The fourth installment in our ‘Draft Grader’ series sees us focusing on the 2008-2010 draft classes of the Cleveland Browns. A franchise that has struggled since re-entering the league, the Browns seem to be a team that is constantly rebuilding … so why is that?
We’re going to see if we can trace their problems back to their drafting; every draft pick (this does not include undrafted free agents) will get a grade between +2.0 and -2.0 (in 0.5 increments) that depends upon:
• Where they were drafted
• Their performance
• Their contribution (how many snaps their team got out of them)
• Other factors such as unforeseen injuries and conditions that could not have been accounted for
So let’s get down to breaking down three years of Cleveland Brown drafts.
+2.0: You’ve just found Tom Brady in the 6th round
The Browns can but dare to dream of finding a franchise quarterback in any round.
+1.5: Getting much more than you bargained for!
Joe Haden, CB (7th overall pick in 2010): Is this too generous? Well, that depends on how hard you believe it is to find true shutdown cornerbacks. Haden isn’t quite there yet, but he’s extremely close. He has finished his two seasons in the NFL with our third- (2010) and fifth- (2011) highest coverage grades for all cornerbacks. While he had no interceptions last year, he did lead the league with 17 pass breakups.
+1.0: The scouts nailed it!
Ahtyba Rubin, DT (190th overall pick in 2008): The saving grace of the 2008 draft class, Rubin has excelled in the 4-3 and the 3-4 schemes. He is also coming off his most complete year to date. Rubin initially looked like a prototypical two-gap nose tackle when he came in. However, he has shown some explosiveness by picking up 29 combined sacks, hits and hurries while featuring prominently in our Run Stop % Signature Stat.
Alex Mack, C (21st overall pick in 2009): Mack isn’t in the bracket of elite centers, but he is a reliably very good one. Mack has finished in our Top 10 center rankings each year in the league, but strangely has never looked quite as dominant as when he was a rookie.
T.J. Ward, SS (38th overall pick in 2010): The state of safety play in the NFL isn’t great, so kudos to the Browns for finding a guy who came in straight away and looked the part. Extremely active in the run game, Ward has earned a +10.9 grade over two years in this regard. Also helping is the fact he’s an excellent special-teamer.
+0.5: Never hurts to find a solid contributor
Alex Hall, LB (231st overall pick in 2008): You don’t expect much of the 231st overall pick. Hall flashed some pass rushing ability as a rookie with three sacks, four hits and eight hurries on 96 pass rushes. He was also part of a trade that helped the Browns acquire Sheldon Brown and Chris Gocong. You’d settle for that.
0.0: Nothing ventured, nothing gained (It could have been worse)
Paul Hubbard, WR (191st overall pick in 2008): An intriguing prospect, Hubbard never got on the field with a new regime in Cleveland deeming him surplus to requirements in 2009 after spending a year on the practice squad.
Kaluka Maiava, LB (104th overall pick in 2009): Having turned 25 just four months ago, Maiava remains on the roster and flashed some talent as a two-down defender when filling for Scott Fujita in 2011. If nothing else, he remains useful depth, and a guy who was second on the team with eight special teams tackles last year.
Coye Francies, CB (191st overall pick in 2009): Francies’ draft stock fell and his NFL experience made it easy to see why. He rarely got on the field in 2009 or 2010 before being cut and is currently on the Seahawks’ roster.
James Davis, RB (195th overall pick in 2009): What could have been? Davis had a huge preseason but injuries (some unconventional and others controversial) prevented him from having much of an impact before he was eventually waived by the Browns in 2010.
Shawn Lauvao, RG (92nd overall pick in 2010): Given the starting right guard spot in 2011, Lauvao put forth a series of uneven displays. There was enough to suggest he could be a serviceable starter, and for where he was picked, that’s a decent enough return.
Larry Asante, S (160th overall pick in 2010): Asante hardly lit things up for the Browns in training camp and preseason. They do get something of a pass because the Bucs stole him off their practice squad.
Carlton Mitchell, WR (177th overall pick in 2010): With 54 offensive snaps Mitchell hasn’t had a chance to stand out on the field, but remains on the roster.
-0.5: That pick was not put to good use
Beau Bell, LB (104th overall pick in 2008): The fourth round pick was the Browns’ first of 2008 and required giving up their fourth and fifth round picks of the draft. He managed only two special teams tackles and no snaps on defense before he was cut a year later. Injuries played their part, but there were question marks on Bell coming out in this regard.
Martin Rucker, TE (111th overall pick in 2008): The Browns gave up a third round pick in 2009 to trade up for Rucker. He struggled to pick things up in Cleveland and managed just 56 snaps before they cut him loose after a year.
Montario Hardesty, RB (59th overall pick in 2010): Missing a year due to an ACL injury in the final preseason game can’t be helped sometimes. However, when Hardesty did get on the field in 2011, he hardly set the world alight. His 3 yards per carry average (the lowest of any Browns back with at least 10 carries) highlights his problems, while his work in the passing game (both as a receiver and pass protector) left a lot to be desired.
Colt McCoy, QB (85th overall pick in 2010): In picking McCoy the Browns thought they had someone who would develop into a solid quarterback. The signs right now suggest that won’t be the case, with McCoy struggling to challenge defenses. He’s likely to get another year to prove himself but confidence in him appears low as the Browns tried to trade up in the 2012 draft.
Clifton Geathers, DE (186th overall pick in 2010): A freakish combination of size and athleticism, Geathers was a project that the Browns soured on before the start of the 2010 season.
-1.0: What a waste!
Brian Robiskie, WR (36th overall pick in 2009): Wasn’t Robiskie supposed to be the most NFL-ready receiver from this draft class? Three years on and he’s still not ready judging by how little playing time he has seen. No longer with the Browns (currently with the Jaguars), this second round pick managed 926 snaps among as weak a selection of wide receivers as you’re ever likely to see. The Browns needed more than 421 yards over three years from him.
Mohamed Massaquoi, WR (50th overall pick in 2009): The second selection in the Browns’ two-part plan to rebuild their receiver group, Massaquoi had a rookie year that teased a productive career. Unfortunately that was all the Browns got, though, as he’s ranked in the Bottom 15 in our receiver ratings the past two years. He is currently hanging onto a roster spot, though the draft may determine for how long.
-1.5: The scouts/ coaches failed, big time!
David Veikune, LB (52nd overall pick in 2009): You probably expect more than 16 defensive snaps from a second round pick right? Veikune was so bad that the Browns gave up on him after a year. The only statistic he recorded of note was a missed tackle on special teams.
-2.0: You just drafted the love child of JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf!
There were no Russell/ Leaf hybrids to pick from.
All in all, these are interesting drafts from the Browns who had a different general managers presiding over each of the three. Their 2008 class was almost a complete throwaway but for Ahtyba Rubin. Then GM Phil Savage gambled (and largely lost) in giving up picks for Shaun Rogers, Corey Williams and Brady Quinn. A year later and you see a trend developing, with their failure (the exception being T.J. Ward) to hit on their mid-round picks. It’s just not good enough to get the kind of production they have from their second-through fourth-rounders. That second round from 2009 could haunt them for a long time.