The draft is still over a week away and the first overall selection and now the second overall selection have already switched hands. The Philadelphia Eagles’ brass continues to re-shape their roster and their latest move in a fairly lengthy list of bold decisions this offseason has netted the 2nd overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Philadelphia surrendered the 8th overall pick, and 3rd and 4th round picks in 2016 as well as their first round selection (2017) and second round selection (2018) to the Cleveland Browns. The Eagles will also receive a 4th round pick next season. Cleveland is in an absolute reset and they are of the mindset that Carson Wentz (reportedly coveted by the Eagles) isn’t the answer. In fact, many national reports suggest that head coach Hue Jackson prefers Jared Goff and with the L.A. Rams leap frogging Cleveland in the draft order, and the prevailing thought that L.A. will in fact select the quarterback the Browns covet (Goff) Cleveland decided to maximize the value of their draft position, trade down and acquire additional assets. On the other hand, Philadelphia’s new regime in both the front office and the coaching staff appear comfortable with selecting Goff or Wentz otherwise they would not have committed considerable assets to move up to #2 before the draft began.
Wentz vs. Goff
The Browns apparently are convinced that Goff won’t get past the Rams at #1 and appear to understand that they aren’t going to turn it around in one season. Although they signed former Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III, I suspect Hue Jackson’s California ties and the fact that there is no guarantee that Cleveland will catch lightning in a bottle with RGIII meant the Cal Bear was in play at #2 had the Titans not traded out of the first overall slot. With the Rams reportedly leaning towards Goff, and a lack of an affinity for Carson Wentz the Browns have decided to move on. While the Browns certainly aren’t enamored with Wentz, the exact opposite could be said of the Philadelphia Eagles. Prototypical size, scheme and arm strength coupled with a winning pedigree (albeit at an FCS powerhouse) combined with the sharp offensive mind of Doug Pederson sounds like a winner to Philly. Additionally, the Eagles have committed close to $20 million in guaranteed money between incumbent Sam Bradford and Doug Pederson “favorite” Chase Daniel (played for Pederson in Kansas City). Which means that Wentz (or Goff) wouldn’t have to start immediately something both quarterbacks (particularly Wentz) could benefit from.
Browns 2016 Outlook
What veteran talent the Browns DID have exited stage left so this is a destroy and re-build project. Historically the Browns have struggled to select competent signal callers and while the Cleveland faithful will cringe and lament the decision to trade this pick if either QB selected #2 goes on to have success, the Browns’ brain trust must all agree on the right trigger man. Cleveland will focus on building a roster instead of chasing a franchise QB for a change. The win-loss column won’t be pretty but the Browns need to think 2018-2019, and so they have.
Eagles 2016 Outlook
I don’t know what to expect from Philly but as GM Howie Roseman stated, “It’s hard to be great if you don’t take some risks.” Sam Bradford is as injury prone as they come and Chase Daniel isn’t proven so while the 2016 season isn’t expected to feature a rookie quarterback in the city of “Brotherly Love” there is a moderate chance you see either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz leading the Eagles in a wide-open NFC East.
I think whichever quarterback the Rams leave for the Eagles needs to be on your Keeper and Dynasty League radars but be prepared to sit on him for a year or two. The fantasy impact of their selection will be negligible at best unless Bradford goes down with an injury. As for the Browns, I anticipate they will draft the “best player available” and unfortunately that selection won’t come in the form of a receiving threat. RGIII will go undrafted and rightfully so but I’m pulling for him and maybe he surprises us all so don’t hesitate to use that waiver claim or FAAB budget if he demonstrates some consistency and effectiveness. I have my eye on Duke Johnson and Gary Barnidge late.
I have been impressed with Philadelphia’s offseason. Jettisoning some egregious contracts negotiated by Chip Kelly and adding quality football players via free agency. However, I’m not a huge fan of this deal if you don’t plan to start your rookie QB. The Eagles are excited about the long term prospects of Wentz assuming he sits for a year or two to observe and learn as the Eagles continue to build around him. However, head coaching and general manager jobs are year-to-year as far as I am concerned and I believe if you’re willing to mortgage the farm you had better be confident that “your guy” can make a difference immediately. The Philly brass may want to wait a year or two but they could be out of jobs by season’s end, that’s how fickle the NFL is.
And then there’s Cleveland. They did the right thing. While I prefer Goff to Wentz I’m not sure that the roster as it stands now would be conducive to a rookie quarterback’s success (or any QB). What the Browns MUST do is get some picks RIGHT. The quantity is needed, it’s nice to have, but these have to be productive selections. Don’t go and over-draft Paxton Lynch… or Connor Cook now.