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What we learned from Mike Silver’s inside look at the Browns’ draft

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NFL: Cleveland Browns-Press Conference Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

As most of you know, Mike Silver of the NFL Network was in Berea for the draft this past week, and he promised that an article would follow with an inside look at the Cleveland Browns2017 NFL Draft. That article came earlier today, which I encourage you to read here.

I also encourage you to read Peter King’s look at the San Francisco 49ers’ war room, led by first-year head coach Kyle Shanahan and rookie GM John Lynch. King had greater access than Silver, so the insight in his article is second to none. The number one thing we learned from King’s article is that the Chicago Bears would not tell the 49ers who they were planning to draft. So the 49ers still made the trade, believing that the No. 2 player on their board, DE Solomon Thomas, would be taken. They were thrilled when Chicago took Trubisky.

Let’s get back to Silver’s article, though. Here is what we learned:

Myles Garrett was the pick, but Trubisky was debated.

  • Hue Jackson was “hell-bent on drafting Garrett,” who he thought “could be the centerpiece for new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.”
  • Sashi Brown and others on the personnel side were “intrigued by Mitchell Trubisky,” and at least wanted to discuss the decision further.
  • Jackson had already made his point known to the front office well before the draft, so leading up to the big event, he focused on OTAs and “insulated himself from the draft talk.” Cleveland settled on Garrett at No. 1 two weeks before the draft.

Attempts to secure Trubisky.

  • Before the draft, the Browns had contacted 5 teams within the top 8; when you consider the Browns were at No. 1, that means there were only two teams they did not reach out to. Silver says that the Titans (No. 5 overall) and Jets (No. 6 overall) were the most likely trade-up candidates, as Cleveland was gauging the “dream-scenario” of getting both Garrett and Trubisky.

Thoughts on Mahomes and Watson.

  • Hue Jackson thought that Patrick Mahomes “had the biggest upside” and that Deshaun Watson “was the passer best suited to play right away,” but wasn’t intriguing enough for Cleveland to select at No. 12.
  • It sounds like Jackson would’ve liked to have had Mahomes at No. 12, but that the club was resigned to the fact that the Kansas City Chiefs were going to trade up for him. In the MMQB article, the 49ers’ front office noted that they heard the Chiefs were trying to trade up as high as No. 5 overall (to the Titans) and were willing to give up a first-round pick. Once Cleveland heard the seriousness of the Chiefs’ deal, it doesn’t sound like they liked Mahomes enough to mortgage so many future assets and out-bid the Chiefs.

Hue Jackson loved S Malik Hooker at No. 12.

  • This is a situation where Sashi Brown wins out, and perhaps it’s a little give-and-take for Jackson getting his wish with Garrett at No. 1. Silver says that Hue Jackson “wanted to provide Gregg Williams with another star in Hooker,” and that Hue was quoted on the record as telling him, “To me, [Hooker] has a chance to be another Ed Reed.”
  • Because of the due diligence Sashi Brown had done leading up to the draft, having talked to every GM, he knew the Texans wanted a QB. He also knew they were amicable to giving up a future 1st round pick to move up for Watson. It came down to that or Hooker, and Brown opted for the future first-rounder.

The long waiting fame for who’d be available at No. 25.

  • Sashi Brown “became uneasy” after trading the No. 12 pick, leading up to when the team would be on the clock again at No. 25. Sashi knew that Hue Jackson wanted difference makers on the roster this year, and they were taking a chance by passing up on one at No. 12.
  • Per Silver, “the hope is the war room was that Jabrill Peppers would still be available at No. 25.” Sure enough, he was there, and Silver says there were “hand-slaps and broad smiles” when Brown called in the pick.

Not being QB-dependent.

  • Silver says that “part of Hue Jackson's plan in 2017 involves forging an atmosphere in which the Browns are not so quarterback-dependent, at least in the short term.” That is the reason for the team upgrading their offensive line so much this offseason.

Gregg Williams’ shining moments.

  • Fans are going to love Gregg Williams compared to Ray Horton. I have to quote these sections from Silver in full, because leaving anything out would be an disservice. He starts by describing the intense workout that Williams put Myles Garrett through:

Earlier in April, Jackson and Williams were part of a small Browns contingent that traveled to College Station, Texas, for a private dinner with Garrett. The next day at Texas A&M, they put him through a workout that, in Williams' eyes, was as much of a psychological test as a physical one. "My goal was to make him uncomfortable, and winded as f---, and to see how he'd react," Williams explained. "We simulated a 15-play drive, and after some plays, I'd make him do up-downs before the next one, just to tire him out even more. We got all the way down near the goal line, and I kicked it up to 10 up-downs, thinking he might collapse or quit or say 'To hell with this.' He just did them and lined up, and on the next play he came off the edge like I've maybe seen two people in my life -- Bruce Smith and Jevon Kearse -- and sacked the quarterback. It was amazing."

  • Next up was Williams’ personal welcome to Garrett and Peppers when they arrived in Berea:

What he then told Garrett and Peppers -- and we'll leave out the swear words, especially the three- and four-syllable ones -- was, "I wanted two players out of this draft, and you are my guys. It may not look like it, but I'm happy to see you. Now, if you would like to avoid getting off to a very bad start with me, we need to make some things clear. First, do not go down there and, when you talk to the media, write checks your ass can't cash. You are here to work and help your teammates, and you will talk with your play. Secondly, you will show respect to our owners, and to this franchise, and to its history, and to the city of Cleveland ... When you come back here (for rookie minicamp), you will get to work. I look forward to being your father, now and for the rest of your life."

  • Lastly, Williams invited Myles Garrett over to share a text message he received from Bruce Smith after the Browns selected him. Smith said he’d love to mentor Garrett. Williams said he was going to invite Smith to one of the team’s minicamps.

Other quarterback options considered.

  • After Trubisky, Mahomes, and Watson, Hue Jackson viewed all the other quarterbacks in this year’s class as “projects.” Jackson was intrigued by the prospect of drafting Joshua Dobbs if he was still there in the fourth round.
  • At some points this offseason, Cleveland tried to acquire Jimmy Garoppolo and A.J. McCarron. The compensation demanded from both teams was far too steep, though. It’s worth noting that this confirms there was a price for Garoppolo.
  • A veteran quarterback could still be added to the team. Regarding Kizer, they stuck to their word of “letting the draft come to them” and were surprised when Kizer was still available at No. 52.

Other notes.

  • On Friday, the Browns were hoping that RB Dalvin Cook would fall to them at No. 52, but he was drafted by the Vikings at No. 41.
  • Gregg Williams advocated for S Obi Melifonwu if he was still available in the second round. He was still available, but so was Kizer, and the team went quarterback.
  • Per Silver, Sashi Brown and Hue Jackson have “reshaped their perspectives and regard Osweiler as someone who might be salvageable.” Silve also says that it is expected that the quarterback depth chart will begin like this during the offseason programs: (1) Cody Kessler, (2) Brock Osweiler.

What did you think of all the stuff Silver had to say? Was there something you found particularly interesting?