Superstar Player the Cleveland Browns Could Have Drafted in 2014
This draft gives me severe PTSD when I look at it in hindsight and realize who the Browns passed on, what they went on to do, and remember who the Browns drafted instead. This is one of the all-time Browns drafts and not for good reasons.
With pick No. 8, Cleveland drafted cornerback Justin Gilbert out of Oklahoma State. Here’s a list of the next five players taken after Mr. Gilbert, all of who have gone on to make at least one Pro Bowl; Anthony Barr (LB), Eric Ebron (TE), Taylor Lewan (OT), Odell Beckham Jr. (WR), and Aaron Donald (DT). Read that list again and then think about Gilbert only playing two seasons with the Browns and three years total.
Donald is now considered the best defensive player in the NFL today and is also in consideration for the best overall player. That’s scary to think about a defensive tackle being that good, but he is just that. If Donald wanted to call it a career today, he would undisputedly be a first-ball Hall of Famer and that is not up for debate.
He won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2014 and is a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2017, 2008, 2020). He has made the NFL First-Team All-Pro in seven straight seasons, made the Pro Bowl every professional year, and was named to the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team. To cap it all off, Donald and the Rams won Super Bowl 56 this past February to really put the cherry on top of a Hall of Fame career.
Also in this first round, ironically at pick No. 22, the Browns made another decision that would set their search for a franchise quarterback back even further than it was when they drafted Johnny Manziel out of Texas A&M. We all know how that turned out for Cleveland, but what makes it even worse is the fact they could have drafted Derek Carr, who was selected 33rd overall. The lone bright spot of this draft is the selection of Joel Bitonio at No. 35.
So to recap, the Browns turned three picks in the top-35 into Justin Gilbert, Johnny Manziel, and Joel Bitonio. One out of three is not a good percentage for a draft, especially when you factor in the fact Cleveland passed on a plethora of high-quality talent, most notable, Aaron Donald!