Banner Hearts Lombardi, Offseason Evaluations and More Historical and Pop Culture Mock Draft Picks

I’m guessing you could go in a number of directions with this story:

PD – Lombardi Shielded From Public Eye Because He’s a Lightning Rod

Some options include:

a) Joe Banner thinks Browns’ fans are vile creatures full of toxic venom.
b) Mike Lombardi has already gone George Kokinis on us (making “drinky” motion)
c) Banner was simply responding to a memo about PR engagement.
d) Banner can say and do whatever without regard for Cleveland’s dead journalism.
e) Banner and Lombardi are so Gosling and McAdams.

And while (d) is always a relevant topic around these parts, let’s go with The Notebook theme today because…I mean – c’mon, right?

“And ultimately whether it’s responsibility because of the people we hired or my own role in decisions that we make, I’m a big boy and I accept that comes with the territory here. You hope that credit comes if you do well too, but the accountability is not going to be anything anybody here is going to shy away from.”

Right. No one is going to “shy away.”

Except for well, you know – Mike Lombardi. Because right now he’s locked away in a tower, sealed off from the angry, smelly hordes of vicious Browns’ fans.

But other than that – accountability all around.

And Mike Lombardi is a Delicate Flower.

Otherwise, it wouldn’t take much thick skin for Lombardi to get some positive attention for what has been regarded as a solid entry into free agency. Signing two younger defensive free agents to borderline market deals isn’t the kind of thing that makes even the worst of Browns’ fans ready their torches. Of course there will always be those who insist the Browns sign a dozen free agents and have Colt McCoy battle Derek Anderson for the starting QB job.

The more intriguing issue here is Banner’s “protection” of his GM – the guy Banner figuratively hired late last summer and the same person who Banner had to have known was not a popular figure in Cleveland. Considering how clumsy the Browns have been regarding public relations over the past decade – heightened during the Mike Holmgren retirement party, this seemingly should have been a factor in Banner’s GM hiring process.

If not, then this type of sheltering has to make 2008-era LeBron James blush.

Anyway, onto other things of note. Yes, Phil Dawson signed with the 49ers – or as I like to think, he reunited with my favorite expansion era Browns’ assistant coach, Brad Seely. Assuming that the Browns are yet again mired in some semblance of rebuilding this season, this can only mean that the 49ers are my proxy favorite team. As such, let’s hope that Dawson finally gains a higher league profile with some clutch playoff kicks and makes a late-ditch effort for Hall of Fame candidacy.

I’ll have more on Dawson later in the week (and not news, Genius) as it’s not everyday that a Browns’ player leaves after 14 seasons.

Speaking of other former players, here’s a fun little back and forth (albeit decidedly without any Notebook references) between two of the game’s best running backs:

NY Daily News – Jim Brown Supports New Running Back Rule

“This has to be one of the most absurd rules I’ve heard in a long time in the game of football,” Smith told ESPN Radio.

“Emmitt probably used his head,” Brown responded. “I don’t know.”

No, he did.

Just listen.

As for Brown, it looks like he has found a way back into the graces of the Browns’ owner. You’ll surely remember Brown’s cushy, insanely high-paying role as “advisor” to the tepid Randy Lerner some years ago – a long con only interrupted by the King of Grift himself, Mike Holmgren. We’ll have to stay tuned to find out Brown’s new role with the organization. However, based on Banner’s public relations strategy of hiding Mike Lombardi, I’m predicting Brown will be encased in glass far away from the reaches of dirty Browns’ fans.

But enough about forlorn love and burial tombs.

From Reboot reader DAN, here’s this:

For fans that are wondering how we did in free agency, I think a few questions can help:

Would you rather be Miami right now? – i.e. would you want to be the active team in free agency. The record shows that this does not usually garner the best results. My own personal lesson came after the free agent frenzy after the lock out. I thought the Browns could seize an opportunity to react to an unorthodox situation, and my one free agent to get was Ray Edwards. Boy was I wrong about that.

What are the motivations of the player? This is kind of a loaded question because most of them are concerned about money. However, I think there are degrees to the money motivation, and it is probably a reason why Banner avoids older free agents. Guys coming off their rookie deals like Kruger, and undrafted free agents like Bryant are motivated to make the most of their first big money deal, while guys like Jennings are past that and are looking to add to their wealth. The thought that you are financially secure before you head onto the field has to play a factor into how devoted a player is to making every single play possible vs. protecting their body. Whether that factor is a benefit to the Browns can be debated.

How many of our draft picks do you think can contribute next year? This goes hand in hand with how you feel about Lombardi’s drafting ability. Last year Billy Winn, a sixth round pick, contributed significantly to the team. If the same can happen this year (big if) that is 5 more players that you can add to the lineup that will contribute, with one player hopefully a top tier talent.

Answer these questions and it might give you a better perspective. Personally, I hope they go one step further and get Grimes. It would give them a little more freedom in the draft.

I love how Dan organized these thoughts and I welcome all of you to respond in kind.

As for the first question – let’s just say Miami (and Indianapolis and Kansas City to a lesser degree) have basically ruined their salary cap by committing a LOT of free agent money in pursuit of one (and maybe, maybe, maybe two) runs at a championship. On one hand, this is admirable and if you’re a fan of any of these teams, you have to be excited about the level of commitment that the team made.

However, the catch is that neither of these three teams (especially Miami) is anywhere near good enough to compete for a championship. And while it’s incredibly boring to keep bringing this fact up, the CONSISTENT NFL title contenders are those teams who build through the draft – and NOT the ones who give marginal cornerbacks huge sums of guaranteed money.

As for Dan’s second question regarding player motivation, I think I’ve covered this before , but the motivation for most players is to cash in on the biggest contract possible before:

a) Major Brain Trauma occurs.
b) The team that signed you less than a year before cuts you.
c) You become an NFL veteran, which means you have priced yourself out of the league.
d) All of the above.

Regardless of age, talent level, experience and practically every other reason imaginable, financial security outweighs everything – which is why NFL free agency is such a gamble for teams.

As for Dan’s draft pick question, I would realistically say that ONE 2013 draft pick should instantly contribute. I can’t see another 2012 scenario where several rookies become instant starters. Simply because the Browns don’t have a second round pick (a round that produced four starters during Tom Heckert’s time as GM) and based on the idea that several Heckert draft picks will likely perform much better given the improved coaching staff in place, I can’t see big contributions from mid to late round picks.

And of course by predicting ONE 2013 rookie contributor, I’m hoping it’s the first round pick spearheaded by Lombardi.


Finally, here’s two more Historical and Pop Culture Mock Draft picks. To see the first six picks, click here.


In a move that some would call a Hail Mary of sorts, the Cardinals hope to solve their abysmal quarterback situation by selecting the beloved 19th century religious leader. Newman, who weighs in at a slight 7 Stone, is known more for his Anglican beliefs and devotion to religious purity rather than his passing accuracy or pocket awareness. However, considering the football Cardinals haven’t experienced success since the retirement of Kurt Warner – himself a self-styled religious Cardinal – perhaps the pick wasn’t meant for an earthly realm.

As for his thoughts on actually guiding the Cardinals back to relevance, Newman could only offer the following:

“Let us act on what we have, since we have not what we wish.”

On the Clock – BUFFALO


In a move that surprised few Historical and Pop Culture Mock Draft analysts, the Bills opt for veteran experience over youth in selecting Okawa, the world’s second oldest living person. Okawa, a frail 115 year-old Japanese woman, is expected to fill in at slot receiver for the often punch-less Bills. However, the supercentenarian struggled during Combine workouts – regularly falling asleep during timed events. However, Okawa’s penchant for napping only endeared her further to Bills’ owner Ralph Wilson – himself a relatively spry 94-year old.

It was obvious during the Bills’ post-draft press conference that the excitement of the day had caught up to both Okawa and Wilson. When asked for their thoughts on the team’s future, Okawa responded:


On the Clock – NY JETS


More later in the week. Leave your thoughts below.

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Comments (10)

  1. Gary Collins

    Everyone will miss Phil, but I don’t think he’d have stayed unless the browns would have given him, say two million reasons to stay. The browns probably offered the same money as everyone else, and, not being a lifelong fan of the team, Phil gets to chase his ring. Banner isn’t going to overpay for a kicker. Plus, it’s the old we finished 5-11 with you we can finish 5-11 without you.

    • Sure. It’s telling when Dawson only signed a one-year deal to finally leave Cleveland. I’m sure he could have got something similar here. But, the pursuit of a ring probably means more to him.

  2. Luke Seubert

    Note to dk or anybody on Reboot with superior NFL-stats-research-fu. Just for fun, could somebody look up the total points scored by various Browns players since 1999? Obviously, Phil Dawson will lead the pack with a huge total, but I am curious to know just how big the gap is between Phil and the second leading scorer for the Browns lo these past fourteen seasons.

    • Max

      According to pro football reference, Dawson is the Browns’ second all time leading scorer with 1271 points. The next name from 1999-2012 on the “Browns career scoring” list is Braylon Edwards with 172 (all time Browns rank – 26th). Next after Braylon is Kevin Johnson (#32) with 138 pts, and Josh Cribbs is #34 with 120 (although it appears that is only through 2011).
      So, yeah…if PFR is correct, its not a gap, its more of a canyon

      • It’s pretty telling. Also, Braylon was basically the best offensive player of the expansion era – at least according to the numbers.

  3. jhf44lk

    Although Dawson is a first class person and an excellent kicker, I could care less they did not sign him back! We need to get better players at several positions to make a run at the divison. Phil you were a good kicker…but I would trade you (or cut you or throw you out with the bath water)for a corner who can cover and tackle, 8 days a week. The feelings are nice but we need more players!!!! Go Browns

    • I was thinking of doing a Dawson something this week. I’ll take a look at this and some others. Thanks, Luke.

    • That’s been the argument for a while now. Kicker is a de-valued position. Had the Browns been a better team, I doubt Dawson would have been franchised twice.

  4. Gary Collins

    I was trying to define Phil’s impact over the last few years. Sadly, it’s the difference between “almost always almost winning” and almost always failing to cover.

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