Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

More proof the Browns owned the draft

Cold Hard Football Facts has been taking a look at the recent NFL Draft and the news is good for Cleveland Browns fans.

Unless you are part of the anti-Holmgren, Heckert and Shurmur crowd – those people won’t like the news.

The site gives the Browns an A- for their draft because the front office succeeded in filling several important needs on the roster.

CHFF points out that what we all know, that the Browns needed to come out of the draft with help for the passing game, which the site ranked as No. 24 in Real QB Rating, No. 29 in Offensive Passer Rating, No. 30 in Real Passing YPA.

According to CHFF: “The Cold, Hard Football Facts generally frown upon teams that chase running backs so high in the draft – especially at the price the Browns paid: giving up four picks to move up one spot on the ladder to a team not likely to take Richardson from them. The reality is that the difference between a super-elite running back and a your everyday ordinary free agent RB is actually pretty slim as measured by average per attempt – so running backs are often largely overvalued. It was one of the worst moves of the draft, actually: almost as bad as the Falcons chasing Shiny Hood Ornament Julio Jones in the 2011 draft.

“With that said, Cleveland pretty much had a banner draft. Richardson does in fact fill a statistical need. The Browns last year were 31st running the football, averaging just 3.7 YPA. So there is statistical justification for the decision to draft Richardson, even if he was overvalued.

“Plus, the Browns also drafted a potential franchise quarterback later in the first round to attempt to find a solution to their biggest problem in 2011, a dreadful passing attack. Quite frankly, the 1985 Bears would have been lucky to do much better than 4-12 with the same passing game Cleveland put on the field last year.

“Weeden is interesting for two reasons. One, he’s a dinosaur by the standards of a rookie pro athlete. He turns 29 in October, which makes him older than 2010 Super Bowl champ and 2011 NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay and just a year younger than Pittsburgh’s two-time Super Bowl champ Ben Roethlisberger. And two, Weeden produced quite a season in 2011. He lit up the Big 12 with record numbers while knocking off each of the three QBs taken ahead of him: Ryan Tannehill, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck in the Fiesta Bowl. Pretty intriguing.

“Meanwhile, Cleveland still drafted more players in 2012 (11) than any other team and took big steps to shore up the biggest weakness on a relatively sold defense: a front unit that ranked No. 26 on our Defensive Hog Index.

The only point we would want to argue would be the fact that the Browns gave up virtually nothing to move up and draft Richardson. The price was low and the reward is potentially high, unlike the deal last year when the Browns fleeced Atlanta in the Julio Jones trade.

Look, we’re not saying the Browns are anywhere near a finished product. And there is nothing in here that we didn’t already know.

But it is nice to see a respected, unbiased outside source give the team some credit for their rebuilding efforts. 

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