On Thursday, the Browns became the first team in six years to have three first-round draft picks, and the three selections they made have two things in common.
The first is their outstanding athletic ability. Their first pick, Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, was the best athlete in the draft. Perhaps the Browns or the cruel football demons that permanently haunt them will find a way to ruin him, but if that happens, history should not be revised into considering his selection a bad one. He was the best player, and the right pick.
Their second pick, Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers, is so athletic no one can quite say what position he’s going to play in the pros. Their third pick, Miami’s David Njoku, was indisputably the most athletic tight end in maybe the most athletic tight end class we’ve ever seen. Three new Browns, three combine all-stars.
The second thing binding them together is they are not quarterbacks. (Yes, Peppers did technically play QB in college, but that doesn’t count.) After failure after failure, it seems that the Browns have finally figured out how to avoid drafting a quarterback bust: Just don’t draft a quarterback at all.
Thanks to a depth chart led by Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler, the Browns have a glaring need at the most important position in the sport. If you tried to build a Madden franchise with Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler as your quarterbacks, the disk would eject itself in hopes of falling to the floor and cracking irreparably.
Instead of just not taking a quarterback, though, they actively avoided it. They had the opportunity to select Clemson’s Deshaun Watson with the 12th pick, but traded it to the Texans in exchange for the 25th pick and an additional first-rounder next year. Houston then proceeded to snatch up the QB the Browns could’ve chosen.
Maybe the Browns will regret not selecting Watson, who I personally think was the best quarterback in this draft. But for whatever reason, the Browns didn’t think he was the right player.
These are not the methods of the old Browns, the team that traded up for Johnny Manziel and Brady Quinn and picked Brandon Weeden and 70,000 other quarterbacks whose primary attribute was that they happened to be available in the same year the Browns decided their last quarterback experiment had run its course. Once upon a time, the Browns dependably sold their houses for whatever flashy signal caller came across their table. Now they will let you sell your house to them.
The Browns entered the night with 11 picks in the 2017 draft and nine top-65 picks in between this draft and the next. Somehow, over the course of a couple hours, they added two more first-round picks.
With the draft in Philadelphia, the Browns paid homage to the ideal of Trusting the Process. They’ve gathered a slew of picks and are going to use them on a slew of athletes that’ll blow everybody’s minds.
The problem for the Process Trusters is deciding when to turn the corner, stop assembling future talent, and start getting good. At some point, the Browns will need a quarterback. We don’t know what they’ll look for in one, since quarterback selection requires a bit more than finding the player who runs the best three-cone drill or has the highest vertical jump. But we do know that they won’t take one by default, or just because they need one. The Browns won’t be competent until they commit to a quarterback, but what’s a few more years of incompetence if there’s actually a plan to get out of it some day?