On January 3rd, 2016, the Cleveland Browns promoted Sashi Brown. Officially listing him as Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Brown essentially replaced Ray Farmer. Sure, Executive Vice President of Football Operations is a nice term, but it basically means General Manager. Since becoming pseudo-GM, Brown has made some serious changes to the Browns. Along with head coach Hue Jackson, Brown tore Cleveland’s roster down (almost completely) before the 2016 season. Following that, he traded away a chance at Carson Wentz for a boatload of draft picks. Following that, he was able to snag the number one pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. In short, Brown has been a management wizard since assuming his position. Truthfully, he is beginning to change the culture of the Cleveland Browns.
In Sashi We Trust: How Sashi Brown is Turning the Cleveland Browns Around
Building for the Future
When Sashi Brown traded away the prospect of Carson Wentz, he made Cleveland’s message strikingly clear. That message was to fans, telling them to “Trust the Process.” Much like the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, the Browns were basically bereft of talent on their roster. And much like the Sixers again, they wanted to build through the draft.
Truthfully, the Eagles traded the farm, the kitchen sink, and then some in exchange for Wentz. And for the Browns, that’s an amazing deal. Although the Browns have drafted horribly for the past two decades, there is always hope. With so many picks, Sashi Brown knew that something had to stick. And from Wentz came many players of the Browns’ 2017 NFL Draft, including Jabrill Peppers and DeShone Kizer. Now, Wentz has proven himself to be a possible franchise quarterback. However, Cleveland got amazing value from this trade. This shouldn’t surprise fans in the slightest; truthfully, this is what Sashi Brown does best.
Let’s go back to DeShone Kizer for a bit. In an early November mock draft, Kizer ranked second overall. The Browns got him late in the second round. Now, does Kizer have his flaws? Yes, of course; every quarterback does when coming out of college. Is he “ready for prime-time” just yet? Maybe not. But he’s also working with Hue Jackson, a coach that often brings the best out of quarterbacks. The Browns got their head coach a top-flight signal-caller to work with. And they got him with the 52nd overall pick.
Looking back to that same mock draft, the first and third overall picks were Myles Garrett and Jabrill Peppers. With the first overall draft pick, the Browns selected Garrett. Additionally, they took Peppers with the 25th pick (after trading down once again from the 12th pick). This means that, according to that mock draft, the Browns got the top three players in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Technical Approach
“Analytics” is a word that Browns fans throw around a lot nowadays. Oftentimes, the name Sashi Brown appears in the same conversation. Spearheaded by Paul DePodesta (the Moneyball guy), Cleveland’s analytical approach to football has taken team media by storm. Specifically, the Browns have overhauled two areas and made them an exact science.
Again, we come back to the NFL Draft. Now, the Browns absolutely dominated the 2017 NFL Draft, with ten total picks. And once again, this was Sashi Brown’s handiwork. According to the analytics approach, quantity is greater than or equal to quality. And with ten of the 253 total picks, that’s almost 4%. And the Browns, or at least it looks this way right now, hit a home run on this draft. Coming out of the first round with Garrett, Peppers, and David Njoku, the Browns are built for the next ten years. Looks like analytics might just be working after all.
So, what did Brown and the analytics department do about the one position you can’t evaluate with numbers? The offensive line? Well, they went with the other option; sign already proven talent. In addition to the sub-par offensive line class in the Draft this year, the Browns led the league in free-agency money. And so as free agency started, Cleveland went out and signed J.C. Tretter and Kevin Zeitler, a top-ten free agent. After having one of the worst offensive lines last year, the Browns have heavily revamped their line into the league’s top ten.
In short, Sashi Brown has been a magician on both the draft board and the market. Along with Hue Jackson and Paul DePodesta, he is in the process of turning the Browns around. As of right now, it looks like it could be working. Most importantly, he has great eyes for value while drafting. Secondly, he knows exactly which free agents to sign, and when to sign them. Finally, he and the Browns are building for the future of the team. And that should be the music to the Dawg Pound’s ears.