Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine told NFL Network reporter Andrea Kremer earlier this week that the Browns would not be “desperate” during the first round of the 2015 National Football League Draft. It turns out that Pettine was, in fact, being honest.
As most analysts who had knowledge of the team’s intentions heading into the NFL Draft expected, the Browns stuck with the plan and bolstered the team’s offensive and defensive lines in the first round. Cleveland spent the twelfth overall pick on defensive tackle Danny Shelton out of Washington. The Browns then used pick No. 19 to acquire Florida State offensive lineman Cameron Erving.
There had, in the days leading up to the NFL Draft, been much speculation that the Browns could make a significant trade at some point leading up to Thursday or perhaps on the first night of the draft. While general manager Ray Farmer did reach out to all 31 other NFL franchises to speak on matters, the Browns have yet to be all-in on trading for quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford was dealt by the St. Louis Rams to the Philadelphia Eagles this past offseason, and he may not, in reality, be a target of the Browns this spring.
Cleveland was never seriously in the Marcus Mariota sweepstakes. The Oregon quarterback went to the Tennessee Titans.
Both Shelton and Erving will be expected to contribute for the Browns starting on day one of the 2015 NFL regular season. Shelton, a top-ten talent on some draft big boards, is hoped to be the run-stopper that the Browns desperately needed last season. Cleveland was responsible for the worst run defense in all of the NFL in 2014. Shelton, listed at 6-foot-2 and 339 pounds at the NFL Combine, became an instant hit at the draft when he gave Roger Goodell a massive bear hug before lifting the commissioner off of his feet after the two met at the podium.
Cleveland fans will be hoping that Shelton is even more physical with opponents.
Erving is an offensive lineman who had not been linked with the Browns in any NFL mock draft that had been put out there by a respected analyst. The 6-foot-6 product out of FSU is recognized as a center, but he has the physical tools to play in multiple spots on the Cleveland o-line. It does not hurt that he will be able to learn behind All-Pro center Alex Mack. The possibility exists that Erving could prove to serve as a replacement for tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who may be on the outs with the club before September rolls around.
Fans of the Browns may view this team’s draft class as far more boring than what they were told to expect by certain beat reporters who clearly did not have the pulse of the club during the process. Farmer and Pettine had no interest in making a splash that would have earned the Browns headlines or that would have sold jerseys. They had a clear plan heading into Thursday night — get stronger on both fronts — and those two men have to believe that they achieved those goals via the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
The Browns still have several roster holes that must be addressed in the draft. Cleveland needs at least one wide receiver, a tight end, a pass rusher and a kicker. There is also the massive elephant in the room that is the quarterback situation that has haunted the Browns since 1999.
Here is one piece of news on the team’s most well-known quarterback that was put out there by former Cleveland.com writer and current host of podcast Cleveland’s Sound Glenn Moore via Twitter on Thursday: Rookie QB Johnny Manziel, selected by the Browns in the 2014 NFL Draft, has reportedly purchased a home next to veteran linebacker Paul Kruger. Kruger will, according to Moore, serve as a mentor for Manziel
Manziel has received multiple public votes of confidence from Farmer and Pettine since the QB completed a stint in rehab that lasted longer than two months.
Zac has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and National Football League for a variety of websites since 2006. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.