Saturday, April 29, 2006

Not so daft drafts

The Browns got their man in today's draft, linebacker Kemerion Wimbley from Florida State. He's a first-round talent who fits the Browns' needs perfectly, and Phil Savage even managed to squeeze a sixth-round draft pick out of the Baltimore Ravens while trading down and still landing Wimbley.

And here's why you shouldn't be too excited about it.

Like Indians were to Custer, so too are NFL drafts to the Cleveland Browns. The only difference is no draft is ever the last stand for our Browns. Instead, they live to play again another year only to get massacred again.

Since their return to the NFL, the Browns have selected 67 players in the draft. Not one has made the Pro Bowl, either for the Browns or any other team. Starting with Tim Couch, the first pick of the 1999 draft, Browns drafts have been littered with, well, litter.

Actually, since Bernie Kosar manipulated his way to the Browns through the 1985 supplemental draft, they've struck out in the first round more often than Russell Branyan. Here's a ranking of the Browns' first-round draft picks over the last two decades, from worst to, well, not worst:

1) Craig Powell (1995) -- Foreshadowing the impending implosion of the Browns via their move to Baltimore after the season, then-coach Bill Belichick famously panicked when the New York Jets selected Belichick's man-crush, Kyle Brady, just before the Browns picked 10th. Belichick traded with San Francisco to move to the end of the first round, where he selected Powell, who tore up his knee halfway through his rookie season and played 12 games. Then, after the Browns moved to Baltimore the next year, the Ravens used the pick Belichick received from San Francisco to pick Ray Lewis, who led the Ravens to the most disgusting Super Bowl victory in Browns history.

2) Mike Junkin (1987) -- The Browns traded Chip Banks to the San Diego Chargers in order to move up and select the "mad dog in a meat market" fifth overall. Rivaling Pamela Anderson for bust size, Junkin played two seasons for the Browns and one for the Kansas City Chiefs before moving on to his life's work.

3.) Tim Couch (1999) -- Beaten around like a demolition derby car for five years before spending the last two seasons wandering around the NFL in search of a job like Caine in Kung Fu. Incredibly, Couch cracks's list of the worst 100 draft picks ever, but only makes it to third on the Browns own list. t least he married a Playboy centerfold!

4.) Clifford Charlton (1998) -- The Browns "fixed" the Junkin mistake by taking Charlton 21st, but like Junkin, Charlton lasted just two years with the Browns.

5.) William Green (2002) -- Like a bad rash, William Green just won't go away. He's still on the Browns because no one will trade for him.

6.) Touchdown Tommy Vardell (1992) -- Blame current Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green for this. As coach at Stanford in 1990, he gave Vardell the "Touchdown Tommy" nickname after four 1-yard touchdown plunges in a 36-31 victory over Notre Dame. That was one more touchdown than he scored in four years with the Browns.

7.) Kellen Winslow (2004) -- There were a couple games that Kellen Winslow actually played in. He broke his leg in one of them. Then he played Evel Knievel on his motorcycle, right down to the broken body. The Browns expect him to play a big role on the team in 2006, which is kind of like expecting the hole in the center of a doughnut to fill you up.

8 (tie). Courtney Brown (2000) and Gerard Warren (2001) -- Interchangeable, even so far as they both moved to the Denver Broncos prior to the 2005 season and helped them to the AFC Championship game, after underachieving for the Browns.

10.) No pick (1990) -- It was traded away, meaning the Browns couldn't embarrass themselves.

11. Jeff Faine (2003) -- Ended each of the last three seasons on the injured list, most likely will start the next one on another team.

12.) Eric Turner (1991) -- The safety made the Pro Bowl in 1994, but played just one more year with the Browns. Tragically died of cancer after the 1999 season with the Oakland Raiders.

13.) Antonio Langham (1994) -- one of the Browns better first-round picks of the last 20 years simply by not sucking.

14.) Eric Metcalf (1989) -- Good on kick returns, not good on runs up the middle.

15.) Braylon Edwards (2005) -- Displayed perfect Cleveland form by tearing up his knee midway through his first season. Optimists say he'll be ready by training camp; Clevelanders say don't count on a thing from Edwards for 2006.

15.) Steve Everitt (1993) -- The Browns finally scored, using the 14th overall pick, drafting a hard-working, long-haired offensive lineman who took to the Cleveland ethic like a dog to a bone. Everitt forever lives on in the hearts of Clevelanders for wearing a Browns bandanna on the Ravens sidelines during their first exhibition game. Presumably told Art Modell to F-off when Everitt left the Ravens to join the Philadelphia Eagles after the 1997 season. Of course, no one has drafted a center as high as No. 14 since.

If Kamerion Wimbley were to turn on ESPN, see that he was drafted by the Browns, and immediately retire, we'd understand. And so would God. For now, we can only hope that Kamerion settles in as the 16th least-sucky Browns pick of the last two decades.

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