ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. falls into step with the masses, though, saying the Browns needed a receiver before the news of Gordon’s possible suspension broke, and they really needed a receiver on the draft’s second or third day after "Outside the Lines" broke the news that Gordon would miss the 2014 season.
Kiper gave the Browns a B-minus in his annual grades, crediting them for some picks but wondering about the pass-catcher. In the Kiper parlance, that’s a pretty good draft, with a minus. He summed it up by saying: “The Browns have potentially changed the face of their franchise, but (Johnny) Manziel could use somebody to throw the football to.”
On SI.com, Greg Bedard had nothing but praise for the Browns' draft, writing: “Yes, it’s disappointing that Gordon had another lapse, but he’s just one of 53 and doesn’t play quarterback. It takes a team to win the NFL, and that’s the important work Farmer is doing.” Also on SI, Chris Burke and Doug Farrar felt better than Kiper, giving the Browns a B-plus and calling the draft’s first day one of the most exciting in franchise history.
At Yahoo! Sports, Rob Rang of The Sports Xchange was harsher, saying the decision not to draft a receiver was an “inexplicable ignoring” of the position. Grade: C-minus.
Noted harsh grader Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com agrees with Rang, saying the decision not to take a receiver drops the Browns' grade to a B-minus.
I interpreted Bedard’s high praise as an A, and I’ve devised a very clever way to figure the draft grades. Call it Pat Macalytics, something that would make sabermatricians proud. It involves a ... wait for it ... point system for each grade, A-plus through F.
Combine them all and the average grade for the Browns is a B.
Which I think is understated.
The Browns landed the top cornerback and quarterback on their board on Day 1.
They landed an offensive lineman and a running back they like a great deal on Day 2.
They landed a highly thought of cornerback on Day 3.
I’m not sure about a 230-pound inside linebacker, but they also landed a first- , fourth- and sixth-round pick in next year’s draft.
Yes, they traded out of picks, but they took guys they like, guys that make sense.
The decision not to take a receiver is ... interesting. There’s no arguing that Sammy Watkins and Manziel sounds better than Justin Gilbert and Manziel. But Gilbert, Manziel and 2015 first- and fourth-round picks is impossible to criticize.
The receiver position is a bit of an enigma. On the one hand losing Gordon is a huge problem. Huge. There’s no sugarcoating it. But I always flash back to the season opener in 2006, when New Orleans visited Cleveland with two unknown receivers. Those unknowns went out and competed, and the Browns were embarrassed in their opener by a team led by Drew Brees that would go on to the playoffs. Those two receivers turned out to be Marques Colston and Devery Henderson, guys who would play for the Saints for 17 seasons and catch 852 passes and score 83 touchdowns. Prior to that game, they were (supposed) weak links. At season's end, they were in the playoffs.
Not taking a receiver is head-scratching. Taking the guys a GM believes in and works months to find and rate is not.
I think the loss of Gordon is a serious blow (more on that later today), but I still give the Browns a very solid A-minus for the 2014 draft.