With the NFL draft just around the corner, we take a look back at the five worst draft misses for the Cleveland Browns over the past five seasons.
The Cleveland Browns have objectively come a long way in the last five seasons. Now that growth, from a franchise perspective, has not been without its share of bumps in the road and the progression has not been exactly linear.
But for the first time since the franchise has returned to the NFL in 1999, the Browns have a capable front office in place that’s building a team that could and should contend for an AFC North title for the next several years.
The front office’s plan was, and is, to build a foundation through the NFL Draft, select young players, identify the talent they wish to retain and build around, and pay them early so they can stay ahead of escalating contracts at key positions. With a foundation and a core in place, it is easier to supplement areas of need through trades and free agency.
While these are not revolutionary ideas and practices, they definitely can be filed under the easier said than done category. What has separated this current front office from the iterations that have come and gone in Berea? They finally began to hit on their early draft picks and were able to retain the players to create a foundation.
But that is not why we are here today. Today we are going to highlight, or lowlight, the five worst draft selections that Browns have made over the past five seasons.
Cleveland Browns draft miss No. 5: Howard Wilson
Don’t be mad if you are finding yourself saying who is Howard Wilson? It is probably the most common thought after reading Wilson’s name on this list.
In the 2017 NFL draft, the Browns traded two fifth-round picks to the Denver Broncos in order to select Wilson with the 126th overall pick in the fourth round. Wilson, a 6-foot-1 185-pound cornerback out of the University of Houston, had the traits that even the current Browns front offices coveted. Wilson was a young corner with good length, solid measurables, and good production.
While at Houston, Wilson recorded nine interceptions and 10 pass breakups over the course of 27 games played. The cornerback was also a willing participant in run defense, registering 107 total tackles, and 77 of those were of the solo variety. On the surface, it seemed like a player that could have been worth trading up to get.
What happened to Wilson? In short, injuries derailed his career before he ever took a snap at the professional level. Wilson was placed on the physically unable to perform list in 2017, on the injured reserved in 2018, and was waived and then cut prior to the draft in 2019. Goodbye sweet prince, we hardly even knew you.
It should be stated that some of the players remaining on the board, when the Browns traded up for Wilson, included: running backs Jamaal Williams, Marlon Mack, Aaron Jones, and Chris Carson. Safeties: Desmond King, Chuck Clark, and Xavier Woods. And some tight end named George Kittle. A swing and miss for the Browns.