The Cleveland Browns have had more than their share of bad drafts, but one year in particular stands above the rest, according to ESPN.
The NFL Draft has long been referred to as the Super Bowl for the Cleveland Browns.
But more times than not, especially since 1999, has been more like a weekday afternoon bowl game that only attracts friends and family.
This week ESPN took a crack at ranking both the best and worst draft classes for each NFL team since the start of the common draft in 1967. Using Pro Football Reference’s approximate value (AV) metric, which looks to determine a player’s value to his team, and eliminating drafts that include players that are still active with the team that drafted them, because their final value is still to be determined, the site came up with their rankings.
For the Browns, the worst draft class should come as no surprise as ESPN chose the 2013 draft, the one and only draft (thankfully) in Cleveland by Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi that brought Barkevious Mingo in the first round and not much else:
"Beyond Mingo, the cupboard was bare for the Browns that year, who had just a third-, a sixth- and two seventh-round picks after surrendering a second-rounder for the right to take Josh Gordon in the supplemental draft, and dealing for WR Davone Bess. Cornerback Leon McFadden (third round), defensive back Jamoris Slaughter (sixth round), defensive end Armonty Bryant (seventh round) and tackle Garrett Gilkey (seventh round) combined for only 12 starts for the Browns."
This draft probably set the Browns back more than any other draft since 1999. Even in years when the various Cleveland regimes missed on a high first-round pick, they were still able to get serviceable (and sometimes even talented) players in the later rounds. But the Browns would have almost been better off simply passing on the draft entirely given how little production they received from the players they drafted.
While the first round in 2013 has proven to be historically ugly, there was talent to be found as, for example, Banner and Lombardi selected McFadden one spot before the Arizona Cardinals selected Tyrann Mathieu.
In a fun add-on, ESPN also gives special mention to the 1995 draft, the last one in Cleveland under former head coach Bill Belichick:
"Incidentally, by our rule that we’re counting only AV produced for the drafting team, the 1995 class would be the Browns’ worst by technicality. The team became the Ravens in 1996, taking the players but leaving behind all records, so only one season of production counts toward Cleveland. Beyond technicality, Cleveland’s ’95 class was awful, with a first-round bust (LB Craig Powell), a third-round pick who started 12 NFL games (QB Eric Zeier), and only one more player who appeared in an NFL game (DE Mike Frederick). To add insult to injury, the Browns traded down in the 1995 first round, obtaining a 1996 first-round pick who would be taken No. 26 overall … and become Ray Lewis."
Remember that the next time someone tries to rewrite history and tell you how Belichick was building a dynasty in Cleveland.
Honorable mention could also go to:
- The 2009 draft class, which produced Alex Mack and the second-round Pu Pu Platter of Brian Robiskie, Mohamed Massaquoi and David Veikune
- The 2008 class, which included the immortal Beau Bell
- The 1992 class, another Belichick “masterpiece” that had “Touchdown” Tommy Vardell in the first round
- The 1987 class with Mike Junkin, the fabled “mad dog in a meat market
- The 1976 class, when the Browns first pick in the draft came in the second round in the form of tackle Billy Corbett, who never played a game for the team.
ESPN looked at the impact of a full draft class, but if you only looked at the first round it will be nearly impossible to top the first round of the 2014 draft, when former general manager selected Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel. That will take its rightful place as the undisputed worst first round in the history of the franchise and should prove almost impossible to beat.
Hopefully Sashi Brown and Hue Jackson don’t take that as a challenge.