Assessing the Browns’ Dynamic for Their Draft Strategy

CLEVELAND, OHIO - JANUARY 14: Jimmy and Dee Haslam owners of the Cleveland Browns pose for a photo with Kevin Stefanski after introducing Stefanski as the Browns new head coach on January 14, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Plenty of writers here at Cleveland Sports Talk have given their predictions for who the Browns should draft at tenth overall. The general consensus is that it should be an offensive tackle, perhaps giving some consideration to the prolific Isaiah Simmons should he fall that far.

How about a refreshingly new perspective: what the team should do with each individual pick has been beat to death, but perhaps having a look at what the team’s overall strategy, not just in positions, should yield some more thorough answers.

The Overview

Teams that are perennial playoff contenders draft for need. Usually, those that didn’t win the Super Bowl have one particular need that a particular player can patch up. There is no need for the Baltimore Ravens to consider drafting a running back, a wide receiver, or the talented Tua Tagovailoa should he fall that low, because they don’t fill a position of need, and they are certainly contenders.

On the other hand, the Bengals have so many needs that it’s not funny. Joe Burrow fills the most important position in football, and he’s overall the most talented player in the draft. Yet, the Bengals could, say, draft Chase Young and try to ride out another year of the sub-par, but not utterly abysmal, Andy Dalton, couldn’t they? Yes, but doing so would be a poor idea because the team is going absolutely nowhere trying that.

So, there are the contending teams drafting for need and the losers drafting for talent. Simple as that.

Where do the Browns Fall in This Discussion?

Are the Browns a genuine contender, or is the team yet another year away? Do they decide off of their ambitions to wait another year, or their ambitions to make a playoff run? Or do they decide off of something behind the scenes, namely Baker Mayfield’s debatable status as the team’s long term franchise quarterback which will not be settled until the team tries to make a run?

If the Browns are Considered “Contenders”:

They need to draft for need. In that case, they need an offensive tackle, a linebacker and a safety. If this is the path the team takes, look for them to draft Andrew Thomas or Mekhi Bekton, regardless of who else is available, with their first-round pick.

If the Browns are not Considered “Contenders”:

They need to draft for talent. Frankly, this won’t serve to seriously change how they handle the tenth pick, barring a trade, but it will reshape their strategy later in the draft. If going down this path, trading the tenth pick becomes slightly more of a possibility but is still a finicky prospect due to the team’s lack of draft capital this and next year.

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