General Manager Ray Farmer, Coach Mike Pettine
NEW YORK – We're anxious. We're excited. We're like a bunch of coiled springs, ready to let loose with (hopefully) euphoria.
We've wanted the 2014 NFL Draft to be here for months, and now, finally, the waiting is all but over.
But let's not confuse our pre-Christmas-morning-like impatience to find out who the Cleveland Browns will select with the assumption that all of the problems that led to last season's 4-12 finish and have kept the team in its perpetual four-/five-win malaise will be solved in this draft.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The Browns are likely to find meaningful help at multiple positions for the present and especially the future on Thursday, Friday, and even Saturday.
What they are unlikely to do is come away with miracle-workers.
Nor do they need any.
It would be fair to say that, even without the draft, the Browns are a better team today than they were at the end of the 2013 season.
They cleaned up the mess that was their player-personnel department by putting a competent man in charge in general manager Ray Farmer.
They hired a gritty, no-nonsense head coach in Mike Pettine and with his sturdy defensive roots and the sharp mind of new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, they have systems in place on both sides of the ball with proven records of success.
They have leadership in owner Jimmy Haslam, team president Alec Scheiner, Farmer, and Pettine that is cohesive and working toward a common goal.
They have used free agency to significantly upgrade the roster in at least four key areas: inside linebacker (Karlos Dansby), strong safety (Donte Whitner), running back (Ben Tate), and slot receiver (Andrew Hawkins).
They have found strong leaders, in Dansby and Whitner, who are part of a group of newcomers that not only want to be with the Browns but are excited about the prospect of finally giving their long-suffering fan base a reason to consistently cheer.
Yes, this draft is important to the Browns, even critical in many ways.
It could yield a franchise quarterback. It could yield a big-play receiver to complement Josh Gordon. It could yield a dominant offensive lineman to complement Joe Thomas and Alex Mack. It could yield a big, athletic cornerback to complement Joe Haden. It could yield a running back to share the load with Tate.
However, it isn't as if the Browns are devoid of a foundation or are in desperate need of solving a mountain of problems.
We're all happy that the draft is finally here. We just need to remember that it's simply another step among the many positive ones the Browns have taken since the end of last season.
This Road to the Draft Feature is driven by Liberty Ford.
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