Each week during the regular season, Cleveland Browns fans vote in SB Nation Reacts to express their confidence level in the team. During the offseason, we also send out questions every now and then about other big events, such as the 2023 NFL Draft.
The latest poll crafted for every NFL team was for fans to grade how their team did in the first round of the draft. If teams didn’t have a first-round pick, the substitute question asked if they were OK with their team not moving up into the first round. That would be a plausible question if teams still had future first-round picks, or second-round picks to package together, but it wasn’t sensible for the Browns, who weren’t picking until the third round and do not have a first-round pick in 2024. Therefore, it was obvious that most fans (94% specifically) were resigned to the fact that the team would not have a first-round pick.
Just like Jared Mueller wrote about before the draft, there is certainly a lack of excitement about the draft, compared to how we were used to things. I think it’s cool how the NFL Draft shifts from city to city now, with last year’s being in Las Vegas, this year’s in Kansas City, and next year’s in Detroit. But the Browns didn’t and don’t have a first-round pick in any of those drafts, thanks to the Deshaun Watson trade last year. It is what it is, but it’s a buzzkill for fans on Day 1 of the draft. This was the first year where I wasn’t intently glued to the first round picks as they happened, a sharp contrast from past years when Cleveland would have two or three first-round picks.
As a writer/blogger for the Browns too, imagine how weird the lead-up to the draft feels. Most mock drafts deal with the first round, so all of those Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, Dane Brugler, etc. mock drafts have no relevance to Cleveland. Neither do Day 1 grades such as this Reacts poll. That’s why it was a great job by our staff for focusing on later-round prospects ahead of the draft, which already paid off when Thomas Moore had done a draft profile on Siaka Ika.
Fortunately, we do still have the excitement of picking through some hidden gems on Day 3 of the draft today, as well as the players added on Day 2. Be sure to follow our Day 3 live blog for all of the latest.