“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.”
Every season we come to this point in the Football year. The draft just around the corner, the combines, and Free agency. Every year teams who struggled the previous year ignore the slush in their shoe and cast a positive eye toward the future. Fans and GMs both say with a smile if we can just get Player X.
I find myself this year in the same boat that teams like the Browns, Colts, and Giants are in, I am trying to put my own 0-16 season behind me and look toward the new season with a fresh set of eyes. Coming off a winter that seen Pop laid out on the operating table with my heart, literally, in someone else’s hands. I have a sense of what these teams must feel.
When you are in the middle of the pain, you fear this may be the end. The clouds will never clear up and the winter cold will always surround you. Then you close your eyes and take a deep breath. When you open them, you are surrounded by the people who love you, and even though you still feel weak. The Spring sun warms you and a voice inside you tells you that you have survived and you will be ok.
Last season I wrote an article, http://www.faileascreations.com/2017/04/23/the-future-for-the-cleveland-browns/ , I made my predictions for what the Browns should do with their picks and laid out a case for a bright future. My pick prediction was good, even if my optimism was misplaced. Well here we are again, preparing to climb on board the hype train.
The Browns have been very active this spring, making trades for Jarvis Landry and Bills mobile QB Tyrod Taylor. Pairing these 2 with their 2017 first round TE, David Njoku and a full season from talented but troubled Josh Gordon. Not to mention the fact they are sitting on the #1 overall and #4 picks in the draft. The Browns are positioned to finally move out of depths of Hell they have been mired in and move with a smile forward. I laid out the case last year in my article, that the AFC North was an aging division and on the verge of core changes, and nothing has happened to change my mind.
If the Browns don’t do something stupid, they can take Saquon Barkley, the Penn State phenome, who has drowned comparison to Peterson, and wowed the on lookers at the combines in Indy. At 233 this kid is a freak, benching 225 lbs. 29 times. To give you a comparison Browns all world O lineman Joe Thomas was only able to get 28 in 2007. He is not just strong but crazy fast. He laid down a 4.4 40 and a 41” vertical. These numbers pass combine numbers by some of the greatest, like Julio Jones. Now we all know that the life of an NFL back is a short one, and teams have been hesitant to invest to heavily in the volatile position. I understand all that, but consider this, what would a team like the Browns give for a Bell, Johnson, or Elliot? They would back up the armored truck. Take just those 3 teams from this past year, with the exception of Bell the other 2 missed significant time and it was clear how much their teams relied on them. Barkley could easily be a difference maker.
Now what to do at #4? Up until last week I was saying, easy choice goes QB, but now you have, maybe not a top 10 QB but you could argue top 15 QB. They could still use their #4 on one of the very good crop of QBs or maybe trade back to later in the 1st and still get a QB to backup Taylor and season themselves before being pushed into the deep end. With a healthy line anchored by Thomas they could make more than just dent but put a scare into teams that use to overlook them.
The Browns are not the only team to end the 2017 season with slush in their shoes. The Giant at 3-13 are picking 2nd and the Colts who finished 4-12 are looking to rebound with the #3 overall. The Giants are interesting, they could go QB at 2 to look to find the aging Manning replacement, but I could see if the Browns go a different direction at 1 the Giants would not let Barkley slip past them. The Colts would also love to see Barkley fall to them, the fantasy thoughts abound with Luck and Barkley, but I don’t see more Blue and White for Barkley. My prediction for the Colts is DE Chubb and the G-Men go with Rosen. The Browns could come back at 4 with USC QB Darnold or maybe trade back and look to grab someone like Mayfield later in the first and use some of the other picks to sure up the D and give last year pick Myles Garrett some support.
The draft is always a crap shoot. You can end up with a generational player or JaMarcus Russell. You never know for sure but each of these teams will be looking with optimism that the Spring will bring the new growth to each of their gardens, and a large crop of victories, and the slush will dry from their shoes.