The Talent Jury Is Out: How Phil Savage Hurt The Browns in 4 Years

Daniel WolfSenior Writer ISeptember 22, 2009

Several years ago, the Cleveland Browns brought in a so-called personnel guru in former general manager Phil Savage.

It was Savage's job to not only run a successful ship, but to also find and evaluate talent for the Browns to build their franchise around.

Years later, we all know how that story unfolded; but perhaps, the most intriguing information that came out of the Savage years, was the fact that as a talent guru, he didn't bring much to the Browns.

Everything began in 2005 with the Browns owning the third overall pick in the NFL Draft. This pick was very important because it was Savage's first pick as a GM, and he chose the best wide receiver in the draft, Michigan's Braylon Edwards.

Right there, that should have been a red flag.

Edwards was known to have issues dropping passes, but he was a big guy and could control defensive formations depending on where he lined up.

In 2007, Edwards finished second in the league in dropped passes, but that was overshadowed by being selected for the Pro Bowl and his weekly highlight reel of amazing catches.

Still, Edwards was Savage's first pick and all Browns fans should have seen it coming.

The fact that Edwards dropped passes, meant that Savage dropped the ball as well ,to begin his term as a GM. Of course, this can all be said now, after a few years have gone by, but in the end, its still a bit of irony and coincidence combined together.

Not to continue to pick on Edwards, but here is a list of all the other players the so-called talent guru brought on board and how they have done since being drafted.

2005 Draft Highlights (eight total picks)

Braylon Edwards - WR - Michigan - Round 1 Pick 3

Brodney Pool - S - Oklahoma - Round 2 Pick 34

Charlie Frye - QB - Akron - Round 3 Pick 67

Antonio Perkins - CB - Oklahoma - Round 4 Pick 103

Analysis: With the exception of Edwards and Pool, the others aren't on the team anymore. Frye is in Oakland backing up JaMarcus Russell and Perkins isn't even playing football after getting cut by the CFL's Toronto Argonauts in 2008.

Pool is fighting to stay in Cleveland after the 2009 season, since he is in the last year of his current contract.

2006 Draft Highlights (10 total picks)

Kamerion Wimbley - DE - Florida State - Round 1 Pick 13

D'Qwell Jackson - LB - Maryland - Round 2 Pick 34

Travis Wilson - WR - Oklahoma - Round 3 Pick 78

Leon Williams - LB - Miami (FL.) - Round 4 Pick 110

Jerome Harrison - RB - Washington St. - Round 5 Pick 145

Lawrence Vickers - FB - Colorado - Round 6 Pick 180

Analysis: The jury is still out on Wimbley and Harrison. Jackson and Vickers are very talented players at their respective positions, but Wilson was a flop and Williams was just released last week by the Browns.

2007 Draft Highlights (seven total picks)

Joe Thomas - LT - Wisconsin - Round 1 Pick 3

Brady Quinn - QB - Notre Dame - Round 1 Pick 22

Eric Wright - CB - UNLV - Round 2 Pick 53

Brandon McDonald - CB - Memphis - Round 5 Pick 140

Analysis: This was Savage's best draft because all four guys are current starters on the Browns roster. Whether or not Quinn works out as the starter remains to be seen, but both Thomas and Wright are outstanding and you rarely hear announcers saying either of their names, which is always a good thing. McDonald has shown some flash at times, but when he gets picked on by opposing quarterbacks it usually ends badly.

2008 Draft Highlights (five total picks)

Beau Bell - LB - UNLV - Round 4 Pick 104

Martin Rucker - TE - Missouri - Round 4 Pick 111

Ahtyba Rubin - DT - Iowa State - Round 6 Pick 190

Alex Hall - DE - St. Augustine's - Round 7 Pick 231

Analysis: Savage traded away most of his 2008 draft for players like Quinn, Shaun Rogers, and Corey Williams; and even though Rucker, Rubin, and Hall are still on the current roster, the jury is still out for these guys too. Bell was released during final roster cuts before the 2009 season began.

In the end, Savage drafted 30 players and only 13 of those players are currently with the Browns.

That's 43 percent, which is not a bad percentage, but out of those 13 players only four of them are starters without question marks at all (Jackson, Vickers, Thomas, and Wright).

So take those four unquestioned starters and divide it by the 30 total players that were drafted, and we get 13 percent of the so-called talent guru's choices who have become reliable starters.

That is not a good percentage.

Currently, there are many experts that say the Browns do not have enough talent to compete in 2009, one specifically is's James Walker.

Walker has stated many times during the off-season, training camp, preseason, and now after two regular season games, that the Browns need to play perfect football games in order to compensate for the lack of talent.

After looking at these previously drafted players and the percentages, this journalist would have to agree with Walker and say that due to the previous regimes' lack of identifying talent, the Browns do not have enough to compete in 2009.

But that doesn't mean that some of these players may not develop over the next year or two and become reliable starters; but the talent jury is still out on most and now it's just time to wait some more until next year.

Hopefully, I will be proven wrong in the next few weeks and these guys can step up and make an impact.

Thanks Phil for continuing our run of mediocrity.


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