Browns outsiders as NFL draft approaches
GM Dorsey has hinted he might
try to trade back into first round
John Dorsey’s patience is about to be tested as if never before.
After having the No. 1 overall pick in each of the past two NFL drafts, the Browns — and their industrious general manager — will begin this year’s as spectators.
They may not stay that way.
Dorsey, who has spent the past 16 months overhauling Cleveland’s roster and reawakening “the sleeping giant” as he likes to call the Browns, doesn’t currently have a first-round pick after trading it to the New York Giants in the stunning mega-deal for superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
The No. 17 pick was part of the package in March required to land Beckham, whose arrival in Cleveland and pairing with quarterback Baker Mayfield has Browns fans convinced a Super Bowl trip is near.
Normally, it would be unnerving for a rebuilding team not to have a first-round pick. Dorsey, though, has lessened the urgency by transforming the Browns from a 0-16 team in 2017 into a 7-8-1 squad last season and potentially the AFC North’s favorite this season.
That’s not say this isn’t an important draft as Dorsey, who previously helped rebuild Kansas City into the contender it is today, can plug holes and build depth. And if he feels there’s a player he can’t live without, Dorsey said he’d be willing to move back into the first round.
“If I deem it will help the Cleveland Browns, surely I will do that if it helps the organization moving forward, but the compensation on the back end cannot be outrageous,” Dorsey said last week. “It has to work on both sides.”
But would he be willing to give up a significant amount?
“If a certain player is there that I deem that the value fits the player, yes,” he said.
Barring a trade, Cleveland’s first pick won’t be until No. 49.
Cleveland hasn’t entered the draft without a first-round pick since 2008. A year earlier, the Browns traded their ’08 first-round pick along with a second-rounder in ’07 to Dallas in order to move up and select quarterback Brady Quinn at No. 22.
Dorsey’s signing of controversial free agent running back Kareem Hunt in February has pushed Duke Johnson closer to the exit.
With Hunt, who is suspended for the first eight games of 2019, and Nick Chubb (996 yards as a rookie in 2018) on the roster, there doesn’t seem to be room for the versatile Johnson. When Hunt was signed, Dorsey was asked if that made Johnson expendable.
“I don’t think it makes him expendable yet,” Dorsey said, raising eyebrows.
Weeks later, Dorsey called Johnson “a valuable asset.”
Johnson, who was the team’s MVP two years ago, didn’t appreciate the comment and failed to report for the start of the offseason workout program. His current relationship with the team is tenuous — at best. Dorsey could try to package Johnson with other picks and move up or just deal him to avoid a future headache.
Either way, Johnson’s days in Cleveland seem numbered.