Donovan Peoples-Jones: Browns best Round 6 draft pick in 15 years

Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
2 of 5

An amazing Round 6 Browns screw-up occurred in 2013

It's probably okay to take a flyer on a high-risk player in the late rounds, and it's even okay to draft someone who is injured and may not play during his rookie season. The team can afford to redshirt the kid, let the rookie study the playbook for a year, rehab the injury and come back the next year ready to play football with better head knowledge than the average rookie. However, in 2013 the Browns may have failed to carry out due diligence and just botched the pick. That's not okay.

The player they drafted was Jamoris Slaughter from Notre Dame, taken in the sixth round at 175th overall. However, even when healthy he wasn't one of the best players on the Fighting Irish. Harrison Smith was the top safety on the team. Zeke Motta also played safety and could play either strong or free.

Smith was drafted in the first round in 2013, and Motta was selected in Round 7. Perhaps the Browns were confused with Kapron Lewis-Moore, another Notre Dame player who had a season-ending knee injury and would later be drafted in the sixth round by Baltimore at 200th overall. Could it be somebody in the draft room said, "Hey, let's draft the injured Notre Dame guy," and the Browns got the wrong one?

That sounds crazy, but we're talking Browns draft day, and crazy things happen in Cleveland. Consider that Lewis-Moore had been a second-team All-American and was clearly draftable, while Slaughter had never been an NFL prospect on anyone's draft board as far as we are aware. Moreover, an Achilles injury is generally regarded as career-threatening, whereas a torn anterior cruciate ligament, which Lewis-Moore had suffered versus Alabama in the 2013 National Championship game, is usually an injury that an athlete can recover from.

Slaughter was ranked as the 60th best safety in the NFL by Mel Kiper, Jr., so the Browns elevated him above 44 other safeties to become the 16th drafted at 175th overall. That makes no sense even by Cleveland standards.

Selecting Lewis-Moore made much better sense as a sixth-round gamble at 200th overall by the Ravens. He would go on to at least make the Ravens' 53-man roster and play five games in the NFL.

At any rate, Slaughter wasn't on anyone's draft board at any time, didn't play a down in the NFL and nobody is known to have had any interest in his services once he was healed up. It's very possible that this was a case of mistaken identity and a complete Browns screw-up.

At best it was a major reach for a player that no one else liked, with a career-threatening injury. At worst, they drafted the wrong player because they got confused between two players at Notre Dame who were out for the season injured as rookies. This writer honestly believes the latter explanation is the more probable one. In any case, general manager Mike Lombardi earns a big, red, fat, juicy, "F" for this pick.

The next page describes the last really good Round 6 draft pick the Browns have ever made prior to DPJ. That would be Ahtyba Rubin in 2008.