The club entered the offseason knowing they would not be making a selection on the draft's opening night, having sent this year’s first-round selection to the Houston Texans as part of the trade for quarterback Deshaun Watson.
The second round similarly went quiet in late March when general manager Andrew Berry sent Cleveland’s second-round selection to the New York Jets in exchange for wide receiver Elijah Moore.
Berry was still packing enough selections to address some of the needs along the roster, and even though he did not make a selection until the third round, Berry finished the weekend with a trio of players who should see action this fall in wide receiver Cedric Tillman, defensive tackle Siaki Ika and defensive end Isaiah McGuire. Berry also found the usual group of developmental players in quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, offensive tackle Dawand Jones and center Luke Wypler.
While fans can talk themselves into every player selected being a long-term starter for the Browns, the reality is no one knows for sure today and may not know for a while. But if there is one thing that is more popular than mock drafts in the months leading up to the actual draft, it is draft grades from various media members in the weeks following the actual.
With so many draft grades floating around, René Bugner put together a handy composite list on Twitter covering grades from 29 different sources and assigned a final GPA for each of the league’s 32 teams:
I´ve compiled 29 evaluations of the 2023 NFL draft and totaled the team grades.— René Bugner (@RNBWCV) May 25, 2023
Here is the spreadsheet. Sorted by GPA for all 32 teams.
I also sorted the 29 evaluations by GPA. From left (soft graders) to right (hard graders).
Thanks to all who give out grades every year! pic.twitter.com/lEvqCkViCT
As for the Browns, they came in ranked at No. 18 with a collective GPA of 2.87.
Cleveland’s highest grade was an A-, which they picked up from four media sites - Eddie Brown of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Pro Football Focus, Tim Bielik of cleveland.com and Thor Nystrom Fantasy Pros.
Brown’s favorable grade factored in not only the draft but the work Berry did in signing a group of undrafted free agents, highlighted by Ohio State safety Ronnie Hickman, Utah linebacker Mohamoud Diabate and Kansas defensive end Lonnie Phelps:
Trades for Deshaun Watson and Elijah Moore cost the Browns their first- and second-round picks, but GM Andrew Berry was still able to add a half dozen potential impact players, to go along with an impressive haul of priority free agents.
Bringing down Cleveland’s GPA was a pair of D+ grades (the staff at DK Nation and Ryan Dunleavy at the New York Post) and a D from Nate Davis at USA Today, who continues to ding the Browns for the Watson trade:
They spent this year’s first-round pick (plus two others) on Watson and what’s quickly projecting as an ill-considered, fully guaranteed, $230 million contract. Their second-rounder was used on underachieving Jets WR Elijah Moore in a pre-draft trade. In Round 4, they took massive Ohio State RT Dawand Jones – hard to see where he fits in, but maybe he’s a microcosm of larger plan that will (hopefully) make more sense in time. Third-round WR Cedric Tillman and DT Siaki Ika appear like they could contribute immediately.
Ultimately, the grades carry about as much value as mock drafts, so it is a good idea not to get too excited or too down on the individual grades and biases of the various media members. If Cleveland’s scouts did their job correctly, the coaching staff gets everyone prepared, and the players do their part to prove they deserve a roster spot, then everything will work out in the end.