ESPN's Mel Kiper regrades the NFL draft for each team after the season. This morning he released his annual regrade article. Now, he does concede that it's impossible to grade a draft class after one season. He also states that it's just a fun exercise, which he's right.
After the draft last year, Kiper gave the Browns a B- for their 2014 draft. Below is a table of the Browns' 2014 picks, in case you forgot:
|1||8||CB||Justin Gilbert||Oklahoma State|
|1||22||QB||Johnny Manziel||Texas A&M|
So let's take a look at what he has to say now with one season under their belts.
The amazing things about this draft class is that Cleveland has no idea what it has out of two first-round picks, with cornerback Justin Gilbert a total nonfactor in 2014 and quarterback Johnny Manziel a storyline for all the wrong reasons. Yet this was still a successful draft in several ways. First, remember that Cleveland has two first-round picks this year thanks to the trade with Buffalo. Again, that's a ton of value to get for a small slide down the board.
This is a good point. The crazy part about the draft last year was the excitement that the Browns came away with potentially a lock-down corner to play opposite of Joe Haden, AND Johnny Football. Add to the fact that the Browns fleeced the Bills for an extra first round pick in 2015, and there was a lot of optimism surrounding the first round from a lot of the Browns faithful. Fast-forward eight months, and the optimism is not from the first round, rather the middle rounds where the Browns appear to have done their damage. Kiper goes on further to that end:
Joel Bitonio was one of the best guards in the NFL last season and he looks like a steal. Terrance West put up decent totals and split time with Isaiah Crowell, an undrafted free agent who helps with the grade. Linebacker Christian Kirksey is a keeper, and cornerback Pierre Desir came on late in the year and looked good. Add to that undrafted free agents K'Waun Williams -- who really helped out at cornerback -- and useful wideout Taylor Gabriel, and the Browns got a lot from this class, plus that extra pick. There's a pretty big gripe -- no wide receiver and a total incomplete on Round 1 so far -- but it's amazing how much the Browns did get, and that extra first-rounder is a jewel.
The fact that the Browns got a lot production from their second and third round picks speaks volumes to this draft class for the Browns. Bitonio looks to be a staple along the Browns offensive line for the foreseeable future. West appears to be a nice compliment to Crowell in the backfield. Add in Kirksey as a nice piece on the defensive side of the ball. Those three picks are solid for the Browns going forward. The jury's still out on Desir, simply because we haven't seen enough from him.
Where Kiper gets it right, is the pointing out of the success the Browns had with UDFA's. Williams, Gabriel, and Crowell were all solid pieces for the Browns this past season. All seem to have at least carved out somewhat of a niche on the Browns roster.
In Kiper's regrade assessment, he does include UDFA's as a part of his process. For that reason, Kiper improved the Browns grade a little bit from his post-draft grade. Given the success the Browns had in rounds two and three, as well as their UDFA success, he increased the Browns to a B on his regrade.
I think that's a pretty fair assessment of the Browns' draft. It's hard to really gauge the entirety of this class, given the absolute unknowns in Gilbert and Manziel. Should those two turn out to be big time successes, it's fair to say that the draft regrade would be a resounding A.
You can check out the entire piece, here, where he also goes into detail on how he comes to these grades.
For the time being, what grade do you give the Browns 2014 draft?