The Cleveland Browns' 10 Most Memorable Draft Days
Draft Day 2009 is quickly approaching, which of course means analysts are creating their mock drafts and GM's and coaches everywhere are circulating some trade winds.
In order to celebrate draft fever, The Bleacher Report has asked me to recall some famous draft days in the history of the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns have had their fair share of memorable drafts. Some of these moments went down in history simply because of how impactful the new players turned out to be.
Others were so horrible they make even the most scarred Cleveland fans still wake up in a cold sweat. Either way, they were days to remember nonetheless.
Whether they drafted future legends or made legendary mistakes, here now are the 10 most memorable draft days for the Cleveland Browns.
10. Courtney Brown (2000)
What Happened: After a dismal 2-11 expansion season in 1999, the Browns set out to shore up their porous defense.
In an attempt to do so, they drafted Penn State defensive end Courtney Brown. Brown had an illustrious career at PSU, racking up numerous awards and breaking several records.
With all of the honors he gained for himself, it made perfect sense for Cleveland to bring him in.
Result: Nicknamed "The Quiet Storm," Courtney Brown just ended up as nothing more than a drizzle. While he stayed with the Browns until 2005, Brown never played more than one full season.
Injuries kept him on the sidelines, where he didn't do much beyond certifying his official "Draft Bust" status among the league.
However, his salary certainly suggested otherwise, as the Browns front office paid him over $20 million during his time in Cleveland.
9. Big Money (2001)
What Happened: In Butch Davis' first year with the Browns, he made some noise by drafting Gerard "Big Money" Warren from the University of Florida.
While having solid years as a Gator, Warren was not quite as touted as were the many other future Pro-Bowlers in this year's draft crop, and also had more than a few character issues.
Still, Davis felt comfortable about Warren and brought him to Cleveland.
Result: Never mind the fact that Warren anointed himself "Big Money," the real issue is how many big names the Browns passed up in this year's draft.
To give you a little perspective, Cleveland drafted Warren, passing on LaDainian Tomlinson, Richard Seymour, Marcus Stroud, Santana Moss, Deuce McAllister, Todd Heap, and Marvin Harrison to name a few.
Oh, and while these players were out having Pro Bowl careers, Warren went on to do, well, not much.
8. A Savage First Round (2007)
What Happened: Coming into the 2007 Draft, Romeo Crennel and Phil Savage hadn't done much to make a name for themselves as leaders of the Browns.
Many fans dreaded the regime using the third overall pick on Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, knowing there were bigger holes to fill.
However, a curveball was thrown when the Browns picked an uber-talented lineman in Wisconsin tackle Joe Thomas, and then traded with Dallas in order to select Quinn later in the first round.
Seeing that the Browns went from causing fear within the fanbase to drafting a franchise lineman and possible quarterback of the future in the same round, many analysts heralded Cleveland's draft day as one of the best of the year.
The team used later picks to select to future starting cornerbacks in Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald.
Result: Joe Thomas started immediately and anchored what was one of the better offensive lines of 2007.
While Thomas earned a Pro Bowl bid, Brady Quinn watched as backup quarterback Derek Anderson shockingly led the Browns to a 10-6 record.
Quinn started three games in 2008, but now seems to be on borrowed time with a new regime that isn't terribly impressed with him.
7. One Round, Two Legends (1978)
What Happened: With the twelfth overall pick in the 1978 draft, the Browns selected a talented linebacker from USC named Clay Matthews.
Then, receiving an extra first rounder from Chicago after trading quarterback Mike Phipps, the team used their newly acquired 23rd pick to select Alabama wide receiver Ozzie Newsome.
Just think, trading Mike Phipps for Ozzie Newsome after aquiring Clay Matthews seemed like a pretty big deal even before these two began their careers.
Result: While not the biggest first round in NFL history, Browns fans can surely see the importance of this one.
Clay Matthews became one of the biggest impact players of Cleveland's defense, and might very well have a Hall of Fame invite in the near future.
He stuck around with the Browns until 1993, and now there's a possibility his son, Clay Matthews III, could pick up the torch he left behind.
Newsome, however, became an offensive phenom. Coach Sam Rutigliano moved Newsome from receiver to tight end, knowing full well that no linebacker could cover him.
"The Wizard of Oz," as he became known, set multiple records, played in 198 consecutive games with Cleveland, and then was later enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
While he now works for the hated Baltimore Ravens, Ozzie Newsome left quite a monstrous legacy in Cleveland that no one will forget.
6. Swapping an All-Time Great for an All-Time Bust (1970)
What Happened: Browns owner Art Modell made an utterly shocking move (which, to Browns fans, isn't surprising at all) by trading elite receiver Paul Warfield to the Miami Dolphins for their first round draft pick.
With the pick, Modell and the Browns selected Purdue quarterback Mike Phipps. Showing off solid passing ability with some mobility to boot, Phipps had some potential, but Warfield was irreplaceable.
Result: This draft day marked one of the worst in Cleveland history. Phipps ended up as a huge letdown, posting consistently low QB ratings.
In fact, Phipps finished with one of the lowest ratings for any starting quarterback in the modern era.
And while Phipps was doing his best to make Art Modell feel like an idiot, Warfield was doing just the same in Miami, helping them win a few championships on his way to the Hall of Fame.
5. The Mad Dog
What Happened: In a move that still hunts Marty Schottenheimer to this day, the Browns head coach traded talented linebacker Chip Banks amid contract issues to move up 19 picks in the first round.
This decision could've been legitimized, yet Marty chose an alternate route.
Schottenheimer drafted Mike "Mad Dog" Junkin, an inside linebacker from Duke who many felt wasn't even worthy of a first-round selection.
Result: Even today, the selection of Mike Junkin with the fifth overall pick is one of the all-time moron moves in football.
In fact, Junkin had such a short and forgettable career that, after scraping through everything the internet had to offer, this was the best picture I could find of him.
Many analysts had Junkin as a fifth or sixth round pick at best, and he went to prove them right pretty quickly.
Junkin's one highlight was a preseason interception he ran back for a touchdown (Schottenheimer would later claim he was out of position on the play and lucked out on the pick).
After that, he became plagued with injuries, which lead to a stunningly short three years in the NFL.
When it comes to draft day busts, it doesn't get much worse than Mike Junkin.
4. Gone Too Soon (1962)
What Happened: In the 1962 NFL Draft, Browns head coach Paul Brown made a daring (and albeit unapproved) trade with the Washington Redskins.
The Redskins had drafted Syracuse running back Ernie Davis, who was the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy.
Paul Brown saw in him the perfect sidekick to his current full back Jim Brown, and quickly traded for Davis without Modell's permission.
Result: What could've been one of the best backfields in the history of the NFL never fully came into fruition.
Tragically, Ernie Davis never stepped onto the field, as he was diagnosed with leukemia before the season started.
Davis died one year later, leading the Browns to retire his number 45 and his death turned out to be one of the original heartbreaking moments for the city of Cleveland.
3. We're Back (1999)
What Happened: Four years after Art Modell notoriously sold the Cleveland Browns to Balitmore, the team returned in the form of an expansion franchise in 1999.
Given the first pick in the '99 draft, the Browns had multiple options to pick from. In the end, Cleveland selected University of Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch, who became the first draft pick of the "New" Browns.
While the forecast wasn't a pleasant one, the most important thing was that the Cleveland Browns were back.
Result: The 1999 Browns suffered the worst season in franchise history, causing coach Chris Palmer to insert Couch into the starting role way too early.
Couch won two games in his first year, including the rare occasion that is a victory over Pittsburgh. He had occasional flares of greatness, but never could stay consistent as an NFL starter.
Couch suffered some injuries throughout his time in Cleveland, including one that lead the home fans to cheer for his pain, which left him in tears afterward.
To be fair, Couch has received a bad rap, as much of his shortcomings were beyond his control.
No quarterback can do much behind a paper-thin expansion O-Line, and one can't help but imagine what Couch could have done behind at least a semi-talented set of blockers.
2. The Prodigal Son Returns (1985)
What Happened: Back in the 80's, there was the NFL Draft, and then there was the supplemental draft.
In a notoriously clever way of using both to their advantage, the Browns brought home a local hero.
University of Miami quarterback Bernie Kosar, originally from Boardman, Ohio, shocked the world when he claimed he wanted to play for his longtime favorite team, the lowly Cleveland Browns.
However, it would take some effort, as the Minnesota Vikings were also trying to sway Kosar. Though flattered by the Vikings attempts, Kosar intentionally declared eligibility too late for the NFL Draft so the Browns could snag him in the supplemental draft.
Result: The gangly Kosar was widely known as having the most awkward stance and throwing motion in the NFL.
However, even though he had the body of an accountant, he had the accuracy of a sniper.
Bernie became a Cleveland icon, turning the Browns into one of the most dominant teams in football.
While "Bernie, Bernie" (to the tune of "Louie, Louie") owned the local airwaves, Kosar dealt with his fair share of shortcomings, too.
John Elway crushed the heart of Cleveland three times in four years, as Kosar could never get past Denver.
Then, in 1991, new coach Bill Belichick released the hometown hero, which sent the fans into an uproar. To this day, Bernie Kosar remains the last great Cleveland quarterback.
1. The Man, The Myth, The Legend (1957)
What Happened: In the 1957 draft, the Cleveland Browns drafted Syracuse running back Jim Brown with their first round selection.
Brown, who was notoriously out-voted in the Heisman Trophy race, was a rugged, multi-talented, pure athlete.
Coach Paul Brown expected big things from the stoic full back, but nobody could've predicted just how dominant Jim Brown would become.
Result: On Jim Brown's first preseason snap, he ran downfield for a long touchdown. He returned to the sideline, where Paul Brown simply said, "You're my running back." From there, no record was safe.
Brown led the league in rushing almost every year of his career. To this day, he's the only rusher to average 100 yards per game for a career.
If you were attempting to take down Jim Brown by yourself, good luck, as he continually bulldozed through any and all opposing players.
Unfortunately, Brown was an incredibly prideful person, and it came back to bite him in the end.
While Brown pursued a career in acting, Art Modell threatened to fine Jim Brown every day he was late for training camp.
Offended, Brown announced his retirement, shortening what could've been an incredibly untouchable set of records.
Still, Jim Brown is easily the best draft pick the Cleveland Browns have ever selected.