10 Worst First Round Draft Picks in Cleveland Browns History
“The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. That's the deal.” - C.S. Lewis
Could the Cleveland Browns’ draft history be described any better?
Within their illustrious history, the Cleveland Browns have selected No. 1 overall three times (Bobby Garrett-1954, Tim Couch-1999 and Courtney Brown-2000). These three prospects never turned into Hall of Famers for the Browns’ franchise, but Cleveland has selected four eventual Hall of Famers through the NFL Draft (Doug Atkins-1953, Jim Brown-1957, Paul Warfield-1964 and Ozzie Newsome-1978).
Browns fans have had to deal with a lot of heartache as of late, but with a saddened heart I have to inform you that the Cleveland Browns franchise has been dealing with appalling first-round picks for as long as it has been in existence
Here are my top 10 most awful first-round draft selections from bad to worse by the Cleveland Browns.
Harry Agganis, 12th Overall, 1952
Harry Agganis was born the son of Greek immigrants. Born Aristotle George Agganis in 1929 in Lynn, Massachusetts, Agganis' legacy can still be felt around the Boston-area today.
Agganis was a two-sport athlete that dominated as early as the high school level. After watching him play, fans began to refer to him as the “Golden Greek.” Playing both baseball and football, Agganis was offered college scholarships from every institution in the country.
At 6’1’’, Harry Agganis chose to stay local and play quarterback for the Boston University Terriers. During his sophomore season, he set a school record by tossing 15 touchdown passes and throwing for 1,042 yards.
After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps for a year, Agganis returned to BU and snagged the university’s first All-America honor for football. Upon leaving Boston University, Agganis held 15 school records.
Paul Brown and the Cleveland Browns drafted the BU junior with the 12th pick in 1952. Brown dangled a staggering $25,000 bonus in front of the former Terrier. Paul Brown envisioned Agganis replacing his aging current quarterback and former two-sport athlete Otto Graham.
No such dream would ever come true for Paul Brown and the Cleveland Browns. Harry Agganis accepted a contract with the Boston Red Sox, and never took a single snap in the NFL.
Courtney Brown, No. 1 Overall, 2000
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The rebuilding Cleveland franchise struck out once again in the first-round in 2000. With the No. 1 draft choice for the second straight season, the Browns selected a 6’4’’ and 285 pound defensive end from Penn State named Courtney Brown.
Brown dominated at every level he had ever played. He was a high school All-American his senior year in South Carolina. Brown contributed to his high school team on both sides of the football (played linebacker and tight end). He was awarded the high school Gatorade Player of the Year his senior season. He played in the Shrine Bowl, as well as the North/South All-Star game for basketball.
Continuing his dominance at Penn State, Courtney Brown was a consensus first-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten selection his senior season. Brown earned the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and the Defensive Linemen of the Year honors while a senior. He was named a finalist for three national awards including the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Lombardi Award. Brown finished his collegiate career with a NCAA record 33 sacks and 70 tackles for loss.
Courtney Brown had a nice rookie season for the Cleveland Browns. He recorded 70 total tackles and 4.5 sacks. But injuries and inconsistencies caught up with the mammoth d-lineman, and he only recorded 74 total tackles and 12.5 sacks in his following four seasons with the Cleveland Browns.
Brown played seven seasons in the NFL. Five of those seasons with the Cleveland Browns, and the final two seasons of his career with the Denver Broncos.
Not truly the production the Browns franchise was looking for out of the No. 1 overall draft choice.
Don Rogers, 18th Overall, 1984
There is a certain remorse that comes to my mind, when you place Don Rogers on a list of horrifying first-round picks throughout the history of the Cleveland Browns.
Don Rogers was the 18th pick in the 1984 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.
A safety from UCLA, Rogers was the co-player of the game for the 1983 Rose Bowl. He also tied a Rose Bowl record in 1984 by being credited for two interceptions.
Rogers only played two seasons for the Cleveland Browns, before he tragically died of a heart attack caused by a cocaine overdose. Don Rogers' unfortunate tragedy occurred the day before his wedding and only eight days after the NBA’s Len Bias also died of a cocaine overdose.
In his two NFL seasons, Don Rogers played in 31 games and was credited with two career interceptions.
Tim Couch, No. 1 Overall, 1999
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Most Browns fans can remember the joy and excitement that surrounded the selection of Tim Couch. The Browns touted Couch as the savior of the newly reinvented franchise.
The first overall pick in 1999 had all the needed credentials. Fitting into the prototypical quarterback mold, Couch stood 6’4’’ and weighed 230 pounds. Couch looked to be the face of Cleveland’s new franchise.
At the University of Kentucky, Couch rewrote the record books. He still holds the NCAA record for completion percentage in one game at 83 percent, and for completions per game. He also left Kentucky holding the NCAA records for most completions in a season, most completions in a two-year period, most completions per game in a two-year period, and career completion percentage.
At Kentucky, Couch was awarded first and second-team All-SEC honors, as well as a first-team All-American nomination and the SEC Player of the Year in 1998.
The same level of success was never obtained by Couch in the NFL. The newly minted Browns franchise never really messed with Couch’s style of play. Couch had a five-year career with the Cleveland Browns, and mostly looked overwhelmed and ran around for his life.
Tim Couch did try two comebacks with the Green Bay Packers (2004) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2007) but never made the roster out of training camp. No one can argue that the Browns franchise at the time was not ready for a young quarterback like Couch, but the numbers also do not lie.
Tim Couch’s NFL statistics are 1,025 completions on 1,714 attempts for 11,131 yards with 64 touchdowns and 67 interceptions. Couch’s career quarterback rating was 75.1.
Couch may have not had much talent around him, but any franchise would expect more out of a No. 1 pick.
The 1973 First Round
The Browns had two first-round choices in the 1973 NFL Draft. The Browns acquired the16th pick from the New York Giants for Jack Gregory and Freddie Summers.
With the 16th overall pick the Browns selected Steve Holden. Holden was a 6’0’’ and 195 pound wide receiver from Arizona State University.
Holden played four seasons for the Cleveland Browns before finishing his career with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Steve Holden’s career numbers are 62 receptions for 927 yards and four touchdowns.
The Browns other first-round choice for the 1973 NFL Draft was Pete Adams. Adams was an offensive guard from USC. The Browns selected Adams with the 22nd pick.
The 6’4’’ and 260 pound guard only made 25 appearances in two seasons for the Cleveland Browns.
Bobby Garrett, No. 1 Overall, 1954
Still looking for an eventual replacement to the aging Otto Graham, the Browns selected Bobby Garrett with the No. 1 choice in the 1954 NFL Draft.
Garrett looked to fit the bill, the 6’1’’ and 198 pound Stanford University product was an All-American with great versatility. In addition to playing quarterback at Stanford, Garrett was also a standout defensive back for the Cardinal.
Garrett had obtained much college success, including the third ever winner of the W.J. Voit Memorial Trophy in 1953 and the 1954 Hula Bowl MVP.
Garrett possessed one weakness as a quarterback of the time, he suffered from a stutter. His stutter hindered him from calling plays and being the leader of the offense that the Browns required. Garrett never played a single game for the Browns. The Browns eventually traded Bobby Garrett along with Don Miller, Johnny Bauer and Chet Gierula to the Green Bay Packers for quarterback Babe Parilli and Bob Fleck.
The Packers completed this trade without knowledge of Garrett’s stutter. Garrett played just nine games in the NFL. Garrett’s career statistics were 15 completions on 30 attempts for 143 passing yards with zero touchdowns and one interception. Bobby Garrett has a career quarterback rating of 49.7.
William Green, 16th Overall, 2002
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In 2002, the Browns decided to take a chance on a highly talented but highly troubled young running back out of Boston College. With the 16th pick in the first-round, the Browns selected William Green.
No one could refute the pick based on Green’s success. He put up strong numbers while at Boston College, rushing for over 2,700 yards and 32 touchdowns. He was named a first-team All-Big East Conference selection in 2000 and 2001. Green was also named a consensus first-team All-American and the Big East Offensive Player of the Year in 2001.
The 6’0’’ and 217 pound running back seemed to have other interests rather than football when he entered the NFL. Green was arrested for drunk driving and marijuana possession in 2003. The arrest led to a four-game suspension by the NFL. While under suspension, Green's fiancee, Asia Gray, stabbed him in the back during a dispute. The NFL prolonged his suspension through the end of the season, claiming that Green needed more time away from the football field for treatment purposes.
William Green started 30 games for the Browns over his four NFL seasons. Green had 568 carries for 2,109 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. William Green ended his NFL career only averaging 3.7 yards per carry.
A Browns fan can only wonder what could have been, if Green’s off the field issues would have been rectified.
Tom Hutchinson, 9th Overall, 1963
All Browns fans remember the spectacular selection of future Hall of Famer Paul Warfield with the 11th overall pick in the 1964 NFL Draft. One year before, the Browns thought they had addressed their wide receiver issues with the choice of Tom Hutchinson.
Hutchinson was an All-American receiver from the University of Kentucky.
Drafted ninth overall in the 1963 NFL Draft, this 6’1’’ and 190 pound wide receiver was expected to help the Browns’ offense.
He played for the Browns until the 1965 season. Tom Hutchinson finished his four-year career with the Atlanta Falcons in 1966.
Hutchinson career statistics were 19 receptions for 409 yards and two touchdowns.
Mike Phipps, 3rd Overall, 1970
The Browns placed many of their chips on the table, when they selected Mike Phipps third overall. The Browns placed Phipps in the spotlight before he even took the field. The Browns traded All-Pro wide receiver Paul Warfield to obtain this pick from the Miami Dolphins.
Phipps, who attended Purdue University, looked to be the Browns’ quarterback of the future. He had already been in a pressure filled situation by having to replace All-American quarterback Bob Griese at Purdue.
In 1967, Phipps re-wrote the Purdue record books by setting a new school single-season record for total offense, while also earning the Boilermakers a share of the Big Ten Conference title. In 1969, Phipps play landed him a second place finish on the Heisman Trophy list.
At 6’3’’ and 208 pounds, Phipps brought potential of a mobile strong-armed passer to the Browns in 1970. Riding the bench for most of his first two NFL seasons, Phipps became the Browns’ starting quarterback in 1972 after a loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Phipps played seven seasons for the Cleveland Browns, but never obtained the level of success that was expected from him. Phipps played his final five NFL seasons with Mike Ditka and the Chicago Bears.
Through his 12-year career, Mike Phipps career statistics were 886 completions on 1,799 attempts for 55 passing touchdowns and 108 interceptions. Phipps did throw for 10,506 passing yards, but only had a career quarterback rating of 52.6, while completing only 49.2 percent of his passes.
Mike Junkin, 5th Overall, 1987
Much like Mike Phipps 17 years before, Mike Junkin was placed immediately into the spotlight upon his selection. The Browns acquired the Duke linebacker by trading their first and second picks in 1987, along with Chip Banks to the San Diego Chargers.
With their newly acquired fifth pick the Browns chose to select Mike Junkin, a 6’3’’, 241 pound linebacker.
The choice of Junkin has left a sour taste in the mouth of the NFL. Mike Junkin was the last Duke Football player to be selected in Round 1 of the NFL Draft.
Junkin only played two seasons for the Cleveland Browns. Mike Junkin finished his three-year NFL career with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Only appearing in 20 games over these three seasons, NFL.com officially does not credit him with any NFL statistics.
The Browns have had some real black clouds hang over their head when it comes to the NFL Draft. But no matter what players are chosen by the Cleveland Browns in the future, Mike Junkin and his fifth overall selection will always be the most appalling of all the Browns’ draft picks.