It’s no secret that the Cleveland Browns and the NFL Draft do not mix well. Various Browns front offices since 1999 have shown little eye for talent or playmakers. In the wake of Pittsburgh releasing former Browns first-round pick Justin Gilbert, it leads one to wonder, “How many Browns draft picks are currently in the NFL?” The answer may surprise you, unless of course you’ve been spending your Sundays on the lakefront since 1999.
Corey Coleman (1st round, 15th pick): The Baylor wideout missed six games to injury but managed a decent year with three touchdowns and 413 yards. Hope remains high that with a year under his belt Coleman can continue to grow into a gamebreaking receiver.
Emmanuel Ogbah (2, 32): Ogbah played all sixteen games of his rookie season recording twenty-eight tackles, 25 assists, and six sacks, but who cares about numbers. According to Pro-Football-Reference.com his nickname is “The Nigerian Nightmare.” Is that a thing? Are we using this fantastic nickname? Goals for 2017.
Carl Nassib (3, 65): Linebacker U produced another hitter in Nassib. The rookie defended four passes last year to go along with 2.5 sacks and 15 tackles. He has potential to blossom into an impact player in Cleveland.
Shon Coleman (3, 76): Cleveland picked up another offensive lineman in Auburn’s Shon Coleman. He appeared in only six games last season, mostly backing up Austin Paztsor.
Cody Kessler (3, 93): Not unlike “Clerks”s Dante Hicks, Kessler wasn’t even supposed to be there. When Cleveland picked up the USC quarterback no one expected him to start, let alone appear in nine games as a rookie. Still, injuries forced him into action. Kessler threw for 128-of-295 passes (65.6%), 1380 yards, six touchdowns, and two picks. All things considered, it could have gone a lot worse for Kessler. It remains to be seen if he has a legitimate future in the NFL, but he certainly has a lot of film now.
Joe Schobert (4, 99): Former Badger Schobert started four games as a rookie, but appeared in all games of his initial pro season. He recorded one defended pass, eleven tackles and five assists.
Ricardo Louis (4, 114): Louis played his college ball at Auburn and went to Cleveland in the fourth round. He played little in 2016 with only eighteen receptions and 205 yards.
Derrick Kindred (4, 129): Before an injury ended his season early, Kindred played a solid strong safety for Cleveland. He finished with five passes defended, thirty tackles, and fourteen assists.
Seth DeValve (4, 138): Late in the fourth round, the Harvard Brain Trust decided to keep it Ivy League by picking up Princeton receiver Seth DeValve. He played tight end for the Browns, recording ten receptions, 127 yards, and two touchdowns in twelve games.
Jordan Payton (5, 154): Payton’s first pro season can be aptly described as “disappointing.” He appeared in only four games, caught one pass for three yards, and received a four game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. His future with the club appears murky.
Spencer Drango (5, 168): Drango appeared in various offensive lineman capacities in all games of 2016; he started nine games.
Rashard Higgins (5, 172): Higgins played his college ball at Colorado State. As a Brown, he caught six passes for 77 yards.
Trey Caldwell (5, 173): Caldwell spent some time on the practice squad for Cleveland and ended the season on the active roster.
Scooby Wright (7, 250): With their last pick in 2016, the Browns selected Arizona linebacker and all-world named Scooby Wright. He spent some time on the Browns practice squad before Cleveland cut him loose. Wright returned to the desert as a member of the Arizona Cardinals where he appeared in three games.
Danny Shelton (1st round, 12th pick): With their 2015 first round pick Cleveland selected Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton. The lineman has been good but not great on the defensive line in his two professional seasons. Last season he picked up 1.5 sacks, 32 tackles, and 27 assists. There is plenty of room to grow and the possible addition of a certain Texas A&M pass rusher could open up more holes for Shelton in 2017.
Cameron Erving (1, 19): The Browns grabbed Erving to bolster the offensive line with another first-round pick. Erving started thirteen games for Cleveland in 2016. His youth compounded by him not being Alex Mack resulted in a difficult sophomore campaign. Hopefully, the Florida State man can use the offseason to refocus and come back stronger.
Nate Orchard (2nd, 51): Orchard enjoyed a fine rookie campaign in 2015 (a pick, forced fumble, and three sacks). Last season the linebacker appeared in only three games before being placed in injured reserve in October.
Duke Johnson (3, 77): Duke appeared in all 32 games of his pro career with eight total starts. He has proven an adept receiver out of the back field, pulling in 534 and 514 receiving yards respectively in his first two seasons.
Xavier Cooper (3, 96): Cooper appeared in thirteen games in 2016; he recorded eleven tackles and nine assists.
Ibraheim Campbell (4, 115): The Northwestern defensive back appeared in 14 games for Cleveland in 2016, recording 30 tackles and 13 assists.
Vince Mayle (4, 123): Despite being selected in the fourth round, Mayle could not survive training camp in 2015; the Browns cut him in the final roster slim down. He appeared in a handful of games for the Cowboys in 2015 and 2016. Baltimore picked him up at the end of the season and he is expected to suit up for the Ravens this fall.
Charles Gaines (6, 189): A cornerback from Louisville, Gaines appeared in six games for the Browns in 2015. Cleveland released him before last season began; he missed the whole year, but signed a contract with Buffalo on January 2.
Malcolm Johnson (6, 195): Cleveland chose Johnson out of Mississippi State deep in the draft. He appeared in 19 games over two seasons in an orange helmet before signing a reserves/future contract with Seattle for 2017.
Randall Telfer (6, 198): Telfer missed all of 2015 with an injury, caught two passes for four yards in 2016, and you will forget his name when you finish reading this sentence.
Hayes Pullard (7, 219): Cleveland assigned Pullard to the practice squad before the season started. The linebacker ends up with Jacksonville and last season he managed only three tackles despite appearing in 16 games.
Out of the League: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (7, 241).
Joel Bitonio (2nd round, 35th pick): The former Nevada offensive tackle has had progressively more trouble staying healthy in his young career. After playing a full season in 2014, he was limited to only 10 contests in 2015 and most recently five games in 2016. While Bitonio has plenty of talent, he has yet to stay on the field long enough to feature in long-term plans.
Christian Kirksey (3, 71): A linebacker at Iowa, Kirksey has enjoyed a solid career in Cleveland. In 2016, he finished with three defended passes, 2.5 sacks, 93 tackles, and 50 assists.
Terrance West (3, 94): As a rookie, West led the club with 673 rushing yards. However, the following year Cleveland cut him at the end of the preseason. After a brief stint with Tennessee, West signed with Baltimore. Last year West earned 1,010 yards from scrimmage and scored six touchdowns. It seems his career may have a new life in Maryland.
Pierre Desir (4, 127): After playing two years in Cleveland, Desir jumped ship to San Diego last season. He appeared in five games and recorded three tackles. Earlier this year he signed a future contract with Seattle.
Out of the League: Justin Gilbert (1, 8), Johnny Manziel (1, 22),
Barkevious Mingo (1st round, 6th round): Cleveland picked up LSU linebacker and world class first name owner Barkevious Mingo in 2013. He played good-but-not-great defense and injuries insured he would not live up to the billing of a “sixth overall pick.” Cleveland neglected to pick up his option after 2015, but Patriots head coach Bill Bellicheck saw something in the young man. Mingo did not play much for the Pats in 2016 (four tackles all season), but he will be fitted for a Super Bowl Champion ring.
Leon McFadden (3, 68): McFadden played only one year in Cleveland before bouncing around the league. He appeared in only nine games for the Dallas Cowboys in 2016 and recorded three tackles and two assists mostly on special teams.
Armonty Bryant (7, 217): Bryant never found his spot on the defensive line and had trouble with both the law and league while in Cleveland. In the midst of a PED suspension Cleveland released him in October 2016. Detroit picked him up and Bryant appeared in five games for the Lions. He forced a fumble, recorded three sacks and four tackles.
Out of the League: Josh Gordon (Supplemental Draft, second round) Jamoris Slaughter (6, 175), Garrett Gilkey (7, 227).
Brandon Weeden (1st round, 22nd pick): General manager Tom Heckert surprised many around the league when he selected Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden with the 22nd overall pick. Weeden went on to throw four interceptions in his debut game, get trampled by an American flag, and prompted countless Twitter eggs to joke that he should have stuck to baseball. He played for Dallas and Houston in 2015. Last year, he held a clipboard for both Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage.
Mitchell Schwartz (2, 37): A top-flight offensive tackle, Schwartz started all 64 games in his first four years in Cleveland. When his rookie contract expired, he fled to Kansas City where he could sign a 5-year, $33 million contract. The Chiefs reached the Divisional Round of the playoffs last year and Schwartz received second team All-Pro honors.
John Hughes (3, 87): The Browns went in-state to draft Cincinnati Bearcat John Hughes. Hughes never made an impact as a defensive lineman; he started only ten games over four seasons recording 5.5 sacks and 52 tackles. Cleveland cut him during the 2016 season. Hughes went on to have a cup of coffee with New England before winding up with Tampa Bay.
Travis Benjamin (4, 100): Cleveland took Miami (FL) wide receiver with the hundredth pick in 2012. After four decent years in Northeast Ohio, he signed a contract with the San Diego Chargers. Last season, Benjamin scored four touchdowns and accrued 677 yards on 47 receptions.
Billy Winn (6, 205): Billy Winn enjoyed several decent years in Cleveland before the front office dealt him to Indianapolis in 2015. Last season he appeared in all sixteen games for Denver recording a fumble recovery, eight tackles, and 11 assists.
Trevin Wade (7, 245): The Browns took a shot on Arizona cornerback Trevin Wade late in the draft. Wade played 13 games for Cleveland as a rookie, managing only a defended pass and eight tackles. After a pit stop in New Orleans, Wade wound up in a Giants uniform. Last season he played in every game with three defended passes, two fumble recoveries, and 22 tackles. He has certainly parlayed a seventh-round pick into a decent career.
Out of the League: Trent Richardson (1, 3), James-Michael Johnson (4, 120), Ryan Miller (5, 160), Emmanuel Acho (6, 204), Brad Smelley (7, 247).
Phil Taylor (1st round, 21st pick): The Browns picked defensive tackle Phil Taylor out of Baylor with their first-round pick. After a strong rookie season, Taylor’s performance dropped off in subsequent years. He went to Denver, suffered an injury, and last month signed a deal with Washington.
Jabaal Sheard (2, 37): Cleveland doubled down on D-linemen in 2011. Sheard played a solid defensive end for the Browns, but after four seasons he signed a contract with the New England Patriots. As you likely already know, those same Pats won Super Bowl 51; Sheard recorded a half sack and two tackles in the win.
Jordan Cameron (4, 102): Jordan Cameron, not to be confused with Cameron Jordan, played a solid tight end for the Browns from 2011-14. He even earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2013. Naturally, when his rookie contract ended he took his talents to South Beach signing a two-year deal with the Dolphins. He appeared in only three games with the Phins but still managed a touchdown and sixty yards.
Buster Skrine (5, 137): Skrine started only six games in his first two professional seasons. His third and fourth season saw him receiving more starts. By 2014, he pulled down four interceptions and defended eighteen passes along with 55 tackles. Skrine signed a five year deal with the New York Jets in 2015 where he continues to start. In 2016, he recorded a pick, six defended passes, a sack, and 39 tackles.
Out of the League: Greg Little (2, 59), Owen Marecic (4, 124), Jason Pinkston (5, 150), Eric Hagg (7, 248)
From 2008-2013 the Browns drafted 45 players. 20 (44%) are still active, but only Joe Haden (2%) remains on the Browns roster
Joe Haden (1st round, 7th pick): Joe Haden remains a stalwart member of the Browns secondary. A two-time Pro Bowler and Second-team All-Pro in 2013, Haden’s career hit a snag when injuries limited him to five games in 2015. He rebounded to 13 last year and with luck the 27-year-old may have some good years ahead of him yet.
T.J. Ward (2, 38): Ward played four seasons in Cleveland, earning Pro Bowl honors in 2013. After the season, he signed a four-year, $23 million deal with Denver. He remains a starter with the Broncos and helped the team to a win in Super Bowl 50.
Colt McCoy (3, 85): If a screenwriter penned a script around Texas football and had to pick the
most Texan name for the quarterback the only answer is “Colt McCoy.” The former Longhorn started 21 games for the Browns, going 6-15. The Browns sent him to San Francisco in 2013, and the following season McCoy trucked east to Washington DC. He remains on the Hogs’ roster, but did not appear in any games during 2016. McCoy is currently under contract through 2018.
Shawn Lauvao (3, 92): An offensive tackle from Arizona State, Lauvao started 44 games for the Browns from 2010-13. Like his fellow third round pick McCoy, Lauvao made his way to Washington where he started 14 games at guard last season.
Out of the League: Montario Hardesty (2, 59), Larry Asante (5, 160), Carlton Mitchell (6, 177), Clifton Geathers (6, 186).
Alex Mack (1st round, 21st pick): After a series of draft day trades, Cleveland took California’s Alex Mack twenty-first overall. While not as exciting as a Vontae Davis or Clay Matthews (both on the board at the time), Mack anchored the Browns offensive line immediately. He earned Pro Bowl nods in 2010, 2013, and 2015. He suffered a broken leg in 2014 which hampered the team’s playoff hopes. In 2016 he signed a five-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons and helped the team win its second NFC Championship. No doubt he is happy with that free agency decision.
Don Carey (6, 177): Despite drafting him, Cleveland refused to offer a roster spot to Carey. He caught on with Jacksonville for a year before joining Detroit in 2011. While he doesn’t start much, he is a solid special teams presence and role player.
Out of the League: James Davis (6, 195), Coye Francies (6, 191), Kaluka Maiava (4, 104), David
Veikune (2, 52), Mohamed Massaquoi (2, 50), Brian Robiskie (2,36)
Ahtyba Rubin (6th round, 190th pick): Rubin played his college ball at Iowa State and felt about as sure a thing as any other sixth round pick. Despite the low profile, Rubin played six seasons in Cleveland, recording 12 sacks and three forced fumbles. He joined the Seattle Seahawks in 2015, and last season finished with 25 tackles, 14 assists, a sack, and three forced fumbles.
Out of the League: Beau Bell (4th, 104th), Martin Rucker (4, 111), Paul Hubbard (6, 191), Alex Hall (7, 231)
Joe Thomas (1st round, 3rd pick): Joe Thomas represents the Browns’ best draft pick of the century. The Wisconsin man plays textbook left tackle and receives the highest accolades of his craft. Ten Pro Bowls. Seven time First-team All-pro. A leader in the clubhouse and despite being a frequent subject of trade rumors as positive and upbeat a person as one could meet. Perhaps most impressively, he has not missed a snap in ten full seasons.
Out of the League: Brady Quinn (1, 22), Eric Wright (2, 53), Brandon McDonald (5, 140), Melila
Purcell (6, 200), Chase Pittman (7, 213), Syndric Steptoe (7, 234).
Out of the League: Kamerion Wimbley (1, 13), D’Qwell Jackson (2, 34) Travis Wilson (3, 78), Leon Williams (4, 110), Isaac Sowells (4, 112), Jerome Harrison (5, 145), DeMario Minter (5, 152), Lawrence Vickers (6, 180), Babatunde Oshinowo (6, 181), Justin Hamilton (7, 222).
Notable Out of the League: Braylon Edwards (1st round, 3rd pick), Brodney Pool (2, 34), Charlie Frye (3, 67).
Luke McCown (4th round, 106th pick): McCown played only one forgettable season for the Browns. He lost all four games he started, throwing 48-of-98 passing, 608 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. He bounced around the south spending time in Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, and Atlanta before settling in with New Orleans in 2013. McCown has spent the past four seasons backing up Drew Brees which means there has not been much playing time to go around. Still, he is under contract for 2017 which is more than his big brother can say right now. Plus he has that sweet Verizon money.
Notable Out of the League: Kellen Winslow II (1, 6), Sean Jones (2, 59).
The pertinent stats are as follows. Since 2004, the Browns have drafted 108 players. 51 of them (47%) are still active, and 24 of those (22%) are still in Cleveland. To be fair, the average shelf life of a player is roughly seven years so it is nearly impossible to be mad at the Browns for not having players left from 2003 or earlier. Still the numbers are a tough sight for the Browns faithful.
From 2008-2013 the Browns drafted 45 players. 20 (44%) are still active, but only Joe Haden (2%) remains on the Browns roster from that stretch. In the past three drafts, Cleveland has selected 32 players; 25 are still active (78%), and 20 are still on the Browns roster (63%). Do those percentage upticks mean the drafts are getting better or that players have not cycled through town yet? Do you prefer your glass half full or half empty?
What becomes more difficult and frustrating for Browns fans is the number of high picks and even higher profile busts that have graced First Energy Stadium this century. Doubling Browns fans’ pain is the sight of Julio Jones, Clay Matthews, Teddy Bridgewater, and other remarkable talents who were still on the board when the front office turned in their envelope. However, none of that matters come April. With the first overall pick, the 12th pick, and nine total selections the Harvard Brain Trust has a ripe opportunity to find the talent Cleveland needs to make last year’s tank job worth it. Of course, Clevelanders have seen opportunity before. What they want is execution.