Worst Draft Classes in Cleveland Browns History

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A Cleveland fan shouts after one of the team's draft picks was announced during the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia. It's yet to be determined how good the team's '17 draft class will be, but they do have an unfortunate history of poor drafts.

A Cleveland fan shouts after one of the team's draft picks was announced during the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia. It's yet to be determined how good the team's '17 draft class will be, but they do have an unfortunate history of poor drafts.

What Are the Worst Draft Classes in the History of the Browns?

Unfortunately for Browns fans, the reality is that their team is known for making bad decisions during the NFL draft. And while every team makes a mistake from time to time, the Browns have a history of making numerous mistakes in the same draft. Even a single wasted draft class can have a profoundly negative consequence on a team's future, so when those miscues happen multiple times in a decade, it can be difficult to catch up.

Luckily, the Browns haven't been so futile that they'll never be competitive again—even though it did that way since Cleveland didn't have a winning season from 2008 to '19. The dry spell was, by far, the longest in franchise history, but that has more to do with poor stability among executives and coaches than anything else. In the 12 years after a 10–6 finish in 2007, there were:

  • 7 changes at general manager
  • 8 changes at head coach

With each change comes a different philosophy, so it's been impossible for the Browns to create any meaningful consistency in the way they approach the draft. But as you'll soon see, poor drafting isn't new for the Browns—their first back-to-back blunders came more than 60 years ago.

Selection Criteria for This List

In creating this list of the 10 worst draft classes in Cleveland's history, as well as a handful of (dis)honorable-mention selections, I looked for the following criteria:

  • Longevity (How many of a certain year's picks never appeared for the Browns or had short careers in Cleveland?)
  • Early-round failure (How many early-round selections failed to become regular contributors?)
  • On-field success (How much success did the overall class have on the field with the Browns?)

For the purpose of this list, only a player's time spent in Cleveland is considered when determining the success or failure of a particular draft class. So while the Browns did not select a superstar in the 2011 NFL Draft and had a busted first-round pick in Phil Taylor, a handful of later-round selections become solid players on the team for several seasons. Therefore, you won't read about that year on this list. The tables featured throughout this article display the individual picks in each draft class, show the final year a player played with the Browns, and only includes games played with Cleveland.

Former Cleveland defensive end Chris Hughes (93) makes a tackle against the Tampa Bay in the 2016 preseason. Hughes was one of few bright spots the Browns had among the players they selected in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Former Cleveland defensive end Chris Hughes (93) makes a tackle against the Tampa Bay in the 2016 preseason. Hughes was one of few bright spots the Browns had among the players they selected in the 2012 NFL Draft.

10. Class of 2012

Cleveland owned 13 selections in the 2012 NFL Draft—including five of the first 100 selections for the second time in three drafts. After the Browns averaged a paltry 13.6 points per game during the '11 season, the plan was to use their pair of first-round draft picks on some new offensive weapons for the '12 season. Cleveland did select two new offensive players—running back Trent Richardson (No. 3) and quarterback Brandon Weeden (No. 22)—but they both failed to build a lasting legacy.

Luckily, the Browns had three more picks in the top 100 selections, so there was some wiggle room to make a mistake or two. Unfortunately, none of the next three players selected would stay with the Browns past the '16 season. The trio of right tackle Mitchell Schwartz (No. 37), defensive tackle John Hughes (No. 87) and wide receiver Travis Benjamin (No. 100) were by far the top players picked by the Browns in '12, but none were considered superstars.

After making some trades throughout the draft, the Browns ended up selecting 11 players, who played an average of just over two seasons with Cleveland and combined to play 284 games for the franchise. Schwartz, Hughes and Benjamin accounted for 171 of those games (60.2%).

Browns 2012 Draft Picks

RoundPlayerPickPosToGamesSchool

1

Trent Richardson

3

RB

2013

17

Alabama

1

Brandon Weeden

22

QB

2013

23

Oklahoma St.

2

Mitchell Schwartz

37

T

2015

64

California

3

John Hughes

87

DT

2016

53

Cincinnati

4

Travis Benjamin

100

WR

2015

54

Miami (FL)

4

James-Michael Johnson

120

LB

2012

10

Nevada

5

Ryan Miller

160

G

2012

8

Colorado

6

Emmanuel Acho

204

LB

2012

0

Texas

6

Billy Winn

205

DT

2014

40

Boise St.

7

Trevin Wade

245

DB

2012

13

Arizona

7

Brad Smelley

247

TE

2012

2

Alabama

9. Class of 1995

The Browns went into the '95 NFL Draft not realizing the franchise would change cities after the season, so they went in looking to keep the team chugging in a positive direction. Instead, everything about the draft turned into a disaster.

About a month prior to the draft, the Browns traded Eric Metcalf to the Falcons, and part of the trade involved swapping first-round draft picks—leaving the Browns to pick at No. 10 instead of No. 26. On draft day, the three players Cleveland most desired were all selected within the first nine picks, leaving the Browns to scramble to make a decision about how to handle their No. 10 selection. In a frantic scene, the Browns made a hasty trade with the 49ers to take over the 30th selection and a couple of picks later in the draft. Cleveland would spend the No. 30 pick on linebacker Craig Powell, who would play just three games for the Browns.

In the third round, Cleveland drafted quarterback Eric Zeier, who the Browns believed would be able to overcome his small stature—he stood just six feet tall but was a prolific passer at UGA. The NFL, however, wouldn't be so kind, as he never became an established starter or reliable backup. Defensive end Mike Frederick was selected later on in the third round and was the only one of the six players Cleveland drafted to play the entire '95 season.

Browns 1995 Draft Picks

Note: The Browns became the Ravens in 1996. Powell played nine games with the Ravens in '96. Zeier was on Baltimore's roster until '97 and played 15 games for the Ravens, and Frederick was with Baltimore until '98 and played 42.

RoundPlayerPickPosToGamesSchool

1

Craig Powell

30

LB

1995

3

Ohio St.

3

Eric Zeier

84

QB

1995

7

Georgia

3

Mike Frederick

94

DE

1995

16

Virginia

5

Tau Pupua

136

DT

1995

0

Weber St.

5

Mike Miller

147

WR

1995

0

Notre Dame

7

A.C. Tellison

231

WR

1995

0

Miami (FL)

8. Class of 1987

The Browns went into the '87 NFL Draft with 10 total draft picks, including the 24th selection. They finished the draft with eight new players and one less All-Pro. In a stunning draft-day trade, the Browns sent four-time All-Pro linebacker Chip Banks to the Chargers and used the No. 5 pick they received in exchange to select Mike Junkin, a powerful inside linebacker from Duke. The swap was thought to have solved two problems for Cleveland:

  1. being rid of the troublesome Banks, who had staged multiple contract holdouts and wasn't well-liked by teammates and coaches, and
  2. bringing in Junkin to replace Banks as the team's primary outside pass-rusher.

The experiment imploded spectacularly. Junkin became one of the worst draft picks the Browns have ever made after playing just 15 games over two seasons.

Cleveland drafted a few players who would be reliable players for a handful of seasons, but none stayed with the Browns for more than five years. Not only that, the franchise failed to address pre-draft needs for a wide receiver and a tight end. On average, those drafted in '87 stayed with Cleveland for 2.1 seasons and played 27.9 games. Two players from the draft class never appeared in an NFL game.

The best player the Browns selected that year? That would be center Frank Winters, who was taken with the 276th pick. Cleveland made Winters an unrestricted free agent following the 1988 season, even though he had played in 28 games. He'd eventually land in Green Bay, where he became a Pro Bowler and won a Super Bowl.

Cleveland 1987 Draft Picks

RoundPlayerPickPosToGamesSchool

1

Mike Junkin

5

LB

1988

15

Duke

2

Gregg Rakoczy

32

C

1990

60

Miami (FL)

3

Tim Manoa

80

RB

1989

44

Penn St.

3

Jeff Jaeger

82

K

1987

10

Washington

6

Stephen Braggs

165

DB

1991

66

Texas

8

Steve Bullitt

220

LB

1987

0

Texas A&M

10

Frank Winters

276

C

1988

28

West. Illinois

11

Larry Brewton

303

DB

1987

0

Temple

7. Class of 1954

The NFL draft was a much different product in the 1950s, as only 12 teams picked for 30 rounds. Also in that era, a lottery was held for the "bonus pick," which was the first pick of the draft. In '54, Cleveland won that lottery and unsurprisingly selected Stanford quarterback Robert "Bobby" Garrett, who was the consensus top prospect available in the draft. It was believed he was a potential replacement for Hall of Famer Otto Graham, who was nearing retirement age, and that he could also be used as the centerpiece of a trade. After learning Garrett had a speech impediment, Cleveland traded him to Green Bay, but Cleveland did not get any positive production from either player they received in return—essentially wasting their pick.

And that was just the start of the disappointing draft.

In total, only five players appeared in a game with the Browns, and among them, only three made it more than one season. Included were running backs Chet Hanulak and Maurice Bassett—neither of whom gained more than 1,000 career yards on the ground—and right guard Jim Ray Smith. He was the lone prize of the draft, as he remained with the Browns until 1962 and is remembered as one of the top offensive linemen in franchise history.

If there ever was a year to have a bad draft, however, '54 was a good choice, as only one Hall of Famer was selected among the 360 players. Still, to have every pick after the 10th round fail to even appear in a game is not the way to continue a dynasty. The Browns would actually suffer the first losing season in franchise history in 1956.

Cleveland 1954 Draft Picks

RoundPlayerPickPosToGamesSchool

1

Bobby Garrett

1

QB

1954

0

Stanford

1

John Bauer

12

T

1954

0

Illinois

2

Chet Hanulak

24

HB

1957

24

Maryland

3

Maurice Bassett

36

FB

1956

36

Langston

4

Jerry Hilgenberg

48

C

1954

0

Iowa

5

Bill Lucky

60

DT

1954

0

Baylor

6

Jim Ray Smith

64

G

1962

81

Baylor

6

Asa Jenkins

72

B

1954

0

Toledo

7

Don Miller

84

HB

1954

0

SMU

8

Bill Barbish

95

B

1954

0

Tennessee

8

Charlie Harris

96

B

1954

0

Georgia

9

Tom Jones

108

RB

1955

2

Miami (OH)

10

Donald Goss

119

T

1956

6

SMU

10

Tom Pagna

120

B

1954

0

Miami (OH)

11

Max Schuebel

132

T

1954

0

Rice

12

Tom Breunich

144

T

1954

0

Maryland

13

George Cummins

156

T

1954

0

Tulane

14

Jim Head

168

B

1954

0

Iowa

15

Chet Lyssy

180

B

1954

0

Hardin-Simmons

16

Rich Raidel

192

G

1954

0

Kent St.

17

Howard Chapman

204

T

1954

0

Florida

18

Bill Wohrman

216

B

1954

0

South Carolina

19

John Taylor

228

C

1954

0

Austin

20

Hugh Pierce

240

C

1954

0

North Carolina St.

21

Jim Baughman

252

G

1954

0

Illinois

22

Lloyd Caudle

264

B

1954

0

Duke

23

Bob Mischak

276

G

1954

0

Army

24

Johnny Gramling

288

B

1954

0

South Carolina

25

Tom Hughes

300

T

1954

0

Virginia Tech

26

Joe Lundy

312

G

1954

0

Kansas

27

Johnny Mapp

324

B

1954

0

VMI

28

Vince Vergara

336

B

1954

0

Syracuse/Army

29

Troy Carter

348

B

1954

0

VMI

6. Class of 1974

After just one season, it was clear that the players selected by Cleveland toward the top of the 1973 NFL Draft were not going to be the superstar players they were expected to be (more on that later). As the last wave of the team's superstars were fading, the '74 draft was doubly important. To further complicate matters, the Browns didn't have a pick until the middle of the second round, so they would have to depend on finding players that had been overlooked by the league's other teams. Unfortunately, they made good on only one of their 15 selections.

In the seventh round, the Browns selected offensive tackle Gerry Sullivan, who would stay with Cleveland as a regular until '81 and was the only salvageable piece from the entire draft class. Sullivan played 119 games with the Browns, witnessing significant ups and downs (including a 7–21 mark over his first two seasons, but also a playoff appearance in 1980).

Five other players from the draft class played between 12 and 16 games with the Browns, but none were with the team past the 1975 season.

Cleveland 1974 Draft Picks

RoundPlayerPickPosToGamesSchool

2

Billy Corbett

40

T

1974

0

Johnson C. Smith

5

Mark Ilgenfritz

118

DE

1974

14

Vanderbilt

6

Billy Pritchett

146

RB

1975

14

West Texas A&M

7

Bob Herrick

163

WR

1974

0

Purdue

7

Gerry Sullivan

171

T

1981

119

Illinois

8

Eddie Brown

199

DB

1975

16

Tennessee

9

Dan Scott

224

G

1974

0

Ohio St.

10

Mike Puestow

238

WR

1974

0

North Dakota St.

11

Tom Gooden

274

K

1974

0

Harding

12

Ron McNeil

302

DE

1974

0

North Carolina Central

13

Mike Seifert

327

DE

1974

12

Wisconsin

14

Bob Hunt

352

RB

1974

2

Heidelberg

15

Ransom Terrell

380

LB

1974

0

Arizona

16

Preston Anderson

407

DB

1974

14

Rice

17

Carlton Buchanan

430

DT

1974

0

SW Oklahoma St.

Former Browns linebacker Barkevious Mingo makes a tackle against the Falcons in the 2016 preseason. Mingo never lived up to expectations as the team's top draft pick in 2013.

Former Browns linebacker Barkevious Mingo makes a tackle against the Falcons in the 2016 preseason. Mingo never lived up to expectations as the team's top draft pick in 2013.

5. Class of 2013

In 2012, Cleveland used 11 draft picks to build a base they thought would be the start of a rebuild that would get them back to the playoffs for the first time since '02. One year later, the Browns had a limited supply of picks to add to that staple. First-year general manager Michael Lombardi was saddled with those circumstances and then missed the mark on everybody he drafted, which contributed to his ouster after just one season.

Cleveland's second-round pick for the draft was surrendered to select Josh Gordon in the '12 supplemental draft (he became a Pro Bowler but also faced multiple suspensions for off-the-field issues). The Browns also lost a fourth-round pick in a trade for wide receiver Davone Bess. It's been argued that Cleveland should have traded away their first-round pick in order to stockpile extra picks later in the draft, but they instead made the surprising selection of linebacker Barkevious Mingo. It's not that Mingo was a bad player, but the team and fans expected more out of the No. 6 pick than seven sacks and one interception in three seasons.

Cleveland didn't select again until the third round. Then, the Browns grabbed a sixth-rounder and two seventh-rounders. Those four players combined for 53 games over six total seasons, with only defensive end Armonty Bryant staying with the Browns past his rookie season.

Cleveland 2013 Draft Picks

RoundPlayerPickPosToGamesSchool

1

Barkevious Mingo

6

LB

2015

48

LSU

3

Leon McFadden

68

DB

2013

16

San Diego St.

6

Jamoris Slaughter

175

DB

2013

0

Notre Dame

7

Armonty Bryant

217

DE

2015

31

East Central (OK)

7

Garrett Gilkey

227

T

2013

6

Chadron St.

4. Class of 1992

Although Cleveland collapsed to a three-win season in 1990, they were building the franchise back up quickly, and the '92 NFL Draft was a chance to address a wide swath of needs. Cleveland made a trade the day prior to the draft, which allowed the Browns to stake claim to four of the first 78 selections, and they'd end up with 12 picks throughout the entire draft. The Browns owned the No. 9 pick, but instead of drafting a player to fill a true need, they selected Stanford fullback Tommy Vardell, who made for a fifth viable option in the team's rushing attack.

It didn't get much better from there. Vardell was out of Cleveland by 1995 after 40 games, and their second-round pick, wide receiver Patrick Rowe, played just five games with the Browns. Cleveland's duo of third-round picks were the prizes of the draft, but neither were with the Browns when the franchise was suddenly moved to Baltimore after the 1995 season. Defensive lineman Bill Johnson (No. 65) and linebacker Gerald Dixon (No. 78) each continued on to have successful NFL careers, but their short tenures didn't leave much of a legacy in Cleveland. Even Johnson posed a risk as a third-rounder—he was injured during a fight in the weeks leading up to the draft and lost his luster as a projected first-round pick.

Half of the draft class would never appear in a game for the Browns, and of the 12 players selected, they averaged just 1.6 seasons and 14 games for Cleveland. And what production the Browns were able to squeeze out of Vardell, Johnson and Dixon was minuscule. Vardell was nicknamed "Touchdown Tommy," but he was anything but that in Cleveland, contributing just five touchdowns over his 40 games. Johnson, meanwhile, averaged a sack every four games, and Dixon had one sack and two interceptions during his three seasons.

Cleveland 1992 Draft Picks

RoundPlayerPickPosToGamesSchool

1

Tommy Vardell

9

RB

1995

40

Stanford

2

Patrick Rowe

52

WR

1993

5

San Diego St.

3

Bill Johnson

65

DT

1994

40

Michigan St.

3

Gerald Dixon

78

LB

1995

43

South Carolina

6

Rico Smith

143

WR

1995

29

Colorado

6

George Williams

163

DT

1992

0

Notre Dame

7

Selwyn Jones

177

DB

1993

11

Colorado St.

9

Tim Hill

233

DB

1992

0

Kansas

10

Marcus Lowe

260

DT

1992

0

Baylor

11

Augustin Olobia

289

WR

1992

0

Washington St.

12

Keithen McCant

316

QB

1992

0

Nebraska

12

Tim Simpson

329

G

1993

0

Illinois

Former Browns cornerback Justin Gilbert prepares for a 2016 preseason game. He was one of two first-round draft picks the Browns selected in 2014 who never made any significant contributions in the NFL.

Former Browns cornerback Justin Gilbert prepares for a 2016 preseason game. He was one of two first-round draft picks the Browns selected in 2014 who never made any significant contributions in the NFL.

3. Class of 2014

What turned out to be one of the worst first rounds in team history was only the start of a disappointing draft class that could have started the Browns on the path to success. Instead, it turned into the third straight poor showing by the Browns and again set the team back several years. The Browns came into the draft with seven of the first 127 picks—an envious slate that also included two first-rounders—but by the end of the draft, Cleveland had selected just six total players and found just one Pro Bowler.

The draft was the first under general manager Ray Farmer and also included input from a rookie head coach, Mike Pettine. Together, they were tasked with turning around a franchise that hadn't experienced a winning season since 2007, but instead, they botched the entire first round by selecting cornerback Justin Gilbert (No. 6) and quarterback Johnny Manziel (No. 22). Both are widely considered among the worst picks the Browns have ever made, as they each played just 15 games over two seasons.

In the second round, the Browns selected offensive lineman Joel Bitonio—who remains with Cleveland and has made a pair of Pro Bowls. The first pick in the third round was linebacker Christian Kirksey, who had a solid five-year tenure. After that, however, were forgettable running back Terrance West and defensive back Pierre Desir. West played 14 games with the Browns as a rookie, and Desir was gone after two seasons and 19 games.

The failure of the class was a major contributing factor in another full-scale regime change for the 2016 season. Two additional changes have occurred at general manager since then.

Cleveland 2014 Draft Picks

RoundPlayerPickPosToGSchool

1

Justin Gilbert

8

DB

2015

15

Oklahoma St.

1

Johnny Manziel

22

QB

2015

15

Texas A&M

2

Joel Bitonio

35

G

2019

79

Nevada

3

Christian Kirksey

71

LB

2019

73

Iowa

3

Terrance West

94

RB

2014

14

Towson

4

Pierre Desir

127

DB

2015

19

Lindenwood

2. Class of 1955

After striking out with an unsuccessful draft in 1954, the ramification of an even worse draft class by the Browns in '55 would be felt sooner than later. The Browns suffered their first losing season in franchise history in 1956, but after pulling off an all-time great draft class in '57, they were back to their winning ways. So even though the pain was short-lived, the '55 draft class was such a disaster that it can't be ignored.

Cleveland picked 31 players in the draft, but only seven ever appeared in a game for the Browns. Worse still, the most games any of them played for Cleveland was 23, and none of the first three selections by Cleveland ever suited up for the team.

The leading player from the class was defensive back Robert "Bobby" Freeman, who was taken in the third round and had three interceptions in each of his two seasons. He went on to play four more seasons with three other teams. Sixth-round pick and halfback LeRoy Bolden played in 23 games for Cleveland after three years in the military but didn't do much ball carrying. He only had 19 attempts for 66 yards in his short-lived career, though he did add 532 yards in the return game—including a 102-yard touchdown. Linebacker Sam Palumbo was taken in the fourth round and is defined by a single play. In the 1955 NFL Championship game, Palumbo snared an interception in Cleveland's victory over Los Angeles.

Cleveland 1955 Draft Picks

RoundPlayerPickPosToGamesSchool

1

Kurt Burris

13

C

1955

0

Oklahoma

2

Dean Renfro

25

HB

1955

0

North Texas

3

John Hall

35

DE

1955

0

Iowa

3

Bobby Freeman

37

DB

1958

21

Auburn

4

Paul Reynolds

41

B

1955

0

Notre Dame

4

Sam Palumbo

49

LB

1956

21

Notre Dame

5

Aramis Dandoy

61

B

1955

0

USC

6

Leroy Bolden

73

HB

1959

23

Michigan St.

7

Jack Locklear

85

C

1955

0

Auburn

9

Henry Ford

109

HB

1955

2

Pittsburgh

10

Glen Dillon

121

E

1955

0

Pittsburgh

11

Eric Knebel

133

T

1955

0

SMU

12

Jack Eaton

145

T

1955

0

New Mexico

13

John Borton

157

QB

1957

5

Ohio St.

14

Fred Robinson

169

G

1957

12

Washington

15

Bob Smith

181

HB

1956

12

Nebraska

16

Don Suchy

193

C

1955

0

Iowa

17

Bob Leonard

205

B

1955

0

Purdue

18

Steve Champlin

217

T

1955

0

Oklahoma

19

Tom Ebert

229

E

1955

0

Kansas St.

20

Bill Proctor

241

T

1955

0

Florida St.

21

Rick Spinks

253

B

1955

0

Texas Tech

22

Jerry Stone

265

T

1955

0

SE Louisiana

23

Jim Greer

277

E

1955

0

Elizabeth City St.

24

John Matsock

289

B

1955

0

Michigan St.

25

Ernie Lindo

301

B

1955

0

Pacific

26

Don Fife

313

C

1955

0

Purdue

27

Bobby Baldwin

325

B

1955

0

Sam Houston St.

28

Ed Tokus

337

E

1955

0

Georgia

29

Ted (Tex) Robinson

349

B

1955

0

Temple

30

Lamar Leachman

360

C

1955

0

Tennessee

1. Class of 1973

One of the most significant turning points in Browns' draft history occurred in '73.

"This could be our most important draft since 1961," said Art Modell, who purchased the Browns in '61. "Competition has stiffened in pro football and we haven't been blessed with great early selections in recent years . . . It doesn't take a lot for a ball club to go from good to great. I feel that we had a good squad at the end of 1972, a better one than at the finish of the previous two years. I want to have a great Browns team. With this draft, I believe there is a chance to do this in 1973." (Heaton, 1973)

The Browns owned three of the first 30 picks and had seven of the first 100 selections, putting them in a prime position to bolster the roster and continue the deeply rooted winning ways of the franchise. At that point, the Browns had just one losing season in 27 seasons, but after misfiring on all but one of their first seven picks in '73, it hurt the team's progress for the rest of the '70s.

Only second-round pick Greg Pruitt became a star, earning four Pro Bowl selections as a standout running back. Meanwhile, the team's first-round selections—receiver Steve Holden (No. 16) and offensive lineman Pete Adams (No. 22)—fizzled out as below-average players by '76. Among the other four players picked in the top 100, only defensive back Jim Steinke (No. 47) ever saw action for the Browns—a measly seven games as a rookie. Overall, half of the draft class never appeared in a game for Cleveland.

Cleveland 1973 Draft Picks

RoundPlayerPickPosToGSchool

1

Steve Holden

16

WR

1976

48

Arizona St.

1

Pete Adams

22

G

1976

25

USC

2

Greg Pruitt

30

RB

1981

118

Oklahoma

2

Jim Stienke

47

DB

1973

7

Texas St.

3

Bob Crum

67

DE

1973

0

Arizona

4

Andy Dorris

93

DE

1973

0

New Mexico St.

4

Randy Mattingly

100

QB

1973

0

Evansville

6

Van Green

150

DB

1976

43

Shaw

9

Curtis Wester

228

G

1973

0

Texas A&M-Commerce

10

Tommy Humphrey

256

C

1973

0

Abilene Christian

11

Carl Barisich

281

DT

1975

41

Princeton

12

Stan Simmons

306

TE

1973

0

Lewis & Clark

13

Jim Romaniszyn

334

LB

1974

28

Edinboro

14

Robert Popelka

359

DB

1973

0

SMU

15

Dave Sullivan

384

WR

1974

7

Virginia

16

George Greenfield

412

RB

1973

0

Murray St.

17

Robert McClowry

437

C

1973

0

Michigan St.

Honorable Mentions

The Browns have an unfortunate history of poor drafting. The following are additional draft classes that didn't produce much talent but fell just outside of the 10 worst in history.

Class of 1968

The Browns had one of their best drafts of all time in 1967 but were unable to repeat the magic in '68. They made a pair of good picks in linebacker John Garlington (No. 47) and running back Reece Morrison (No. 66) but otherwise didn't find much talent. Cleveland's first-round selection, defensive end Marvin Upshaw, was gone after two seasons, and 12 of the 20 players drafted never appeared in a game. Among the other five who did make the roster, none lasted more than two seasons in Cleveland.

Class of 2008

Because of several pre-draft trades, the first draft pick for the Browns in '08 didn't come until the fourth round. With that 104th pick, the Browns landed coveted linebacker Beau Bell, but he lasted just five games in the NFL. That was an error the Browns could ill afford given their lack of picks (only five in the entire draft). Cleveland did find a gem in the sixth round with defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin (99 games with the Browns), but the other four players were all whiffs.

Class of 1980

The Browns drafted a pair of solid NFL players in 1980—they just didn't make their mark in Cleveland. First-round pick Charles White had his best seasons after leaving the Browns, and third-round pick Cliff Odom would stay in the NFL until '93 but only played in Cleveland as a rookie. More than half of Cleveland's picks that year either played a single season or never appeared in an NFL game.

Future Browns Draft Classes

For all of the failures featured here, Cleveland can't be completely discounted. Throughout franchise history, there have been numerous draft classes full of talent—including multiple years that the Browns drafted more than one Hall of Famer.

Works Cited

Heaton, C. "'Most Important Draft'—Modell." Cleveland Plain-Dealer. pp. C1. Retrieved from Newsbank via Cleveland Public Library on March 25, 2020.