2016 Browns rookie class value: While We’re Waiting

The Cleveland Cavaliers are about to begin the NBA Playoffs where they promise they might give full effort in games again, while the Cleveland Indians won a thrilling Home Opener on Tuesday with the returning Michael Brantley providing the winning theatrics. Therefore, it only makes sense that WFNY spends time this morning discussing the 2016 Cleveland Browns rookie class.

Last week, the discussion on the value of draft picks per specific round was dissected as part of the WFNY Mock Draft Strategy sessions. The Kevin Meers value chart was discussed alongside the Jimmy Johnson chart, while demonstrating actual value of draft picks from the past 10 years to determine what should be the expected value returned per round.

With this data now in hand, it only makes sense to take a peek at how the 2016 Browns draftees did compared to what is the expected return.

There are a few caveats to the exercise. The Browns gutted the team of veteran support. The result was that there was almost 25% more playing time given to rookies than any other team in the NFL. Opportunities are helpful, but being required to carry the burden of a NFL team as a rookie rather than offer supplemental efforts is difficult for first-year players. The Browns should soon find out if the learning experiences offered to their rookies was beneficial in their development even despite the harsh realities of playing for a 1-15 team.

courtesy of pro-football-reference

The chart above demonstrates the actual versus expected value of the Browns rookies. The CarAV column is the Career Average Value of each player, which consists of one season thus far. The AvgAV column is the Average AV for the slot that the player was selected. The Diff column then subtracts the actual value from the expected value to determine if the player lived up to their draft slot.

Only five of the 14 players selected by the Browns lived up to their draft selection in 2016. Two of the player (Scooby Wright, Trey Caldwell) were waived by the team and will not ever be providing the team with additional value from this draft. The other 12 players remain on the roster.

It should not be a surprise to anyone who watched the Browns that Emmanuel Ogbah and his six sacks was the standout rookie from this particular rookie class. He more than doubled the expected value from his draft slot, and also far bettered the expected AV from a first-round selection despite being taken in Round 2. With Myles Garrett expected to be taking defensive right end in 2017, Ogbah could be in for even better seasons moving forward. Fellow defensive lineman Carl Nassib was not nearly as impactful, but he earned snaps and progressed throughout the year as he came close to his expected value as a rookie. Linebacker Joe Schobert and safety Derrick Kindred also demonstrated abilities to be useful cogs moving forward.

Cody Kessler was the surprise of the rookie class as he out-performed the No. 1 (Jared Goff) and No. 2 (Carson Wentz) overall picks of the entire draft. Despite only starting half the games in 2016, Kessler out-performed his draft slot. Whether or not he can progress in his ability and effectiveness is an open question as the Browns look to improve upon the position.

Despite taking four wide receivers, the Browns were left lacking in rookie impact from the group. Corey Coleman had a disappointing season despite having a big day (104 yards, two touchdowns) against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 2. Injuries and inconsistent quarterback play slowed him down from there as he looks to have a rebound sophomore campaign opposite of Kenny Britt. Ricardo Louis had some bright moments, but he was relegated to special teams work for most of the season. Neither Jordan Payton or Rashard Higgins managed to earn enough snaps on the field to warrant any value being added to the Browns. In fact, developmental tight end Seth Devalve was able to see the field more often. None of these players matched their expected value, so it will be interesting to see if any of them can develop to make up for such a disappointing initial year.

The remaining two picks were on the offensive line, who had quite different rookie campaigns. Spencer Drango kept finding himself getting onto the field and looking capable of being an interior swing player moving forward with a proclivity for run blocking. His AV of four was only bettered by Ogbah. Shon Coleman, on the other hand, was drafted as a longer term developmental tackle. The Browns refused to rush that development despite some urgent needs along the offensive line during the season. He finally saw significant snaps in the second half of Week 17. The Browns apparently liked what they saw because he will compete with Cameron Erving for the starting right tackle position, which he is largely expected to win.

Overall, the Browns rookie class did not live up to expectations. They were afforded many opportunities and snaps, yet failed to make the impact that was desired from them. Whether or not the group can continue to progress in their development and become the bedrock for the team moving forward could determine how long of a rebuild the current regime will have to undergo.