The Hooley, Monday, May 1

posted by Bruce Hooley -

I don't know what it says about the Browns and Bengals, but I know it says something, that the selections getting the most attention after NFL Draft weekend weren't even the first guys taken by either franchise.

While other teams fan bases are focused on the first-round choices they hope will inject some energy and ability, the Bengals and Browns followers are either defending or embracing second-round choices with very uncertain futures.

I'm talking about Joe Mixon, the Oklahoma running back the Bengals grabbed with the 48th pick, and Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer, who went to the Browns four picks later.

Taking Kizer stopped Browns fans from jumping off the 480 bridge over a draft that would have done nothing to address the most glaring deficiency on the team -- quarterback.

I'm not quite sure how a guy who went 4-8 after just his second season as a starter solidifies a quarterback room with Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan and Brock Osweiler, but Kizer's selection does at least indicate the Browns have an awareness that quarterback might be somewhat important.

I can't say the Bengals have any self-awareness after drafting Mixon. Oh, I get the pick, he's a versatile, wildly-talented player who's perceived as a great value coming along in the middle of the second round.

But Mixon also has a past, one that seems a disastrous pairing with the unhinged personality of Pacman Jones off the field and Vontaze Burfict on the field.

As much as Marvin Lewis and Mike Brown protest when people paint the Bengals as a collection of knuckleheads and bad actors, just spare me from now on. You can't hate the reptuation you've earned if you double down on it by picking Joe Mixon, who responded to a girl shoving him and using a racial slur by breaking her jaw in four places and then nonchalantly walking away.

I know I'll hear some Bengals fans protest my opinion on this by telling me Mixon was a kid and that he deserves a second chance. First, he was over 18 when he did what he did, so he was no kid. No. 2, don't give me second chances, because what Joe Mixon is likely to get isn't just a second chance, but an unlimited number of chances no matter how much of a sociopath he proves himself.

As long as he can help the Bengals win football games. That's the only thing that matters. All you have to do is look at Jones' continued presence on the roster to know that.

Just do me a favor, Bengals management...spare me any future remorse or tales of how you tried working with Joe Mixon if he winds up on a police blotter. Don't act surprised if that happens, because you willingly brought him into your building and wrapped him in your colors.

The cold reality is the Bengals are willing to do anything and forgive everything, in their pursuit of victory.

The Browns?

Well, they'll get around to thinking about maybe trying to attempt winning next year.

Or not

We don't know exactly when, we just know when it won't be this fall.

You could tell that when Cleveland passed on taking Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson when he fell to them with the 12th overall pick in the first round.

The Browns needed a quarterback, and there he was...a quarterback who's won a national championship and very nearly two of them. One who's rated a great leader and has played at an elite level. One who the Houston Texans think is ready, or pretty close to ready, to start right away.

But with Deshaun Watson right there for the taking, the Browns instead traded the pick to Houston and took the Texans' first-round choice next year.

The analytics geeks love this sort of strategy, but I hate it, because it means another year where the Browns are more serious about compiling draft picks and building a roster than they are about winning.

Browns fans console themselves with the reputation of Hue Jackson as a quarterback whisperer, but Jackson was the only head coach to attend Carson Wentz's pro Day last year. The Browns could have had Wentz at No. 2 overall. Instead, they traded down twice.

Wentz won 7 games as a rookie, started all 16 games and set an Eagles single-season completion record.

The expecatations for Kizer are much more modest. He'll probably sit and watch this year, unless injuries or fan impatience forces him into the lineup. There's a 100% chance of the latter and an 80% chance of the former, because, well, because it's the Browns.

But at least Kizer is a solid citizen who doesn't figure to embarrass the Browns off the field.

The Browns aren't blameless though, when it comes to picking knuckleheads. They chose Caleb Brantley in the sixth round just two weeks after he allegedly hit a woman and knocked her unconscious in Florida.

The Browns say they, "may not be comfortable" with keeping Brantley. Translation, if he can beat the rap we'll take him.

Disgusting.

Overall, I don't know what's worse, a franchise like the Bengals, with no conscience, that tries to win and can't, or an organization like the Browns that claims it wants to win and does nothing to prove it's a priority any time soon.

At least the Bengals don't try to hide who they are.

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