The Cleveland Browns have been notoriously poor at drafting players since 1999, a point driven home by Pro Football Focus’ look back at the 2010 draft.
Anyone who has watched the Cleveland Browns for more than 10 minutes knows that one of the biggest problems plaguing the team since its return in 1999 is the continual turnover among the coaching staff and front office.
That turnover is due, in large part, by the team’s inability to string together successful drafts, repeatedly missing year after year on players who are supposed to form the core of the team. The front office bungles the draft, the coaching staff can’t win with a roster that includes too many players who range from average to bad, everyone is fired and the cycle starts over again.
The analytics website Pro Football Focus recently took a look back at the 2010 NFL Draft to re-evaulate the selections using the following criteria:
"With that in mind, we’re going to step back and take a look at the 2010 NFL draft, for which we’ve accumulated the 2010-2015 full season grades for each of the 255 players selected that year. The 2010 NFL draft was the last of its kind, and took place in an entirely different ecosystem before the new collective bargaining agreement was implemented, resulting in a rookie wage scale that effectively slashed rookie salaries to fractions of what they previously were."
"Any misuse of draft capital was especially costly to teams picking early in the draft, as these high picks would automatically become the highest-paid players at their position before even taking a single professional snap."
"Like all drafts, the repercussions remain many years down the line."
The top five teams, in order, were the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. As the site points out, four of those teams made the playoffs this year and are consistent playoff contenders, reinforcing the draft as the best way to build a successful team.
As for the Browns, we’re not revealing any secrets when we say they didn’t come out looking very good.
That year, the first under general manager Tom Heckert, the Browns selected cornerback Joe Haden in the first round, safety T.J. Ward and running back Montario Hardesty in the second round, quarterback Colt McCoy and guard Shawn Lauvao in the third round, defensive back Larry Asante in the fifth round, and wide receiver Carlton Mitchell and defensive end Clifton Geathers in the sixth round.
Here’s what PFF had to say:
"Cumulative grade (seven picks): +67.6"
"Best pick: CB Joe Haden (round 1, pick 7, +47 cumulative grade)"
"Haden delivered positively-graded seasons every year since entering the league, and has earned two Pro Bowl nods along with one second-team All-Pro. Safety T.J. Ward (round 2, pick 38, +42.1 cumulative grade) also delivered over his four seasons in Cleveland before leaving in free agency for Denver."
"Worst pick: RB Montario Hardesty (round 2, pick 59, -13.8 cumulative grade)"
"The second-rounder is another in what feels like a long line of Cleveland RB busts."
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Of the players the Browns selected, only Haden is still with the club and he, along with Ward, are the only ones who have made a real impact on the game. Of the rest of the group:
- Hardesty appeared in 23 games in three years with the Browns and has been out of the league since 2013.
- McCoy appeared in 24 games in three years before spending a season with the San Francisco 49ers and the past two years with the Washington Redskins.
- Lauvao made 44 stars in four years and has spent the past two seasons with Washington.
- Asante never appeared in a game with the Browns, and has appeared in 39 games (make four starts) while spending time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts and Oakland Raiders.
- Mitchell appeared in 16 games over two seasons with the Browns and has been out of the league since.
- Geathers never appeared in a game for the Browns, and has appeared in 40 games overall while playing for six different teams.
You could probably do a similar exercise with each of the Browns drafts since 1999 and come up with similar results – especially with the first round of the 2014 draft.
Which just further illustrates why it is so important that the team gets it right in this year’s draft. They obviously won’t hit on every single pick – no team does – but with the No. 2 and No. 32 overall selections, the Browns have to walk away with two longterm starters if they want to finally break the cycle.