Factory of Pain: Browns tortured history of trading down in the draft

The Cleveland Browns are being almost universally lauded for trading the second overall selection in this weekend’s NFL Draft for multiple selections this year, next year and in 2018. On the surface it looks like a shrewd move that will help this languishing franchise replenish their talent pool and become relevant. But, trading down doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. Just ask the loyal Dawg Pound faithful….

Three times over the past seven years the Cleveland Browns have traded a top-ten first round draft choice to move down in the draft and garner multiple selections. And, almost every time the Browns screwed it up.


In 2009 the Browns had the fifth overall selection in the draft. Sitting on the board were several key players including USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. The Browns traded the pick to the New York Jets for their first round selection (#17 overall) and the Jets second round selection (#52 overall) plus three players including Kenyon Coleman, Abram Elam and Brett Ratliff.

With the first round selection which eventually turned into the 19th pick the Browns selected center Alex Mack out of Cal. Roundly considered one of the best centers in the league, Mack was a lynch pin for the Browns offensive line for several seasons before signing a free agent contract with Atlanta this off-season. The Browns chose linebacker David Veikune out of Hawaii with the second round selection. Veikune played only 10 games for the Browns before being released.

Coleman was a solid performer, a defensive end for the Browns for two seasons but then left after two years signing with Dallas. Safety Abram Elam played one year for Cleveland and played well before leaving  for Dallas as a free agent. Ratliff was Cleveland’s third-string quarterback and never saw the field.

In analyzing this deal, I think Cleveland did fairly well. Alex Mack for Mark Sanchez was a steal and even though Veikune was a flop, the Browns got some nice production from Coleman and Elam. This trade was not a slam dunk for the Browns but I believe they definitely won this trade. As you will see, this is as good as it got


In 2011 there was new regime at the helm and they realized they needed depth. They made what they thought was blockbuster deal that would fill several holes. Whoooops !

The Browns had the #6 overall selection and Cleveland was in desperate need for a wide receiver. Sitting on the board was Alabama stand-out Julio Jones. Instead of taking Jones the Browns traded the pick to the Atlanta Falcons for Atlanta’s first round selection (#27 overall) the Falcons second rounder (#59 overall) their 4th round selection (#124 overall.) Cleveland also got Atlanta’s first round pick in 2012 (#22 overall) and their 4th rounder.

This trade was hailed as a heist for Cleveland. Most analysts believed the Falcons mortgaged their future for Jones and they weren’t wrong. While Atlanta was a Matt Ryan interception away from going to the Super Bowl,  the last few years have not been kind to the Falcons. Their lack of interior line help and defensive depth has hurt them badly. But, in the end they win the trade because Cleveland so badly botched their selections.

With the 27th overall choice the Browns chose Baylor NT Phil Taylor as they looked for a lineman who could stop the run. Taylor played well when he was on the field, but he couldn’t stay healthy and was released in 2015. He is now out of football. With the 59th selection Cleveland chose a player who had some of the worst hands we have ever seen on a wide receiver….EVER. Greg Little out of North Carolina. Little had an amazing body with great strength, there was just one tiny problem. HE COULDN’T CATCH THE BALL. He was released by Cleveland in 2014 and in January signed a contract with the Buffalo Bills. Good luck with that Buffalo.

With the 124th selection Cleveland chose Stanford line-backer/running back Owen Marecic. One of the enticements about Marecic is he could play offense and defense. Sadly for Cleveland he couldn’t do neither at the professional level. Marecic was out of football by 2013 and is currently finishing his pre-med requirements at Stanford where he will get into medical research. Good for him, bad for the Browns.

With Atlanta’s 2012 first round selection the Browns chose quarterback Brandon Weeden out of Oklahoma State. Yes, I know what you are thinking here……it just gets worse and worse, well, you are right !!!! Never mind that the guy was almost 30 years old, the Browns thought he was their quarterback of the future. Weeden played two years for the Browns showing a cannon arm but no feel for the position. Sometimes he left fans wondering if he had any peripheral vision. He spent two years with Dallas, starting several games after Tony Romo got injured. Dallas fans will also tell you he might have some peripheral vision problems. In January Weeden signed a two year deal with the Houston Texans.

The 4th round pick Cleveland got in the Julio Jones trade was flipped in the Trent Richardson deal to Indianapolis……guh !

So, if you are keeping score at home the Browns got Phil Taylor (out of football) Greg Little (hands of stone) Owen Marecic (in medical school) and Brandon Weeden (no peripheral vision) and Atlanta got Julio “freaking” Jones. Uhhhh, that would be a win for Atlanta. MAJOR WIN for the Atlanta Falcons.

If you thought the Browns had learned their lesson and decided not to trade down again, you don’t know or understand Cleveland’s fascination with misery. in 2014 there was a completely new regime in charge of football operations and they decided to put their money on the roulette table and try this trade down thing as well (they are like addicts.)


In 2014 the Browns had the number 4 overall selection and once again they needed a wide receiver. On the board were Sammy Watkins and Odell Beckham Junior. Instead the Browns traded the #4 pick to Buffalo for the Bills number one pick #9 overall AND the Bills first round pick in 2015 and their 4th rounder in 2015. Buffalo chose Watkins, when the Browns pick came they selected a guy who many felt was a reach at number 9. The “many felt” were right, the Browns brass was wrong. With the #9 pick the Browns chose Oklahoma State defensive back and kick returner Justin Gilbert. Put Gilbert’s face on a milk carton. He has been MIA since he arrived in Cleveland. He has been plagued by sub-par play and questions about his work ethic. The Browns could have had up and coming receiver in Watkins or superstar Beckham, instead Gilbert. Horrendous selection.

In 2015 the Browns completed the trade by choosing Florida State offensive lineman Cameron Erving with the 19th pick of the first round. The choice made sense since the Browns assumed Mack would be leaving via free agency this year, which he has. Cleveland believed Erving was the heir apparent at center, which he probably isn’t. In Erving’s first year he was over-matched and out-played and looked out of his element. He could barely get on the field.

The Browns new regime, feels Erving had a great off-season and are prepared see what he can bring this year at either center or tackle……Yeesh ! With the 4th round pick the Browns chose Vince Mayle a wide receiver from Washington State. Mayle was released by the Browns before the season even started after it was discovered he had a broken thumb that was mis-diagnosed. He spent 2015 on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad. Wow !

So, in the seven years I analyzed the Browns have had numerous drafts with plentiful picks and have moved down three times. Only once it can be argued did they win that trade. And, even with that victory, Alex Mack has moved on. The Browns are on their fourth different front office regime since 2008. This isn’t stratomatic people, this is the Cleveland Browns way !

After reading this I hope you understand why Cleveland’s trade that netted them picks number 77 and 100 in this weekend’s draft and an extra first round pick next year to go along with a second round selection in 2018 doesn’t titillate me.

Cleveland has 6 picks in the top 100. They have 12 picks in this draft, tied for the most in the league. While all of that is good news, it doesn’t do any good if you have the Three Stooges making selections.

Do I have any faith that Cleveland will have a great draft and they will net several All-Pro performers ? No. Do I have any faith that Paul DePodesta and his analytics nerd boys will pull the Browns out football’s abyss ? No. Do I have any believe that the Browns football franchise and their owner have any clue of what they are doing ? No.

I have reached the point where platitudes and talk ring hollow. They need to show me. Show me on the field that you know how to run a football team. Show me that you aren’t completely devoid of any football knowledge. So, while some Browns fans cheer the accumulation of draft picks, forgive me while I sit back, put on a wry smile and expect to see some guy walk across the stage who will probably be flipping burgers in 24 months.


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