Hard Luck Hardesty: Did The Browns Reach Too Far for Him?

Daymon JohnsonCorrespondent ISeptember 3, 2010

BEREA, OH - MAY 01:  Montario Hardesty #31 of the Cleveland Browns takes a hand off from Colt McCoy #12 during rookie mini camp at the Cleveland Browns Training and Administrative Complex on May 1, 2010 in Berea, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It's been said that those who don't learn from and acknowledge the past, are condemned to repeat it, and the case for that being true is no more prevalent than it is today in Berea. 

After trading up 12 spots, from #71 to #59 in the 2010 NFL Draft to take Montario Hardesty, the Browns today have to be asking themselves if that move was indeed the smartest move they could have made.

Two significant knee injuries in little over a month would suggest that it may not have been.

The question now is less about what to do with the RB corps, and more about if this could have been avoided.

The answer to that, simply, is YES.

How? By not selecting the oft injured Tennessee RB.

If you think back to the 2010 NFL Draft, you'll remember that just before Cleveland took Hardesty, the Texans took Ben Tate, who admittedly, I was a fan of and really liked the thought of him in Browns gear.

At that point, most believe that Holmgren was worried that since the back he wanted (Tate) was gone, the next best RB on his list (Hardesty) could go before he had a chance to snag him, thus he scrambled and made the move up to grab him.

Logical thinking I suppose, but, considering Hardesty's injury history, and the way the draft went, should the decision have been made?

The Answer to that, simply, is NO.

Let's start with the medical issues:

  • As a Junior in HS circa 2003, he suffered a torn ACL in his Right knee. 
  • As a Freshman at Tennessee in 2005, he tore the ACL in his Left knee. 
  • As a Sophomore in 2007, he had serious ankle sprains.
  • As a Junior in 2008, he suffered multiple stress fractures

Not to mention the multiple arthroscopic procedures he went through for scar and inflamed tissue removal in his knees, meniscus repairs and the injury list goes on....

All that said though, Cleveland's staff of Medical Professionals looked at Hardesty and said the risk for re-injury to either ACL was minimal, and that's what opened the door for the eventual selection.

The reality is however, Hardesty struggled and sputtered through his career at Tennessee with injury after injury. And, he had all but one season (his senior season in 2009) shortened by injury.

Even when he did get his shot that year, he wasn't that great. Averaging less than 5 per carry. 

With such a well documented injury history that shows the guys inability to stay healthy, why make the move to select him there?  And, when are coaches going to stop taking everything that the team doctors say as law, and start using some good old fashioned common sense?

Common Sense would tell you, me or anyone else that with the past injuries, the chances of them showing up again would be much more likely than a guy with no injury history.

Frankly, there were better options for the Browns at RB, possibly players that would have fit better, and would have come cheaper, and not at the expense of 3 picks, which Hardesty did (2-3rd rounders and a 5th rounder, and possibly even better trade up candidates.

If Holmgren had his eye on a RB, why not take a guy like C.J. Spiller?  He had a chance at #7, and instead took a DB who looks to be about half as good as S Earl Thomas or even fellow CB Kyle Wilson...but, I digress.

Supposing though, he had waited to select a back, high power power, complimentary style RB's to Jerome Harrison were there. Guys like Jonathan Dwyer from Georgia Tech was there, as was the stout and punishing former Mississippi State Bulldog Anthony Dixon, both of whom were 6th round selections.

Anthony Dixon, for my money, is a guy who maybe would have fit a little better in the Browns' offensive scheme. 

Just FYI, this preseason, Anthony Dixon as absolutely flourished, rushing for 300 yards and 4 TD's, all whilst maintaining a 4+ ypc average. 

Some will argue that he's had more attempts, and that's true, but, that's also what makes it even more telling. The guy is averaging 4+ ypc on 74 attempts, almost twice as many as some guys, and often times against better units than some other rookies are facing.

Simply stellar.

At this point, the Browns are now left scratching their heads, wondering what could have been if they maybe had not selected Hardesty, and not moved up.

Sadly, there is no recourse, and the argument for Hardesty being a reach becomes a more highly fueled topic. 

Hardesty is a great kid, and could be a good RB.  But, he may not get a chance to prove it with the Browns, and certainly won't have the chance this season.

Which leads me to the history lesson the Browns learned today....

The past was obviously stacking the cards against the Browns, and Holmgren temped fate and chose to ignore the past, and now, with the past having repeated itself, the Browns are the real losers...Not Hardesty.


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