The Cleveland Browns have not had the best success drafting and 2014 may have been the worst.
The Cleveland Browns have not had the best luck drafting first-round picks since they came back into the league in 1999. You have your outliers, the Tim Couch’s, Jeff Faine’s, and Danny Shelton’s. Then you have your ‘clearly not’s’, your Braylon Edwards’, Gerard Warren’s, and the like. Then you have your elite, dare I say, Hall of Fame worthy, your Joe Thomas’, Alex Mack’s, and Joe Haden’s of the draft.
But then you have your busts. The Trent Richardson’s, Corey Coleman’s, and Barkevious Mingo’s of the draft pool. Two of the most bust-proof picks are Johnny Manziel and Justin Gilbert. Two very bad players, who failed in Cleveland in the same time span. Drafted in 2014, by the end of 2015, both Gilbert and Manziel were gone.
It’s no doubt that they were both terrible and as they were both drafted in 2014, it’s fair to say that was the worst first-round in modern team history. After all, the team whiffed hard on two top picks, both of whom weren’t even here for three seasons.
But is 2014 the worst first-round in Cleveland Brown’s history?
There’s only one year that can truly challenge 2014 as the worst
So what makes 2014 the top candidate for the worst first-round in modern Browns’ history? The fact they had two picks, both of whom were gone from the team in two years, and neither ever producing to any degree.
So any year that dares rival it must have more than one bad pick, and both be gone from the team in under three years. Historically, the Browns have had only six seasons where they had multiple first-round draft picks. 2007 with Joe Thomas and Brady Quinn, 2012 with Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden, 2014 with Gilbert and Manziel, 2015 with Danny Shelton and Cameron Erving, 2017 with Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, and David Njoku, and then 2018, with Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward.
2007 is out, as Thomas is a Hall of Famer. 2017 is out, as Garrett is on his way to the Hall of Fame. 2018 is out, as Mayfield led the Browns to the playoffs and Ward is a multi-time Pro Bowler.
That leaves ’12 with Richardson and Weeden, ’14 with Gilbert and Manizel, and ’15 with Shelton and Erving. Or does it? While Shelto and Erving were both gone by 2017, both men are regular starters still and have a combined three Super Bowls between them.
Now, this is where it gets interesting, Richardson and Weeden both only spent two years in Cleveland. Richardson got traded at the beginning of his second season to the Colts for a 2014 first-round pick; which ironically was used to trade up to draft Manizel. Weeden would be released in 2014 after just two seasons with the team.
Richardson, like Gilbert, wouldn’t be in the league for long, and Weeden, like Manziel, would bounce around from team to team, with the difference being Weeden stayed in the NFL, while Manziel went to the CFL, AAF and as of 2022 was part of the Fan Controlled Football’s Zappers.
It’s hard to say for sure that the Manziel and Gilbert draft was worse than the Richardson and Weeden draft, but Weeden lasted in the league longer than Manziel and Gilbert combined, so for that, we feel it’s fair to say the 2014 NFL Draft was truly the Browns have had since 1999.