Since the 2014 NFL Draft, no team has been talked about more than the Cleveland Browns.
Or at least, no quarterback has been talked about more than Johnny Manziel.
When the Browns decided to move up in the first round to snag Manziel before some other team could after his slightly unexpected drop, it became the most discussed pick and instantly made Manziel the most famous player in the NFL.
Jersey sales skyrocketed, Browns season ticket sales increased exponentially, and excitement finally surrounded the Cleveland organization…for about a day.
Then came the news that Josh Gordon is facing a year-long suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, something that was a major red flag of his when he came into the league via the supplemental draft.
Now, likely without the league’s leading receiver from a year ago, the Browns will have to not only adjust to life with Johnny Football, but they’ll have to do it without their best offensive skill player.
Still, this is a team that appears to be on the rise, and they are getting it done in the draft lately. Here’s a recap and reaction to their picks.
1. Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Big, athletic playmaker at the cornerback position who will pair with Joe Haden, who just got PAID. The Browns are assembling a very talented secondary and Gilbert can also return kicks/punts.
2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Flashy playmaker at the QB position who is a better QB than his celebrity leads on. Despite all the hype surrounding Manziel’s off-field antics, I think this is a great player who is going to be a very good NFL QB unless he decides those off-field issues are more important than the job he does ON it.
3. Joel Bitonio, OT/OG, Nevada
Athletic, versatile lineman who can play tackle or guard, the Browns got a nice piece to their offensive front in the second round with this pick. Bitonio will begin his career for the Browns at left guard.
4. Christian Kirksey, LB, Iowa
Speedy linebacker who can do it all, and I saw him do it all for years at Iowa. He makes plays all over the field and is very solid in coverage. I loved this pick for the Browns and think he’ll be an immediate contributor.
5. Terrance West, RB, Towson
Big, physical back with nimble feet who will vie for playing time right away as a rookie in the Browns’ backfield.
6. Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood
Long, athletic cornerback who was a favorite of many draftniks. Love his size and upside and I think he’ll be an immediate contributor on special teams.
**It should also be noted that the Browns moved down in the first round and obtained an additional 2015 first round pick
I think obviously you have to view Justin Gilbert as an immediate starter potentially in the secondary, as well as even at the return spots. He is such a dynamic player and was picked in the top 10 for a reason. The Browns have to be absolutely giddy about the idea of pairing his skills with Joe Haden.
Johnny Manziel will start at some point this season, I have no doubt about that. More to come on him in a separate post.
This Browns draft exemplifies instant impact. I don’t see a lot of guys picked who don’t have at least a really decent chance of playing or even possibly starting in their first year with the team.
Joel Bitonio will start at guard, Christian Kirksey should start at one of the inside linebacker spots, and I think even Terrance West has a chance to get a solid number of carries with Ben Tate’s injury history.
This was a really good draft for the Browns, especially when you consider the fact that they were also able to add a 2015 first rounder in the process.