A franchise dying for a franchise player, or even just an excitable player, got both when they pulled off a last-minute draft day move to score QB Johnny Manziel late in the first round of the Draft. Browns fans are hoping this isn’t Brady Quinn all over again; the Browns also traded up to pick #22 to get him just seven years ago. That is somewhat of an unfair comparison though. Manziel has a much broader and probably better skill set than Quinn ever did. Manziel is constantly knocked for character and immaturity issues, sometimes deservedly so. But he never let those elements distract himself on the field at Texas A&M, and if he’s able to do the same in Cleveland, this could be a huge bargain. As of now Brian Hoyer is still the starter, but it shouldn’t be too long before the reign of Manziel begins. They also got lockdown CB Justin Gilbert from OK-State and a 2015 first-round pick by trading down a few picks. That had to be the best first round for the Browns since they returned to Cleveland. Then they went around acquiring guys to put around Manziel, like veteran WRs Miles Austin, Nate Burleson, and Earl Bennett and RB Ben Tate. Tate joins Chris Ogbonnaya (4.9 yards/carry). Someone needs to emerge in the ground game because thus far it’s been unimpressive. The offense could resemble that of the Lions with a high-flying pass attack and subpar running game, but at least Manziel can scramble for yards with the best of ‘em.
Optimism is abound in Cleveland. For the first time in decades, Browns fans have a star they truly can’t wait to see. Just wait till training camp. But don’t forget about the defense. Even though the team overall fell off after a 4-5 start last year to go 4-12, the defense still ranks middle of the pack on the year as a whole. In passing yardage, they were eighth overall. They lost safety TJ Ward in free agency but picked up safety Donte Whitner from the 49ers; that experience playing for a great team should go a long way in helping this defense learn how good teams play. They do get great pressure on the QB, which is probably how they defend the pass well. They were third in the NFL last year with 49 sacks, even spread through their roster. No one had more than 5.5 sacks, meaning they were balanced albeit unsustainable. They also need to force more turnovers to bail themselves out of tough situations, something they didn’t do well last season. MLB D’Qwell Jackson and CB Joe Haden are still the heart and soul of this defense; hopefully they can hold it together and get at least a .500 team together. The Browns aren’t in any primetime slots this fall except the obligatory Thursday night game--all teams get one of those. But if Manziel starts making plays, the flex could tab the Browns for the first time in a long time. Two games against Pittsburgh in the first five will be very interesting battles in a wide open division. Get your Browns tickets today from Gold Coast Tickets!