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Commentary: Browns draft not as bad as it seems

Courtesy of MCT

The professional sports analysts’ grades on the Cleveland Browns 2013 draft range from a D to B+, with most experts’ ratings falling in the lower end of that spread.
Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. gave the team one of its higher grades at a C+, but the analysts have all missed the true genius and foresight behind this draft.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, the Browns’ best decision was waiting.
I will admit that initially I was furious with Cleveland for several of its decisions and would have given the team a lower grade before I did more research and figured out its draft strategy.
While I think the No. 6 overall pick, defensive end Barkevious Mingo, will turn out to be a productive player, passing on cornerback Tyrann Mathieu has huge mistake potential written all over it. This could be especially embarrassing considering they drafted a player at the same position, and of a similar size, one pick before the “honey badger” was taken by the Arizona Cardinals.
I understand that Mathieu has some character issues but that did not stop the Browns from drafting defensive end Armonty Bryant in the seventh round. Bryant, who was arrested for selling marijuana, has a five year suspended jail sentence hanging over his head. If he violates his probation, that sentence goes into effect and the Browns wasted a pick.
In all fairness though, it was a last round pick and the little bit of film I’ve seen on Bryant is impressive. He looks to be well worth the gamble.
The Browns had only two picks in the first five rounds, having used their second round pick to acquire wide receive Josh Gordon in last year’s supplemental draft, and traded their fourth round pick to Pittsburgh for a third round pick in 2014 as well as their fifth round selection to Indianapolis for fourth round pick next year.
Trading picks with the Steelers made me angry just on principle.
Dealing the Colts a fifth round pick this year for a fourth round pick next year seemed almost like a lateral move since they will likely be drafting near the end of each round next year and Cleveland usually finds itself drafting in the top seven.
I could not figure out what the team was doing, until I saw a few statistics that made all these crazy moves make sense.
In 2012, the Browns were one of the youngest teams in the NFL and had 87 combined starts by rookies. Not only was that the most of any franchise, it was 31 more rookie starts than the next highest team. Those 87 were about 25 percent of the total starts for the team last season.
How can management accurately determine what the team’s needs are when the players have not yet had time to develop?
And even if a player had a good year in 2012, will they be as productive with new offensive and defensive coordinators calling the shots?
By the time next year’s NFL draft rolls around, Cleveland will have had time to assess how well these young players are doing in the new systems, and they will be able to make a more accurate determination of what the team’s needs are.
Only time will tell, and that’s exactly what the Browns have bought for themselves with this year’s draft. By April 2014 the organization will have a much firmer grasp on exactly which players are going to fit the new schemes and what positions have holes that need to be filled.
While this draft may be frustrating for fans that want to win now, dynasties aren’t built in a single weekend in April. They are built over multiple drafts and they take tough decisions that don’t always make their loyal followers happy.
Like many other Browns fans I have uttered these words many times in my life but now they seem especially appropriate.
Just wait until next year; you’ll see. 

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