week. "I've done it. I've made bad mistakes for that exact reason. I've traded up in the first round for both [pass rusher and defensive tackle] and they were bad moves. It was strictly for a need. It was something we never should have done.
After the draft he said: “…with a quarterback we just wanted to make sure we got him. There were some teams that we know were interested behind us, so we just decided to go ahead and pick him."
The teams between 22 and 37 pick were Det, Pit, Hou, GB, Min, SF, TB, NYG, StL, Ind, Bal, Den. Were any of them going to skip top tier talent to draft a backup QB? There were a ton of trades so maybe he meant someone was going to jump in. But how many teams were left with a QB need, much less a 29 year old QB need – Arizona? They don’t even have a 2nd round pick to trade! Seattle? They just signed Matt Flynn. There was no one.
Have you ever heard Ozzie Newsome or Bill Polian shrug and say “so we just went ahead and picked him.” Good teams squeeze every ounce of value out of their drafts and then some. Think of how the Patriots maneuver the draft board, trading down when offered healthy compensation, trading up when a player they like slides; they don’t react poorly.
So now that Tom Heckert has offered that he reached because he was scared that someone was going to jump in for Weeden, here’s a couple teams who had huge needs who did not blink when it came to waiting:
Cincinnati last year was informed that Carson Palmer would no longer play for them. They literally had no backup, unless you count Carson’s brother Justin. The Bengals were expected to either reach for a QB at #4, or trade up from #35 to assure they could get one of the top 5 QBs. They had every reason to panic, but they took value at #4 in AJ Green, and dared the rest of the league to jump in front of them at #35. Even though the whole world knew they needed a quarterback, they got their man without sacrificing.
St Louis has been a dire need of wide recievers for Bradford since he got into the league. This year they traded back to #6 instead of #4 in the RG3 derby, not terribly worried that someone might take Blackmon in front of them. Then they traded back again. This caused them to miss out on both Blackmon and Floyd. For their efforts they totaled an EXTRA two 1sts and two 2nds, on top of the picks they simply swapped in the first round. With three 2nd round picks coming up today, all in the top 14, they get 3 immediate starters, and have the luxury of taking the BPA instead of making sure they get a WR like the Browns are going to have to do (or should do) today.
Back to the Browns pick, let’s clarify what we’ve done. We’ve drafted a quarterback with “prototypical size” but not necessarily pro-ready skills. Oklahoma State’s spread offense is nothing like what you’ll see in the NFL. This means that the Browns are betting their coaching staff will teach this
kid guy how to play QB at the next level.
In other words, the fate of Brandon Weeden lies in the hands of Pat Schurmur and Brad Childress. Feeling any better about our pick yet?
Schurmur and Childress were both quarterback coaches at one point, Childress in Philadephia from 99-02 and Schurmur also in Philadephia from 02-08. I can’t comment on whether they were successful or not because McNabb was there the whole time, and Andy Reid is often given credit for developing the quarterbacks in Philly. For example, Jeff Garcia and Kevin Kolb had their best years there after these two coaches were gone.
People will eventually give up being mad and settle into the attitude of 'OK I kind of like this.’ But those people likely never took into account the many possible opportunities there were to manipulate the draft in our favor instead of being manipulated by need.
If the Browns just drafted a good QB I care not, but chances are not good*.
*From checking the current starting QB’s in the league, Every single one has either been one of the top 3 QBs drafted in their class, or developed as late rounder flyer because they had potential (Romo, Brady, Hasslebeck). The only exception is Andy Dalton (5th QB taken, 2nd round). Fact check me.