For a team that has only garnered a single playoff berth in the 21st century (2002), you would think that a team as inept as the Cleveland Browns would have found the ideal formula for reinvigorating their lackluster franchise by now. Despite their favorable draft positioning year after year, the Browns have come up short in finding long term gems that could reverse this teams unfortunate ways. Between not having a reliable quarterback since Bernie Kosar while lacking an innovative head coach, the Browns missteps have been a result of not having the crucial pieces at the right time.
However, despite the Browns long endured decades of inadequacy, this team hasn’t given up hope that at some point in the future their time will come to take the NFL nation by storm. While the Browns only had six draft picks with which to rebuild their haphazard roster, these incoming youngsters could provide this organization with the morale and athletic boost it needs to succeed.
While their roster may not be elite or even consistently competitive just yet, they have acquired the right pieces with which to become a respected program in the near future.
Although it came as a jaw-dropping surprise when the unpredictable Browns selected defensive corner Justin Gilbert over quarterback Johnny Manziel, it was actually a wise pick given that the Browns wanted to solidify a defensive secondary that was severely underrated during the 2013 regular season (allowed 221.1 passing yards per game, 8th in NFL). Not only is Gilbert a swift and evasive kick returner on special teams (six career return touchdowns), his vigilance in coverage and tenacity when he makes a miraculous pick is truly awe-inspiring. On top of that, Gilbert has a committed work ethic and doesn’t have any off the field issues which is ideal for a Browns team that used it’s second overall pick to select a illustrious passer who’s off the field antics could bring his team some unwanted limelight.
Of course, with analyzing a hot rod quarterback like Manziel, it becomes difficult to assess which player will show up on a game-to-game basis. While Manziel may have a laundry list of off the field issues, his on the field demeanor is a coveted intangible that has allowed this exuberant passer to succeed even when he gets into trouble.
Out of all the quarterbacks in the draft, Manziel possess a keen ability to play big on the biggest stages in the game, which is why the Browns saw it fit to draft him as their future franchise quarterback. In the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Manziel proved emphatically that no matter how big the score deficit may be, the game it isn’t over until it’s over. Despite being down 38-17 to the Duke Blue Devils going into halftime, Manziel found a way to help his team rally with one dominant offensive drive after another. Although Manziel will inevitably face moments that are much larger than this on a consistent basis, his sheer confidence and athletic perseverance can’t be denied.
Still, even with these intriguing draft picks, the Browns still have to take what they have gained and utilize it intelligently if they hope to compete in a battle hardened AFC North division. The key for any team to establish a beloved dynasty is to exhibit patience when it comes to allowing their young athletes and head coaches to go through their initial growing pains before they can expect to see any improvement.
In the end, the Cleveland Browns have set themselves up to succeed where they have come up short in years past. While their roster may not be elite or even consistently competitive just yet, they have acquired the right pieces with which to become a respected program in the near future. As long as the Browns can stay calm while allowing this team to grow, they could feasibly be looking at a grand opportunity to resurrect themselves to be supremely successful for the first time in over two decades.