The Browns have more picks in the next few drafts than anyone in the league. But they also have a timetable.
In his piece on Browns chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, Peter King of TheMMQB.com links Cleveland’s current plan to the vision of former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson, who accumulated draft picks as part of his rebuild that led to Super Bowls. Those Cowboys teams had 23 picks in the top four rounds of the 1991-93 drafts. The Browns currently have 22 in the top four rounds in the 2016-18 drafts.
“Cleveland doesn’t have to build their team all this year,” Johnson said. “But after three years, they better have a contender. If they’re not a contender after three years, someone ought to be fired. Simple as that.”
Because DePodesta works for Jimmy Haslam, who hasn’t displayed what you’d call patience as an owner, there’s a reasonable chance of that happening anyway. But one of the keys to avoiding it will be finding a quarterback, which Johnson did with Troy Aikman, as part of this haul.
The Browns avoided that opportunity last year, giving up the chance to draft Carson Wentz as one of the moves that allowed them to pile up draft choices. Now there’s the small matter of picking good players, or parlaying those picks into guys that will make a difference.
DePodesta knows this as well, understanding the Browns need to continue with the good work they did in free agency (landing top guard Kevin Zeitler) and keeping their own guys (extending Joel Bitonio and Jamie Collins).
“We don’t get any points or win any games for having the most picks,” he said. “We need to turn that into talent. It’s part of the reason we are so excited for this April. I think our team will look fundamentally different in May than it does right now.”
And if the results aren’t apparent soon, Johnson won’t be surprised if the front office has a fundamentally different look as well.