The Cleveland Browns parted ways with two first-round draft picks on Wednesday. For most teams, this would be unusual. The Browns have now done this twice in a decade.
Like it or not, it’s these kinds of moments that have made “That’s So Browns” a catchphrase.
The Browns started Wednesday by releasing veteran cornerback Joe Haden, a two-time Pro Bowler whom the team believes is not the caliber of player he once was. Later in the day they traded Erving to Kansas City for a 2018 fifth-round pick. That wiped out first-round picks taken in 2010 and 2015.
On March 15, 2010, the Browns traded quarterback Brady Quinn (2007) and linebacker Kamerion Wimbley (2006).
Last year they discarded two first-round picks within just 10 days. Barkevious Mingo was traded Aug. 26 to the Patriots, Justin Gilbert on Sept. 4 to the Steelers.
It’s easy to poke fun at the team that has retained just three of 13 first-round picks taken between 2007 and 2016. But it’s warranted. The Browns have put on a clinic -- not in bad trades but in the problems with a lack of continuity and bad drafting. This regime cannot be held responsible for mistakes of the past, but the continuum the Browns present has not been a lesson in team-building.
Since 2007, the Browns have had 13 first-round picks. WR Corey Coleman, DL Danny Shelton and OT Joe Thomas are with the team. They had two picks in the first round in 2015, ‘14, ’12 and ’07. Two of the eight are with the team.
In some cases, the picks were mistakes. In others, the picks got caught up in regime change. Here’s a look:
Coleman is a starter who, in the words of his coach, has to step up to prove his draft status.
Shelton is a valuable starter on the defensive line.
Erving failed at three different offensive line spots. However, few questioned his selection when it was made; at the time it was considered a good pick.
Gilbert, a cornerback, was a wasted pick with the eighth overall spot and is difficult to explain today. The question lingers: Did the Browns spend time with him before he was picked?
QB Johnny Manziel ... it’s best not to relive the nightmare.
Mingo was never stout enough to fill the pass-rush role envisioned for him.
The Browns traded up for RB Trent Richardson, who had a productive rookie season but then was traded by CEO Joe Banner early in Year 2. Banner was panned at the time, but he recognized Richardson was not an NFL starter, which became more evident every season thereafter.
QB Brandon Weeden started as a rookie at age 28. It never came together for him as he played for two coaches in two seasons in Cleveland.
DT Phil Taylor was a productive lineman until his career was short-circuited by injuries. He will also be remembered in Cleveland as the guy acquired after the Browns traded out of the pick where Julio Jones was taken.
Haden went to two Pro Bowls (2013, 2014) and was released when the Browns felt his production did not warrant his paycheck. Haden gave all he had to the team in his years with the Browns.
C Alex Mack played well and went to the Pro Bowl in Cleveland, but got worn down by losing and signed with Atlanta as a free agent before last season. This pick was not a miss, though.
First-round pick was traded away in 2007 as part of the deal to move up and take Quinn.
OT Thomas remains one of the Browns’ best draft picks ever. Get him ready for Canton.
Quinn, like Weeden, fell victim to the constant change that surrounded the Browns. He played for Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini and was let go by president Mike Holmgren before Mangini’s second season.
The hope from all these shenanigans? That owner Jimmy Haslam really means it when he says he is committed to the present regime and coaching staff. An organization always should look to improve, but committing to an approach and system means truly committing to it. Change leads only to more change.
With 13 picks in the 2018 draft, the Browns are pointing to ’18 and ’19 as the years this group brings it together.