by Adam Fournier, Ourlads’ Intern
Since football returned to Cleveland in 1999, the Browns have been one of the most disfunctional organizations in the NFL over that stretch. The new Cleveland Browns have only appeared in the playoffs one time and have only mustered up two winning seasons. Continual draft failure, especially at the quarterback position, is one of the biggest reasons the Browns have been so bad for so long. Although the Browns have drafted some solid players in the past five years, the overall result has still been uneven at best.
When talking about Cleveland’s recent draft failures, the only place to start is the 2012 1st round. The Browns had two selections and chose running back Trent Richardson with the 3rd pick and Brandon Weeden with the 22nd pick. Richardson was a Heisman Trophy Finalist and absolute star at Alabama and looked to be a sure thing coming into the NFL. However, Richardson has been a big flop in the NFL. To be fair to Cleveland, Richardson actually had a decent rookie year for the team; and the Browns were able to flip him for a first round pick in 2014. Still with all of that considered, Richardson was still a huge miss for being a 3rd overall selection. Weeden was drafted to solve Cleveland’s quarterback issues but had about as much success as his predecessors. He never looked the part in his 20 starts and the Browns gave up on him after just two seasons releasing him in 2014.
Weeden is not the only quarterback drafted in the last 5 years that did not cut it with the Browns. Colt McCoy was picked in the 3rd round in 2010 and started 21 games. The Browns cut their losses with McCoy after three seasons and traded him to San Francisco. Also from the 2010 draft, another player that did not pan out is running back Montario Hardesty. Hardesty’s career was halted when he missed his entire rookie season due to injury. Hardesty did making some contributions at running back for two years; however, he was placed on IR in 2013 eventually being released ending his career. One player that is not in the bust category yet but has been somewhat disappointing is 2013 1st rounder Barkevious Mingo. Mingo has made contributions on defense both seasons with the Browns but has not lived up to the 6th overall selection. He will need to step up big in 2015 for Cleveland to live up to his selection. The Browns’ next pick in 2013 did not pan out as 3rd rounder Leon McFadden was released after just one season with the team. Two players that must be mentioned are 2014 first round pair Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel as both had character issues during their rookie season. Gilbert made decent contributions in his rookie season but was suspended for the final game 2014 for off the field issues. Manziel struggled in his appearances last season and had many critics, including from inside the Browns’ organization, about his off the field attitude. Manziel will need to step up on and off the field to avoid going down in the bust category.
It has not been all bad for the Browns as they have drafted some very good players in the past five years. The best player was the Browns’ first pick over this stretch 2010 1st round pick Joe Haden. Haden has been as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL since stepping into the league and has made the Pro Bowl the last two years. The Browns’ will be counting on Haden to shine in 2015 as the best player on their defense. The Browns’ also found a solid contributor to the defense in the 1st round the following year in Phil Taylor. Taylor has been a solid contributor on the defensive line over the past 4 seasons. Mitchell Schwartz has started every game since being drafted in 2012 and will be the starting at right tackle for the Browns in 2015. Haden is not the only Pro Bowler the Browns have drafted in the past five years as they also drafted T.J. Ward and Jordan Cameron. Both players were solid for the Browns and were selected to the 2013 Pro Bowl. Unfortunately for the Browns, neither player still plays for the team as Ward left for Denver in 2014 and Cameron left for Miami in 2015.