AFC North: Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns had a good week, which isn't something that's often said about this team, especially when NFL life meanders by in May.
This week, though, the Browns got better through a decision they made and a decision made by a State Attorney in Florida.
The decision by William Cervone not to pursue charges against defensive tackle Caleb Brantley, the Browns' sixth-round pick, brings some validity to the team's decision to draft him. Had Brantley been convicted, there would have been criticism. Instead, the team evidently had good information that made them comfortable enough to use a sixth-round pick on a guy with second-round talent.
The State Attorney's statement has a thorough explanation for charges not being brought. Browns vice president of football operations Sashi Brown pointed out in his statement that Brantley will have to "grow as a person from this situation."
"As we have previously discussed, the allegations made regarding the incident were not something we take lightly," Brown said. "Caleb understands that we have an expectation and standard for every member of our organization."
Brantley does not leave Florida with the reputation of a choir boy, but he has the chance to build a new impression in Cleveland. At this point, he is a member of the Browns' defensive line, a talented player at an important position. He's quick and agile, both important elements in defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' aggressive scheme.
He joins Larry Ogunjobi as two additions to the interior of the defensive front, which suddenly is looking like a strong group. Ogunjobi, Brantley and Myles Garrett came in the draft to join Danny Shelton, Emmanuel Ogbah, Jamie Meder, Carl Nassib and Desmond Bryant, returning from injury. That's a fair amount of talent that should allow the Browns to use groups effectively, and to rotate players to keep them fresh.
It has to happen on the field, but the potential is there.
The decision the Browns made was not to wait after losing cornerback Howard Wilson, the team's fourth-round pick, to a fractured patella.
Perhaps the Browns were going to pursue McCourty regardless; he was signed after the period for awarding compensatory picks had expired.
McCourty was very popular and well-liked in Tennessee. In 2014, he was the team's Walter Payton Man of the Year for his work on and off the field, and he was voted a captain three times.
The concern with McCourty is that he's 29 and is likely on the back nine of his career. If it's another Tramon Williams signing, in which the team adds a quality person whose best playing days are behind him, it won't have great impact -- though the price is far less.
But if McCourty is asked to play as the nickelback, it's a role he could fill, with perhaps Jamar Taylor moving inside to cover the slot with McCourty lining up outside.
At the least, the Browns added depth to a position of need. They added a guy who provides insurance if Joe Haden again fights injuries. They added a guy who could fit in the mix with Haden, Taylor and Briean Boddy-Calhoun in coverage. The possibility of playing safety alongside Jabrill Peppers is also there.
And they added another quality individual whose statement made it clear he is eager to be in Cleveland.
Coach Hue Jackson didn't exactly give Brock Osweiler a stamp of immediate approval last week at rookie minicamp, but that doesn't mean Osweiler can't win the starting job for the 2017 season.
Even though Cody Kessler will be the starter in OTAs, the position remains up for grabs.
“For us, there’s kind of no pride in authorship at our quarterback position,” vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said last week at an appearance at the Press Club of Cleveland. "Whoever can fill it and sustain it and play it well over a period of time will be our quarterback.”
In other words: Whoever takes it wins it.
Kessler gets the first shot, but Osweiler will have his chance.
"He's done a good job," Jackson said of Osweiler's offseason work. "He's been great in the room with the guys. He's been a good person in the building. We're going to continue to allow him to do that and see what he has to show for us and kind of go from there."
Osweiler's tale is odd. He relieved Peyton Manning two years ago in Denver and played well, then was given a four-year, $72 million deal by Houston as a free agent.
The contract was excessive, as Houston quickly learned. The Browns did the Texans a favor by taking Osweiler and his $16 million salary off their hands in a March trade, but Houston had to give Cleveland its second-round pick in the 2018 draft to get the Browns to swallow the salary. (Cleveland also received a 2017 sixth-rounder, and Houston got a 2017 fourth-rounder in the deal.)
Initially, the Browns hoped to trade Osweiler and took numerous calls about him shortly after the trade was announced. But as time went on and the Browns didn't like the offers and the options at quarterback stayed thin, the team decided to give Osweiler a look during the offseason.
Jackson treated Osweiler as if he would be with the team long-term, and now the Browns accept that he will be part of the quarterback group at least through minicamp.
Osweiler has done something none of the others has: win games in the NFL.
In 2015, he started seven games for Denver and won five. Last season, he started 14 games for Houston and won eight. He also started and threw a touchdown pass in a playoff win over Oakland.
Including playoffs, Osweiler has 23 starts. The other three quarterbacks on the Browns roster have eight, all by Kessler.
Osweiler has 14 wins, which is 14 more wins than the other three quarterbacks. He stands 6-foot-7, which is the kind of size Jackson wants in his quarterback, and he was able to watch Manning play in Denver for four years.
It didn't work out for Osweiler in Houston, where he never put together a complete game. But the Browns have nothing to lose by giving him a look. Given Jackson's refusal to even say Osweiler that would be No. 2 heading into offseason practices, Osweiler will have to work his way up if he is to win the job.
But the job is there to be taken.
"I think, in this league, we all know you can't have enough good quarterbacks, enough guys to train at the position," Jackson said. "You never know how it's going to unfold, and things do happen, but [Osweiler is] competing."
It's never good to be flip when answering a question, but if someone asks whether Osweiler could win the starting job for the Browns, a flip answer fits.
Why the heck not?
Though coach Hue Jackson said the job is open, he said Kessler earned the chance to open organized team activities as the starter ahead of Brock Osweiler, Kevin Hogan and second-round draft pick DeShone Kizer.
"This thing's open. It really is," Jackson said Saturday after the team's second rookie camp practice. "But Cody's done a great job. That's the reason I brought his name up first. He's really improved. He's worked his tail off, and he deserves the right and the opportunity to walk in this building and walk out there first.
"And they've got to take it from him."
Jackson would not commit to Osweiler as the backup, saying Hogan's year with the team has him ahead. Kizer will also get his share of reps.
When the Browns acquired Osweiler from Houston in March, they did so to obtain Houston's second-round draft choice in 2018. Osweiler was not in the long-term plans, but he now figures in the mix.
"He's competing," Jackson said. "He's here. And I said from the beginning, if a guy is in our locker room, we're going to treat him like any of our other players."
Osweiler's 21 NFL starts are more than double the total for the other three QBs combined.
"I think in this league we all know you can't have enough good quarterbacks, enough guys to train at the position," Jackson said. "You never know how it's going to unfold, and things do happen, but [Osweiler is] competing.
"He's done a good job. He's been great in the room with the guys. He's been a good person in the building. We're going to continue to allow him to do that and see what he has to show for us and kind of go from there."
Jackson said the breakdown on who gets first-team reps for veteran minicamp in June will be settled at that point.
For now, Kessler gets the first chance. As for figuring out reps for four quarterbacks for an open position, Jackson shrugged.
"I'll find a way," he said. "I've been through this before, a few times."
Now his application for readmission to the league has been turned down, though he can apply for reinstatement in the fall. His agent cut ties with him two weeks ago, according to ESPN's Josina Anderson.
Where exactly is this ship heading? It’s hard to say, but it shouldn’t end up in Cleveland.
The story with Gordon is not new, and it certainly is getting old.
Gordon has tantalizing on-field talent at a Browns position of need, but he also has off-field issues that keep getting in his way. They are also getting in the team's way, and have been since 2013. That was the one season the Browns got a full taste of his ability, as he led the league with 1,646 receiving yards while playing 14 games.
He was suspended two games that season.
Then he was suspended 11 games in 2014.
Then he was suspended 16 games in 2015.
Then he was reinstated but left the team in September 2016 for rehab, so the suspension continued and he missed 16 more games.
Now he's reapplied but was denied.
It seems like a long time since Gordon was last in a regular-season game for the Browns. Presidential administrations have changed, kids have grown up, harvests have been collected -- more than once.
The Browns, in the meantime, have remade their team and their roster. They have jettisoned players they don't want and have tried to add players with a certain approach. In No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett, they have a player who can be very good on the field but already is very good off it.
Gordon just doesn't seem to fit the new approach, even with his talent. The more his story is told, the more the ending gets delayed.
When all is said and done, the Browns were able to pile up a number of players -- two yet to be determined -- as the answer to why they made the trade.
The Browns used the picks they got from the Eagles in five more trades that added even more picks and players.
Here is the result of that deal:
The Eagles got Wentz.
The Browns got ...
- WR Corey Coleman
- OT Shon Coleman
- QB Cody Kessler
- WR Ricardo Louis
- S Derrick Kindred
- WR Jordan Payton
- OG/OT Spencer Drango
- S Jabrill Peppers
- QB DeShone Kizer
- Houston's first-round pick in 2018
- Philadelphia's second-round pick in 2018
That's nine players and picks in the first and second round in 2018 for Wentz.
Biggest post-draft questions still to be answered by the Cleveland Browns:
Are the Browns improved in terms of wins and losses? Perhaps by a couple, sure. The Browns did a nice job in this draft, adding the best player in the draft in defensive end Myles Garrett and a quarterback in DeShone Kizer. They filled a need at safety and added a quality defensive lineman, perhaps two. They are a better team after getting the draft right, keyed by the addition of Kizer to compete at quarterback. The Browns added to their roster, but the results will not be immediate. The Browns remain a 2-to-6 win team this season, but they have set the foundation for future growth. And if Kizer turns into Dak Prescott, six wins might be the minimum.
Who plays quarterback? To be determined, and it will be interesting to see how Hue Jackson handles this "competition." There are three guys, none of whom would seem to have a huge advantage. Cody Kessler knows the system and seems intent on improving. Brock Osweiler is a mystery. Kizer is the draft pick who has a lot of work to do. Kizer gives the draft a different feel; had the Browns taken him 29th, 25th or even 12th, they'd have been credited for taking their shot at a quarterback. That they got him in the second round with the 52nd pick had the front office smiling. In a sense, this is exciting for Jackson, a coach who likes to develop quarterbacks. But he'll have to juggle reps for three guys, with Kevin Hogan also on the roster. It will make for an interesting training camp.
What does the quarterback depth chart look like? The Browns don't release depth charts at this point of the offseason, so it's anyone's guess. My guess is Kessler right now would be first, Osweiler second, Kizer third and Hogan fourth. At the end of camp, it would not be at all surprising to see Osweiler start the opener against Pittsburgh. Which would be pretty Browns. They acquire a quarterback with the intention of getting rid of him as fast as they can, then wind up starting him in the season opener.
Is there a need at receiver? There sure seems to be. The lead guy is Kenny Britt, who hit the 1,000-yard mark in his eighth season. Corey Coleman was seriously challenged by Jackson in March, and the other rookies drafted with Coleman caught a combined 24 passes. If Rashard Higgins, Ricardo Louis or Jordan Payton do not improve dramatically, the group will be seriously lacking.
BEREA, Ohio — The Cleveland Browns would have taken a quarterback with the 12th pick in the first round, but when Houston offered two first-round picks to move up, the Browns chose to trade down.
They were left at the end of the night touting the 2018 draft and talking about needing to solidify the most important position on the team. Meanwhile, the importance of Brock Osweiler grows.
"For us," vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said, "it is just about making sure that when we get the quarterback, it is someone that we all believe in and can get behind and move forward.”
The Browns entered the draft with an urgency to solve a quarterback issue that has plagued them since 1999. The team has started 26 players since its return as an expansion team, and used three starters in each of the last four seasons. Cleveland had the conundrum of being in dire need of a player at a position where the talent assessments did not match the spot they were taken. Brown and coach Hue Jackson both said they did not want to force the issue, but the importance of the position was prominent.
That was why there were so many discussions about taking Myles Garrett or Trubisky first overall. They decided on Garrett, and most analysts and league insiders applauded the decision.
The Browns declined to get into details about any discussions they might have had internally about the first overall pick and whether they were close to taking Trubisky.
Any hope they could get him later, either by trading up with Tennessee to the fifth spot or at 12, disappeared when the Bears shocked the football world by moving up one spot to take Trubisky at No. 2.
Kansas City had been rumored to be interested in Mahomes, and the Chiefs showed it by making an aggressive move to move up to Buffalo's 10th overall pick to select him.
That deal cost the Chiefs this and next year's first-round picks as well as a third-round choice. Kansas City wanted its guy and went and got him.
That had the Browns at the 12th pick without their two preferred quarterbacks.
"We didn’t know how the board would fall, frankly," Brown said. "We didn’t know who would be the first quarterback off. There were a number of quarterbacks there that I think people were talking about. We didn’t know if quarterbacks might fall out of the top 10 and maybe be there at 12.”
Houston wanted Watson and gave up two first-round picks to trade up to the 12th spot to get him. It completed an unusual circle that started in March with the Browns taking Osweiler and his $16 million salary from the Texans along with a second-round pick in the 2018 draft and completed when the Browns gave the Texans Watson for first-round picks this year and next.
Watson obviously did not fit what the Browns want. Although he played tremendously in big games, there were questions about him. He threw 30 interceptions and never operated a huddle. He ran a limited amount of plays in college and functioned in the spread offense. He also went 32-3 as a starter at Clemson.
"For us, in terms of our plan and building the roster, we felt like it was just better to move back," Brown said. "That shouldn’t be a take against Deshaun, a great young man. We’ll root for him to have a great career.”
The result is the Browns own the Texans' first-round and second-round picks in 2018 and have two first- and three second-round picks. That works well for 2018 and beyond, but does nothing for 2017.
It also is the second consecutive draft in which the Browns traded down from taking a quarterback. In 2017 it was Carson Wentz; this year it was Watson. That emphasizes the importance of getting it right. Other teams made aggressive moves up to get their guy; the Browns chose to continue to fund their build.
Brown admitted there is a point when a team can trade down too often. When do the Browns hit that point?
"Not yet," he said. "In all seriousness, for us, I think you have paid attention to what we have done and written about it well. For us, high-value draft picks in the first couple rounds are tremendously valuable. We have a long way to go to get our roster where it needs to be."
That leaves the Browns with today's 52nd overall pick — the 20th in the second round — as they ponder drafting a quarterback like Cal's Davis Webb.
It also leads to Osweiler, who originally was not acquired for the long term. He was merely taken by the Browns so they could add next year's second-round choice.
Osweiler was last year's high-priced free agent signing, a guy given $72 million by the Texans after he had started seven games in relief of Peyton Manning in Denver. It did not work out, as Osweiler never played a good game from kickoff to final second. He finished the season with 15 touchdowns, 16 interceptions, 59 percent of passes completed and out of favor with the Texans.
He did win eight of 14 starts and has a 13-8 record as a starter in his five seasons. In Browns history since 1999, that would be a glorious won-lost record, better than all the other 26 starters.
He has taken part in all the team's offseason program to date, but the Browns won't see him on the field until practices begin in May.
"We’ll continue to push and push on him and see if we can continue to get him better," Jackson said, "but he’s working on it. I do know that.”
Other options have nearly disappeared. New England has shown no inclination to trade Jimmy Garoppolo; ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Browns made a call Thursday night and were quickly told the Patriots have no interest in trading their backup. Brown dismissed the report that the team tried to acquire Kirk Cousins from Washington. There are no other easily evident possibilities.
That is why Brown brought up finding"the guy" in next year's draft.
"We need to solidify the quarterback position," Brown said. "It’s not solidified right now. We know that we need the guys here to work their tails off, and Hue is going to develop them as much as possible and push them to be their best. We also know that until we get it solidified, we are going to continue looking for players all over the league and in college.
"That may be in next year’s draft. That may be in free agency. It may be via trade. We won’t rest until really solidify that position."
BRISTOL, Conn. -- Herm Edwards did not agree with Warren Sapp's assessment of Myles Garrett, the NFL draft's potential first overall pick.
Sapp recently criticized Garrett, calling him "a lazy kid that makes four plays a game."
"He's not lazy," Edwards said Tuesday. "He fatigues."
And he fatigues because the emphasis on fast-paced offense in college requires defensive players to stay on the field for 80 or 90 plays per game, Edwards said.
The former Jets and Chiefs coach and current ESPN analyst said Garrett can have a large impact playing 35 to 40 plays a game in the NFL, and by being fresh in the fourth quarter.
"He has things you can't teach," Edwards said, naming length, explosiveness and the ability to turn the corner.
Edwards compared Garrett to DeMarcus Ware, who finished a 12-year career with Dallas and Denver with 138.5 sacks -- and who twice led the league in sacks.
Edwards was the assistant head coach of the Bucs when Sapp, a Hall of Famer, played in Tampa Bay.
"Warren got tired," Edwards said. "He played about 45 snaps per game."
Edwards' advice for the Cleveland Browns, who have the first overall pick?
There's a reason Cleveland Browns followers get heartburn when the possibility of a first-round trade in the NFL draft is rumored.
It's called recent history.
This is the team that traded down instead of taking Julio Jones and traded up to get Johnny Manziel. The team that decided to move away from drafting Carson Wentz and moved up to take Trent Richardson.
When folks start speculating that perhaps the Browns will trade down from the first overall pick in this year's draft, the folks who follow the Browns bury their faces in their hands.
They've been through so much.
Since 2004, the Browns have dealt a top-10 pick six times -- four times to go down, twice to go up.
The results have the Browns picking first overall this year.
2004: Traded up from No. 7 for tight end Kellen Winslow at No. 6 -- In this draft, the Browns met as a front office and coaching staff and decided that with the No. 7 overall pick Winslow or receiver Roy Williams would be the best fits. The offense needed help, and the team liked both players. That didn't stop coach Butch Davis from trying to trade up to the No. 4 pick for safety Sean Taylor, much to the team's surprise. After five picks, Winslow and Williams were both there, meaning the team would get one of its preferred two. But Davis traded up one spot to take Winslow and gave up a second-round pick to do so.
2006: Traded down from No. 12 for linebacker Kamerion Wimbley at No. 13 -- General manager Phil Savage had a choice between lineman Haloti Ngata and Wimbley. His coaching staff preferred the pass-rusher, and Savage felt the Ravens wanted Ngata. So Savage broke with tradition and gave the Ravens the player they wanted; the Browns moved back one spot and got the player they wanted and a sixth-round pick from Baltimore. Ngata had an outstanding career. Wimbley became a victim of the changing regimes and was traded by coach Eric Mangini in 2010 for a third-round pick.
2007: Traded two picks to get back in the first round to take quarterback Brady Quinn -- One of the picks Savage sent to Dallas to get Quinn was the first-round pick in 2008. That and other trades meant the Browns did not have a pick in the draft's first three rounds in '08, which made linebacker Beau Bell the most famous fourth-round pick in team history. Quinn went 3-9 as a starter in Cleveland and was traded for running back Peyton Hillis, who had one good year in Cleveland. Mangini actually traded Wimbley and Quinn -- two first-round picks -- on the same day -- a Browns-like quirk if ever there was one.
2009: Traded down from No. 5 for center Alex Mack at No. 21 -- This was one of the few first-round deals that worked out, as Mack became a Pro Bowl center. But Mangini traded down three times in the first round to get Mack, including giving up the fifth overall pick.
2011: Traded down from No. 6 for nose tackle Phil Taylor at No. 21 -- This pick has become legendary, as the Browns passed on Julio Jones to garner extra picks (first- and fourth-rounders in 2011 and 2012 and a second-rounder in 2011). Jones has grown into one of the NFL's best players in Atlanta. The Browns compounded the bad deal with the players they chose with the picks they acquired. Defensive tackle Phil Taylor was released after four injury-marred seasons. Wide receiver Greg Little and fullback Owen Marecic are no longer in the NFL. Brandon Weeden, taken with the 2012 first-round pick, is a backup with the Texans. The Browns also used a fourth-round pick from the Jones deal to mangle the draft the next year.
2012: Traded up from No. 4 for running back Trent Richardson at No. 3 -- The Browns gave up three picks (including that 2012 fourth-rounder from Atlanta) to move up one spot and take Richardson, who didn't last two years in Cleveland. Weeden was the second of two first-round picks in this draft.
2014: Traded down from No. 4 and then up from No. 9 for cornerback Justin Gilbert at No. 8 -- Instead of keeping the fourth pick and taking either receiver Sammy Watkins or linebacker Khalil Mack, the Browns opted to trade down for Gilbert, who turned into a colossal miss. It's always easy to point to the guy the team could have picked. But in Mack's case, the Browns passed on a guy who played in the MAC at Buffalo and who was unblockable when he played Ohio State his final year in college. Finding him did not take much work.
2014: Traded up from No. 26 for quarterback Johnny Manziel at No. 22 -- This was a double-dip year for draft-trade busts. After trading down to take Gilbert, the Browns traded up to take Manziel. Worse, they used the first-round pick they acquired when they traded Richardson to the Colts in 2013 to move up. The team still has not recovered from the Manziel debacle. It wasted two years trying to see if he could play and now is facing another year with a giant mystery at that position. This pick may have set the Browns back five years.
2016: Traded down from No. 2 for wide receiver Corey Coleman at No. 15 -- The Browns had the second overall pick and could have taken Wentz, but the Browns gave the Eagles their quarterback to move down -- not once, but twice -- to take Coleman. The Eagles are thrilled with Wentz. Coleman has to erase some serious question marks as he enters his second season. He has time, but his coach recently challenged him to grow up.
Overall, the Browns have made nine trades with first-round players or picks since 2004. One worked (Alex Mack), one is incomplete (Coleman). The rest, well ... Khalil Mack and Derek Carr are doing impressive things for the Raiders.
The Browns are not alone in draft-trade fiascos. The Jaguars traded up for Blaine Gabbert. The Bears traded a first-round pick for Rick Mirer. The Chargers moved up to take Ryan Leaf.
But few teams have been as consistent as the Browns in not only misreading their team but also the draft.
The Browns have given up top-10 players three times since 2009. The only time it worked was when they acquired Mack, but even that didn't work long term. Mack is now playing in Atlanta after (a) he got sick of losing, and (b) the Browns botched his first free agency and allowed him to sign a transition-tag deal that let him walk away two years later.
The one constant with the post-1999 Browns has been change. Regime after regime has taken over and decided that the previous regime did not do things properly and the team had to start over.
The result: excessive machinations that lead to overthinking. Instead of just taking the logical pick, the new regimes felt they had to do something different to hasten the rebuild.
Some call it overthinking. Some say it's people trying to prove they are smarter than everyone else. The optimist would say they were honest efforts that didn't work out.
The Cleveland Browns have stepped back into the NFL draft matrix as they ponder the options for the first overall pick.
With this team, it seems, nothing is ever plain and simple.
The Browns can go chalk and take the consensus choice with the first pick: defensive end Myles Garrett.
They can try to solve one of their longest-standing issues, go against the conventional wisdom and decide quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is first-pick worthy.
Or they can do what they've done so often in the past, and trade down.
A trade might not please the Browns' following, which is looking forward to adding a major impact player. But it's possible that the Browns could move down a few spots and still take an impact player.
If, for instance, the Browns like Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas better than Garrett, it would behoove them to try to trade down. A team that craves Garrett may well be willing to make the move up.
The Browns could garner an extra pick (or two), draft Thomas and then be able to take their quarterback with the 12th pick. If they feel like they'd need a move up from 12 to get the quarterback, the extra pick or picks acquired for the first overall pick would help the cause.
It's never wise to discount the Browns trying to acquire more picks. As the team has proved, amassing draft picks is an analytics foundational principle.
And it would be in the Browns' interests to keep the chatter alive if they are even remotely interested in a trade.
At this point, there is little buzz or chatter that the Browns have been making calls about trading the pick. At the NFL's spring meetings, coach Hue Jackson conceded he'd be open to discussing the possibility, but said: "There's going to be a player that I think will be very good for our organization at 1."
The Browns' recent draft history might not inspire confidence.
In a year when Garrett is such a consensus and overwhelming pick and when most draft analysts think the quarterbacks are a reach in the top 10, let alone first overall, some in the league wonder if the Browns are outthinking themselves. Garrett is an easy pick this year, the thinking goes, so the Browns should just take him.
Trubisky might even be there when the Browns pick 12th. The Jets or San Francisco could topple that theory, though, which leads to the last possibility.
If the Browns want Trubisky and Garrett, there is a way to do it. Take Garrett first, then package picks and move up from the 12th overall selection. If the Browns want Trubisky, they can be aggressive in moving up to get him. Chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta said at the NFL owners meetings that the Browns had moved to player acquisition mode; this kind of aggressive trade would prove it.
A player like Mitch Trubisky could develop into a starting NFL player, but the feeling is if he played any other position with his production and skills, he would not be given first-round consideration.
That leads to this very real question that the Browns must answer: Should the Browns take a quarterback with the 12th pick even if there are higher-ranked players on their board? Does the position take precedence? Or would they be wise to wait and use their second-round picks to draft the guy at the most important position on the team?
"All those things are a possibility if things don't fall right and if it's not the right fit for us," Browns coach Hue Jackson said at the NFL owners meetings. "I get it. Everybody is wanting a quarterback. We all do. Everybody understands until you have that guy, the right guy, do you really have a chance to win it all?
"I think that's important. I think we get that. But I think at the same time, you can't force it. Because I think if you force it, you might create a problem, a different type of problem for the football team. So we're going to evaluate this whole situation and go through it and keep evaluating these quarterbacks and make the right decision for us as we go through it."
The disadvantage to the Browns is there is no evident player ready to step in immediately. Of course, that's always an iffy proposition. Carson Wentz looked far more ready to play a year ago than Jared Goff, and Goff went first overall and Wentz second.( The fact they were the first and second overall, though, indicates the importance given the position in this day and age. Almost every pre-draft expert a year ago said Goff and Wentz were not worth the top 10, much less first and second. Yet that's where they went.
The advantage this year, though, is that there might not be that wide of a gap among the top five or six quarterbacks. That means drafting one in the second round might not be that different from drafting one in the first round.
"I know what you're saying," Jackson said. "That could be a possibility. I don't think we're totally done with it yet. I think we're still working through all that to see how close they are. … But you said it: I don't know that this group, one guy separates himself from the other as much. We'll find out as we go. Hopefully somebody will. That would make it easier as you look at it. But that hasn't been decided."
This raises the possibility that the Browns could take a quarterback 33rd, or be aggressive with their second-round picks and trade into a spot late in the first round. Taking a quarterback at that point might reduce the pressure to play him right away and also lower expectations.
A guy like Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes might fit that scenario. Mahomes is agile and has a tremendous arm. If he's still there at 33, he might be a no-bainer; if the Browns don't think he'd make it to the second day, they could trade up and have three first-round picks.
"Very talented," Jackson said. "Has a big arm, as we all know. I think he's tough. But again, he's just another guy that we're going to continue to look at, like all the other guys, and see how they all stack up. But he has talent."
Mahomes has been compared to Brett Favre in arm strength. Jackson admitted he's heard the "gunslinger" term bandied about with him.
"I think a lot of that comes from the system that he plays in more so than anything, but I think people call him that because he has so much arm talent," he said.
A guy the Browns might be able to get in the second round would be Cal's Davis Webb. Jackson likes Cal guys, and he got a close look a Webb when he coached him in the Senior Bowl. There, Jackson asked Webb to throw more deep balls than usual — to see if he could do it.
"In our system, we demand a guy has to be able to throw the ball like that," Jackson said. "He demonstrated that at the Senior Bowl. He was the MVP of the Senior Bowl. Had a good week of practice, did well -- another candidate in this draft we'll continue to look at and dig on and find out more about."
The one mystery guy is Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer. Although he was originally projected high, the buzz about him has slowed. He remains in the top five, though, with Trubisky, Clemson's Deshaun Watson, Mahomes and Webb. No matter when the Browns take a quarterback or who it is, he likely won't play right away and instead will have to be patient and wait and learn.
"All those guys are going to be on somebody's team," Jackson said. "Every last one of them are going to get drafted. How fast they play, the success they have, what their career looks like is all going to be determined by where they go and what the systems are and what the fits are. It's not a question if they're good enough to play. It's, 'Is it the right a fit for you.'"
"He's a tremendous player, but I think there's also some other guys that are really good," Jackson said this week at the NFL's owners meetings.
In almost every dictionary, "really good" isn't equal to "tremendous."
Garrett is the consensus first overall pick for most draft analysts. None of Todd McShay or Mel Kiper Jr.'s mock drafts since the college season ended has any other player going first, though McShay's first mock in December had Alabama defensive tackle Jonathan Allen first, with Garrett second. Since then, the consensus has grown stronger every day that Garrett is the guy.
There's little reason not to make him the first pick. Garrett had a fast 40 time at the combine, he's strong, he rushes the passer and he checks off all the character boxes.
But vice president of football Sashi Brown said the team is looking at a few players at the spot.
"I think we've got some process left here," Brown said. "Other than to say that, obviously, we recognize Myles' talent, I wouldn't comment on that."
Allen would probably be among the other players the Browns are considering, along with end Solomon Thomas of Stanford, running back Leonard Fournette of LSU, safeties Jamal Adams of LSU and Malik Hooker of Ohio State and perhaps quarterbacks Mitch Trubisky of North Carolina or Deshaun Watson of Clemson.
Though Brown said the Browns would listen if a team wanted to trade for the pick -- "If teams want to call us, that's our M.O.," he said -- it's clear that Jackson would prefer the Browns keep the pick.
"There's going to be a player that I think will be very good for our organization at one," Jackson said. "I would not like to trade, but if there's something, an opportunity to make our team better, I'm sure we'll discuss anything and everything. I think that's what you do."
The Browns have already held a private workout with Garrett. Jackson said he spent some time with him then and discussed Garrett's drop in production his final season because of an ankle injury.
"I think we're solving that riddle," Jackson said. "I think it's very clear in my mind and a lot of our minds about where he was and what that was last year. Again, those things will all come to the surface at the right time.
"He's a tremendous player. We all know that. We're getting to know him, he's getting to know us and we'll continue to go along with the process."
Jackson also said he talked with Garrett about the playful video he made, in which he jokingly asked for Jerry Jones to trade for him so he could play in Dallas.
"I've had my jokes with him about it," Jackson said. "Again, he's explained it. I don't think he meant anything by it by any stretch. I think we made it into more than what it was. But I think he understands, too, you've got to be very careful with what you say. He's handled it right, and I think that part is behind us all."
Since 2011, Cleveland has had nine first-round picks. Only nose tackle Danny Shelton is an established starter on the roster. Receiver Corey Coleman was challenged by Jackson to grow significantly from his rookie season, and Cam Erving's last shot with the Browns might be this training camp at right tackle. The other six are not with the team.
In this draft, the Browns have their choice of any player they want.
"I think it, I'm not going to say pressure, but it really makes you streamline your thought process of what you want to do, because everybody is not the No. 1 pick in the draft," Jackson said. "There's maybe only one or two or three guys that can actually be that. When you draft a guy as the No. 1 pick in the National Football League, you want him to be a very dominant player, you want him to be a cornerstone player, you want him to be a generational player.
"I think that's got to be the focus as we continue to move forward."
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky had his pro day on Tuesday.
Browns coach Hue Jackson and vice president of football operations Sashi Brown were not in attendance. The pair gave the workout assignment to scouts and assistant coaches.
The Browns instead will concentrate on a private workout with Trubisky as well as Deshaun Watson. The Browns believe they can learn more from a workout they conduct than one scripted for the player at his college. The team will have private workouts with many top players and given the number scheduled there are times when schedules can conflict.
The Browns also will bring the pair to Cleveland for an interview.
A year ago, Jackson and former offensive assistant Pep Hamilton both attended the workouts of Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. Hamilton famously doused the ball with water during the workout to see how the quarterbacks threw a wet ball.
A year ago, the Browns were in the infancy of a new organization, so coaches felt they needed to be everywhere to ensure things were covered. The Browns' vice president of player personnel, Andrew Berry, was hired late and didn't know the team's scouts all that well. A year later, the team knows which scouts know quarterbacks and the coaches know the team's process and feel more secure in the structure.
Thus the focus for Watson and Trubisky will be on private workouts.
Meanwhile, Brock Osweiler remains on the roster after being acquired from Houston in a trade that also brought the Browns a 2018 second-round draft pick. Osweiler is not in the Browns' long-term plans, but the team has not found a trade partner.
If he is on the roster the team will be able to get a closer look at him when the offseason workouts start April 17.
Osweiler would be welcome at those workouts if he is still with the team.
Pryor could have had that deal in Cleveland, but he wanted to test the market.
The Browns didn't wait. When free agency began, they gave Kenny Britt the four-year, $32.5 million offer that Pryor probably could have had before free agency began.
Pryor tested the market and wound up in Washington for less money and fewer years than he probably envisioned. ESPN colleague Ben Goessling reported the deal is a $3 million signing bonus, a $3 million base salary and $2 million in incentives. It's clear why the Browns decided to hold the line on their offer believed to be in the $8 million-to-$9 million range, and why the Browns did not franchise Pryor.
The benefit for the Redskins: They sign a 1,000-yard receiver after losing their two top receivers in Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. With Kirk Cousins at quarterback, Pryor could top his numbers from 2016 (77 catches, 1,007 yards and four touchdowns). He also may see a lot of double coverage.
The benefit for Pryor: It's $8 million, and it's only one year. If he has a big year, he can hit the market again in search of that multiyear payday.
The benefit for the Browns: Their financial projection on Pryor was accurate, but it's still tough to see how losing him makes them better, even with the signing of Britt. Pryor was the Browns' leader in catches, yards and touchdowns last season. But clearly Pryor wasn't going to sign with the Browns without testing the market. Once he did, Britt was headed to Cleveland.
At the same time, add Pryor to the Browns' receiving group, and it still wouldn't vault into the top 10 in the league. Even with Pryor, there would be needs to address.
The Browns now have to count on Britt, who reached 1,000 yards for the first time in his eight-year career last season, and the rookies they drafted a year ago. The combined numbers for Corey Coleman, Rashard Higgins, Ricardo Louis and Jordan Payton: 58 receptions, 698 yards and three touchdowns. Thirty-three of the catches and all of the touchdowns came from Coleman.