There is one time of the year that, as a Browns fan, stands above all other times of the year. NFL draft time. Yes, the Draft is literally upon us. ‘Literally’ in the sense that I literally spilled a literal draft beer upon my own probably-literal self. Us, in the sense that my corporeal form is a somewhat voluntary host for the spirits of Gaius Julius Caesar (please don’t call him Caligula; it’s demeaning) and also Alexander the Great.
Like these two body invaders, I, as a Browns fan, greatly enjoy the NFL draft. There is no greater joy in this world – or any other world – than the prospect of dictating to 20-year-olds the course of the next three years of their life; if you were wondering, by the way, I do very much enjoy playing SimCity. I, Gaius Julius Caesar Alexander Magnus Ralph, shall build the world’s greatest SimCity empire, filled with prosperous high-density commercial zones, only to sneer at their lamentations when an earthquake rends earth from sky in the world they thought they had mastered. Hubris must be punished, vain Ralphopolis. I am your reckoning.
Yet the chance for NFL teams to play god doesn’t come for months yet; now, we must sate our football appetites with NFL Network documentaries like ‘Kelly Holcomb: A Football Life’ as well as the NFL Combine. If the Draft is a scout’s favorite time of year, then the NFL Combine is Christmas for Spreadsheets. Do you know any other time of year that one can plot QB hand size as a function of shuttle time? I certainly don’t. Alexander the Great thinks excel is Alchemy.
But the story of the Browns’ draft is one of need. There is one need that sticks out above all others, a deficiency at the most important position – while our 2013 performance at that position gave us reason we could be adequate at that position going forward, it’s become clear that we must go all-in to find a top-flight solution there. We must cross the river and call the flop. I’ve never actually played poker, but these poker metaphors all point to the need to filling that one greatest deficiency that the Browns have, and using all of our picks to make that happen.
I refer, of course, to our situation at Kicker. Billy Cundiff is a perfectly serviceable kicker, but ‘serviceable’ doesn’t win Super Bowls. If you can’t kick the 80-yarder after the inevitable three-and-out, why would the team even bother showing up? The story’s already been written if you’re carrying a kicker who is merely ‘good.’
In years past, it was solely the Wisdom of a one Phil Dawson that kept the Browns in the playoff hunt. The 2007 Browns’ 10-6 record was almost entirely because of the inner beauty that Phil Dawson selflessly shared with the Browns. Josh Cribbs’s breakout performance that year? That breakout season only came to be because he had a discussion with Phil ‘Margrave of Majesty’ Dawson about the nature of the good. Phil Dawson then kicked a football 500 miles – and Cribbs knew he would kick it 500 more. And it was in this way that Dawson planted the seeds not only of a breakout playoff season, but also of virtue, in the 2007 Browns.
That is what the Browns must do in the 2014 draft, and they must use as many picks as is necessary to find their kicker. In fact, I would suggest that they use all of their picks to find their solution at kicker – not to trade up, of course, but to trade down. All the way down. The Browns must trade down such that they hold every single pick in rounds five through seven. This is how the Browns will find their kicker. They must select a kicker with every single one of those picks. They will bring 75 kickers to camp ad use whatever methods are necessary to determine their Kicker of the Future™; it is by this rigorous methodology that the Browns will unearth the one Kicker in this draft who transcends all others, both in terms of kicking ability and splendor.
So I, Gaius Julius Caesar Alexander Magnus Ralph, have spoken; so it shall be.