Many will criticize the Browns for trading down from the second pick in the draft, in large part because many will criticize the Browns for anything they do. It’s the bizarro pro football Pavlovian response, conditioned over time by the food being yanked away from the dog every time the bell rings.
This time, though, the Browns have gotten it right. Regardless of what they do with the picks they’ve acquired, they’ve swapped out two selections for five, sliding down six spots in the first round and acquiring a third-round pick and a fourth-round pick this year, a first-round pick next year, and a second-round pick in 2018. (The Browns also gave up a fourth-round selection in 2017.)
Here’s the main reason why they were smart to make the trade: If after doing their due diligence the Browns didn’t feel strongly enough about pulling the trigger on Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, or anyone else, the smart move was to pass the pick in lieu of more picks later.
Every draft pick is a scratch-off lottery ticket. The more times a team rubs a quarter over that weird silver paint (which is surely as non-toxic as it looks), the more chances a team has to get a winner.
The Browns now have a chance to get more winners, while still retaining the ability to pick a player in the top eight. Given that they had decided not to take a quarterback (and given that each of the first two picks will be quarterbacks), it’s essentially a top-six pick.
So, yes, the Browns made a very good move — regardless of what happens with the quarterback they could have had at No. 2. The Browns didn’t simply trade the ability to take Goff or Wentz; they traded the risk that the guy they would have picked will became a bust, landing in exchange multiple other opportunities to roll the dice as they engage in what clearly is a major rebuilding of the roster.
There’s a reason why so many teams who have earned high picks want to trade down but can’t. It’s hard to find teams willing to trade up. The Browns did at No. 2, only six days after the Titans did at No. 1. Given the very real chance that Goff and/or Wentz won’t work out, it wasn’t just the right decision to make. It was the only decision to make.