Cleveland Browns have no extra picks in 2020 NFL Draft

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walks past a video board displaying an image of Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma after he was picked
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walks past a video board displaying an image of Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma after he was picked /

For the past few seasons, the Cleveland Browns have had several extra picks in the NFL Draft, but that’s not the case in 2020

Although Sashi Brown developed an enormous war chest of salary cap dollars and stockpiled draft picks for the Cleveland Browns, much of that was spent in the John Dorsey era, leaving the Browns without the extra picks they have gotten used to in previous years. In addition, the salary cap was overspent in 2019, though the team is overall in good shape, salary-cap-wise.

The basic technique for building through the draft is simple. A rebuilding team realizes that there are a handful of teams willing to overpay to get extra draft picks now. Hence teams will often give a future first-round pick for the opportunity to move up in the present draft.

For example, the Browns traded the 12th overall pick to Houston for the 25th overall pick in 2017, plus their first-round pick in 2018. That was a solid move as that turned out to be the fourth overall pick, used for Denzel Ward. The team still has to know who to draft, but trading the present for the future really is the tough, hard road to success for many teams.

Sashi Brown tried to follow that recipe, and eventually generated three first-round picks in 2017 including first overall, plus two first-round picks in 2018 for John Dorsey to use.  Brown’s problem was that he overdid it, trading away all veteran quarterbacks (Josh McCown, Robert Griffin III, and Brock Osweiler), and paying most of Joe Haden‘s salary while he played for Pittsburgh.

Then there was the fiasco when Hue Jackson convinced the front office to trade for A. J. McCarron and Brown flubbed the paperwork. Brown’s other critical problem was that he just did not draft well, and the Browns did not benefit from the hard-won extra draft picks. The overall result was 0-16 and a new job with the Washington Wizards. He needed someone like John Dorsey to make the right picks, especially at the quarterback position.

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The chart in the following Tweet shows the draft capital each year since the Haslams took over the team:

Each draft pick was assigned a point value using the Brandt System devised mainly by Gil Brandt, Tex Schramm, and Jimmy Johnson back in the day. The system is based on a mid-first round draft pick being worth 1,000 points. The idea is to be able to compare different draft picks from different rounds.

According, the Brandt points are summed for each year’s draft. The charts show that Sashi Brown was able to build a huge portfolio of draft picks, and John Dorsey used them up without reinvesting for the future.

The extra picks are gone now, and the Browns for the first time in years traded away their first-round pick last year, believing they were ready to make a Super Bowl run.

Or if they were not trying for the Super Bowl, it was foolish to trade away a first-round draft pick. Building a team by getting older players, even if they are stars, is counter-intuitive, to say the least.

Consequently, the 2020 Browns will not have extra picks. It is not going to be as spectacular as 2017 when Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, and David Njoku were all taken in the first round, or 2018 when Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward were taken in Round 1, with Nick Chubb taken in Round 2.

A related concern is salary cap dollars. At the end of the day, it is PRO football and the players have to be paid, and there is a science involved in putting together the best team.  The second chart, shows that when the Browns saved salary cap, the performance suffered, which is what should be expected.

GMs who saved salary cap dollars were Joe Banner/Mike Lombardi and Sashi Brown. Ray Farmer overspent, and John Dorsey spent money like a drunken sailor. Cleveland overspent the 2019 annual cap by over $20 million dollars, and the war chest which at one time had reached $59 million under Sashi Brown, was down to $36 million by the end of 2019 — according to That’s still very healthy but does not excuse the act of overspending on a losing team.

Overspending the salary cap by that amount only makes sense if the team felt that it was very close to a Super Bowl and a few star players would make the difference. It would never be justified just so a team can go 6-10.

One thing that did not happen was John Dorsey proposing to the Haslams, “Hey I think we can go 6-10 if you let me overspend the cap allowance by $20 million this year.” And the Haslams did not respond, “Oh great, John!  Well, go ahead and spend the money! And go ahead and trade our first-round draft pick this year if you think it might help!”

No, the 2019 Browns were clearly in “win now” mode and were willing to spend extra dollars and trade away draft picks to get there.

The 2020 Browns are left with an about average draft. Whereas for the past few years the Browns have been stars of the draft, with very high draft picks, this year they will be drafting 10th. They currently are on tap to draft seven players, not 14 as in 2016.

Cleveland does have an extra pick in Round 3 thanks to the Duke Johnson trade, but they have none in Round 5.  There’s always a chance that they might unearth premier players at any point in the draft, but more likely they are not coming away with a Myles Garrett or Baker Mayfield this time.

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They may well decide to trade present assets for extra draft picks in 2021, either before the draft or perhaps later in the off-season as was the case with Duke Johnson last year.