January 29, 2017 | Posted in: Cleveland Browns

Paul DePodesta
76 Lou Groza Blvd
Berea, Ohio 44017

Dear Paul,

You’re bringing Metrics to the NFL.  Anyone Not Tearing down their team and running it in the same manner as you in 5 years will be watching the Cleveland Browns win the SuperBowl multiple times.  I’ve seen the movie.

In a few months, you’ll participate in your second NFL Draft.  Your first, magnificent.  Everyone agreed.  2017 is when some judgement can be made on the quality of draft picks the organization acquired in 2016.  2017s top priority?  More picks in 2018 without sacrificing any of the first 3 picks in 2017.

I’m not here to write you a long letter about what to do with with the #1 overall pick.  Priority #1 in the NFL.  Get to the opposing quarterback.  Disrupt him.  Sack him.  Tackles for Loss.

It’s pick #12 I offer some perhaps wisdom if you will.  Cosmic Wisdom.

The metrics, the numbers, the scouting reports, etc., on a Prospect point in the right direction but the NFL is chock full of those numbers not equating to on the field success.  This isn’t baseball Paul.

Trade Joe Thomas to Minnesota.  The Vikings are all in for 2017 … it’s superbowl or bust for the franchise.  Joe would have a legitimate chance for a title.  Cleveland owes him this chance, he earned it.  You want their first rounder next year and their second rounder this year.  It flows brother, it makes sense …. i’m not a salary cap guy, i think everyone in Minnesota is on board on renegotiating so the team can make the necessary acquisitions for a Conference Title Run.  There won’t be a Conference Title Run for the Cleveland Browns in 2017.

A large “hole” has been created on the offensive line at the most important position … Rule #2, Protect Your Quarterback.  At pick #12, Cam Robinson is extremely realistic.  Hue has dealt with “character issues” in the past.  It’s a “risk”  … do the metrics say Cam Robinson can play a right handed quarterbacks “blind side” and play it well for the next 5 years?

Picks 33, 46 (From Minnesota), 52, 65, 97… Safety help.  Let’s hope the other Joe who plays Corner can get past some of those nagging injuries.  The NFL is a “young” mans game …  Another Corner.  Another offensive Lineman.  More help in the secondary.  Linemen and Defensive Players.  They’re “safer” picks.

Terrelle, WR1 money … he earned it … with a hometown discount.   Your “franchise” QuarterBack can Never have too many offensive weapons.  Isiah/Duke, Abdullah/Riddick in Detroit, the Lions were really special on offense when those two were healthy … the combination backfield is the New NFL standard.

Injury, the unpredictable.  How big of a factor was “Injury” in MLB when compared to the NFL and contract negotiation? … it’s a crusher and something a franchise has to react … no way to prepare for “injury”, except at Quarterback where you have to shell out $4MM to the position.  One of the beauties of Kessler, he can fill that role at a cheap price.  Injury “history”, I’d love to put together a data set with Combine Metrics and Injury … not season ending injury … injuries resulting in a few games missed … is there a correlation?  Mmmm. Mineable Data.

One of the points of this Letter is Quarterback and the NFL Draft in 2017 with 6 scheduled picks in the first 97 overall …  Not this year.  Maybe in 2018 you’re in the right draft position or have the right draft capital in 2018 to make a move for someone you believe can lead the Cleveland Browns to a Superbowl in the next 5 years.  Someone you’re going to make very wealthy when their rookie contract expires because they want to lead the Cleveland Browns to multiple SuperBowls over the next 10 years.  It’s a rare find and there’s so much pressure to find the “franchise” QB … what does that even mean Paul, a “franchise” QB?

Ask John Elway if he considers Tony Romo a “franchise” QB?  Jerry wants a pick and Elway is going to wait until he gets cut because the Cowboys cannot take the salary cap hit with him on the books for 2017.  Jay Cutler.  Veteran QBs with proven success, however, the injury history makes them less sexy … Like RGIII …  Kessler and McCown will work at the position for 2017.  I had these visions of RGIII marching the Browns down field scoring TouchDowns in droves, punishing opponents, in Important Divisional Games.  Injury.  Stay healthy Mr. Griffin.

An NFL franchise should never be “pressured” to get their franchise QB This year with their first round draft pick.  There’s too much Risk.  Risk Mitigation + Player Personnel Decisions + Championships + 5th/6th round 5000 Carat Diamonds …

Last year, you acquired Capital instead of a “franchise” QB.  Jared Goff should have been the starter in Los Angeles from Day 1.  It cost Jeff Fisher his job.  They traded the farm for him.  How can he NOT be the starter from Day 1?  How nice would it be if Goff had 15 starts under his belt heading into the 2017 season?  Week 2 was the time to make the decision, the Rams got blown out 28-0 against San Francisco, a team that won 2 games all year.  Perhaps the last of the old guard from Bill Walsh’s coaching tree.  Run the ball, play great defense.  It’s the new NFL Paul.  The game changed.

Carson Wentz?  he’ll be starting for Eagles, barring injury, through his rookie contract.  Ryan Tannehill? … he got the “franchise” QB money after his rookie contract and while they made the playoffs this year, he hasn’t taken the next championship level step.  QuarterBack, the most important position on the field and the most difficult decision for a NFL Franchise … In Cleveland, let’s Protect the Position with a Stout Offensive Line with Backs who can catch the ball in NonObvious Passing Situations.  The middle of the field exploited with a strong option.  Receivers who can catch a 4 yard slant and take it 65 yards.  A 2 yard screen 73 yards.  A big physical receiver when you need 6 yards.  The physical back who get you out of 3rd and 2 and keep the opposing defense on the field.  The secret in Cleveland … the described desireables are already on the team, there’s not a lot of early Draft Capital to invest at the skill positions.

906 words.  And, i’m a terrible proof reader.  When I finish this “letter”, I’m going to print it and Fax it.  It’s an old “salesman” trick.  Don’t send an email … send a fax …. the response rate on them is ridiculously high and I’m not looking for a “response” … I want to know the document arrived at the offices and there won’t be any excuses.  The only excuses would be the document didn’t get passed to the right person OR the document was passed and not “read”.

The pressure is going be tremendous if the Browns go 2-14 in 2017 while not making a move in the “franchise” QB in the 2017 draft, especially if DeShaun Watson excels.  This kid from North Carolina?  11 College Starts?  I want to mine data … I want to see a list of names of QBs drafted with less than 25 career “College” starts from 1970-2014.  Pass Rusher.  Offensive Lineman and if Cam Robinson didn’t work out at 12, safety … Peppers from Michigan …. he fills other positional “needs” and is the new S/LB hybrid … Mark Barron in LA and Deonne Buchannon in Arizona.  Does the 3-3-5 defensive formation have an official name?  4-3, 3-4 … old NFL.  These decisions on player personnel … above our pay grades … I believe people like you and I only offer “advice”.  Would the draft capital obtained from trading Joe Thomas to Minnesota outweigh the “hole” created and options to fill the need?  Perhaps you kept Thomas, took Cam Robinson 12th, and let him play right tackle.  An instant starter on your offensive line.  Protect Our Quarterback.  Supposedly the Browns “grade” on Garrett is “astronomical”.  The pundits have you staying out of the Quarterback game in the draft this year but I can envision some “pressure” to pick Watson after his performance against Alabama.  I saw some fodder Watson would be available at pick #33 but not after the Alabama game, he’s going in the first round.

Best of luck in the upcoming draft and upcoming season.  10-6 and a wildcard for the Cleveland Browns?

I didn’t even bring up Free Agency.  Overpay for Trumaine Johnson.  For 2017 and 2018.  4 year contracts with 0 cap hit in 2019 and 2020.  Can those be accomplished?  “Dead” Money.  Use free agency as a tool to potentially acquire more draft capital.

What about the franchise tag?  Pryor?

The tools available to build your franchise.  How they’re used.  An insiders perspective.  It fascinates me.  When does the roster expand and you can sign Undrafted Free Agents?  50,000 carat diamonds.

I don’t know Who Makes the decisions in Cleveland regarding personnel.  Final decision.  After 1-15 in 2016 and picking Cody Kessler in the third round, a guy you could have signed as an Undrafted Free Agent, and Dak Prescott taken by Dallas a round later?  People get fired in this business Paul … a lot … the entire Browns organization should be listening to every opinion.  That’s all this is … a 1400 word Opinion on the Cleveland Browns 2017 season.

Pick #1 – Myles Garrett

Pick #12 – Cam Robinson

Pick #33 – Marcus Maye

Pick #52 – Sidney Jones

Pick #65 – Dion Dawkins

Pick #97 – Someone who can play C/G … Like Bitonio … why do I feel like Reno is starting at center next season?

After these 6 scheduled picks … back 7 on the defensive side, linemen on both sides of the ball, a youthful RB who fits the New NFL Mode in Round 5.  The last 3 rounds of the NFL Draft?  5,000 carat diamonds.  You’d think a 5,000 carat diamond would be easy to find … nah, just the opposite … think of the process required to make a diamond and the process used by the NFL “establishment” to evaluate talent.  What makes a succesful NFL player?  Performance on the Field is merely a single data point.  You can’t make decisions based on a single data point.  Data point weight … how important is on the field performance at the collegiate level and … international level … who is scouring Europe for the next Margus Hunt and other international players?  The Cleveland Browns should be ahead of the curve on the new International NFL Game when it comes to international players because I wrote you a letter and made suggestions.   36 NFL Teams operating in 2022, 18 games, 70 player roster … there’s going to be a lot more “opportunity” to play professional American Football.

$25 Billion.  There’s too much money being made and the market exists in London, Toronto, St. Louis, San Diego, Oakland, Jacksonville … it’s all about the Stadium and there won’t be enough NFL teams to please everyone AND the NFL is giving around $250mm to build the venue.  The top hats think they can keep the expansion a secret.  There’s no point in announcing until the new players agreement in 2021.  Hopefully everyone is of the sensibility to give the players their “fair” share.  7 years ago when the new contract ended a lockout probably seems like yesterday to those involved.  Now, it’s only 4 years away.  Be fair to the players.

The NFL in 2030 … a $30 billion dollar a year sports league.  Cleveland Browns, 5 Time SuperBowl Champion.