Re-Grading the Cleveland Browns' Past 5 Drafts

Will BurgeContributor IApril 22, 2014

Re-Grading the Cleveland Browns' Past 5 Drafts

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    Mark Duncan

    The NFL draft is a game of educated guessing. The guys who make the best guesses end up with Super Bowl rings. The ones who don’t, well, it seems like they usually work for the Cleveland Browns.

    That is exactly what makes the draft so magical, though. For one day, it looks like every problem has been solved and the players chosen will be the ones to right the ship.

    That doesn’t always end up being the case. It really is not fair to grade a draft class for about three years, but we do it the second players are selected anyway.

    As they say, hindsight is always 20/20. So lets go back and re-grade the last five drafts for the Cleveland Browns. I hope you have some Pepto-Bismol for the upset stomach you are about to have.

2009 Draft: D

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    Credit: ClevelandBrowns.com

    This is one of the hardest drafts to stomach. Former Browns coach and czar Eric Mangini decided he was going to draft his way. Apparently, his way was terrible.

    Only one player from this draft, center Alex Mack, remains with the Browns. He has become a Pro Bowl lineman and done very well for himself. He has done well to the tune of a five-year, $42 million contract.

    Other than him, only Kaluka Maiava, Don Carey and Brian Robiskie even played in the NFL in 2013, and Robiskie only played one game.

    Mack is the only player who has played 60 or more NFL games in his career.

    The worst part of this draft was spending not one, not two, but three second-round picks on terrible players who made zero impact. I need some Advil after looking at this draft again.

2010 Draft: C

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    Credit: ClevelandBrowns.com

    Once again, the Browns have just one player remaining on their roster from this draft. The difference this time is that former general manager Tom Heckert was able to snag two Pro Bowl players among this group of stiffs.

    T.J. Ward was a pick who was questioned heavily at the time but ended up panning out. Ward made the Pro Bowl in 2013 but was lost in free agency when the Browns opted to go after Donte Whitner.

    Joe Haden looks to be a perennial Pro Bowl talent and one of the best corners in the league.

    Montario Hardesty, Colt McCoy and Shawn Lauvao were all enormous second- and third-round busts.

    How could we forget receiver Carlton Mitchell? Every training camp the tales of his talent could be heard, but every season he was nowhere to be found. I wish this was Heckert’s worst draft as general manager, but sadly, it is not.

2011 Draft: B+

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    Credit: ClevelandBrowns.com

    The 2011 draft actually produced some very good talent. This was definitely the feather in Tom Heckert’s cap during his time in Cleveland.

    Phil Taylor is an animal on the defensive line and one of the tougher guys to block in the AFC North. Jabaal Sheard battled injuries last season but has showed he can play on the line or at outside linebacker in the NFL. He also has 21 sacks in his three seasons.

    Tight end Jordan Cameron finally translated his athletic ability into football skills and made the Pro Bowl in 2013. He fizzled off a little down the stretch but still had a very good season.

    Even Buster Skrine has turned into a nice selection. When you look at how well he played last year and then consider the fact that he was taken in the fifth round, it is very impressive.

    This may have been the best draft for the Browns since they returned in 1999.

2012 Draft: F

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    Credit: ClevelandBrowns.com

    Out of the 11 players selected in the 2012 draft, only four remain with the Cleveland Browns. This was an absolute disaster of a draft for Tom Heckert.

    And, no, I am not giving him credit for Josh Gordon in this draft because that was the supplemental draft and it is a completely different animal.

    Trading up for running back Trent Richardson ended up being the worst move the Browns could have done. In fact, the only good part about drafting Richardson was that he was eventually traded for another first-round pick.

    Brandon Weeden ended up being a “panicked disaster” just like Michael Lombardi said, per Tom Reed of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Not only is he not the Browns franchise quarterback, but he is also a backup somewhere else after just two seasons.

    On the positive side of things, John Hughes and Billy Winn have ended up being solid defensive linemen for the Browns. Mitchell Schwartz can still be a productive offensive lineman, but he needs to right the ship after a terrible sophomore campaign.

    Travis Benjamin proved that he can be an elite returner in the NFL but will need to stay healthy. At such a small size (510”, 175 lbs), that is a lot to ask.

    Even with those decent players, there is still probably not a Pro Bowl in sight for this group.

2013 Draft: Incomplete

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    Credit: ClevelandBrowns.com

    I know what you are thinking. Giving a draft an incomplete is the easy way out. While you are correct, I feel that it is only fitting with this draft.

    The reason I say this is not because of the players chosen. Barkevious Mingo was severely disappointing in his rookie year and needs to take big steps moving forward.

    Jamoris Slaughter never saw the field, as he spent the entire year injured. Leon McFadden struggled to step on the field last season and might struggle to make the roster this year.

    Defensive lineman Armonty Bryant was a nice surprise, but he has still not proven he can be productive consistently.

    The reason this draft gets an incomplete is because of the fourth- and fifth-round picks Cleveland traded away. The Browns now have 10 picks this year, including four in the third and fourth rounds. They can do some real damage with those picks.

    Good general managers can find starters and even Pro Bowl players in those rounds. If Ray Farmer is able to do that, then it will help the 2013 draft grade. If he does not, then this could go down as one of the worst overall drafts in Browns history.