To be fair, the Cleveland Browns have done a solid job at identifying talent in recent NFL Drafts. It's too early to tell, but the 2020 class -- highlighted by Alabama offensive tackle Jedrick Wills and LSU safety Grant Delpit -- figure to hold a big future with the franchise. Prior to that, the Browns have nabbed franchise cornerstones Myles Garrett, Nick Chubb, Denzel Ward and Baker Mayfield.
However, that recent success isn't enough to mask the horrible stretch of drafting Cleveland endured prior to 2017, when it selected Garrett at No. 1 overall. With that in mind, let's highlight three drafts that really sent the Browns back a few years.
We simply couldn't mention the alluring 2017 class without including the 2016 disaster, highlighted by the Browns taking wide receiver Corey Coleman at No. 15 overall. The oft-injured Baylor product appeared in just 18 games in his two years with the franchise. He recorded 718 yards and five touchdowns before he was traded to the Buffalo Bills in August of 2018. In the second round, Cleveland drafted defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, who was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs following the 2018 season. After Ogbah, defensive studs like Chris Jones, Jaylon Smith, Myles Jack and Xavien Howard were taken. Do the math, folks.
Who could forget the Browns trading up to select Alabama running back Trent Richardson at No. 3 overall in 2012? While the Crimson Tide product put together a solid rookie campaign, rushing for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns, he was out of the league following the 2014 season. Cleveland famously dealt him to the Indianapolis Colts two games into the 2013 campaign in exchange for a first-round pick in 2014. More on that later. Had the franchise stayed put, it could've selected one of Fletcher Cox, Luke Keuchly or Stephon Gilmore. To make matters worse, the Browns took quarterback Brandon Weeden at No. 22 overall just a few picks later. He spent two years with the team and logged a lousy 5-15 record while throwing more interceptions (26) than touchdowns (23). Stud pass rusher Chandler Jones went the pick before that and All-Pro offensive guard David DeCastro went one pick after. It seems impossible to miscalculate this woefully, but the 2012 Draft perfectly sums up Cleveland's prolonged stretch as the NFL's laughingstock.
Remember the first-rounder the Browns acquired from Indy in the Richardson deal? Well, they used it to trade up (again) to take Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel at No. 22 overall. Focused more on partying than improving his craft, the former Aggie lasted just two years as a pro, during which he finished 2-6, and completed less than 60% of his passes for seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. Had Cleveland listened to warnings of scouts, it could have drafted Odell Beckham Jr., Zack Martin, Aaron Donald, or CJ Mosley. A few picks earlier, the organization selected cornerback Justin Gilbert at No. 8 overall. To sum up that bust, let's just say that he is literally the only player between picks No. 5 - No. 17 that's never been named to a Pro Bowl. The 2014 Draft deserves to be the Browns' biggest regret. Manziel's methodical collapse paired with Gilbert starting just three games for the team is too awful to pass up.