Strong Draft Class to Improve Cleveland Browns' Future Odds?

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 5:25 PM UTC

Tuesday, May. 13, 2014 5:25 PM UTC

Tim Couch, Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden: The Browns have not been wise in recent years drafting a QB in the first round, but there is excitement there surrounding the selection of Johnny Manziel. He is 15/2 on NFL odds for Rookie of the Year.

Unlucky No. 22?
Obviously no one knows yet whether Manziel will be a star, but there's no doubt he will be fun to watch either way. Although there could be some bad karma already surrounding the former Heisman winner. Why? Both Quinn and Weeden were also the No. 22 overall pick in their respective drafts. How'd that work out?

The Browns were very active in the first round, moving all over the place. It entered the draft with the No. 4 overall pick but eventually landed at No. 8 for two picks next year from Buffalo, including the Bills' first-rounder that could be incredibly valuable. It was at No. 8 many thought the Browns could take Manziel, but they went for the top cornerback available in Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert. Cleveland already has a terrific cornerback in Joe Haden, so the secondary could be a major strength if Gilbert lives up to the hype.

Then Cleveland traded up with Philadelphia for the No. 22 pick to land Manziel. Already there is some controversy around the choice. Reports are that the team was ready to take Teddy Bridgewater and even had his name listed on the draft card before owner Jimmy Haslam ordered GM Ray Farmer to take Manziel at the last second. The Browns of course are denying that. The Manziel pick has been a public relations boom. The team sold a few thousand season tickets immediately and his jersey is already No. 1 among rookies. Even LeBron James had a Manziel jersey on during the Heat's flight to New York on Friday. James' business partner works with Manziel as well.

Haslam is pretty clearly a hands-on owner because he already has said that the Browns have told Manziel to start acting "like a backup quarterback" and that Brian Hoyer is the starter entering mini-camp. How long do you think it takes the fans to start chanting for Johnny Football? Midway through the first quarter of the home opener against New Orleans on Sept. 14 maybe? Bovada offers a prop on the total number of games Manziel will start in 2014, with the 'over/under' at 9.5. Both are -120 on NFL odds.

The rest of Cleveland's draft was pretty nondescript. Running back Terrance West could serve as the primary backup to free-agent acquisition Ben Tate, who is injury-prone. What everyone is wondering is why the team didn't take a receiver -- it could have taken Clemson's Sammy Watkins with that No. 4 pick hadn't Cleveland traded it to the Bills, who did take him. Browns brass was aware of the fact that Josh Gordon, the leading receiver in the NFL last season with 1,646 yards, was facing a long suspension. Sports Illustrated's Peter King is reporting that Gordon's suspension will be somewhere between 8-16 games following his latest failed drug test. ESPN reported it would be the full 16 games.

That news obviously dampens the festive mood around the Manziel pick. Right now you are looking at a starting receiving duo of Greg Little and either Andrew Hawkins or former Lion Nate Burleson. However, Burleson recently fractured his arm at minicamp, the same arm he broke last year. Receiver is most certainly a huge position of need for Cleveland. The Browns did add some undrafted free agents at the position: Oklahoma State's Blake Jackson, San Jose State's Chandler Jones, Vanderbilt's Jonathan Krause, Florida State's Kenny Shaw and Ball State's Willie Snead IV.

Were the Cleveland Browns Winners or Losers in this year's NFL Draft?

Full List Of Draft Picks
Justin Gilbert, cornerback, Oklahoma State (Round 1, No. 8 overall); Johnny Manziel, quarterback, Texas A&M (1, No. 22); Joe Bitonio, offensive tackle, Nevada (2, No. 35); Chris Kirksey, outside linebacker, Iowa (3, No. 71); Terrance West, running back, Towson (3, No. 94); Pierre Desir, cornerback Lindenwood (4, No. 127).

NFL free picks: Johnny Football won't win ROY and will start 'under' 9.5 games as long as Hoyer is healthy. Look for him perhaps by Week 11 at home against Houston.
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