This the the second of a two-part series on reviewing the Cleveland Browns 2005 and 2006 drafts (part one is here). As before, I'm comparing each player's performance to that of the next player drafted at the same position.
This assumes the Browns correctly determined two things: 1) Its needs 2) The relative strength at each position (e.g. WR was a top-heavy position in the draft, and there was depth at DT).
So arguments that the Browns should have taken Justin Tuck over Charlie Frye don’t cut it here. The Browns weren’t looking for DE in that round.
Browns Pick: Kamerion Wimbley
Next OLB Drafted: Bobby Carpenter, Manny Lawson
Summary: Before getting in to the evaluation of Wimbley compared to the other two options, I'm compelled to dissuade a popular criticism of this selection, that the Browns should have selected Haloti Ngata instead. This argument has a few flaws, first and foremost being, NT was no longer the Browns greatest need.
In taking very aggressive action in the free agency period, the Browns went hard after Maake Kemeauto, a NT, but were unable to sign him. Simultaneously, the team also tried to sign Kalimba Edwards, an OLB, but were unsuccessful in that attempt as well.
That left the team with two big gaps to fill. Thus, the team signed Ted Washington to be a stop-gap solution to the NT position, prior to the draft.
The second issue with the argument relates to the depth at the NT position in the draft. The likely reason the Browns signed Washington has to do with Ngata and Broderick Bunkley being the only two interior lineman with first round grades.
Based on this, leaving the hole at OLB makes more sense, as Lawson and Carpenter, in addition to Wimbley, had the size to fill the position. Ngata had been projected to go higher, and the Browns likely couldn’t count on him being there when he picked Further, it was well known that the Browns didn’t like Bunkley (a great assessment)
The next comment is directed to Browns fans that think the team should have taken Laurenitis, Jenkins or Wells in this year's draft because they're "great." You were likely the same people pushing for the Browns to select Bobby Carpenter, and the truth is, Carpenter is terrible. He's made one start, and doesn't see a lot of time on special teams.
Lawson, has outplayed Carpenter by a long shot, which is really saying much, but has come nowhere close to putting up the same production as Wimbley. Also, Wimbley doesn't get enough credit for his ability to stop the run. Thus, with OLB as the team's most pressing need, the Browns selected the right player.
Browns Pick: D'Qwell Jackson (acquired in trade for Jeff Faine, and a second-round pick Roman Harper)
Next ILB Drafted: Rocky McIntosh
Both players have lived up to their early second round picks, and either can be considered a success. D'Qwell has more tackles and interceptions in his career, which is actually surprising based on being in a 3-4 defense. Jackson also is above average in coverage.
Browns Pick: Travis Wilson
Next WR drafted: Derek Hagan, Brandon Williams, Maurice Stovall, Willie Ried
No argument here, Wilson was a bust. But the lack of success at the WR from this round in '06 says it's more of a draft class issue than an inability to judge talent. The exception to this is fourth-round selection Brandon Marshall, who had character concerns.
Regardless, Wilson got outplayed by every receiver, and any of the other players, aside from Ried, would have put the team in better shape.
Browns Pick: Leon Williams
Next ILB Drafted: Stephen Tulloch, Jamar Williams
Williams, when he’s at his best, is a good backup linebacker. He struggles in coverage, but is effective against the run. Tulloch is by far a superior player, but likely doesn't have the size to play inside in a 3-4 (he's only 235 pounds). Jamar Williams didn’t last long in the league, so this pick made sense.
Browns Pick: Isaac Sowells
Next G/T Drafted: Joe Toledo, Rob Simms
Sowells has lived in Romeo’s dog house, rarely seeing the field, and was likely drafted for his versatility (ability to play both G and T). Toledo made no impact on the 49ers. Simms has achieved starter status (by default – losing Hutchinson to free agency), but isn’t among the elite players at his position.
That being said, in retrospect, Simms would have been a better selection.
Browns Pick: Jerome Harrison
Next RB Drafted: Wali Lundy (Round Six)
Harrison shared Sowells’ bedroom in Crennel’s dog house, rarely leaving to play. However, he has shown flashes of brilliance in the running game, but has made no improvement in pass blocking, thus, leaving Jason Wright as the third-down back. Wali Lundy was the next RB selected, and he only lasted one season in the league.
Browns Pick: Lawrence Vickers
Other FBs Drafted: David Kirtman (fifth round), Garret Mills (fourth Round), J.D Runnels (fourth Round)
Not only was Vickers the best FB in the draft, he was selected later than every other FB drafted (please keep this in mind Savage “haters” who thinks he can’t find players late). Vickers is a devastating lead blocker, and his absence contributed greatly to Lewis’ bad ’08 season. Oh yeah, he’s an all-pro.
Browns Pick: Baba Oshinowo
Next NT Drafted: Kedrick Goslton, Johnny Jolly, a lot of other busts
Savage swung and missed here. Oshinowo was regarded as a third-round talent, and Savage received a lot of praise for drafting him so late. He was selected to be a developmental project to replace Washington in a year. That didn’t work out.
Jolly and Golston on the other hand have played significantly for their respective teams (WAS, GB), and in adding insult to injury, Jolly was the reason Corey Williams became trade bait.
Browns Pick: Justin Hamilton
Next G/T Drafted: Jarrad Page, and four other busts
Hamilton never saw the field, but then again, neither did four other DBs taken in the seventh round. It’s important to keep in mind that Hamilton was a key special teams player for the Hokies in college. Regardless, Page has played a lot more for the Chiefs, and would have been a better pick.
In summary, the Browns chose the correct player at OLB in the first round, and made another great pick in round two. Getting two legitimate starters is great in any draft. Travis Wilson was obviously a bust, but so was every other receiver taken in that round, therefore, I don’t hold that against Savage, it was just a weak class at WR.
Leon Williams has succeeded in his role as back-up ILB, which is what he was drafted for. This year will be the make or break one for Harrison, I think he’ll be at best a change of pace back.
Sowells was clearly a mistake in round four, as Simms turned out to be a better player. Vickers was a phenomenal selection in the sixth round, however Oshinowo was a bust.
Three Starters (Jackson, Vickers, Wimbley) – One All Pro
Two Regular Backups (Harrison, Williams)
So out of nine picks, five play at least regularly, one being an all pro, and in only two circumstances, the wrong player was drafted. That is significantly better than most.