For all of the struggles the Cleveland Browns have had in the win department, one would think that their recent draft history was partially to blame.
However, over the past five years, the Browns actually haven't had terrible drafts—granted, there have been players who have ultimately not managed to contribute much in Cleveland or in the NFL in general, but there are recent Browns drafts that have proved fruitful from top to bottom (2011 being a shining example).
With this year's draft rapidly approaching, now is a good time to take a look back and see who's worked out and who simply hasn't among the Browns' recent selections. Here are the studs and duds among the Browns' last five draft classes.
Stud: CB Joe Haden, 2010, Round 1, Pick 7
Browns cornerback Joe Haden has only played three seasons in the NFL, but he's already being lumped in with the league's best players at his position. Though his 2011 season was somewhat of a disappointment—he had no interceptions—he bounced back quite well in 2012 with three picks despite there being little consistent stability at the other outside corner position and despite his four-game suspension.
While it seems easy to call Haden a stud—look at his draft position, after all—a top-10 pick is still no sure thing. There's draft billing and then there's living up to it, and Haden already has in his short career. If the Browns can get another quality corner to pair with him on the outside this year, there's little doubt Haden could end the season among the top five cornerbacks in the league.
Dud: QB Colt McCoy, 2010, Round 3, Pick 85
While some may think quarterback Colt McCoy wasn't given a fair shake in Cleveland, the fact that he wasn't given the opportunity to take the starting job and make it his own through three different coaching regimes speaks to how well-suited he is to be a starter. For a team like the Browns that has been clamoring for a franchise passer to lead their offense, McCoy's three-year staying power still didn't give him the upper hand in the battle for the job.
McCoy played 24 games for the Browns, completing 409-of-702 total pass attempts for 4,388 yards, 21 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He and a draft pick were shipped to the San Francisco 49ers at the beginning of April for two picks in return, where he'll reprise his backup role.
To play quarterback in Cleveland requires many things, a major one being a strong arm. McCoy lacked the ability to get the ball consistently down the field, which made him a poor fit for the team and a poor use of a draft pick.
Stud: C Alex Mack, 2009, Round 1, Pick 21
A center is an unconventional first-round pick, but when you're a team that needs one and a talent like Alex Mack makes himself available, there's no reason to pass him up. And in Mack the Browns found one of the best centers in the league, someone destined to be an NFL lifer and someone who will probably make Cleveland his one and only team.
While Mack's pass-protection skills are clearly an asset—he gave up just three sacks in 2012 as well as single-digit hurries—his run-blocking capabilities are what makes him a top-10 center.
Quality play, durability and consistency are necessary for any offensive line, and that starts with the center. As long as Mack is with the Browns, the rest of the line, no matter who they are, will be automatically better.
Dud: WR Brian Robiskie, 2009, Round 2, Pick 36
An attendant issue to the Browns' struggle to find a franchise quarterback has also been their problems finding reliable targets for that hypothetical man to throw to. The Browns thought they had something in 2009 when they took wide receiver Brian Robiskie in the second round of the draft, but instead they got a middling talent who simply fizzled out.
Robiskie had just one convincingly good season in college, in which he had 935 receiving yards, but clearly the Browns thought they could mold him into a long-term starter. It didn't work out, however—he played in only 31 games in his three seasons with the Browns and caught just 39 of the 80 passes thrown to him for a combined 441 yards and three touchdowns. He was released in 2011, and is now with his second team since the cut. That's not the ideal trajectory for an early second-round receiver.
Stud: DT Phil Taylor, 2011, Round 1, Pick 21
Though Phil Taylor's career stats don't have him among the best defensive tackles in the league, he's still been an excellent draft pickup for the Browns. Their switch to a 3-4 defense should do him many favors this year, considering Taylor is projected to be the team's nose tackle and he's—to put it plainly—a mountain of a man.
Taylor is more comfortable in a pass-rushing capacity than in stopping the run and his numbers reflect this—five sacks in 24 games, compared with just 73 combined tackles in that time. As a first-round pick, perhaps the Browns would like to have seen more out of him in his first two seasons, but as an anchor for the defensive line, he's a perfect fit.
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