Cleveland once again showed that they are the greatest fans in the NFL as thousands of Cleveland Brown faithful filled the roughly 16 acres of Muni Lot (that serves as tailgate central during the season home games). This was the first ever Tailgate Draft Party held at Muni Lot and everyone seemed pleased with the layout of the facilities (especially the addition of more port-a-potties).
Parking was free to all fans but tickets that were available online prior to the event were needed to enter the “Party Area” located in the west end of the lot. Luckily, the Cleveland Browns had a pop-up tent near the entrance that distributed free tickets to those who forgot theirs or had not registered online (just another way the Cleveland Browns take care of their fans).
Inside the party area were dozens of Cleveland Browns corporate affiliates with all sorts of freebies. Cleveland Browns players and alumni were also available for autographs and selfies. A huge stage was set up with a giant screen that broadcasted the live 2017 NFL draft for hundreds of seated fans. Those unable to find a seat at the main stage could move back to the twin giant screens so as not to miss any of the unfolding drama and action.
A grouping of Cleveland food trucks ringed the area as well as places dispensing various adult beverages. Prior to the 8:00 p.m. start time you could get an autograph, have a selfie with a Brown’s player, grab a beer and a taco, purchase a new jersey or T-shirt, spin a prize wheel at the Jack Casino booth, purchase some Cleveland Browns memorabilia, and have a group photo taken just to name a few of the available activities.
The Cleveland Browns had wheeled and dealed over the season for extra draft picks to go along with their first pick of the night that they earned through their forgettable 1-15 season. Although it did not seem to be much of a surprise, Cleveland Browns fans in attendance cheered heartedly when Texas A&M’s pass rushing Defensive End Myles Garrett was picked first overall by the Browns.
Fans were a bit surprised when Cleveland opted to exchange their No. 12 overall pick with Houston in exchange for the Texans No. 25 overall pick in 2017 and their No. 1 pick in 2018. They used this later pick to acquire Michigan’s LB Jabrill Peppers who was named Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year. Coach Hue Jackson has noted that Peppers will be fitted into the “strong safety” spot on the roster and other writers have noted that there is also the possibly of using him as a return specialist.
Following the trading down from No. 12 to No. 25 the Browns traded back into the first round by picking Miami TE David Njoku No. 29th overall. Njoku has been noted by Coach Jackson as “a great athlete who has the ability to make plays downfield and who is a three-down tight end who can also block”.
The post round consensus of the fans shows satisfaction on the picks as they fill specific needs in the roster while not wasting early picks on a quarterback. After a heart wrenching 2016 season it seems that the Cleveland Browns are beginning to play smart front office football rather than making panic induced decisions. This off season the Cleveland Browns acquired three key players through free agency including Right Guard Kevin Zeitler from Cincinnati, Center J.C. Tretter from Green Bay and Wide Receiver Kenny Britt from the L.A. Rams.
With professional football becoming a year round commitment for coaches and players, various Cleveland Browns training camps have already begun in preparation for the 2017 season. Here’s hoping that this new rebuilding program will meet with success for the Cleveland Browns, the City of Cleveland and their fans all around the world.