Cleveland Browns: Revisiting the 2015 NFL Draft selections

Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Danny Shelton (Washington) poses for a photo with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the number 12th overall pick to the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Danny Shelton (Washington) poses for a photo with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the number 12th overall pick to the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Cleveland Browns are still paying for past draft mistakes. In Part 3 of a series, we look at how it could have gone differently in the 2015 NFL Draft.

In this final piece, we look at the 2015 NFL Draft and what could have been for the Cleveland Browns. In addition, at the end, you’ll see all the “new” picks from 2013-15 and what the team could’ve looked like.

If you could power though the last two look-backs, you can make it through this one, too. With all that in mind, let’s get started.

Round 1:

DT Danny Shelton, OL Cam Erving

Other Options: RB Melvin Gordon, CB Marcus Peters, OLB/DE Bud Dupree, OLB Shaq Thompson, FS Byron Jones, SS Landon Collins, LB Benardrick McKinney

New Pick(s): Marcus Peters, Landon Collins

With all respect to Danny Shelton, in the 2014 do over the Browns selected defensive tackle Aaron Donald, so Shelton wouldn’t be necessary. Selecting Peters and pairing him with Malcolm Butler forms the best pair of cornerbacks in the league for the Browns.

Related: Revisiting the Browns 2013 Draft

Landon Collins is an improvement over Tony Jefferson at strong safety, which would have led the Browns to switch Jefferson to free safety and allow Collins to step in and control the strong safety position.

Nov 29, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark (55) sacks Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks won 39-30. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 29, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark (55) sacks Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks won 39-30. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports /

Round 2:

LB Nate Orchard

Other Options: DE Frank Clark, WR Tyler Lockett, RB Tevin Coleman

New Pick: Frank Clark

Frank Clark fills a need at defensive end and is an improvement over Nate Orchard. In 2016, Clark had a career high 10 sacks, while Orchard has three in his career.

Round 3:

RB Duke Johnson, DT Xavier Cooper

Other Options: LB Jordan Hicks, RB David Johnson, WR Jamison Crowder

New Pick(s)David Johnson, Jamison Crowder.

The Browns have Latavius Murray from the 2013 re-draft, but have no depth behind him. Johnson was a surprise player who improved his stock thanks to a great Scouting Combine.

Related: Revisiting the Browns 2014 Draft

Crowder gives the team a dependable slot receiver who won’t drop passes from Derek Carr (2014 selection) and who can be the punt returner the Browns haven’t had since Josh Cribbs.

Round 4: 

S Ibraheim Campbell, WR Vince Mayle

Other Options: LB Kwon Alexander, WR Stefon Diggs, RB Jay Ajayi, LB D.J. Alexander

New Pick(s): WR Stefon Diggs, LB D.J. Alexander

Stefon Diggs pairs with DeAndre Hopkins (2013 selection) on the outside to form one of the most dangerous wide receiver group in the league and makes Carr even happier.

D.J. Alexander made his first Pro Bowl this past season and is just getting started on a successful career. Alexander and Christian Kirksey make the best middle linebacker duo since Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman.

Sep 18, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman La’el Collins (71) and Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith (77) line up against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman La’el Collins (71) and Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith (77) line up against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Round 5: No Selection

Round 6: 

CB Charles Gaines, TE Malcolm Johnson, TE Randall Telfer

Other Options: CB Quandre Diggs, RB Thomas Rawls, WR Adam Humphries, OL La’el Collins

New Pick(s): Quandre Diggs, La’el Collins, Thomas Rawls

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Quandre Diggs joins Malcolm Butler and Marcus Peters in an already stacked secondary, giving  it the depth it needs to become the best secondary in all of football.

Thomas Rawls is the big, brute-force punisher that is beneficial when there are short yards to gain and on goal-line scenarios, but has enough speed to be an every down back if need be.

La’el Collins would never have left the first round if he wasn’t part of a murder investigation. But if we go back and he’s still there, the Browns must pull the trigger on him, completing the new overall best offensive line unit in all of football, featuring Collins, Trai Turner, Alex Mack, Ryan Shraeder and Joe Thomas.

Round 7:

LB Hayes Pullard, CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

Other Options: TE Will Tye, WR Eli Rogers, DE David Irving

New Pick(s): Will Tye, David Irving

Pairing Tye with Jordan Reed (2014 re-draft) gives the Browns two dependable tight ends. Tye is a better blocker than receiver, but his size makes him a match-up problem for many secondary players and has dependable hands when called upon.

David Irving may only be a depth pick, but he has shown that his position flexibility, size ( 6-foot-7 and 290 pounds) and strength allows him to play any position along the defensive line.

Reviewing the new Browns

2013: WR Deandre Hopkins, TE Jordan Reed, RB Latavius Murray, S Tony Jefferson, OT Ryan Shraeder.

2014: DT Aaron Donald, DE Dee Ford, QB Derek Carr, MLB Christian Kirksey, OG Trai Turner, CB Malcolm Butler.

2015: CB Marcus Peters, S Landon Collins, DE Frank Clark, RB David Johnson, WR Jamison Crowder, WR Stefon Diggs, MLB D.J. Alexander, CB Quandre Diggs, RB Thomas Rawls, OG La’el Collins, TE Will Tye, DE David Irving

You may now wipe away the tears.

So why do this exercise? What was the point? The point is to remind Cleveland fans of the picks that the team reached for, the picks they didn’t bother touching because of off-field concerns, and to give a glimpse of what might have been and that a Super Bowl contending team was/is possible.

Next: Browns: 5 best second-round picks of all time

There’s a lot of pressure on NFL execs to get picks right and put a team on the field that can win, but none have been more desperate in that last 20 years than the Browns organization.

Success is a possibility but only if they take these lessons to heart: Don’t reach for any player. Don’t let need pressure you to pick a player. Don’t let a player’s off-field concerns make him 100 percent unavailable to you. And, most important of all, is learn from the past or be doomed to repeat it.