As bad as the Cleveland Browns have been, they’ve also been extremely unlucky. Take a look at the Indianapolis Colts. After 9 consecutive playoffs (including 1 Super Bowl Win) Peyton Manning goes down for one season and they just bottom out. Because of that they grab the #1 pick where the best QB prospect in 20 years (according to those who say they know things like this) just happens to be waiting for them. He has taken them to 2 playoffs, showed he is insanely good in comebacks (8 fourth quarter comebacks with 11 game winning drives in 34 games) and so far seems to be the franchise savior he was hailed as coming into the draft.
Let’s reverse that to the Browns. Despite only having 2 winning seasons (2007 & 2002), and winning 6 or more just twice (God, typing this is depressing), they still haven’t had the #1 pick since the 2nd year in the league (2000). In fact, they’ve never had the 2nd pick but have had the 3rd pick 3 times (I’m not counting Richardson because we had the 4th pick). Why is that important? Well if you think about the NFL and how the draft works it’s fairly evident. The worst teams in the league usually all need a QB. Which means the top few picks are QBs. When you think about it, in most draft classes there is a #1 can’t miss QB Prospect with maybe another solid #2 but usually not much after that. Meaning the Browns don’t have a chance or have to give up a King‘s Ransom (The Washington Redskins) to move up to that spot. So let’s take a look at the Browns picks compared to the QBs that went that year.
2001 NFL Draft
#1 QB-Mike Vick #1 Overall
Browns-Gerard “Big Money(hilarious)” Warren #3
#2 QB- (All in 2nd Round) Drew Brees #32 Overall, Quincy Carter #53 Overall
Verdict: Browns we’re giving Tim Couch another season and Drew Brees wasn’t the name that he is now.
2002 NFL Draft
#1 QB-David Carr #1 Overall
#2 QB-Joey Harrington #3rd Overall
Browns #16-William Green
#3 QB-Pat Ramsey #32 Overall (First round this time because of the addition of the Houston Texans)
Verdict-This draft is the red-headed stepson of drafts. Browns we’re coming off a 7-9 season, so a huge change to QB wasn’t really in the cards as they were still hoping Couch was going to turn that corner. (Spoiler alert-He did not). William Green was a bad pick but we already knew this. But you see the Browns weren’t in that top 3 to get a (claimed) franchise QB had they needed it.
2003 NFL Draft
#1 QB-Carson Palmer #1 Overall
#2 QB-Byron Leftwich #7 Overall
#3 QB-Kyle Boller #19 Overall
Browns #21 Jeff Faine
#4 QB-Rex Grossman
Verdict-The Browns were coming off a playoff season behind Couch and a little Kelly Holcomb. You can start to see the difference between the #1 Prospect and the ones following (even though only 1 QB has started a Super Bowl-Grossman)
2004 NFL Draft (Hold on tight because this is ugly)
#1 QB-Eli Manning #1 Overall
#2 QB-Phillip Rivers #4 Overall
Browns #7 (traded up to 6) Kellen WinsAreLow
#3 QB-Ben Roethlisberger #11 Overall
#4 QB-JP Losman #22 Overall
Verdict-In hindsight this one looks worse than what it was. The Browns again weren’t in a position to get one of top 2 QBs. Yes, Roethlisberger has turned out to be solid (and with 2 Super Bowls wins, a possible HOF) but at the time he was a little unknown from a small school (Miami of Ohio) so it’s not as black and yellow as it appears now.
2005 NFL Draft
#1 QB Alex Smith #1 Overall
Browns #3 Braylon “You hate me because I’m from Michigan” Edwards
#2 QB Aaron Rodgers #24 Overall
#3 QB Jason Campbell #25 Overall
Verdict-This one is hard to explain. Aaron Rodgers was considered the #2 QB prospect in the draft. Some even thinking that the 49ers were a toss-up between him and Smith. But then something happened. He slid another 23 spots. Past teams that needed QB help. In the past we’ve seen reasons for this (Jimmy Clausen sliding down while Mel Kiper pouts and has a brain seizure on live TV or the one you’ll see in 2 drafts, don’t want to spoil the excellent surprise ) but this one is baffling. Not sure if there was something teams didn’t like about him came out during interviews or if everyone really missed. Either way this one is on the Browns.
2006 NFL Draft
#1 QB Vince Young #3 Overall
#2 QB Matt Leinart #10 Overall
#3 QB Jay Cutler #11 Overall
Browns #12 (traded down to #13) Kamerion Wimbley
Next best QBs-Kellen Clemons and Travaris Jackson
Verdict-Another one where the Browns missed out on one of the top QBs because of their position. Not that those first 2 did anything but they didn’t have an opportunity even if they had wanted one of them (though they have one of them now).