The NFL draft is a week away and the dominoes have already started to fall. Last week, the Tennessee Titans dealt the No. 1 overall pick to the Los Angeles Rams for a bevy of picks. Now, the Cleveland Browns have dealt the No. 2 overall pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for a slew of draft picks.
The Browns move from second to eighth and also acquired a third (77th overall) and fourth (100th overall) round pick in this year’s draft, a 2017 first round pick and a 2018 second round pick. The Eagles get the second overall pick as well a 2017 fourth round pick.
For the fourth time ever, the top two picks in the NFL draft have been dealt. So now the draft day war rooms take a little turn with the Eagles likely taking Jared Goff of Cal or Carson Wentz of North Dakota State, whichever one the Rams don’t select. There were 11 picks dealt in order for the Rams and Eagles to move up.
From the Browns standpoint, this move is a wise one. The history the Browns have when it comes to drafting quarterbacks in the first round is atrocious. Names like Tim Couch, Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden and Johnny Manziel come to mind. Along with swapping first round picks, the Browns acquired two more picks inside the top-100, giving them six total for this year’s draft. Cleveland has a lot of holes to fill and now with all these picks, new head coach Hue Jackson and a Sashi Brown-led front office will be able to fill some of those holes.
The Browns have been in quarterback hell since returning to the NFL in 1999, starting 24 different quarterbacks in that span. Taking a risk on Goff or Wentz could further set the Browns back and that is something they cannot afford. If a team isn’t fully behind drafting a quarterback with one of the top two or three selection, they shouldn’t draft a QB there. They signed Robert Griffin III and are sticking to him, at least for now. Besides, just because the Browns aren’t going to get one of the top-two quarterbacks, doesn’t mean they can’t find a quality quarterback in the second or third round. Names like Connor Cook of Michigan State, Dak Prescott of Mississippi State and Paxton Lynch are all viable options the Browns could take after the first round. Also, with Griffin, it now gives him a little breathing room. All season long he would have had to look over his shoulder for whichever of the top-two quarterbacks the Browns would have selected were coming for his spot.
So if not a quarterback for the Browns in the first round, then what? One of the many holes the Browns need to try and fill is the offensive tackle position. There are four different offensive tackles that are all projected to go in the first round. Those players are Laremy Tunsil of Ole Miss, Ronnie Stanley of Notre Dame, Jack Conklin of Michigan State and Taylor Decker of Ohio State. The Browns would be wise to get Griffin some protection alongside Joe Thomas, who is the staple of the Browns offensive line. After losing center Alex Mack and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, Cleveland needs to get a top guy that can be a foundation player for a team that has had little to no success since returning to the league.
For the Eagles, their front office is convinced both Goff and Wentz will be franchise quarterbacks and will take whichever one the Rams don’t. They wanted a quarterback they can build a franchise around and have found one, they just don’t know who quite yet. This might irritate Sam Bradford, who the Eagles signed for two-years for $35 million, with $22 million guaranteed. Executive vice president of football operations, Howie Roseman, said that Bradford is still their starter. Now, like RGIII would have went through in Cleveland, Bradford will have the pressure of a first round quarterback breathing down his neck, which will force Bradford to sink or swim.
Philadelphia is washing themselves clean of all things that had anything to do with former head coach Chip Kelly. Both the 8th and 100th overall selections of this year’s draft that were dealt to Cleveland were obtained in trades, shipping away running back DeMarco Murray and linebacker Kiko Alonso, both of whom were acquired by Kelly. The Eagles wanted to start from scratch and have found a way to do so. This is a high-risk, high-reward move that the Eagles are confident in. Whether either of the top-two quarterbacks will go on to be great, franchise-changing remains to be seen, but Philly is going all in. The Browns weren’t 100 percent sold on either top quarterback and that allowed the Eagles to pull the trigger on the deal.
This trade opens up plenty of options for the Browns to explore and gives the Eagles a potential franchise quarterback. Time will certainly tell which team got the better end of this deal. To make this story a little more compelling, these two team kick off their 2016 campaigns against one another.