The Browns draft picks this year didn’t generate the same buzz they did last year when Cleveland used its number one pick to get quarterback Baker Mayfield. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to talk about in this year’s group. It just takes a little more digging to get the details. And who better to do the digging than our sports commentator, Terry Pluto.
The top pick
The Browns went 7-8-1 last season, and they had a first round draft pick for this year. However they traded it to get star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. from the Giants. That meant for the whole first round, the Browns were absent.
In the second, they took Greedy Williams, a cornerback out of LSU. “When I was looking at the videos to see what he does, I could actually see him covering people, and it looked like he could cover receivers. Receivers went out, they threw the ball at them and a lot of times, he knocked it away, so I thought… he looks pretty good to me,” Pluto said.
In the third round, Cleveland picked Sione Takitaki. Pluto’s response was “who?” Takitaki, a linebacker, played for Brigham Young, was kicked off the team, spent a year working construction, got married, came back to the Mormon church, put his life back together and ended up being a captain for the team. Pluto said on tape, he was pretty impressive.
In the 5th round, the Browns picked Mack Wilson, a linebacker from Alabama. He had a big name and was expected to go in the 2nd or 3rd round. Pluto says he watched Wilson’s tape after watching Takitaki and says there was no question who was the better player. “It wasn’t close. Takitaki.”
Strong on defense
When you look at who the Browns picked, there are two cornerbacks, two linebackers, a tackle, a defensive back and a kicker. Pluto admits it’s a lot more fun when they’re picking quarterbacks, running backs or receivers. “You like your guys to have the ball. There’s more to watch. There’s more to judge. How do you judge a safety?” Pluto said one general manager told him that watching tape of a safety is like watching paint dry.
Let’s go to the video
Pluto said in watching the tape, it’s not even always clear what he’s watching. There are youtube videos which are essentially highlight reels which make them look like superstars. “If you’re not a receiver, you’re not a quarterback, not a running back, it’s hard to tell.” In the case of some of the picks, it was just about impossible to find any video of them. The pro scouts, at least, can call the schools and get access to that video.
One player Pluto did find a snippet of video on was Drew Forbes, a 6th round pick out of Southwest Missouri. Forbes, at 6’5” and 305 pounds, is an offensive tackle. Pluto said Forbes was fun to watch, playing at a lower level than schools like Ohio State. “He is… manhandling these guys. It’s like big time wrestling. He is throwing bodies all over the place.” Pluto said he looked good playing against these smaller guys.
Pluto also found a little tape of kicker Austin Seibert, a 5th round pick out of Oklahoma, but the tape showed him kicking a 60-yard field goal on an empty field. Pluto said there’s no way to tell from that just how he’ll perform under pressure, in the cold with the wind whipping around the field.
What the picks say about the upcoming season
Pluto said the focus on defense indicates the team feels the offense is in good shape between Baker Mayfield, running back Nick Chubb, Odell Beckham Jr. and receiver Jarvis Landry. “When your team becomes decent, the whole attention is not on the draft,” as it has been for many years with the Browns. Pluto said the draft won't make the team playoff contenders. He feels the moves they’d already made on offense, also bringing in pass rusher Olivier Vernon and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, did that.