Now I don’t like to dwell on the past especially when it comes to the misery of the Cleveland Browns, but when you look at their mistakes since returning in 1999, their biggest have come in the NFL Draft.
The media likes to tell you as quickly as the first game of the season with a new draft class that the front office and coaching staff failed in drafting (insert name here) instead of taking (insert name here) as they did when Carson Wentz torched the Browns in Week 1 last year.
Over the next several weeks, I will play revisionist history and re-draft for the Cleveland Browns. From 2010 to 2014, I will put on my general manager and see if I draft better than Tom Heckert, Michael Lombardi and Ray Farmer did (I think it’ll be an easy task).
I won’t be doing the 2015 and 2016 drafts because it’s still too early to decide if those draft classes were a failure. They deserve more time.
My guidelines for the re-draft
- I stay with the picks they selected, it means that trades that happened in the actual draft will stay in place.
- If I pick a new player, it’ll be within ten picks of the Browns pick. I’ve seen re-drafts on the internet where Russell Wilson was the 1st pick in the 2012 draft when he was the 75th pick in the actual draft. I’m not going crazy revisionist history just picking players that were in the range of their original pick.
So let’s get started
7th overall pick: CB Joe Haden, Florida
Original pick: CB Joe Haden, Florida
The Browns made the right pick the first time and I’m doing it again in the re-draft. Safety Earl Thomas and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul were in consideration but I think Haden has been worth the pick the Browns made seven years ago.
With two Pro Bowl appearances, a second team All Pro selection and 19 career interceptions, Haden has been one of the best draft picks the organization has made since 1999. He’s had a problem staying healthy in recent years but when healthy, he’s a top corner in football.
38th overall pick: S TJ Ward, Oregon
Original pick: S TJ Ward, Oregon
Once again, the Browns made the right pick again the first time and once again I did it again. It was tough deciding between Ward and tight end Rob Gronkowski who went 42nd overall but later on you’ll see why I did this.
Even though he’s no longer with the Browns, Ward has proven he was the right pick back in 2010. The two time Pro Bowl safety has had great success in the league with both Cleveland and Denver. He’s got eight career interceptions, 8.5 sacks and ten forced fumbles and won a Super Bowl with Denver in 2015.
59th overall pick: WR Golden Tate, Notre Dame (Originally drafted 60th overall by Seattle)
Original pick: RB Montario Hardesty, Tennessee
Montario Hardesty could never stay healthy from the moment he was drafted by the Browns. He dealt with knee injuries in college and he dealt with them in the pros. He only lasted three seasons and only ran for 537 yards and one touchdown in those three seasons.
Taken one pick after Hardesty, Golden Tate has been one of the best play making receivers. In seven seasons with Seattle and Detroit, he’s caught 445 passes for 5,416 yards and 29 touchdowns. He also helped Seattle win a Super Bowl in 2013.
85th overall pick: LB NaVorro Bowman, Penn State (Originally drafted 91st overall by San Francisco)
Original pick: QB Colt McCoy, Texas
I remember being excited as a Browns fan in 2010 when the Browns drafted McCoy thinking he could be the long term option at quarterback. Well, he got thrown into it early and was beaten by behind a poor offensive line and after a season and a half as starter, the team drafted Brandon Weeden to replace him. McCoy is still in the league, backing up Kirk Cousins in Washington.
Bowman has and continues to be one of the best linebackers in all of football. With 505 career tackles, 12.5 sacks and multiple Pro Bowl and All Pro selections, he’s been the leader of the 49ers defense throughout San Francisco’s numerous regime changes since 2010.
91st overall selection: TE Jimmy Graham, Miami (FL). (Originally drafted 95th overall by New Orleans)
Original pick: OL Shawn Lauvao, Arizona State
Lauvao was a reliable guard for the Browns from 2010 to 2013 being the starting right guard for the majority of his tenure but never showing any potential to be an All Pro at his position. He has since been with the Redskins where he has continued to be a starting guard on their offensive line.
Jimmy Graham was a basketball player turned tight end when the Saints took a chance on him. He has since been one of the best tight ends in all of football. 499 catches for 6,280 yards and 59 touchdowns so far in his career between New Orleans and Seattle and if he keeps his production at an elite level, he’ll end up in Canton.
No picks in the 4th round
160th overall pick: S Reshad Jones, Georgia (Originally drafted 163rd overall by Miami)
Original pick: S Larry Asante, Nebraska
Asante never played a game for the Browns as he was one of the final roster cuts in the 2010 preseason. He spent six seasons between Tampa Bay, Indianapolis and Oakland. Played in 39 games (4 starts, he only recorded 49 tackles, one interception and two forced fumbles.
Taken three picks after Asante, Jones has been one of the underrated safeties in football. Spending his entire career in Miami, he’s recorded 16 interceptions in his seven seasons including 5 in 2015 when he was selected to his first Pro Bowl.
177th overall: LB Arthur Moats, James Madison (Originally drafted 178th overall by Buffalo)
Original pick: WR Carlton Mitchell, South Florida
I can remember a draft analyst comparing Carlton Mitchell to Brandon Marshall and I thought we had a steal in the 6th round. He caught three passes for 31 yards during his career and was out of the league after two seasons. He’s best remembered for Tony Rizzo screaming his name during a rant on the radio in 2011.
Moats, while he hasn’t been an All Pro or elite level linebacker has been reliable during his career. He’s played in all but five games in seven seasons with Buffalo and Pittsburgh and has 111 tackles, 16.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in his career. He’s best known for hitting Johnny Manziel and nearly ripping his head off in the process during the Browns/Steelers matchup in 2015.
186th overall pick: WR Antonio Brown, Central Michigan (Originally drafted 195th by Pittsburgh)
Original pick: DE Clifton Geathers, South Carolina
Geathers never played a game for Cleveland. He played for five different teams from 2010-2014 and only recorded one career sack. He’s currently out of football.
Antonio Brown however, has become the best wide receiver in football. Sitting behind guys like Hines Ward and Mike Wallace helped Brown develop until he could step out and emerge as a playmaker. In seven seasons, he’s caught 632 passes (including four consecutive 100 catch seasons) for 8,377 yards and 50 touchdowns. Pittsburgh recently rewarded him with a 4 year, $68 million dollar extension.