It would stun no one to watch the Cleveland Browns trade a few picks in the 2015 NFL Draft. After all, Ray Farmer went bananas in the first round last year. When he wasn’t trading draft picks, he was probably eyeing other people’s meals in the war room, like “Hey, I’ll give you this grilled cheese, a bag of chips and my soda for that chicken cordon bleu and whatever you’re having for a snack tomorrow.”
That said, this year, the front office isn’t just drafting for the future of the franchise but to cover up and recover from the mistakes made in recent drafts. Don’t just blame it on Ray and Jimmy H either. They have to atone for past sins too. The Brownies have made 30 picks in the draft since 2011 and you’d think they’d have a little more to show for it.
They haven’t all been bad picks—and a few have been stellar—but when they’ve whiffed, they’ve whiffed hard. Picture a drunk guy spinning around with his head on the bat for a few minutes then stumbling over to take his cuts at a tee, hacking away like it was a piñata.
All these factors—and an unnamed source who requested anonymity because he got it from a source whose name he can’t recall—have led me to this very BOLD PREDICTION:
The Browns will trade EVERY SINGLE PICK they have in the 2015 draft …for a TIME MACHINE.
That’s right, a time machine, and before you say those things don’t exist, I must ask: Can you prove that definitively? No. Well, neither can Cleveland who commissioned a paper about it, were told time machines don’t exist (and that they should draft Teddy Bridgewater) but have decided to go with their gut on this one, especially since Jack never showed up with those beans he promised.
Powered by the gift of hindsight, which only they will possess, the front office travels back in time to the 2011 NFL Draft. When Atlanta calls dangling a bunch of draft picks they weren’t going to use well anyway, Ray snatches the phone away from Tom Heckert and says, “Shove it.”
Shortly afterwards, Roger Stokoe Goodell announces, “With the #6 pick in the 2011 draft, the Cleveland Browns select J.J. Watt from Wisconsin.”
No need to take Jabaal Sheard at #37 so since they passed on Julio Jones, they quietly grab Randall Cobb out of Kentucky. Instead of trading away their third round pick to Kansas City, the Browns consider DeMarco Murray but grab Justin Houston at #70 to buddy up with Mr. Watt. Then at #102, they skip Cameron “back-stabbing concussion magnet” Jordan for Julius Thomas. Instead of Buster Skrine at #137, the Browns “reach” for Richard Sherman to partner with Joe Haden, taken the year before.
Hey, but still no QB! The time-traveling front office staff fast-forwards to 2012, kicks over the draft board and bans the use of Trent Richardson’s name. They don’t call the Vikings to sacrifice four picks to move up one spot. Instead, they take Dontari Poe at #4 to compensate for not drafting Phil Taylor in 2011. At #37, they take Alshon Jeffrey instead of Mitchell Swartz and then, in the third round, take QB Russell Wilson at #67. Before calling it a day, they get running back Alfred Morris at #100 instead of Travis Benjamin, kicker Blair Walsh at #139 and at #175, Vontaze Burfict, who would otherwise go undrafted before signing with the Bengals.
With the sixth pick in 2013—and JJ Watt and Justin Houston in the family—the Browns bypass DE Kiki Mingo for defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. They take the “Honey Badger” Tyrann Mathieu out of LSU instead of Leon McFadden, who is almost out of football. With the knowledge that comes with being from the future—plus, having Randall Cobb, Josh Gordon and Alshon Jeffrey at wide out—they deftly avoid the trade with Miami for Devone Bess. At #104, they take a solid linebacker in Jelani Jenkins.
Now, it’s 2014. We won’t question the Joel Bitano pick, or even Christian Kirksey, Terrence West or Pierre Desir. They didn’t draft Trent Richardson so they wouldn’t steal a first rounder from Indy. Just one pick matters this time around. Which is fine. Russell Wilson satisfied the need for a QB and despite Josh Gordon’s pending absence, wide out is still a strength.
What to do at #4? Without drafting Schwartz, they have a hole at right tackle that Jake Mathews could fill but he ended 2014 with a Lisfranc injury. You’ve got Pro Bowl players DT Aaron Donald and guard Zach Martin down in the middle of the first round, but you just took Richardson in 2013 and guard won’t make you appreciably better.
So with the #4 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Browns select Khalil Mack. Now… look at that team and tell me how many Super Bowls you count.
That’s right. Zero. It’s still Cleveland.