I was not a huge fan of the Browns draft last week. Most Browns fans seem to be happy, but this town always is after a draft. Browns fans are just dying for a reason to feel good about the team after the last 20 years of misery. If you take off the rose colored glasses and look at most of the national “report cards” of the Browns draft, just about all of them either list the Browns as one of the “losers” of draft day, or give them a grade in the B- to D+ range.
Every team gets better during a NFL Draft. It’s impossible not to. Here are my thoughts on Arrogant Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert’s third draft in Cleveland:
- Trent Richardson is a very safe pick that fills a big hole. However, it’s a hole the team created themselves when they allowed Peyton Hillis to walk away to Kansas City for a one year, $3mm contract. The Browns also had to give up three draft picks in the hours leading up to the draft in order to move up a spot to make sure the Vikings didn’t trade the pick to someone else.
- The Brandon Weeden selection at #22 was a TOTAL panic pick. After getting outmaneuvered for RG3, with immense pressure growing to win THIS YEAR, and with the team falling off the Colt McCoy bandwagon … you can be sure this pick was 100% Mike Holmgren. Holmgren knows that if this team does not win at least games this season, his boy Shurmur will be forced out, and Holmgren has already said “this is the last coach I hire here”.
- Everyone knows my thoughts on Colt McCoy, who will now be dealt in a sell-low situation for the Browns because they don’t want to have to deal with drama at the position. I could not be a bigger advocate of bold moves to bring in a potential franchise QB. But while I do feel Weeden has a much better chance to evolve into a B+ QB in this league than McCoy, will he be better this season, as the Browns are banking on? Just because Weeden will be 29 in the fall doesn’t mean he can walk in and play today. To me it’s less about age and more about game experience when it comes to QBs adjusting to the next level. The size of the pass rushers and DB’s. The speed of the game. For a guy coming out of a spread offense in college that played against no defenses, that’s a tough transition. Especially with no WR’s and a bunch of question marks on the offensive line.
- Weeden has the size and the arm to play in this league, just as Derek Anderson did. And the bad part of the Weeden scouting report also sounds very DA-esque: bad footwork, locks on to guys, struggles to go through his progressions. The history on Big 12 QB’s is awful. As is the history on guys that come out of school at advanced ages. No one had a first round grade on this kid, including the Browns, who panicked and took him when the Titans took Baylor WR Kendall Wright off the board two picks before them. They could have taken one of the stud offensive linemen at that pick and still easily got Weeden at #37.
- I would not have traded three picks away to move up to #3, as there were other solid options there (or a trade down) and I liked the second tier of RB’s in this draft and feel the position is devalued in today’s NFL. I would have taken OT Reilly Reiff at #22 and WR Stephen Hill at #37, and instead used all those picks they dealt to get back up into the top part of round two to roll the dice on Weeden or one of the other second tier QBs. And I would not sell low on McCoy and just give him away. He’s not minced meat. He has value.
- To me it was absolutely and totally unacceptable for the Browns to come out of this draft with just one 5’10 wide receiver with small hands, a small wing span, and limited college production. They have NOTHING at the position. Greg Little can’t catch. Josh Cribbs has shown for five years straight now that he can’t play the position. Slo-Mass should be in NFL Europe. I am completely flabbergasted that the Browns completely ignored the WR position in free agency AND the Draft. They are setting their new QB up to fail.
- One cornerback taken and it was in the 7th rd. Also totally unacceptable in a league where passing the ball and stopping the pass are paramount, and the Browns struggle to do both. And not one pass rusher. Who’s gonna get to the QB on this team off the edge? Frostee Rucker? Juqua Parker? Two inside linebackers and two defensive tackles?
- They needed a right tackle; we’ll see how Schwartz’s career pans out against the other more generally higher rated O-Line prospects that were on the board at #37.
- The pick of DT John Hughes in the 3rd round was generally viewed as one of the biggest reaches in the entire draft, as almost all scouting services had him ranked as a guy that wouldn’t even get selected. The ESPN commenter’s didn’t even have any tape on him, and were horrified at the selection. They could have easily got the guy later, and passed on several WR’s or CB’s that had high grades.
- The Browns completely abandoned upside, and drafted guys that they feel can help now, even if their chances of becoming elite core guys is much lower. There is a lot of pressure on this team to win now, and they drafted accordingly.
Thoughts coming tomorrow on last night’s episode of Mad Men … and also our Cleveland Indians.
Quote of the Day …
“He couldn’t spell cat if you spotted him the C and the T.” ~ Former Dallas Cowboys linebacker ‘Hollywood’ Henderson, talking about then Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw
Insane Fact of the Day …
John Lennon’s first girlfriend was named Thelma Pickles.
A busy week last week. Both mortgage bonds and stocks rallied, which you rarely see. Both are banking on more federal stimulus right now. And nothing the Fed said last week discouraged the growing market sentiment that we may see a third round of quantitative easing sometime this summer.
In stark contrast to the Fed statement released in March, Wednesday’s Fed statement caused almost no reaction. The content was little changed from the prior statement. In recent weeks, Fed officials have repeatedly expressed that current monetary policy is appropriate for the existing economic conditions. The statement and press conference provided no reason to change the consensus view that there is a high hurdle for Fed officials to either provide additional easing or to begin tightening in the near future. Unexpected events such as sustained weakness in the labor market or severe troubles in Europe might prompt the Fed to ease further, while a surge in inflation could lead to early tightening.
Stocks bullied forward last week, with the Dow closing Friday’s session at 13,228. That is right around the high water mark we’ve seen. We’ve closed slightly higher than this a handful of times the last couple months, but essentially, stocks are at their highest levels right now that they’ve been at since late 2007/early 2008, when all hell broke loose on Wall Street. It’s a good climate for stocks right now. Earnings for the 1Q have been better than expected, some of the domestic housing data has been trending the right way, and the disappointing jobs data means a QE3 could be coming.
The climate has been good for bonds as well. The continuing drama in Europe (Standard & Poors downgraded the ratings of 16 major Spanish banks last week) continues to make the safety and security of US bonds appealing. And the Fed has continued to reaffirm their commitment to bond buying to replace assets that fall off their balance sheet, which the bond markets like.
Friday of this week, we get April jobs data. We’ve had two really bad months of jobs growth, and April isn’t expected to be much better. Projections from most economists are that the US economy added about 160,000 non farms jobs in April, and that the national unemployment rate will stay at 8.2%. The market will be sharply focused on this # this week, and its release at 8:30 AM EST on Friday has major market moving potential.
There’s also a bunch of other economic releases this week. Core PCE, personal income, and Chicago PMI this morning. Construction spending and the ISM Index tomorrow. The ADP employment index and factory orders on Wednesday. Jobless claims, productivity data, and the ISM services index on Thursday. And the big jobs # to end the week on Friday.
~ Goldman Sachs: US Likely Only Added 125,000 Jobs in April
~ World Stocks Gain on Hopes of New Fed Stimulus
~ US Stock Futures Point Lower to Cap Off a Tumultuous April
~ The Week Ahead: Manufacturing Data & the Employment Situation
~ Downtown Cleveland Parking Tightens Up Due to Casino, Other Projects
~ Barnes & Noble, Microsoft Team Up on Nook, College Businesses
~ US/China Talks May Yield Little Progress
~ Student Loan Debt Becomes Political Hot Potato