We’ll start with the worst news first. Now, it isn’t entirely clear when Cleveland learned about the failed drug test. Some sources (like that article) say just before Day 2 started. Josh Gordon and his agent say it isn’t true. Dawgs By Nature says that the front office knew, but the coaches did not (because of league rules). This time, the suspension is for pot; last time, it was for codeine in cough syrup. Terry Pluto tears Gordon a new one, and deservedly so.
How does this affect my Day 1 thoughts? Not one bit. The players we drafted are still great fits for Cleveland, we got Buffalo’s first rounder (and a fourth rounder), and gave up relatively little to get the players we wanted. On to Day 2.
At #35, we got our guard. Hurray! He was a combine superstar — leading every category but the bench press — and played all along the line in college. You’ll do, Joel Bitonio from Nevada. You’ll do. A+.
At #71, we picked up a new linebacker, Christian Kirksey from Iowa. This wa s considered a bit of a stretch; a lot of teams had him as a fifth rounder. However, his selling point is speed, so this screams “Pettine pick” to me. He’s a little undersized — as is normal for a fast linebacker. I really liked this post, as it helped emphasize his strengths and weaknesses. Still feels like a reach to me, so we’ll say C+, until we see if Pettine can mold him in his own image.
Then Cleveland did something I can’t approve of. They gave our fourth rounder and sixth rounder to San Francisco to get back into the third round and grab Terrance West out of Towson. He’s apparently a power back, set a few records in his senior season. Now, the Browns had very, very few running backs they could trust last season. Ben Tate is injury prone and we can’t trust he’ll play the whole season. Most of the really good wide receivers were gone at this point. (And, because Cleveland, Nate Burleson broke the same damn arm he broke last year, although he’s still going to be in training camp.) For the pick itself, B, because it filled a need and he could (hell, probably will) get some serious reps this year. But I really don’t like that trade. We still have a fourth and a seventh rounder, and if that fourth rounder turns out to be anything other than a wide receiver, I’d be stunned. However, Cleveland is still in a position where we need as many talented players as possible, and I don’t like trading picks unless you’re doing it for somebody you absolutely need. D+ for the trade.