AFC North NFL Draft Grades: Cleveland Browns

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns added a pair of impact players in Round 1. Did they make the grade?

The story of the first round is what the Cleveland Browns were able to do. They traded back to No. 9 in order to acquire the Buffalo Bills' first-rounder in 2015, as well as an extra '15 fourth-round pick.

They later took Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert with the 8th pick after trading a fifth-rounder to the Minnesota Vikings to move up one spot.

Gilbert is one of this year's biggest 'boom or bust' prospects. As a senior at Oklahoma State in 2013, Gilbert led the Big 12 and ranked fourth in the nation with seven interceptions while also averaging 26.3 yards per kickoff return during his college career, including a school-record tying 100-yard return for a touchdown in 2013.

He makes a lot of plays, but poor technique and footwork will leave him giving up a lot of big plays at the NFL level, and I think he'll be a liability in coverage early in his rookie year.

But because he's playing in Mike Pettine's attacking defense that features a lot of exotic blitz schemes, his weaknesses will be masked so long as the Browns' front-7 generates enough pressure.

As or Johnny Manziel, the Browns have their most dynamic and electrifying QB prospect in the fold since Tim Couch was drafted No. 1 overall in 1999.

Unlike Coach, Manziel comes into a great situation with a solid offensive line and an All-Pro receiver in Josh Gordon to throw to, not to mention a Pro Bowl tight end in Jordan Cameron and a shifty slot wideout in Andre w Hawkins.

This past year, Manziel tore up the SEC while completing 300/429 passes for 4,114 yards (70%) with 37 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while rushing 144 times for 759 yards (5.3) and nine TDs in 13 games.

He was  gunslinger who took a lot of chances in college that often he got away with against college defensive backs, but many of those plays would have bee interceptions at the NFL level.

Manziel brings hope to a franchise that has essentially embraced losing since the Browns returned to Cleveland as an expansion team in 1999. But at just under 6-feet tall and at 207 pounds, he may not be built to last a full season in the NFL just yet.

Like Gilbert, Manziel will probably undergo a lot of growing pains as a rookie and may not even be the starter initially going into the 2014 season.

But both of these picks will pay huge dividends in the future and help pave a solid foundation for a franchise looking to climb out of the basement of the AFC North.

Grade: B+

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