Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What If:The Cleveland Browns-1999

Imagine that the Cleveland Browns had been run correctly since their return to the NFL in 1999.
Imagine a world without Carmen Policy bringing every washed up and overpaid former Forty Niner to town,Butch Davis drafting players that played outside the state of Florida and Phil Savage spending money and picks on players that rarely seemed to make sense.

Hindsight is almost 20/20 and some of the players that are discussed were players that I both did and didn't discuss at the time of the draft.
Some of these cases,I take personally-I would have gotten it right,but others were not guys that I particularly wanted at the time.
Full Disclosure.

Let's start in 1999.
Most expansion teams always want a QB first and the reasoning is usually along these lines.
"Pick a passer that can grow as the team grows".
The flaw to that thinking is this-by the time that your team gets reasonably good (all things considered),the years behind bad offensive lines have often broken both the players physical ability and his confidence.
Take a look at the last team to follow this philosophy-the Houston Texans and David Carr and see how that turned out.

All that said,I agreed at the time with the Browns taking Tim Couch.
Quarterback was a high depth spot in the 1999 draft and no one was chomping at the bit to move up,so the Browns were kinda stuck.
I didn't like Donovan McNabb then,but considering how the career of the two went,McNabb would have been the better choice,although I am convinced that has Couch went elsewhere,he would have had a better career as he would not have taken the shots that he did in Cleveland.
The best players is this draft loomed in the 4-7 spots as Edgerrin James,Ricky Williams,Torry Holt and Champ Bailey came off the board.
A corner has never been the top overall pick in the draft and the Browns likely never even considered him,but with 10 years behind him,Bailey is still a Pro Bowl level player and although James and Williams would have been solid picks,it is possible both would have been far less successful with the Browns.
Since hindsight is perfect,we will go with Bailey.
I wont fault Cleveland for missing though,this was not a great draft.
I mean Pittsburgh took Troy Edwards over Jevon Kearse in this draft.
Can you imagine Kearse in his first few years as a Steeler????

The Browns used their second round pick(32) on Syracuse wideout Kevin Johnson and in a weak second round probably got their moneys worth,but in hindsight,Michigan tackle Jon Jansen (37) would have been the way to go.
Although Jansen has played just two games in the last two seasons,he was generally durable before that and was one of the better tackles in the league and would have been a big addition to what proved to be a weak line for years.

In Round 3,Cleveland took Daylon McCutcheon(62),who proved to be a journeyman corner and ended up being the player that lasted the longest in Cleveland from this draft.
But two players stand out as glaring examples of misses with this pick,both are still in the league and both are still top players.
Mike McKenzie went to Green Bay at 87 at McCutcheon's Position!
Nothing kills you more when you pick the wrong player at the position that are drafting at.
McKenzie is now a Saint and still starts for them,but since we took Champ Bailey first and are an expansion team,we will pass on him,but the other guy......
Pittsburgh takes a player at 73 that they have listed as a defensive end and will turn him into a linebacker that terrorizes passers for ten years,a fellow by the name of Porter.
Joey Porter!
We put Porter as a Brown with this pick.
Sidenote-I hate the Steelers,but there is not a team in the league that I have more respect for personnel evaluations wise than the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Browns traded their next pick (96) and moved down to 124 and took Wali Rainer.
Staying at 96 could have produced another decent lineman in John Welbourn,two linebackers that lasted longer than Rainer in Rosevelt Colvin and Warrick Holdman,a decent possession receiver in Brandon Stokely or a nice safety in Dexter Jackson.
Holdman would spend a year with the Browns after his prime years were finished.
All of these players would have been fine,so we take Colvin at the same position as Rainier.

The Browns trade down again in Round 5 moving from 134 to 148 and take Darrin Chiaverini,who was a reliable receiver for the first few crummy years and was a tough little bugger to boot.
Considering the rest of this round,Cleveland sticks with the actual selection for the first time.

The various trade downs leave the Browns with three picks in Round Six and true to form,they hit with none of them.Marcus Spriggs DT Troy State(174),Kendall Ogle,LB Maryland(187) and James Dearth TE Tarleton State(191) all swing and miss.
Again not a massive amount of talent available,but Desmond Clark is still in the league as a tight end and he was available at 174.
Martay Jenkins was an average wideout for a few years with the Cardinals and he was available at all of these picks.
The whole idea of trading down and accumulating picks is to give you more chances of doing well with shots in the dark,but when you miss on them all.......

Cleveland's final pick was at 207 and the first of the final round.
The Browns took Madre Hill,who was a talented runner from Arkansas that suffered a severe knee injury in his senior year.
I liked the gamble at the time and I still won't complain too much.The risk was lower than the possible reward,but at 213,Green Bay jumps on a little known pass catcher from Alcorn State,Donald Driver and he becomes the favorite target for Brett Favre for years....

Champ Bailey,Jon Jansen,Joey Porter,Rosevelt Colvin,Darrin Chiverini,Desmond Clark,Martay Jenkins,(Keep one of the Browns picks) and Donald Driver


Tim Couch,Kevin Johnson,Daylon McCutcheon,Wali Rainer,Chiverini,Marcus Spriggs,Kendall Ogle,James Dearth and Madre Hill.

Coming soon What If-2000


Anonymous said...

Steelers! Steelers! Steelers!

In that same time span, the Steelers won two Super Bowls. Fiddled around with Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox until settling on Ben Rothelsberger. Effectively replaced Jerome Bettis. Drafted Troy Polamoleu. Cut Joey Porter. And signed James Harrison.

Oh, and their owner and coach backed the winning candidate for President in 2008 too

I think the Browns should be run more like the Steelers.

Ok, I promise to stop rubbing it in. And I'm sure the favor will be returned with a long Suns losing streak, that includes 25-1 losses that last five hours to the West Virgina Power. But hey, this is fun, do ha!

Shawn said...

I think the Browns should be run like the Steelers too!

The fact that they arent contributes greatly to why they are so awful.

And I can only hope for 25-1 wins by West Virginia over the Suns now that they are a Pirate affiliate!