- Pat McManamon, ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter
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BEREA, Ohio -- A wrap-up of the Cleveland Browns' draft.
Best move: Staying true to themselves. Unlike one year ago, there was no maneuvering for a major play, no machinations that will be discussed on Arkansas radio. The Browns played this draft with common sense and smarts and came up with a bundle of players who, on paper, look like they can contribute. Danny Shelton and Cam Erving in the first round were near no-brainers, but the Browns did not outthink themselves. Nate Orchard is a big linebacker who can rush the passer; he has a combination of skills the Browns lack. Duke Johnson is a fast and elusive back from Miami. It’s easy to be critical that the Browns didn’t take a receiver until 16 were off the board. It would also be fair. The position stands along with quarterback as great mysteries heading into 2015. But no draft can fill every need, nor can every draft fill every specific need. The Browns did well to take the players they liked, and they did well to do so in a logical, well-reasoned manner.
Riskiest move: Not adding a quarterback in any round -- whether early via a trade up or later as a developmental guy. Coach Mike Pettine insisted the team has confidence in the players it has. General manager Ray Farmer said he would not “overprioritize” the position, and he would not bypass a player he liked just to take a quarterback. “I like who we have,” Farmer said. “Whether they’re great or they’re not Andrew Luck or John Elway or whoever they’re supposed to be, I don’t think that’s the case. I think whatever we’re going to ask them to do they will be capable of doing.” Pettine joked that games won’t be canceled just because people feel their quarterback group is not the best. “There are a lot of different ways to win football games,” he said. Which is true, but the teams that have the top quarterbacks sure seem to win more often. There is no doubt that the Browns' quarterback spot had a lot of uncertainty when the draft started. Now that it’s ended, the uncertainty remains. And whether the Browns like it or not, their group is viewed as one of the weakest in the league.
Most surprising move: Drafting cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu in the seventh round may wind up being a stroke of genius. Ekpre-Olomu was targeted a year ago by NFL teams as a high draft pick, then stayed at Oregon for his senior year. There was talk he’d be a first- or second-round pick this week, but Ekpre-Olomu tore knee ligaments in practice preparing for the College Football Playoff. He may not play this year, but he’s so talented it’s probably worth the wait. “We felt like this kid could be a starter when he’s 100 percent,” Farmer said. Waiting one year for a player who could be a starter who has first-round talent, but taking him in the seventh round? There are no issues with that decision.
File it away: Johnson does things the other two Browns backs do not. He is quick, elusive and can be a positive in the passing game. The addition of Johnson could make the team’s backs a more effective group. Johnson’s speed and quickness bring a new element to an offense that needs a new element. A second "file it away" goes to receiver Vince Mayle, admittedly in part because he’s the first receiver Farmer took in two years. But Mayle is a big, strong guy whose speed shows up better on the field than in tests. The Browns need any help they can get with the receiver group; it will be interesting to see how much Mayle provides.
My take: This was a solid three days that ended with the Browns taking 12 players. That’s quantity, but in the quantity it seems the Browns also got quality. And while it’s easy to pick at what the Browns did not do, what they did do was add talent at positions of need, and added new skills at other positions. Thumbs up.
The Cleveland Browns appeared to have selected quality talent in their 12-man draft class.