The Cleveland Browns continue to make waves in the 2017 NFL Draft. The franchise is a couple of years away, but continues to make smart moves and play for the future.
It all started earlier this offseason when they made an unconventional but smart move and traded cap space for a pick, to relieve Houston of the Brock Osweiler bad contract. They got Houston’s 2018 2nd round pick plus Osweiler in exchange for a 4th rounder this year.
Then, in the draft, they went with the move that set up the way the rest of the draft played out. After plenty of talk, and buzz about potentially being interested in Mitch Trubisky, they made the pick that made the most sense: freak athlete Myles Garrett at DE. Then, sitting at #12, they traded with Houston yet again, opting to let the Texans have DeShaun Watson rather than pick him for themselves. Houston gave up next year’s first-round pick and a 6th rounder, to move from #25 to #12. So, Cleveland was able to get Houston’s first two picks next year in exchange for helping Houston clean up the Osweiler mess and find a replacement.
Cleveland used that 25th pick on playmaker Jabril Peppers from Michigan, and then traded back in at #29 to take tight end David Njoku.
While other teams made big moves up for quarterbacks, Cleveland stayed steady and then used their 52nd overall pick on DeShone Kizer out of Notre Dame. Kizer was considered a top prospect, but faltered last season as Notre Dame’s year went to the crapper. He declared before he had even reached his 21st birthday. As detailed here, given that quarterback contracts are way bigger on the second one because of the rookie wage scale, it makes more sense for Kizer to be drafted now and start the clock. While he may have wanted to go first round, he now is a free agent sooner (and there is no fifth-year team option for a second-round pick).
Kizer was inconsistent, but talented and very young. Just as the Browns have been willing to delay gratification and take on other teams’ future picks, they used this one on a project who could pay big dividends by the time he is 23 (an age when guys like last year’s 2nd overall Carson Wentz was still in college, and when this year’s 2nd overall Mitchell Trubisky is making his NFL debut). It’s a risk–taking a quarterback always is–but they aren’t pot committed with Kizer. He was only their 4th pick in this draft and they have so many more to come next year.
The Browns have been bad for a long time, but this front office is making smart moves to try to turn that around. We’ll look back and see that it started with the moves this Spring.