One Year Later: Grading the Cleveland Browns 2011 NFL Draft Class

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One Year Later: Grading the Cleveland Browns 2011 NFL Draft Class
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

"Hindsight is always twenty-twenty."—Billy Wilder
Maybe you didn't like the Cleveland Browns' deal with the Atlanta Falcons during the 2011 NFL draft, I didn't either.

After watching Peyton Hillis ravage opposing defenses throughout 2010, I determined that the incoming quarterback guru, Pat Shurmur, required an offensive weapon with which to break in Colt McCoy.

Two trades and a defensive tackle later, my ears burned with frustration—and even worse: humiliation.

Who were the Browns to trade down with so many top talents on the table?

Well, those Browns found Greg Little in the second round, who caught more passes than Julio Jones. They also parlayed that trade into four more starting-caliber players, as quarterback Brandon Weeden, defensive tackle Phil Taylor, fullback Owen Marecic, and to some degree, running back Trent Richardson can trace their arrival in Cleveland back to this one transaction.

As we digest the Browns' 2012 draft class, the Class of 2011 reveals a great deal about the Browns' perspective when draft day rolls around.

First, they aren't afraid to use a middle-round pick on a position they reputedly don't need—look at cornerback Buster Skrine and tight end Jordan Cameron in 2011. Similarly, the Browns confused some when they nabbed defensive tackle John Hughes out of Cincinnati and even quarterback Brandon Weeden; when the Browns like a player, they take him.

Second, the Browns also avoid missing out on some serious talent by giving players the benefit of the doubt when it comes to questions of character; when the Browns like a player, they take him.

Third, the Browns really aren't interested in what the so-called experts have to say. Particularly in the second round, the Browns show no hesitation to draft the 10th player taken at a given position (Greg Little in 2011) or leave numerous higher-profile options on the table, (Mitch Schwartz in 2012) when the Browns like a player...

As we can already see only a year out, this strategy augurs well.

Overall Class Grade: A

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