2. CB Justin Gilbert (2014 NFL Draft: Round 1, Pick 8)
Joel Bitonio was a 2014 NFL Draft pick. Just repeat that, because the next two slides are going to be hard. They’re going to be really hard.
What could be said about Justin Gilbert? There are not many first-round picks who only last two seasons with a team. The Browns, however, had two. In the same draft. That’s just the worst possible thing possible, and clearly makes the 2014 Draft the worst in the history of the Browns organization. Despite the fact the team got a potential Hall of Fame guard in it.
Originally seen as a great draft, with the team starting off the proceedings with the pick of Gilbert, in hindsight, it’s anything but. Had the Browns not traded out of the number four spot, the team could’ve taken Jake Matthews instead of Gilbert. Matthews ended up going to the Falcons at sixth-overall. Matthews, as noted before, was the nephew of Cleveland Browns legend Clay Matthews. The Browns passed by Browns’ royalty to get Gilbert, who had draft experts like Todd McShay and Mel Kiper salivating. Kiper had him listed as the top corner in the draft and went on to say glowing things about Gilbert;
"His athlete credentials are strong. On the field, he combines short-area quickness to adjust to routes and open-field speed to run with (or past) any receiver. He has enough size and strength to redirect routes at the line and can then flip his hips and run with anybody; he rarely allows much separation. Good ball skills and hands are evident both in coverage and the return game. Given the need at the position, it’s not out of the question that he lands in the top 10."
Keep in mind this draft had Kyle Fuller in it, a two-time Pro Bowler for the Chicago Bears. Gilbert had maturity issues, which then-head coach Hue Jackson said had improved prior to his trade. They didn’t, clearly. He also had issues staying clean, having gotten suspended by the NFL for a year after landing with Pittsburgh.
Gilbert will go down as a waste of a talent. His reputation was that of someone who never worked hard enough to improve or took the time to clean up his life. This won’t be the first time you hear this type of rhetoric used about a first-round pick that the Browns took in the 2014 draft.