The 2018 Draft Class in Tatters, Added Pressure to Deliver in 2020

Pete Smith

As it turns out, a player suspended numerous times in college for failed drug tests and the so-called "idiot test" at the NFL Scouting Combine, was ruled "not responsible" for sexual assault by a Title IX court, where he argued he was too high to have sex with anyone and was alleged to be part of a credit card fraud scheme - that player proved unreliable. Just 20 months after being drafted by the Cleveland Browns, Antonio Callaway is gone and he survived longer than much of the 2018 Browns draft class, which has largely already been traded or released.

Despite an unprecedented amount of draft assets for 2018, only five players remain with the team: Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward, Nick Chubb, Chad Thomas and Damion Ratley. Three of them are very good players and they should be as they were picked 1st, 4th and 35th respectively. Meanwhile, Thomas continues to be mediocre and Ratley is on the team, but hasn't produced much to this point..

The other second round pick, Austin Corbett is a member of the Rams, the other third round pick that year was traded for 10 quarters of Tyrod Taylor, Antonio Callaway is gone, Genard Avery, who was actually promising, has been traded and Simeon Thomas didn't make the team. They had another fourth round pick which was involved in the trade and resulting contract extension for Jarvis Landry. Landry has been far better in his second season with the Browns, but the contract is cumbersome to say the last.

The "football guy" has gotten very little return on his investment and only 20 months later, his first draft class is largely gone with little to show for it. The conventional wisdom is a draft class can't be graded for three years, but half of the class barely made it half that long.

When Dorsey walked through the door, he walked into the ideal situation for someone building a team. Tremendous draft assets and an incredibly large amount of cap room. The team is better since he arrived, but it's not where it's supposed to be and Dorsey is largely responsible. He has not delivered and foot in mouth quotes from when he started, such as how he'd find "real football players" and would add "men of character" have served as reminders of his lack of accomplishment. Not only has Dorsey not added all that many real football players, he's let go of a number of them. As for adding men of character, that requires people ignore all the times he did the exact opposite.

Some of the selections were bad in the moment. Callaway most notably, the organization took someone who has never been responsible or accountable, even after failing a scheduled drug test. Now, he's suspended 10 games after failing at least his third drug test since he's been in the NFL. Time, energy and credibility spent on a player that flashed talent, but was never someone the Browns could trust. Callaway was put on a zero tolerance policy only to get substantial leeway, wasting all of it.

All is not lost for the Browns as Mayfield, Ward and Chubb are extremely talented players that can be foundational players for the Browns. Chubb already is as the best player on offense. Nevertheless, the significant number of misses in the draft now put additional pressure to deliver in the 2020 NFL Draft.

When the Browns selected Mayfield and he hit, putting together one of the best rookie seasons for a quarterback in NFL history, the team was put on a clock. They had what effectively amounted to four more years to win a Super Bowl before Mayfield, should he continue playing like a franchise quarterback, would then have the team paying him contract that would force the Browns to reduce payroll elsewhere to ensure they are able to afford him under the salary cap.

The 2020 draft will be Dorsey's third and effectively leave two more years for the Browns to take advantage of a fantastic situation to push for a Super Bowl. Dorsey has seven draft picks at his disposal currently including an extra third round pick. Depending on how they choose to deal with Kareem Hunt, they could get an eighth that could be another pretty high pick.

The Browns need to address an offensive tackle position that's been problematic since Dorsey arrived, addressing a hole that Dorsey largely created at safety, find wide receiver help because of Callaway's flameout and more edge help since Dorsey dismantled the depth they had.

None of this is to suggest Dorsey should be fired, on the hotseat or anything else along those lines. It just means the 2020 draft class needs to be his best, because the returns on his first two thus far have not been good enough and if the Browns are going to take advantage of this window and push for a championship, this is the class where they have to be able to make real progress or they are at risk for blowing it.


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