The Cleveland Browns find themselves starting over yet again after finishing the 2015 season 3-13, giving them the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft.
When trying to figure out why the team has struggled, look no further than recent drafts. More specifically, the team's 2014 draft picks have been huge busts.
Cleveland had two first-round picks in 2014. The Browns traded down from No. 4, passing on Clemson star wideout Sammy Watkins, to No. 9 in order to add future draft picks, and they eventually traded up to No. 8 to take Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. Of course, the more noteworthy draft pick came when Cleveland traded up to No. 22 to get Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Manziel has shown some promise on the football field but has been unable to keep the starting job because of his off-field issues. On the other hand, Gilbert has played in a total of 23 games in his first two seasons and has recorded 39 tackles with just one interception. That's not the type of production the Browns envisioned.
Like Manziel, Gilbert has found himself in the doghouse in Cleveland. There were reports last year that the rookie's work ethic and focus were an issue. Now, it's pretty clear the defensive back was digging his own hole.
Per Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer, Gilbert admitted Monday that he missed team meetings last year because he's a "hard sleeper":
#Browns Justin Gilbert admitted he "missed a ton of meetings last year." Why? "hard sleeper". nothing deeper than that? "no"— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) January 4, 2016
When you have the privilege of being one of the lucky few to hold an NFL roster spot, you need to do everything you can to make sure you keep it. Having the talent to play in the league is great and all, but teams expect their players to be responsible and uphold their obligations, too.
Gilbert needs to take care of his off-field problems to get the opportunity to prove himself on the field. As long as the 24-year-old has learned from his mistakes, there is still time for him to turn his career around.