“Grading” the Browns 2018 Draft

The 2018 NFL Draft came and went this weekend and as a Browns fan, I’m optimistic about the team’s future for the first time in a long time. The theme of the draft for the front office was to address obvious and specific needs, which they did. They drafted a QB they believe in, a potential shut-down CB and a hometown kid at that, a versatile offensive lineman who will hopefully fill the void left from Joe Thomas’ retirement, and a downhill running back to round out what I believe will be one of the more interesting backfields in the NFL in 2018. Like I said, I’m optimistic.

That being said, having an opinion anything short of definite or extreme doesn’t move the needle in this day and age. One can no longer be “optimistic” or “leery,” but instead must be able to assign an exact letter grade to a team’s draft mere hours afterward without having seen any of the 256 players taken physically play a snap of football in the NFL. Think about how patently ridiculous that is. That’s the equivalent of a movie critic writing a review about a movie they haven’t seen yet:

“Mission Impossible has all the makings of a potential hall of fame action movie, but I question going with Tom Cruise as the lead role. While Cruise certainly has the acting chops and experience, he’s just not what I want in terms of a prototypical action movie star. Being only 5’7″ and a known scientologist are big red flags for me, I would’ve rather they pick a Statham or Reeves type actor instead. 6 out of 10 stars.”

Can you imagine living in a world like that? Yet NFL fans everywhere will give merit to the Mel Kiper’s and Mike Mayock’s of the world, reading article after article about how they think their team did and let it either ruin or make their day. It’s both stunning and disappointing to me that in a time where two major sports leagues are in the second rounds of their respective playoffs, sports writers and fans argue until they’re blue in the face about a team receiving a C- when they should’ve been at least a C+.

But alas, that is the world in which we live. And here at Second String, we’re not ones to be left in the dust in the sports media realm (sure, we’ll take a few months hiatus here and there to do other stuff, but that’s not the point). So without further adieu, here’s the 2018 Second String Official Draft Grade for the Cleveland Browns:

Baker Mayfield: 8 out of 8 stars

Denzel Ward: Three scoops of ice cream

Austin Corbett: 88% fresh tomatoes

Nick Chubb: Full chub

Chad Thomas: Double gold record

Antonio Callaway: A half pack of cigarettes

Late Rounders: I don’t know they’re probably fine.

OVERALL GRADE: Good.

Sorry if this offended some, if you disagree feel free to call in or comment so we can discuss something that will have no tangible payoff for another five months.

 

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The Browns Had a Good Draft Last Night, Don’t @ Me

Throughout the day today I’ve heard from sports pundits and idiots in my office alike that they don’t like what the Browns did last night. “I would’ve gone Darnold and Chubb.” “How did they not draft Darnold??” “You guys passed on Chubb??” To which my response is:

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Why, you ask? Well allow me to explain to those of you who a.) don’t watch the Browns religiously b.) don’t watch college football or c.) base all of your opinions based on outdated media personalities who use outdated metrics and measurements to grade prospects.

Why Baker Mayfield was the Right Pick

To put it simply, the dude has been nothing but a stud throughout his career. He has the largest sample size of any quarterback in the draft, and the best stats of any quarterback in the draft. Take a look at how Baker graded out in college:

The guys at PFF have watched and graded every snap since 2009 for every player on the field, and since recording these analytics, Baker has been a top QB in 3 different seasons. He’s a proven winner, with a gritty attitude that the Browns need to serve as the face of this franchise. His timing and anticipation need improvement, but he’ll have a year to learn under an experienced QB in Tyrod Taylor to figure out timing and the playbook.

Those things are not difficult to teach a QB. Things that ARE hard to fix are throwing motion (Darnold) and accuracy (Allen and Jackson). The only other QB I would’ve been okay taking is Rosen, but the front office loved Baker and quite frankly, so do I.

Why Denzel Ward was the Right Pick

He’s the best cornerback in the draft. Period. End of statement. Couple that with the fact that the Browns drafted a premier talent from Ohio St. and I didn’t understand what Browns fans were so mad about. Sashi got KILLED for missing out on top Ohio St talent like Michael Thomas, so now you’re all going to flip flop on that point?

More than that, the Browns don’t NEED an edge rusher. Key word there is NEED. Yes, another top talent rusher would have been NICE, but it wasn’t a MUST. I know that’s difficult to comprehend, but if you watched the Browns last year you’d realize their sack issues started in the secondary. Gregg Williams LOVES to blitz, more than I’m comfortable with quite honestly, and if you’re going to blitz you need a secondary that’s locking down receivers and keeping the ball in the QB’s hands. As it was, the defense going into last night was incapable of doing that. Now, with Randall and Ward, we have two solid young CB’s that take pressure of Peppers at FS and allow Garrett and Ogbah more time to rush the passer.

The way the game is played now, the most important positions are:

1.) QB – Tyrod and Baker

2.) Edge Rusher – Garrett and Ogbah

3.) Left Tackle – Too soon

4.) Left Cornerback – Randall or Ward

Last night the Browns used their top picks to address needs for the betterment of the team, and if you can’t see that then I can’t help you. PLUS, we have three picks in the second round tonight to use on either a wideout, running back, defensive line, offensive line, or another edge rusher. In that spirit, if the Browns draft any of the following guys tonight at aforementioned positions, I’ll be completely satisfied with the draft this year:

WR – Cortland Sutton (SMU)

HB – Derrius Guice (LSU)

OL – Connor Williams (Texas)

EDGE – Harold Landry (Boston College)

NT – Maurice Hurst (Michigan)

Any of those guys will make us better this year than we’ve been, and that’s the point of the draft. It was the logic behind last night, and if the Browns are serious about this turnaround, it will continue to be the strategy in the draft moving forward.

To all the people who complained about Baker being drafted #1 overall last night, you’ve officially made my list and are kindly excused from the bandwagon. We are taking off and heading for Super Bowl 2022 without you.

Reports are Saying Baker Mayfield Will Be Drafted #1 Overall and *looks down to check pants* yes, I’m Hard

ESPN – The Browns continue to keep the decision about their No. 1 pick a secret, but there is a mounting belief from head coaches and general managers around the NFL that Cleveland will take quarterback Baker Mayfield, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Thursday.

The Browns hold the No. 1 and No. 4 overall picks in the draft, which begins Thursday at 8 p.m. ET at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Browns general manager John Dorsey didn’t provide many hints on the team’s draft strategy when he met with reporters last week, saying he expected at least four quarterbacks to be picked in the first round.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has projected the Browns to select Mayfield at No. 1 in his final mock draft, while ESPN’s Todd McShay believes USC’s Sam Darnold will be the pick. Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen and UCLA QB Josh Rosen also could be in the mix.

Mayfield, who won the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma, recently visited with the Browns and Dorsey referred to him as a “pleasant fella.”

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IT’S HAPPENING! IT’S FUCKING HAPPENING!!

After months, MONTHS, of hearing absolute nonsense leading up to the draft, my patience and restraint may finally pay off. Baker Mayfield is rumored to be going to our beloved Cleveland Browns with the first overall pick tonight.

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live look at me and all my Baker Believers

In my months of month like silence, I’ve been preparing myself for this very moment because inevitably, the following things will happen if my dreams come true and Baker goes first overall.

1.) People will say they should’ve drafted Darnold. Honestly, I’m okay with this, because I understand the logic. Darnold seems to be the safest bet of all of these guys. He’s a big guy, the youngest of the class, and is not the worst at any category when it comes to on the field play (except turnovers *rolls eyes at Darnold advocates*)

That being said, he just seems so…blah to me. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good quarterback. But that’s it. Good. I don’t see him being a stud QB at the NFL level, I think max his ceiling is serviceable with 2-3 Pro Bowls. People keep comparing him to a young Big Ben, but Ben has had more talent on his offense for the past 4 seasons than arguably any team in the NFL and hasn’t won a Super Bowl with them, so maybe that’s not what you want out of a QB in today’s game..? Just a thought.

Bottom line is if they draft Darnold I won’t be mad, but I won’t be thrilled.

2.) People will say they should’ve drafted Rosen. Again, I don’t have a problem with this take either really. Rosen by all means is the most “NFL Ready” of the bunch. His accuracy is the best of the class, and that is the one thing you can’t teach a QB. You can fix mechanics, you can fix timing, but you can’t fix whether or not a guy can put it on the back shoulder going up the sideline.

I also don’t care that Rosen is smart and/or has other interests outside of football. It seems patently ridiculous to me that someone being smart would be a shortcoming for them as they begin their career. I mean, Myles Garrett is into like dinosaurs and anime and shit and nobody had a problem with that, so why is it relevant now?

The biggest issues I have with Rosen, though, are escape-ability and injuries. Losing Joe Thomas this offseason, the Browns now have a Hall of Fame sized gap at left tackle that they need to fill. Considering that the O-Line is bound to be at the very least slightly worse than last year, so they need a QB that can move to a.) make them look good and b.) prevent himself from getting killed back there. Rosen is great in the pocket, and has the ability to make off balance throws, but the NFL is surely a lot faster than the D-Line’s of the Pac 12, and I think he’ll struggle in any offense that does not have a premier offensive line.

Hand in hand with that, are the injury concerns. Rosen suffered two concussions that caused him to miss time within the last year. All it takes is one or two more of those for doubt to begin creeping in. With all of the information that we now know about brain injuries, I don’t think it’s ridiculous to think that if he sustains head injuries at the NFL level, he may be forced to consider giving up the game, whether he wants to or not.

3.) Psychos will make a case for Josh Allen, and this one I simply don’t have time for. Yes, he’s big, has a rocket arm, and fits the mold of an NFL QB. But his accuracy is cause for concern, particularly on underneath routes.

josh allen accuracy

When you compare that to one Baker Mayfield’s, the argument should end there:

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A 70% passer in the Big 12 or a 56% passer in the Mountain West…

On that note, I’d like to address the “Big 12 defense” argument before we move on. I know defense is considered optional in that conference, but it’s not like the Pac 12 is some defensive powerhouse. The Big 12 and Pac 12 both had 4 teams in the conference that were up the NCAA Division 1 average in terms of total defense, so it’s not like Rosen or Darnold were playing against absolute shutdown units either. So, kindly, miss me with that argument.

4.) People will *sigh* compare him to Johnny Manziel. This, of all the consequences, bothers me the most, because in my mind it’s such a lazy comparison. Yes, I get it, Baker had that run in with the Arkansas PD and messed up. He owned up to the mistake, and hopefully learned from it.

Johnny and Baker also have similar college stats. People have been using that as a knock, but when Johnny Manziel came out of college he was viewed as the most intriguing QB prospect we have ever seen, and did things in the SEC that were before not possible from a QB. So how is that fuel against Baker? If anything it shows that Baker can be everything that Johnny couldn’t, because their make up is entirely different.

Johnny Manziel loved the perks of playing football (which ironally, may have been percs) Baker Mayfield just loves playing football. Yes he’s a loudmouth, and yes he’s cocky, but I’d rather have a guy that encourages people to rally around him and owns his mistakes over a guy like Kizer or Manziel who would pout after every INT and treat this organization like a joke.

FURTHERMORE, Baker and Johnny’s paths were completely different. Johnny grew up with money, connections to A&M, made the most of them then got lost in the sauce. Baker grew up in Texas, walked on at Tech, then walked on to Oklahoma, won the starting job, and won the Heisman. He’s fueled by people who doubt him, and he has a track record of making everyone eat their words.

So when Baker gets drafted first overall tonight, I’ll rest easy knowing that all of these journalists with nothing better to talk about will bring up the aforementioned consequences ad nauseam leading up to the season. Trust me Browns fans when I say, just sit back and let them talk, because the more they talk the more motivated Baker will be when his time comes.

If you’re reading this, consider this your last chance to jump on the Browns bandwagon, because when it gets rolling we’re not stopping for anyone. Prepare yourselves everyone, because the journey to Super Bowl 2022 starts tonight.

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This Weekend Proved Why The College Football Playoff Needs to Include Eight Teams

If there’s three things I know to be true in life, it’s these: eating too many Junior Mints in one sitting will give you diarrhea, the stripper is never actually into you, and college football is the best. Period. No if’s, and’s or but’s about it.

After last weekend’s slate of games, I don’t know how anyone could possibly argue that there’s a better time of year/sports season. You like points? Oklahoma and Georgia scored 102 of them. Is defense more your thing? Notre Dame and LSU was competitive until the end. Like seeing an underdog pull off a heart-warming upset? Look no further than the UCF Golden Knights my friend.
But I’ve been thinking, with ratings up for this year’s playoff and so much controversy year after year about who’s in and who’s out, how has the NCAA not bumped the playoff up to 8 teams? Obviously there’s contracts with sponsors and networks, but couldn’t we do away with these conference championship games that apparently hold no water anyway (i.e. Ohio St, USC, Penn St last year) and put eight teams into the playoff?
Picture this: you have the quarterfinals December 23rd as the Peach, Cotton, Orange, and Fiesta Bowls; the semis as the Rose and Sugar Bowls on New Year’s Day, and National Championship on the 8th. No scheduling conflicts, better competition, and some bowls that matter throughout the entirety of bowl season.
So let’s say the NCAA did the right thing this year and put in 8. Imagine this slate of games:
#1 Clemson vs. #8 Wisconsin
#2 Oklahoma vs. #7 UCF
#3 Georgia vs. #6 Alabama
#4 Ohio State vs #5 USC
My mouth is watering just looking at that lineup. That may as well be a centerfold in the Playboy Edition of College Football Weekly.* There still would be controversy over the #8 seed, as I fathom Auburn and Miami would be pissed this year, but this playoff gives UCF a chance against Baker Mayfield in a game where the ball  may never touch the ground, a matchup of this year’s Cotton Bowl anyway between USC and Ohio St., and the National Championship this year in the first round! I mean come. on.
Plus, you’d still have a smattering of shitty degenerate bowls to wager on throughout the holiday season, so there is quite literally no reason not to expand this out to eight. If you don’t like it, well then you have a big ole dump in your pants.
*doesn’t exist, but not a bad idea
PS – For the record, in that lineup I’d have Clemson vs Ohio St and Oklahoma vs UGA in the semis, and UGA over Ohio St. in the final. Tell me I’m wrong @threejay3

Notre Dame Does the Least Notre Dame Thing Ever and Wins a Bowl Game in Dramatic Fashion

You see that baby?? It’s not quite the Orange Bowl, but oranges are most definitely a citrus fruit so I’ll fuckin’ take it!

This win was so unlikely for so many reasons. Sure, I took ND outright as 3 point underdogs, but it was only due to a great value in a somewhat coin flip game. Coach O can barely put a sentence together, but he’s always good to get his guys up for any game and play some smash football. Conversely, Notre Dame under Brian Kelly is a team that historically lays down in big spots. We saw it this year in their last three games: a loss to Stanford, a horrible loss to Miami, and a win they squeaked out against Navy. Couple that with the fact that Josh Adams and Brian Wimbush would be subbed out? If I had to bet a toe or something, I’d need find a new bookie but best believe I’d be screaming “Geaux Tigers.”

The game wasn’t pretty, and there were definitely some concerning moments. The fact that Wimbush and Adams played so poorly not only in this game, but the last three games of the year is disheartening. I hope they were injured, or maybe there’s circumstances outside of football that are distracting them, but the difference between the backfield’s play between the first two thirds of the season and the final third was horrific.

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That being said, the good moments far outweighed the bad for me today. Ian Book is a somewhat legit QB, that has looked progressively better with every game played. 14 of 19 for 164 yards, 2TD’s and 1 pick is a really solid day for a true sophomore backup. As soon as the game ended word spread that the starting QB job is up for grabs this Spring, and I’m honestly very okay with that. Let’s see what Book can do now that he’s fighting for the job.

Then, of course, there was the play of the day. Nay, the year. NAY, the millennium.

Miles Boykin, who entered the day win under 200 receiving yards on the year, goes up with one hand, trucks a CB, jukes out another, and sprints slower than anyone I’ve ever seen into the endzone. It was un.be.lievable. I jumped off of my couch and just put my hands on my head without saying a word. We realistically will probably never see a Notre Dame player make a play like that in the fourth quarter for a win over an SEC team, let alone just make a play like that ever again. Miles Boykin became a legend in South Bend yesterday; he’ll never have to pay the $5 cover for keg access ever again.

What a game, what a win, and honestly, what a year. Looking at Notre Dame’s schedule this year, I saw a 6-6 year. But time and again, this team proved that Notre Dame football is still very much relevant. Double digit win at Michigan State, double digit win against USC, dominating the NC State D-Line. If before this season I told you the Irish would go 10-3 with wins over Michigan State, USC, and LSU, and that their three losses would be against a Miami team who played in the ACC Championship, a Stanford team who played in the Pac 12 Championship, and a Georgia team who won the SEC and is playing for the National Championship, would you take that? I know I absolutely would.

So as we close the book (pun unintended) on the Notre Dame 2017 campaign, I’ll leave you with something I didn’t think I’d be saying at the end of this season.

#BringBackBrianKelly

They Did It: Browns go 0-16

4th and 2, two timeouts, under two minutes. Kizer escapes a collapsing, rolls left, and has his #2 wide receiver, first round pick Corey Coleman, wide open. And then, this…

Right. Through. His. Hands.

I’m really at a loss for words. When that ball went through Coleman’s hands I laughed, but my heart really did sink for a minute. After the loss to Indianapolis in week 3, I joked this team may go defeated, but never truly believed it. So when it actually happened, it was about as low as I’ve ever felt as a football fan.

People will say if you’re going to tank, then you may as well go all the way and lose big. They have the #1 and #4 pick in the first two rounds of this year’s draft. But they would’ve had that if they won one game as well. All I wanted was one win. One, lousy win. But now this organization has reached a level of mediocrity that only the Lions have experienced in this age of the NFL. The line from the parody Cleveland tourism video, “At least we’re not Detroit!” has lost all merit now.

There will be a lot of noise in the coming days. The terror zone that is Browns Twitter will yell at each other all the way to Draft Night. I’ll read articles that condemn Hue despite the front office’s confidence in him. And, as if we already weren’t, this team and this fan base will be the butt of every NFL fans’ jokes for the coming year.

I plan on posting a season recap in the coming days, highlighting worse plays of the year and my thoughts on Hue and the draft moving forward, but there’s so much to get into that it may take me a few days to craft, so bear with me. As for now though, I’m just, well, sad.

The fumble. The drive. And now? The drop. Welcome to the Hall of Humiliation Corey.corey-coleman-fbbb86c91eea24ba

PS – Adding insult to injury, the fact that this team had to pull this off in 2017 instead of 2016 is such a kick in the dick. These shirts would’ve sold like hot cakes.Screen Shot 2016-10-18 at 1.35.45 PM

PPS – If Hue doesn’t follow through and jump into Lake Eerie, that has to be a fireable offense (ya know, along with a 1-31 record in 2 years).

Browns Lose Last Possible Win to Bears 20-3

I’m not gonna lie, this is tough to swallow. We all joke and say how we’re looking forward to the perfect season and the parade, but if we’re being honest I really wanted just one win. It feels like just yesterday I was going into the game at M&T Bank in Baltimore telling myself that  if they win this game they could be 4-1 going into week 6. But this team has proved time and time again that they are literally incompetent of doing anything well with any consistency.

I wrote earlier a list of reasons why the Browns would win this game today, and I was wrong on pretty much all accounts. Trubisky ran all over us and we couldn’t get a single thing going on offense. Josh Gordon looked like he didn’t want to be there, the pocked was constancy collapsing on Kizer, and Crow continued to run straight into the line of scrimmage every time he got the ball. It’s a mystery why Duke Johnson doesn’t get the ball 60% of snaps, but this team has a knack for putting the ball in the hands of players who shouldn’t have it.

https://mobile.twitter.com/DellyFact/status/945025045553958912/video/1

The only bright side in all of this is that the worst has literally happened. It can only go up from here. I’ll see you all at the parade, now excuse me while I pour myself another scotch.