This begins a two-part series on reviewing the Cleveland Browns 2005 and 2006 drafts. It's way too early to look at success or failure from the '07 and '08 draft, as those players are still developing. Also, I think it's irrational to grade a team's selections based solely on whether or not the players developed, without factoring in what was available in that round.
Therefore, in reviewing these picks, I will compare the player's performance that the Browns drafted to 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).
Browns Pick: Braylon Edwards
Next WR Drafted: Troy Williamson, Mike Williams
Clearly, the Browns drafted the right WR here, regardless of what you think of Braylon's drops. Williams was out of the league in two years, and Williamson finally caught for 1,000 yards last year—for his entire career.
Much has been said about the Browns potentially grabbing Demarcus Ware or Shawn Merriman, but remember two things: First, both of these guys were from smaller football schools (Troy St., and Maryland respectively) and thus were considered less "safe" than Edwards. Second, the Browns had recently failed in the top 5 with Couch, Warren, and Brown, and as such, the "safest pick" was probably very attractive to them.
Browns Pick: Brodney Pool
Next FS Drafted: Josh Bullocks, Nick Collins
If the Browns were going to go after a free safety in the second round, this was the year to do it. Bullocks and Collins have both enjoyed success in the NFL, and it's a close call to say which of the three is the best. Pool has the best numbers, so I'd give a slight edge to him in this spot. This is somewhat biased, as I've never closely watched the other two play.
Browns Pick: Charlie Frye
Next QB drafted: Andrew Walter, David Greene
If the Browns were going to go after QB in the third round this was not the year to do it. Walter started a host of games for the Raiders, with little success. Greene on the other hand, hasn't thrown a pass in the NFL.
The fact that Frye started almost 20 games for the Browns, and eventually got a sixth round pick for him latter, makes him the best of the three QBs.
Browns Pick: Antonio Perkins
Next CB Drafted: Travis Daniels, Vincent Fuller
The Browns missed on this pick as Perkins never really saw the field, and ended up trading a sixth round pick for Daniel three years later. Fuller has never played regularly.
Browns Pick: David McMillan
Next ILB Drafted: Adam Seward, Robert McCune
None of these three players did anything of substance in their careers, however both Seward and McCune are still in the league (neither on the team that drafted them). It's important to note, Michael Boley (OLB-Falcons) was drafted later in this round, and has had great success in the league, but he's 4-3 OLB who wouldn't have fit the Browns system.
Browns Pick: Nick Speegle
Next LB Drafted: Jared Newburry, Pat Thomas
Speegle played predominately on special teams, but was out of the league in three years. Newburry never made the 49ers roster after being drafted. Thomas, finally got regular playing time as an OLB last year for the Chiefs, starting nine games. However, he is also a 4-3 OLB, so he probably wasn't on the Browns radar.
Browns Pick: Joe Dunn
Next T Drafted: Jeremy Parquet, Patrick Estes
Dunn was let go after one year with the Browns, both Parquet and Estes are still in the league, though neither has ever started a game.
Browns: Joshua Cribbs, Simon Frasier, Lance Moore
Cribbs is probably the best of the undrafted players who are currently with the team that originally signed them. Fraser started six games for the Browns, and is still in the league.
Carr, Washington and Leonhard all switched teams this off-season, with various levels of success—none great—with the teams that signed them. Grant and Moore achieved their biggest successes after being cut by the team that originally signed them.
Based on what was available at the positions of need for the Browns in the '05 draft, they picked the right players where it mattered most (1st and 2nd round), and did slightly better than the teams that drafted after them targeting the same positions.
While the jury may be still somewhat out on Braylon Edwards, nobody can argue that the team would have been better off with the other options at WR. All-in-all, Savage should be commended for the draft, and finding Cribbs after it.