10 Biggest Draft Mistakes in Cleveland Browns History
The Cleveland Browns are as storied of a franchise as any of the traditional football programs in the NFL. For decades they dominated the landscape of the football world. However, since the team merged with the NFL there has been two unfortunate absolutes: bad luck and poor drafting.
All of that misfortune, though, cannot compare to the recent spat of horrid drafting that the Browns have undergone since the team's reincarnation into the NFL in 1999. If there is one word that fans can all agree that would describe the team over the past 10 years, it is "mismanaged."
Now, since the hiring of general manager Tom Heckert, the tide seems to be turning in the draft department. Heckert has added some very critical pieces to the puzzle for the struggling Browns.
With the draft upcoming, I feel it's a good idea to take a look at where the Browns have went wrong on past draft days. So what are the 10 biggest draft mistakes in Cleveland Browns history?
Brian Robiskie, WR
David Veikune, LB/DE
Gerard Warren, DT
Clifford Charlton, LB (picked before Chris Spielman)
Don Rogers, S (died of cocaine overdose)
Craig Powell, LB
Kellen Winslow II, TE
10. William Green
David Maxwell/Getty Images
William Green was selected No. 16 overall in the 2002 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns.
Green's scouting report boasted a second-round grade. This rating was thought to be a direct result of the two marijuana related incidents he was involved in during college—perhaps Green was the real deal who just happened to make some immature mistakes in college?
After a strong rookie season in which he recorded six touchdowns while amassing more than 800 yards rushing, the sky was the limit for the Browns' rookie running back. Unfortunately, Green's off-the-field issues resurfaced the following season. He was arrested for DUI and possession of marijuana, which resulted in a four-game suspension by the NFL.
Things got worse for Green.
During his suspension, his girlfriend stabbed him in the back—literally—resulting in him missing the rest of the 2003 football season.
He struggled with injuries and controversy until he was released in 2006.
9. Courtney Brown
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Coming out of college, Courtney Brown had the perfect resume. He was an All-American and the clear-cut No.1 defensive end in the draft.
The Cleveland Browns agreed.
With the first pick in 2000 NFL draft, the Browns picked the defensive end from Penn State. Brown had a productive rookie season in which he recorded 4.5 sacks and 70 tackles. Unfortunately, that was the end of the hope for Brown.
Over the next few season he struggled to stay on the field and eventually was signed by the Denver Broncos as a free agent in 2005.
He played one season for the Broncos before ending his NFL career in 2006.
8. Willis Adams
Willis Adams was selected No. 20 overall in the 1979 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns.
His stat line of 936 yards, 61 receptions and two touchdowns is impressive if it would have occurred during his rookie season.
But no, that was his stat line of his entire seven-season career while playing for the Browns. Injuries and inconsistency doomed this former Browns' wide receiver.
The worst part about Adams' selection by the Browns is that they traded down with the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers selected Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow with the Browns' pick.
7. Tommy Vardell
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Tommy Vardell was selected No. 9 overall in the 1992 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns.
Nicknamed "Touchdown Tommy" at Stanford, Vardell was selected too early by the Browns. His failure to produce and eventual transition to a full-time fullback position reaffirms that statement.
Vardell did end up producing at the NFL level, but it was as a fullback and for the Detroit Lions, not the Cleveland Browns. Vardell blocked for Lions running back Barry Sanders when he rushed for more than 2,000 yards during the 1997 NFL season.
6. Lawyer Tillman
Lawyer Tillman was selected No. 1 in the second round of the 1989 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns. The Browns traded down and out of the first round in order to select Tillman with the 33rd pick of the draft.
Unfortunately, Tillman's talent never materialized at the NFL level. He was hampered greatly by continual injuries and an inability to stay on the field. In three seasons he appeared in only 10 game for the Browns. During those 10 games, he did show potential by recording 636 yards, 36 receptions and three touchdowns.
After being released by the Browns, Tillman had a short stint in Carolina before retiring from the NFL a season later.
5. Charles White
Charles White was selected No. 27 overall in the 1980 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns.
White was the college football Heisman Trophy winner in 1979. That year, he also earned the Sugar Bowl MVP honors as he rushed for 239 yards in USC's victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes.
White falling to the 27th pick in seemed too good to be true.
After four years of uninspired play in Cleveland, White skipped town and landed with the St. Louis Rams. During his entire four-year stay in Cleveland he recorded a meager 942 yards rushing.
Years later White admitted to heavy cocaine addiction during his post-draft years with the Browns, but in 1987 he led the NFL in rushing for the Rams and was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
4. Tim Couch
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Tim Couch was selected No. 1 overall in the 1999 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns picked him over Daunte Cullpepper and Donovan McNabb.
Unfortunately for Couch and the Browns, Couch's career never paid the dividends expected of the No. 1 overall pick.
There are many reasons attributed to Couch's failure and some of those must be taken into consideration when assessing how big of a flop Couch was at the NFL level. The Browns management did not do enough to allow Couch to succeed in many people's minds.
Whatever the reason for failure, it was still a failure and it doesn't get much worse than failing as a No. 1 overall draft pick.
Or does it?
3. Mike Phipps
Mike Phipps was selected No. 3 overall in the 1970 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns.
Phipps never lived up to the high expectations on him after the Browns traded fan-favorite wide receiver Paul Warfield in exchange for the rights to draft him.
He did serve up a playoff berth and several exciting games to the Browns faithful, but he still never reciprocated the high investment from the Browns. After years of inconsistency and an injury in 1976, Phipps was overtaken by rising star Brian Sipe.
After the emergence of Sipe, Phipps was traded in exchange for a first-round pick from the Chicago Bears. He proceeded to play even worse for the Bears for four seasons.
He finished his career with 55 touchdowns and 108 interceptions.
2. Trading Back into the First Round for Brady Quinn
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
Brady Quinn was selected No. 22 overall in the 2007 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns.
Not only was Quinn a first-round draft pick, the Browns traded back into the first-round of the 2007 NFL draft by surrendering their 2007 second-round and 2008 first-round picks to the Dallas Cowboys.
Quinn struggled to beat out the likes of Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson and never materialized into the "home-town" hero many fans believed he would be.
After being traded to the Denver Broncos for a late-round pick and Peyton Hillis, Quinn failed to compete for the starting quarterback position there and was eventually the backup to embattled quarterback Tim Tebow.
Many experts claim Tim Tebow is not a starting NFL-caliber QB.
What does that say for Quinn?
1. Mike Junkin
Mike Junkin was selected No. 5 overall in the 1987 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns.
Nicknamed "A Mad Dog in a Meat Factory," Junkin never could impose his will in the NFL like he did in college. His competition in college was simply inferior to the NFL-caliber players he faced every Sunday.
There is a reason no Duke University football player has been selected in the first round since the Browns chose Junkin in the 1987 draft.
Junkin spent a mere two seasons playing for the Cleveland Browns. During that span he started a measly seven ball games. His third and final season was spent playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, where he also failed to succeed and decided to call it quits.
Follow Mike on Twitter @BigHoagowski