Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine and team general manager Ray Farmer both stated in the weeks and days leading up to the 2015 National Football League Draft that they were happy with the quarterbacks already on the club’s roster. It certainly appears, following the draft process, that they were telling the truth.
The big news coming out of the 2015 NFL Draft as it pertains to the Browns is that the club did not select a single quarterback this time around. That really should not have been news to anybody who was paying attention over the past month, as rumors of the Browns either moving up in the draft order to grab Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota or of Cleveland trading for new Philadelphia Eagles QB Sam Bradford were unfounded. Farmer, Pettine and multiple Cleveland teammates have publicly backed Johnny Manziel following what would have to be considered to be a disastrous start to Manziel’s NFL career.
Pettine and Farmer like Manziel. Any doubt about that reality has been extinguished for now.
Cleveland Browns 2015 NFL Draft grade: The first round
Not all are sold on Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton – some did not have him as the second-best DT on the overall NFL Draft board – but the popular opinion among many analysts is that the Browns got quite the value selection in Shelton with the twelfth overall pick. Shelton embodies everything that the “play like a Brown” mantra repeated by Pettine over the past year is meant to represent: He works hard, he plays smash mouth football, and he will be a great fit for a AFC North side.
It also doesn’t hurt that Shelton will bolster what was the worst run defense in all of the NFL last season.
There is no way to adequately grade the Cameron Erving pick. A natural defensive lineman who made the transition to the opposite side of the football, Erving served as a center at Florida State but he has also been listed as a guard. Erving supposedly has the athleticism to feature anywhere on the offensive line – Farmer absolutely loves the young man’s footwork – and the rookie could eventually be a replacement for All-Pro center Alex Mack.
I’d like to see where the guy is playing for the Browns before I have anything to say about him.
Grade: Incomplete until Erving takes the field
Cleveland Browns 2015 NFL Draft grade: Make or break pick
We now know that reports of the Browns being enamored with Utah outside linebacker Nate Orchard were accurate. While the Browns moved back in the NFL Draft order to get Orchard midway through the second round, there were some draft boards that had him listed as a third- or even a fourth-round talent. Farmer and others in the front office will forever be reminded that the Browns had multiple opportunities to grab Randy Gregory if he proves to be a steal for the Dallas Cowboys and Orchard, who had been in touch with current Cleveland linebacker Paul Kruger leading up to the draft, does not work out.
Cleveland Browns 2015 NFL Draft grade: A steal?
Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is arguably the top “low-risk, high-reward” pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. The defensive back has first-round talent, but he is coming off of a serious ACL injury that he suffered during a practice session in the middle of December. Reports emerged earlier this week that teams had removed him entirely from their boards upon learning that the ACL issue could be worse than originally expected, and Ekpre-Olomu falling to the seventh round landed him $3 million of insurance cash.
It is entirely possible that Ekpre-Olomu will never see the field as a NFL player. The Browns will, in that universe, have spent a seventh-round pick on a prospect who didn’t work out. Big deal. At best, Ekpre-Olomu could be a historic draft steal for the Browns, and that makes him worth the risk.
Cleveland Browns 2015 NFL Draft grade: Overall
Pettine and Farmer insist that they believe in the wide receivers on the team’s roster. They’d better be right, because odds are that Vince Mayle, a solid wide receiver who lacks idea speed for a player at the position, probably is not replacing Josh Gordon at any point during their careers. Cleveland could have gotten a good WR twice in the first round.
Farmer and company did not.
Football games are won in the trenches at any level, and the Browns got stronger on both fronts. That’s great and all, but that roster has serious holes at multiple playmaker positions. Oh yeah. There is also that thing about who may or may not be playing quarterback for the Browns in September.
I like what Farmer and his band of talent evaluators achieved from April 30 through May 2. The Browns are better today than they were on Thursday at 7:59 pm ET. Just how much better they are or aren’t will only be known once we are able to see what the offense is able to achieve with either Manziel or Josh McCown under center.
Overall Grade: B-