2017 Draft Could Be Franchise Game Changer For Browns and 49ers

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Storyline: The ’17 NFL Draft is perfect for the Browns and 49ers because it’s loaded with defensive talent. Those teams can rebuild the right way–starting on defense.


It’s getting closer to that time of the year. NFL fans hope, pray, and cry a little bit about the future of their respective teams. This is normal. And everyone will have an opinion over the next few weeks to predict which college athletes will fall where.

216 Optimist

What’s different this year is that it grows ever more important for teams like the Browns and 49ers to set the foundation of rebuilds. Now this may sound like a broken record for those who follow my posts, but something different is happening this year. More teams are catching on that draft capital is king. They are looking to stock up on picks for next year’s offense top-heavy class.

The New England Patriots have decided that this draft class isn’t as strong as they would like, so they have been using their picks to acquire players already in the league. (That move should raise a red flag for every GM.)

But this draft is perfect for Cleveland and the 49ers because it’s loaded with defensive talent. That enables those teams to rebuild the right way, that is, starting on defense and then finding depth in the trenches in later rounds.

Everyone will be shocked when no QB comes off the board in the top five picks (barring a trade, of course). This is the year to dominate with your picks and reach for high-ceiling, strong character guys who can contribute to your team immediately and in the future.

Myles Garrett (photo, NFL.com)

The Browns hold picks 1, 12, 33, 52, and 65 in the first three rounds. Everyone as already mocked that the 1st pick will be Myles Garrett from Texas A&M. I agree. The worst thing in taking him first overall is that he’ll be a boom-or-bust player. However, I think he’ll change the front four immediately when teamed with Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib, and returning veteran, Desmond Bryant.

Garrett’s athleticism alone will be a game changer that the Browns have not had on the defense. His presence will also free-up Emmanuel, who came on strong at the end of last season.

The 12th pick may be an opportunity to cash-in on LSU Jamal Adams or Ohio State’s Malik Hooker. Either one will add strength by leaps and bounds at safety.

The Browns could bolster the defense again with the addition of Tra’dvious White or by grabbing a linebacker who could fall out of the first, like Zach Cummings or hybrid Jabril Peppers. Then, with the 52nd pick, they can add depth to the O-line or keep the theme going of attacking the strength of the draft and select 6’7 DE/DT Tanoh Kpassagnon.

Then you have that special 3rd round pick, 65th overall. This pick should be (without question) Sidney Jones from Washington. His injury caused his fall to the 3rd Round, but he won’t be sitting there long.

He’s gone (photo, bayareasportsguy.com)

With a class like this (in the first five picks), the Browns will have turned one of the worst defenses in the league into a young athletic terror. With six more picks coming after that, everything turns to icing on the cake for a strong rebuild. And if they want to draft a kicker in the fourth round, I’d go with Zane Gonzalez.

Now for those beaten down 49ers, yes, your team destroyed itself like Brutus stabbing Caesar in the back. And who cares if your GM has gone through more coaches in the last four years then a toddler does pacifiers?

No matter how you got into this situation, it’s time to start building out of it. And if there’s one thing the Bay Area can do, it’s build. You have Hall of Famer John Lynch at the helm and a brand new coach coming off a Super Bowl loss and hungry for his chance to win.

Kyle Shannon has done an excellent job of building up veteran QB’s. I think he needs the opportunity to build everything else up before selecting a QB this year. Veteran Brian Hoyer gives him a QB in the mode of Jeff Garcia. Modest success in the first year would be a large improvement. The best QB on the roster was let go for non-football reasons after showing he can be winner as a starter. (I’ll leave that alone for the moment.)

The 49ers have the 2nd, 34th and 66th overall picks in the first three rounds of the Draft. With a young D-line already in place, the smart money here is for the team to trade back with the Titans and acquire the 5th and 18th picks this year. Adding that draft capital will decrease their rebuild time.

Watson, you say? (photo, Saturday Down South)

If that trade can be made, they can still get one of the top players in the draft. However we can’t deal with “ifs” in the NFL. So with the second overall pick the 49ers should draft Deshaun Watson (I know I said no QB’s, but let’s all stop kidding ourselves). This kid won two Heisman’s for a reason. Everybody is down on Watson, but I’m cut from the cloth that winning matters.

Tribusky may be the up-and-coming white knight (think Ryan Tannehill, but with a weaker arm), but I want the guy who took the best defense in the NCAA through the ringer–not once, but twice–and came out on top the second time. With Watson’s winning ways and his willingness to lead a program from the ground floor up, you know you’re getting a special kid.

You have to build around him with the 34th pick. So choose either juju Smith or John Ross. Both have the ability to change the game on a slant route that playmaking ability can grow over time.

The 3rd Round for the 49ers is about building depth on a poor O-line. Any of the remaining guards in the Draft would be an immediate improvement to their current situation. Letting Hoyer take the beating this year until you can increase help up-front isn’t a bad idea either.

Hoyer is San Fran’s new hope (photo,, Sacramento Bee)

So we have two teams with too completely different rebuilding philosophies. Not taking a QB for Cleveland makes sense. Waiting for their franchise savior next year means that the 49ers need something to start with right now. Though Brian Hoyer is a warrior, you know exactly what you’re getting with him at this point in his career.

A strong drafting year for both teams has me feeling that the Browns will need to trade most of their draft capital next year to move up from 10-15 spot. Get the guy they want under center. And the addition of Watson will move the 49ers towards stepping on the gas and moving this old Subaru forward so they can trade it in for something with a little more shine.

Let’s face it. The whole landscape can change in those three draft days.

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