ESPN's Mel Kiper graded every team's draft from this past weekend, including the Cleveland Browns' draft. Kiper stresses that his grades are based on the following criteria:
• How much overall talent did a team add, based on board position?
• How effectively did they address key personnel voids?
• How efficient were they in maneuvering on the draft board?
Kiper gave the Browns a letter grade “B,” which was tied for the 13th best grade in the NFL (note: there were six other teams that received a “B”).
Cleveland Browns: B | Top needs: QB, RB, CB
The Browns had a draft that could split a fan base. How? Well, on one hand I'm not sure any team added more overall talent, plus yet another future first-round pick in the Deshaun Watson deal, which sets Cleveland up for a monster 2018 draft. On the other hand, the problem that has dragged this franchise down for years -- no franchise quarterback -- is still clearly not solved.
First, the good stuff: Cleveland didn't overthink the No. 1 pick. After plenty of rumors the Browns could take Mitchell Trubisky there, they sat tight and simply took the best player. A motivated Myles Garrett could be a superstar. And Gregg Williams should have a great plan for Jabrill Peppers. David Njoku could become the best big receiving weapon out of this draft if he develops. That's a huge first round.
The issue, of course, is Watson now joins Carson Wentz as a coulda-been QB for the Browns, and his success or failure will be closely watched. I'm also not too high on DeShone Kizer, though the physical tools are obvious. Cleveland has to believe either it has a QB trade, or Cody Kessler can get it done. Feeling good about that? Elsewhere, both Larry Ogunjobi and Roderick Johnson have a lot of upside. Johnson in particular has great attributes and inconsistent tape. Caleb Brantley is a major character risk given recent legal issues, but he's obviously far more talented than the draft slot.
Overall, a frustrating draft for some, a big win for talent added.
To compare, last year, Kiper gave the Browns a C, which was tied for the worst grade in the NFL. Regarding his grade this year, I don’t quite understand right off the top why running back was included as a top need. I also felt safety was more of a top need than cornerback.
Kiper understands that the Browns added more overall talent than anyone else in the draft, but the thing that prevents it from being a lower grade is that he doesn’t particularly care for the quarterback the team chose. I understand that, and it goes back to the perception thing. Did Cleveland have a good draft, and not reach for talent? Yes. But could things have been better if the team was willing to sacrifice a little more capital? Perhaps — that comes down to a philosophical discussion, which Kiper is on the fence on, hence the rather average grade for the team.
The Browns also received a B grade from SB Nation's Dan Kadar.