Day 1 of the Cleveland Browns 2014 NFL Draft was something unlike I've seen ever. The hysteria and excitement following the first round was unmatched. With the Browns netting Justin Gilbert, Johnny Manziel, and a 2015 first round pick, the consensus among Browns fans and the media, was that the Browns killed it Day 1.
Fast forward 24 hours. With the news of Josh Gordon's possible suspension, and the Browns not addressing the WR hole, fans were clamoring for more. All together, the Browns came away with a pretty darn successful draft, all things considered. Yes, there may be people who still wish we would've addressed the WR spot earlier, but the fact of the matter is, GM Ray Farmer stuck to his plan/board, and came away with a good haul of players.
Below is the full list of picks for the Browns this draft (under "College" any relevant scouting reports from our SBN affiliates of that school have been linked). Below that we'll take a look at some of the web's grades for the Browns draft. And ultimately I'll add in my take and grade.
Let's get after it.
|1||8||CB||Justin Gilbert||Oklahoma State|
|1||22||QB||Johnny Manziel||Texas A&M|
SB Nation: B-
The Browns were the story of the first day of the draft, trading three times in the first round. The Gilbert selection was the pick head coach Mike Pettine wanted. Manziel was likely the one general manager Ray Farmer and owner Jimmy Haslam wanted. Those picks give Cleveland some identity. But the Browns needed a wide receiver even before the news about Josh Gordon came out. To pass on the position was puzzling. There were some very good options when Kirksey was the pick in the third round. West is a perfect backup for Ben Tate. He wins with power running and vision. Desir has upside and will push Buster Skrine.
Mel Kiper: B-
Some day, somebody will probably write a book about this Cleveland draft. Maybe it'll become "Draft Day II." Unfortunately, I'm on a tighter deadline. Where do you start? The huge trade with Buffalo to swipe a 2015 first-rounder? Johnny Football? Josh Gordon? The best pass-catcher drafted is ... Pierre Desir, who plays corner? It was wild. Adding a 2015 first-round pick (and a fourth) to move down five slots is like stealing. But you do pass on the chance to take Sammy Watkins. Justin Gilbert was a minor reach at No. 8, but he's a good fit and hit a big need. And again on this theme: you move down and add major pick value, what's a minor reach, really? You can't always get to the perfect slot in terms of value. Johnny Manziel's celebrity transcends the reality of what he adds to the Browns as a football player, but let's talk football. He's a good value at No. 22 (I had him at No. 10 overall on my Big Board); he is a very good pocket passer, not just a scrambler -- he led all the draft QBs in this class in pocket accuracy -- and the Browns can block for him if he starts. Lastly, that's a big need. I really like Joel Bitonio, a player who could have gone in Round 1. Terrance West could become a good starter, combining size with good lateral agility and vision. Desir is great value, but you can temper the "steal" talk with the reality of a potentially longer developmental process given the jump in competition. The big void here is at wide receiver. Remember: I had WR as a need even with the assumption Josh Gordon was going to be around. Now that he's probably not? The Browns have potentially changed the face of their franchise, but Manziel could use somebody to throw the football to.
NFL.com: 'Winners' section
Thursday was beyond any wild best-case scenario dreams that Browns fans could think up. They drafted cornerback Justin Gilbert, snagged Johnny Manziel at No. 22, and picked up Buffalo's 2015 first-round pick in the process. This is not any first-round pick Cleveland picked up, either. The Bills haven't won more than six games since 2008 and haven't made the playoffs since 1999. The Browns could wind up back in the top five picks again.
Yes, the news of Josh Gordon's potential suspension is a huge downer, but the team had no control over that. General manager Ray Farmer stuck to his board and decided not to fill the team's receiver need in the middle rounds. Third-round running back Terrance West adds a fun complement to their backfield.
The first day of the draft may have been among the most exciting stretches in franchise history, what with a trade down and then two trades up, netting the Browns CB Justin Gilbert and QB Johnny Manziel. There was talent found after that, as well, namely versatile OL Joel Bitonio and CB Pierre Desir — the latter a remarkable value at No. 127 overall. RB Terrance West is a sleeper. But Desir was Cleveland’s final pick, and there was nary a receiver to be found among the previous five choices.
GM Ray Farmer's first day was brilliant in that even if Manziel isn't the answer, they protected themselves by landing Gilbert and future picks as insurance. Manziel clearly is the key, and the Browns will have to follow him into the breach for both good and bad, but it's a thrilling prospect.
Bleacher Report: B+
[Ray Farmer] got off to a hot start in the first round.
The Browns made a great move in trading down, nabbing future first- and fourth-round picks from the Buffalo Bills to move back five spots. Then they pulled a bit of a head-scratcher to move up one spot and take cornerback Justin Gilbert out of Oklahoma State when it was unlikely the Minnesota Vikings would have selected him.
Of course, the big news—at least out of the first day of the draft—was Farmer's move to nab former Aggie Johnny Manziel, the most electrifying and polarizing quarterback on the board.
The rest of the draft, however, was no picnic.
Outside of snagging talented, small-school cornerback Pierre Desir out of Lindenwood, the rest of the draft was a disappointment for Farmer and Browns fans.
CBS Sports: C
My buddy Will Brinson characterized general manager Ray Farmer's first draft as Cleveland's general manager well - in a vacuum, this was a nice class. Though I have some concerns about Johnny Manziel's ability to throw from the pocket consistently (especially on a gusty field), he will be protected by the same caliber of left tackle play in Pro Bowler Joe Thomas as he received with Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews while at Texas A&M. Unfortunately, Manziel won't have a dynamic pass-catcher in Cleveland like Mike Evans to bail him out as the reported suspension of wideout Josh Gordon was met with an inexplicable ignoring of the position throughout the draft by the Browns. The trade down from No. 4 to No. 9 netted Cleveland what could very well wind up being a high first round pick a year from now and I do like the talent added in playmaking cornerbacks Justin Gilbert and Pierre Desir, versatile and tough offensive lineman Joel Bitonio and underrated athletes Christian Kirksey and Terrance West but five games into the 2014 season, long-suffering Browns fans may be wondering what if the Browns had just selected Sammy Watkins (or Mike Evans) at No. 4 overall and rather than trading back.
I won't go into detail too much for each pick, as Chris has a great breakdown of the entire draft.
I graded the first round on Thursday very high, giving the Gilbert pick a B+ and the Manziel pick an A++ (yes, two + signs). I'm not sure I can grade the rest of the draft as highly as I did the first round, but nevertheless I was very impressed with Ray Farmer's first draft as GM.
I thought the first round couldn't have gone better for the Browns. We got a potentially shutdown corner opposite of Joe Haden, Johnny F****** Football, AND a 2015 1st rounder to boot. I am ecstatic with how the first round played out.
The remaining picks will undoubtedly be overshadowed by the potential Josh Gordon suspension. It's obviously hard to look at the picks objectively, but if you're able to do so, I believe the picks to be very solid picks. Let me take a very quick run through my take on the picks.
Bitonio is a guy that a lot of people had mocked in the first round, and he's a tough guy that can play multiple positions across the line. Christian Kirksey is a good athlete that fills a very large need at linebacker. Scouts were pretty high on Terrance West as he had an uber productive FCS career, he also adds some more depth at RB. And their last pick of the draft was Pierre Desir, who many analysts are praising for the value the Browns got at #127, he's a big CB from a small school, but has a high upside and adds more depth in the secondary.
Overall I love what the Browns and first-year GM Ray Farmer did. Farmer stuck to his board and his plan and ultimately came away with a potentially very talented group. Of course, it would have been nice to see them nab a WR at any of the spots that they could have, but that wasn't part of the plan. It's clear that Mike Pettine is determined to play solid defense and run the ball, both of which I'm cool with. I will add a caveat; I'm also very impressed with the list of reportedly signed UDFAs. Hopefully one of the WR sticks and adds something to the 53-man roster.
A lot of the success of the draft hinges on one man, Johnny Manziel. That might be unfair, but unfortunately it's the truth. If he turns out to be an All-Pro QB, we'll be lucky to remember the names of Joel Bitonio or Christian Kirksey. Farmer has put his faith in Johnny Football, for better or for worse. The Johnny Cleveland Era will most likely either be really great, or really bad, but either way, it's going to be one hell of a ride.