The Browns value draft picks in the vein of noted team builder Jimmy Johnson, and Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta’s vague title allows him the leeway to rethink a lot of football’s old fashioned methods as he tries to help rebuild the Cleveland Browns.
That was one person’s take away from a 40-minute interview DePodesta gave to The MMQB last week at the Annual League Meeting. Since DePodesta and executive vice president Sashi Brown took over, the Browns have stockpiled a draft war chest that includes six choices in the top 108 this year (two first-round picks, two second-round picks, a third and two fourth-round picks).
“We’ve looked ourselves in the mirror and said, ‘Do we think that we are actually superhuman when it comes to picking players?’ And we pretty easily answered that with a resounding no,” DePodesta said. “So how are we going to increase our chances? We need to have more picks. So, if we have the same number of picks every year as everyone else, we don’t expect do better than anyone else.”
The danger with analyzing the Browns so far is two-fold. On one hand, there are those who make DePodesta and Brown out to be some sort of Harvard secret society where space age tactics and hidden algorithms are determining the future of football. On the other, there are those who dismiss what is going on as another dunderheaded swing at rebuilding this woebegone franchise.
Sometimes, the answer can be in the middle. What Brown and DePodesta have done so far is a sensible selling off of assets to attain draft capital. The theory that more draft capital translates to a better chance of selecting a star has been espoused from Johnson to Bill Belichick to Chip Kelly to anyone else with a firm grasp on common sense. Especially with their bevy of mid to late-round picks, the Browns are attempting to build the sort of strong “middle class” of affordable player that helped skyrocket the Seahawks to a recent Super Bowl title.
As for DePodesta himself, it’s quite common for major corporations to bring in a why? guy who asks questions of the process. Based on this offseason’s momentum, the Browns have found the right person to do so.