They went through all sort of machinations to get him, trading down five spots and then trading up one. In the end, they gave up a fifth-round pick this year -- “It didn't cost us much,” GM Ray Farmer said -- to acquire a first-round pick and fourth-round pick from Buffalo in 2015.
Farmer said the end result was the Browns drafted the player “we thought we wanted.”
Watkins has been my preferred choice since January, but it's tough to argue bypassing him when the Browns acquired a first-round pick in '15 to move down just five spots. Clearly the Browns were not as high on Watkins as the Bills, who made the bold statement that Watkins makes Buffalo a playoff team.
There are teams that annually manipulate the draft to get extra players and maintain a level of talent. The Browns now have another first-round choice and they have an improved secondary, a necessity in the Mike Pettine defense. That system requires aggressive, pressing corners. In Joe Haden and Gilbert, the Browns have two like that -- assuming Gilbert is the real deal. Buster Skrine moves to nickelback to cover the slot.
“We're excited about having corners that we think can go out, play press, get after people and give us a chance to turn the ball over,” Farmer said. “We've improved our defense. We're going to do some other things to make our overall team better, but we definitely like the corner combination that we're going to have. Hopefully, we keep those guys together for a long time.”
Farmer has made a lot of logical moves this offseason in free agency. He still needs another wide receiver and a quarterback, but the second pick in the first round and the second round awaits. Clearly the Browns do not feel the depth of players at cornerback is as good as it is at receiver. The Browns took the guy they wanted.
Farmer took a risk bypassing the offensive players, but he did something logical by filling a need. It might not be the most exciting move, but it's tough to argue it.
And it will look even better when the first round of next year's draft rolls around.