On Thursday we wrote the following:
There are NFL drafts. And then there are days that change the outlook of an NFL franchise forever.
It’s ill-advised to give out draft grades less than 24 hours after selections. But the entire NFL community is in a frenzy about the noise Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer made Thursday night.
Before the newest Browns player could shake hands with commissioner Roger Goodell, the franchise had already added a 2015 first and fourth round pick from the Buffalo Bills. The trade moved the Browns back only five spots and netted the team bargaining chips for next offseason.
A second trade with the Minnesota Vikings gave the Browns the eighth overall pick and Justin Gilbert was the selection. The Oklahoma State Cowboy was the top overall cornerback on may NFL team’s draft boards. Before the draft, scouts projected Gilbert as a perennial number one shutdown corner in the league. The Browns will have the luxury of easing him in next to Pro Bowler Joe Haden.
Two hours later, the most talked about draft pick, maybe of the entire decade, donned the stage with a Cleveland Browns hat. Farmer and the Browns organization decided Johnny Manziel has star-power potential, and traded up four spots with the Philadelphia Eagles to select the Texas A&M quarterback. Besides his rocket arm and 30 rushing touchdowns in two seasons with the Aggies, Manziel brings something even bigger to Cleveland: riveting energy, both on and off the field.
“He was passionate, he was relentless, he played fearless, he was competitive and we added a guy to our roster we thought could help us win,” Farmer told the media in the wee hours of Friday morning.
Given the proper coaching and time to learn, the Browns are confident Manziel will become the face of the franchise.
And that was just day one, people. Even with three separate trades, Cleveland hung on to the 35th and 71st overall selections. Wide receivers top the wish list for players to take in the second and third rounds.
Marqise Lee, WR, Southern California
Quick take: If he came out in 2013, Lee is likely a top-10 pick. His NFL-ready route running ability and pure speed make him intriguing at 35, if he’s there.
Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Quick take: Robinson is a big boy (6-foot-3, 220-pounds) who can break tackles in the open field. His ridiculous 97 catches and 1,432 yards speaks for itself.
Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
Quick take: Latimer has been rising up draft boards since the process began. His game film shows he can make the tough catches look easy, and he excels on routes in the middle of the field.
Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Quick take: Looking for a smart receiver? Matthews is your guy. He consistently adjusted his routes to beat the heavy zone coverage in the SEC. He’s tough, tall (6-foot-3) and could become a guy first round teams regret they passed on.
Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
Quick take: A terrible 4.77 time in the 40-yard-dash will likely plunge Landry to the third round. But pull up his tape, and you’ll see first round potential. Landry doesn’t let himself get tackled; he tackles defenders with his physicality. He won’t be a deep threat, but he will be productive in the NFL.
Other intriguing names
Xavier Su’a-Filo, OG, UCLA
Quick take: Su’a-Filo is the kind of offensive lineman Kyle Shanahan loves: smaller, quick and aggressive. He can hit blocks on the run, he’s adept at pulling and many scouts project he could start immediately.
Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
Quick take: Hyde definitely has first round talent, but the market for running backs is depressed in the 2014 world of the NFL. Hyde is a 230-pound old-school bruiser but displayed some speed when cutting the edge in college.
Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
Quick take: What’s fascinating about Van Noy is that he can play both outside and inside linebacker. The 6-foot-3, 243-pounder excelled in coverage with the Cougars and could learn a wealth of knowledge from
Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
Quick take: There’s a reason Mason was in New York City for the Heisman trophy ceremony. He’s elusive. He finds holes. He’s durable enough to carry the ball 25 times in a game. He has hands coming out of the backfield. And scouts call him a perfect fit for the zone-blocking scheme. He has the opposite style of
Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor
Quick take: Looking for somebody to match Johnny Manziel’s energy on defense? Dixon is your guy. A flashy trash-talker, Dixon loves to get his hands dirty while being a human hit-stick at the line of scrimmage. The Browns don’t need a safety, but they could use the depth and his swagger in the third round.