It's been a long time since the Cleveland Browns were a relevant franchise in the NFL. This once proud organization has suffered through a largely miserable 12 years since rejoining the league as an expansion team in 1999.
Dozens of legendary players have shined along the shore of Lake Erie. Names such as Otto Graham, Lou Groza, Paul Warfield, Jim Brown, Marion Motley, Ozzie Newsome, Brian Sipe, Clay Matthews, Earnest Byner and Bernie Kosar, among others, have become part of NFL Films lore.
Even in the heartbreaking days of the old "Mistake by the Lake" stadium, the Dawg Pound had something memorable to bark about. Ask any true Browns fan about "Red Right 88," and they will tell you about the 1981 playoff loss to Oakland, in freezing weather, when Brian Sipe threw a late interception to seal Cleveland's fate. Ask them about "The Drive" and "The Fumble" playoff games in the late 1980s and you will likely hear a few scowls about John Elway and the despised Denver Broncos.
The infamous playoff losses are bitter to the memory to loyal Cleveland fans. But, at least, those teams gave them something to remember and talk about many years later. Those Browns are now part of history. The old Browns are now the Ravens, a team who should still be the Baltimore Colts. Since their rebirth in 1999, the post-expansion Browns have, for the most part, been one big yawn.
In 2010, the team seemed to take a step forward, beating New Orleans and New England while losing seven other games by seven points or less. However, another 5-11 season was not enough to save Eric Mangini's job as head coach. New boss Pat Shurmer hopes to breathe new life into the organization and lead the Browns in their trudge back to playoff relevance.
Although there are several players on the current roster who could add their names to the list of Cleveland Browns legends, the talent is spread thin. Joe Thomas, Peyton Hillis and Joe Haden are pulling the wagon but could use more help in the 2011 draft.
Here is a potential draft which could help the Browns fill a few of the roster gaps..