Cleveland Browns chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta rose to prominence in the sports world thanks to his ties to the “Moneyball” ideology, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t well-versed in football history and strategy.
The executive didn’t reveal the specifics of his team’s rebuilding plan in a profile by Peter King for Monday Morning Quarterback, but DePodesta did hint at a possible source of inspiration: Jimmy Johnson, who coached the Dallas Cowboys of the early ’90s.
“We’ve looked ourselves in the mirror and said, ‘Do we think that we are actually superhuman when it comes to picking players?’ And we pretty easily answered that with a resounding no,” DePodesta told King. “So how are we going to increase our chances? We need to have more picks. So, if we have the same number of picks every year as everyone else, we don’t expect (to) do better than anyone else.”
King pressed him on the origin of that approach:
“Sounds like Jimmy Johnson’s philosophy,” I said. “You aware of that?”
“Yes,” he said, smiling.
“Had any conversations with him?” I said.
“I’ll keep that to myself. I’ll say this: I’m a big admirer of what he’s done.”
Acquiring more draft picks to increase one’s chances of finding difference-making players is hardly a revolutionary tactic, but it’s shocking how well the Browns’ current regime has pulled it off.
These are the picks the club owns over the next two drafts, by far the most of any NFL team:
|Two 1st-round picks||1st-round pick|
|Two 2nd-round picks||Three 2nd-round picks|
|3rd-round pick||3rd-round pick|
|4th-round pick||Two 4th-round picks|
|Three 5th-round picks||5th-round pick|
|Two 6th-round picks||Two 6th-round picks|
Johnson’s Cowboys won Super Bowls because they found star players not only with their early picks, but also with their later picks. If the Browns are to dig themselves out of a hole that spans almost the entire time since they returned to the NFL in 1999, they need to make their selections count.
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