November 27, 2022

No, the Browns Did Not “win” the 2021 NFL Draft

Among the usual draft chatter following the NFL Draft, some of the most over the top comments I’ve heard resemble this, from Pat Opperman from “How can anyone give the Cleveland Browns anything less than an A+ for their draft performance?”

We can be excited and pleased about the way GM Andrew Berry drafted.  But declaring that Demetric Felton is going to become the next Jim Brown is not only irresponsible but also ridiculous.  The amount of analysis put into covering sixth and seventh-round draft picks is astounding and misleads fans to think those players will immediately contribute to winning football. Of course, one in 90 players may be able to do it.  It’s entirely possible, but not at all likely or expected.

The two picks fans should be intently watching are CB Greg Newsome II and LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.  Newsome is a smooth-moving but physical corner from the battle-tested Big Ten.  He should step in and compete for the starting job opposite Denzel Ward.  Owusu-Koramoah, or “JOK” as some call him, is an interesting linebacker at only 215 pounds, but with explosive speed.  He is the X-factor player that could elevate the Browns defense to another level.  Getting him at 52 is the reason many journalists are throwing bouquets at the Browns front office with A+ draft grades.

There’s only one problem: there is no proven formula for picking hidden talents in the draft.  Draft grades have no correlation to a team’s future performance.  A similar hysteria happened after the 2016 NFL Draft when the Browns took LB Scooby Wright from Arizona.  A linebacker with marginal success in college and a cool name is drafted and suddenly he’s the next Ray Lewis.  Wright went on to bounce around to a couple of organizations and now he’s a free agent.

This is not to throw cold water on anyone’s excitement.  The point is that the Browns already have the pieces that are going to determine whether they win the Super Bowl or not for the foreseeable future.  Myles Garrett, Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Denzel Ward and Jadeveon Clowney among others.  Maybe Browns fans are so used to investing so much into the draft after years of picking in the top ten.  It’s time to get comfortable with using the draft for fleshing out depth, not filling needs.  Teams like the Jaguars and Jets should be shouting with glee or up in arms about their draft performances.  For the Browns, it’s about building continuity with the same coaching staff and system.  Whether Newsome II and JOK contribute is a total luxury at this point.

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