How good has Ray Farmer been at drafting players?
One of my football acquaintances, Shawn Start of Dawg Pound Nation is leading a petition drive to fire Cleveland Browns GM Ray Farmer. I’m among those that feels that the Browns’ failures on defense are too great to overlook, given Coach Pettine’s defensive background. So I’m on record as favoring a coaching change even though I like Pettine personally.
What about GM Farmer? How good a job has he done at getting talent for th team? In particular, we need a guy who is a draft guru. One thing the Browns are good at is nailing draft position year after year after year.
Farmer has had two drafts so far. In 2014 he traded up and also acquired some 2015 picks. First round pick Justin GIlbert has been an underachiever, but has recently played well enough on special teams that the Browns can actually use him. Manziel is promising but has substantial off-the-field baggage that threatens his career. Bitonio is a solid starter, but not as good as his rookie year, for unknown reasons. Kirksey is an average starter, and Desir might continue to develop into a starter. West was good his rookie year but showed up this year out of shape and was traded. In all, the Browns got two average starters, a developmental quarterback, a special teams player and a developmental defensive back. That’s okay but not spectacular for a team that had extra picks (ten, I think, at the start of the draft).
1st Round (#8): CB Justin Gilbert
1st Round (#22): QB Johnny Manziel
2nd Round (#35): OG Joel Bitonio
3rd Round (#71): ILB Christian Kirksey
3rd Round (#94): RB Terrance West
4th Round (#127): CB Pierre Desir
In 2015, the Browns took a terrifically strong nose tackle but one of the slowest players in team history. I mean, he works out a Glacier National Park instead of a running track. He is starting but not doing particularly well. The other number one pick was Cameron Erving, who is sort of a utility infielder and developmental center if Alex Mack leaves. 2nd Round pick Nate Orchard is contributing but not starting for the worst run defense in the NFL. The same is true of DT Xavier Cooper. 3rd round pick Duke Johnson has been good at receiving passes coming out of the backfield, but can’t run the ball. Vince Mayle was so bad he was cut. Charles Gaines has made zero contribution so far. TE Randall Telfer is out with an injury along with Ifo Ekpre-Olomu who had a career ending knee surgery but was drafted by the Browns anyway. Malcolm Johnson plays fullback. Hayes Pullard has no stats so far. So in total, the Browns have one fellow who is starting and about six guys that are developmental types.
1st Round (#12): NT Danny Shelton
1st Round (#19): OL Cameron Erving
2nd Round (#51): OLB Nate Orchard
3rd Round (#77): RB Duke Johnson
3rd Round (#96): DT Xavier Cooper
4th Round (#115): S Ibraheim Campbell
4th Round (#123): WR Vince Mayle
6th Round (#189): CB Charles Gaines
6th Round (#195): FB Malcolm Johnson
6th Round (#198): TE Randall Telfer
7th Round (#219): ILB Hayes Pullard
7th Round (#241): CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu
So in two years we have zero impact players, three starters and about six contributors, some of who might develop into starters later on. That's not particularly good. In the next article, I'll take a look at free agent signings.