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The Cleveland Browns are finishing off a historic season of sorts as they stand at 0-14 with 0-16 staring them right in the face. Confidence has wavered in highly praised head coach hire, Hue Jackson. Patience is wearing thin with front office executive, Sashi Brown and his “scorched earth” approach to rebuilding the Browns.
Talk radio is inundated with “blow it up” narratives and the ever so tired “woe as us” attitude. The truth is, the easiest thing to do as Browns fan right now is fall into that trap. It’s easy to rant on and on about how bad it is and how the fans deserve better. It’s easy to pile on the Browns now, they are the easiest target in sports. The truth is, though, that we were not promised a winning team this year; no one thought this team would be good. They striped it down to nothing.
It was just a few years ago that the Oakland-Las Vegas Raiders were in a similar situation. Granted they didn’t tear down their roster to the extent that the Browns have, but they were bad and in need of change. It took one draft to turn the whole thing around. In fact, it really just took two smart, rather obvious picks to turn the tide. The Raiders selected can’t miss defensive stud Khalil Mack and they found their quarterback in one Derek Carr. That was the 2014 draft. Flash forward to the present where the Raiders sit atop the AFC West with an 11-3 record.
The Browns are presented with a similar opportunity to turn the tide in their favor in the 2017 draft. The team will likely end up with the #1 overall pick in the coming draft along with another top 10 pick (from the Eagles) and two more second round picks.
As for the #1 pick, you can turn in the card now for DE Myles Garrett. He is a game changer by all accounts and is expected to be truly special at the next level.
“I’ve had a chance to interact with him a little bit and I really like the person as much as the player. He loves the 1970s, which is when I came up, so I like seeing him wear the natural and the sideburns. I don’t worry about ‘checking the boxes’ or whatever it is you guys say. He’s a stud. He gets to the quarterback and will be an All-Pro. He’s Khalil Mack to me.” — NFC executive
He is being compared to the likes of Mack and Von Miller except stronger and more polished. This pick executes phase one of the Raider Model.
Phase two gets a bit more tricky as it requires the Browns to accomplish a task they have been unable to complete since the days of Bernie Kosar.
Acquire the quarterback.
Here is where the Browns have been presented with another opportunity, though. Faced with a draft that lacks any quarterback that projects as the potential answer, there is shortcut available. Jimmy Garoppolo is going to be on the New England Patriots trade block.
Garoppolo has quietly been developing under the tutelage of Tom Brady. We got a peek into what Garoppolo could be when he started two games during Brady’s suspension at the beginning of the season. He was quite impressive before he got hurt and undoubtedly has the talent needed to play the position. The Browns have some weapons at wide receiver with the emergence of Terrelle Pryor and last year’s 1st round pick, Corey Coleman.
The Browns should be prepared to part with whatever is necessary to acquire Garoppolo. He is only 25 years old, stands 6’2 and weighs 225 pounds. He is ready to play now, which is extremely appealing in comparison to watching another rookie QB take his lumps. Garoppolo’s presence would accelerate the Browns’ timetable for success considerably. With QB handler, Hue Jackson, in place to put him in position to succeed, he is by far the Browns best option.
The Browns must do what it takes to land themselves this ready-made “Derek Carr,” even if that means parting with their other first round pick. There will be a market for Garoppolo, but that pick would certainly be enough to get him to Cleveland. Suddenly, things would look much better with their version of “Mack and Carr” in Garrett and Garoppolo.
By: Brad Ward
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