Today's Pigskin

12 January 2005: Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager Paul DePodesta speaks to the media during press conference to introduce Derek Lowe as the newest member of the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles,CA. Photographer: Larry Goren/Icon Sportswire
Cleveland Browns

McMullen: Have Browns taken youth movement too far?

Larry Goren/Icon Sportswire

No one is going to blame the Cleveland Browns latest regime for changing things up, but the drastic nature of the reboot was evident on Saturday when the cut down to 53 revealed just how much vice president of football operations Sashi Brown, chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta and head coach Hue Jackson felt things needed to shift.

It was evident dating in the draft that Brown and DePodesta, the successful ex-baseball executive, were bringing the NBA and MLB mindset of collecting assets to pro football.

By the time that the smoke had cleared back in April, the Browns had made so many trades that ended up with a league-high 14 picks. Meanwhile, Cleveland has also already amassed extra first- and second-round selections in the 2017 draft.

The thesis being simple: the more bodies you run through the program gives you more opportunities to find difference makers, whether it’s a priority pick or not. In other words, quantity will eventually develop into quality, at least if the guys making the decisions are doing their jobs in a representative fashion.

Well, Brown gave himself and his support staff an A+ on the cut to 53 on Saturday by keeping all 14 picks that were made in this year’s draft, meaning an astounding 26.4 percent of the Browns’ roster today is made up from the 2016 draft. Add in two undrafted rookies and that inches up to 30.2 percent.

No matter how you frame that, it’s patting yourself on the back but it’s also a kick in the butt
to the previous executives and trading cornerback Justin Gilbert to AFC North-rival Pittsburgh specifically put the exclamation point on former general manager Ray Farmer’s disastrous 2014 draft, where he took Gilbert at No. 8 overall and noted trainwreck Johnny Manziel, who is out of pro football and more of a TMZ star than anything else, at No.22.

Whether you want to call the current plan Moneyball or not, a tag many have put on the Browns’ strategy because of DePodesta’s baseball history, is inconsequential.

The new path is just a different one, and its ultimate success or failure will ultimately be able to be traced back to the people making the decisions, just like the old ones. The numbers mean nothing if the bodies being added can’t cut it in the NFL.

Cleveland is very excited about their top picks, receiver Corey Coleman and outside linebacker Emmanuel Ogbah, who are both penciled in as starters as the organization points toward Sept. 11 and the Philadelphia Eagles.

The rest will be like any other draft class — hit and miss -, and their presence on the roster speaks more to how lightly-regarded many of the incumbents inherited by Jackson were.

Like any administration, there will be a bit of a grace period in which you are free to blame the last guy, but the current Cleveland brain trust is reaching the end of that honeymoon.

DePodesta, Brown and Jackson put their signatures on the Browns Saturday, and from this point forward, they own this roster.

-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com and TodaysPigskin.com. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @JFMcMullen — Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SBNation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.

McMullen: Have Browns taken youth movement too far?

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