Typically in the week after the NFL Draft there is a plethora of articles dissecting what every team accomplished and giving them instant grades or announcing the “Winners and Losers” of the Draft. These grades are often misleading as they are based on how an “expert” sees certain players not based on how the teams view them. As an example, last year the Browns got a solid grade from many but one of the knocks was that who knows if QB Baker Mayfield is going to be good and how did they draft CB Denzel Ward over DE Bradley Chubb, one year later and these concerns are no longer an issue.
So it is with that background that I tell you who the real winners of the 2019 NFL Draft are; defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and special teams coordinator Mike Priefer. They were given players who should make a big and immediate impact. The defense got a big boost with CB Greedy Williams, who was a top cornerback prospect that the Browns were able to secure in the second round. Teaming Williams up with last year’s first round pick Denzel Ward gives the Browns a great duo of cornerbacks. Additionally in the secondary, the Browns drafted safety Sheldrick Redwine who has displayed great toughness and is a big hitter. He will probably start as a rotational player in the defensive backfield, giving Wilks more options on what plays to call.
The Browns also drafted two linebackers, Sione Takitaki in the third round and Mack Wilson in the fifth round. Both linebackers will have the chance to play meaningful defensive snaps throughout the season, but may have to make their names on special teams to start. It is not uncommon for players drafted in the mid to late rounds to make the 53 man roster based on their ability to stand out on special teams. Additionally, there are three possibilities for seventh round pick Donnie Lewis Jr. He will either be on the roster because of special teams’ ability; he will not make the team or he will be a practice squad player.
Obviously, when you draft a kicker like the Browns did with Austin Seibert there is going to be an emphasis placed on the special teams unit. While there are no guarantees that Seibert will get the job, he is in a good position for it. He has a strong leg, which Priefer has mentioned is an important trait for a kicker in Cleveland; and Seibert attempted 88 extra points this past season which was more than Matt Gay, who was drafted 25 picks before Seibert, had in his career.
The defense and special teams were the units that needed the most work and in this draft, the Browns targeted players who will help both those spots. That is why the real winners are Wilks and Priefer who will get the chance to look very good because of their new additions. Hopefully the improvements made on paper will translate into more wins in 2019 and maybe even a run in the playoffs!