Browns fans, I have a draft strategy that will bring the Browns back to relevance in the NFL and make them instant contenders in the division. While this strategy is not perfect, it is what I consider to be the best way to create an explosive offense and vault the Browns into AFC North contention. Without further ado, here is the strategy:
Round 1, Pick 4 - Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
While Manziel is highly controversial and nobody is really sure if his skillset will translate to the NFL, he is a playmaker, and would provide an instant spark on offense and give the Browns a true offensive weapon. Manziel has a little Russel Wilson in him, with his sneaky escapes and ability to make plays out of nothing. While he is not the cerebral team leader that Wilson is, he is an exciting, explosive playmaker who defenses will have to gameplan for. Here is a scouting report on Manziel from Sportingnews.com -
"Manziel has elite quickness and a young Michael Vick-type escape-ability from the pocket. He can evade rushers and either attack open field as a runner or find open receivers downfield. While he’s had the luxury of three future NFL starters as his offensive tackles (Luke Joeckel last year, Jake Matthews and Cedric Ogbuehi this year), Manziel has consistently been able to make one or more rushers miss in their pursuit, forcing teams to have five or six defenders in the box against him and allowing for the potential of more one-on-one matchups."
After this, the Browns must furiously work the phones to trade into the top 10 again, presumably using their other 1st round pick, their 2nd round pick, and probably an additional 2nd (or even 1st) round pick next year with later round picks sprinkled in. While this is quite the package to give up, it will be used for a game-changing WR to put on the opposite side of the field from Josh Gordon -
Round 1, Pick 7 (just for argument's sake we will say the 7th pick) - Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Watkins is much more than just a speedy receiver with freakish athleticism. He exhibits toughness going across the middle and plays much bigger than 6'1. He would be dynamite opposite Josh Gordon, and with those two receivers placed in front of Manziel on the field, opposing defenses would be given headaches. Here is a scouting report on Watkins from WalterFootball.com -
"Skill-Set Summary: There are no mysteries when it comes to Watkins game. He is a pure speed receiver who can score any time he touches the football. Watkins has rare explosion with first-step quickness that looks a lot like Percy Harvin's. When Watkins was in the groove as a freshman, it seemed like he was starting plays a second before everybody else on the field.
As a wide receiver, Watkins looks like an ideal fit as an X (split end) receiver who challenges teams vertically. He can stretch the defense and command double-teams over the top to prevent him from burning cornerbacks. Teams seem afraid to play bump-and-run with Watkins because of his quickness to separate.
Watkins could stand to become more polished with his hands and route-running. Those were two assets of Hopkins' game, so Watkins had a good example to follow as he matures. As Boyd's No. 1 receiver in 2013, one can expect that Watkins is going to show improved route-running and hands.
While Watkins is a burner receiver, he isn't undersized. Standing over six feet and weighing 200 pounds, he has good size for the type of receiver that he is.
Watkins has the potential for the NFL to be a game-breaking receiver and the No. 1 target in a downfield passing attack. There is no doubt that Watkins has the speed and athletic ability to be a play-maker in the league."
Assuming our 2nd rounder is gone, our 3rd round pick will also be vital in transforming our offense to an explosive threat. I propose we select -
Round 3, Pick 4 - De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Thomas is not an every-down runningback in the NFL. He would have to be paired with a free agent RB, such as Rashad Jennings or Donald Brown, if they are not retained by their current teams. But, having Thomas as a KR/PR, along with about 10-20 offensive snaps a game, with drastically change the big-play ability of this offense. Imaging trying to defend Manziel in the shotgun with Thomas next to him, Watkins and Gordon split wide, and Jordan Cameron in the slot. This would be nearly impossible, as Thomas's game-changing speed, coupled with the playmakers and wide-receiver and tight end, would make Defenses pick their poison, leaving open the opportunity for any of these 5 weapons to burn the defense for a large gain. Here is a scouting report on Thomas from WalterFootball.com -
"Skill-Set Summary: Thomas is a simple evaluation as he is a pure speed player. He may be the fastest player in college football and is a threat to score any time he touches the football.
In the ground game, Thomas needs to run in space. He isn't a pound-it-between-the-tackles type of runner and doesn't get a lot of yards after contact. If Thomas is used too much running between the tackles, he could easily come down with injuries. Thomas would be better off in a zone-blocking system and attacking the perimeter. Spreading out the field and giving Thomas space to operate makes him a dangerous runner.
As a receiver, Thomas is a mismatch with the speed to burn cornerbacks. He has shown natural pass-receiving ability for a running back. His route-running and hands are developed. could use more refinement for the NFL, but he could have the ability to be a starting slot receiver as a pro if he is deemed too small to play tailback.
Thomas should also be used as a kick and punt returner. He has the ability to be a dangerous weapon on returns.Durability is the biggest concern with Thomas. There aren't many players in the NFL who play at his size. Every year there are small, fast explosive play-makers who enter the next level, but a lot of them are unable to stick. If Thomas is able to stay healthy in 2013 while Oregon increases his touches, it could go a long way to helping him in the eyes of scouts.
Thomas might be best in the NFL as a slot receiver who also runs the ball from time to time. Using him in that role could get the most out of him and protect him from injury. "
With these three picks and a solid job in free agency and resigning of our own players, the Browns can be a force to be reckoned with in 2014.