In recent history, the Browns have had a lot of early first round draft picks. There have been some big selections, and there have been some awful ones. So in this article, we’ll look at some recent first round picks and see if they were a hit or miss (or possibly too early to tell). Let’s start with 2018, because the Browns did not have a first rounder last year.
Baker Mayfield: Too Early to Tell
Baker Mayfield came in year one after Tyrod Taylor’s injury and impressed. He set the rookie touchdown pass record, without even starting every game. He had big expectations coming into year 2, but was disappointing. Let’s just say he threw a few interceptions. By “a few” I mean 21. After such a great rookie season, Baker left fans wondering what happened. He didn’t connect well with Odell Beckham Jr. Odell was supposed to be his #1 target this year, but it ended up being Jarvis Landry, causing Beckham to have an underwhelming season as well. For year 3, the Browns will figure out if Baker is their future QB, and hopefully, he is.
Denzel Ward: Hit
When John Dorsey selected Denzel Ward with the 4th overall pick, many, including me, were surprised. But, as usual, Dorsey made the right decision. While Ward has been struggling with concussions and other injuries, when he’s been on the field he’s made a big difference. Over 2 seasons he’s had 5 interceptions, one of them being a pick-6. He’s has 97 tackles on top of that. Not to mention he’s a Pro Bowler. And when you watch him closely, you’ll notice how good his coverage really is. Overall, Denzel Ward turned out to be something special.
Myles Garrett: Hit
Now, of course, there’s the whole Myles Garrett vs. Mason Rudolph controversy. But don’t pay attention to that. That was a one-time thing. Let’s focus on his skill. Myles Garrett was selected with the first overall pick in the draft. Injuries kept him from playing at full level in his rookie year, but he still managed to post solid numbers. Now, after his third season, he has a total of 30.5 sacks. Coming into year 3, Myles was viewed as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and was easily going to be a Pro Bowler before the fight happened. He was a Pro Bowler in 2018 however. In year 4, he’s looking for a revenge season. Look for Myles to play big in the 2020-2021 season.
Jabrill Peppers: Miss
You might be thinking, Why would Peppers be a miss? He was in the Odell trade and therefore got us a star player. Well, for Peppers, we’re only going to count his career as a Cleveland Brown. He certainly wasn’t bad, just not first round pick worthy. He had 2 interceptions here, and 76 tackles. And he was also a solid returner on special teams. But his numbers were pretty much average. But, there were other safeties taken later that turned out to be great. Budda Baker (2nd round), John Johnson (3rd round), Eddie Jackson (4th round), and a few others. So looking back at it, maybe Jabrill Peppers wasn’t the best choice.
David Njoku: Hit
In his 3 years so far as a Cleveland Brown, David Njoku hasn’t dissapointed. He has 9 touchdowns total. And he would for sure have more if injuries didn’t keep him sidelined for most of last season. He quickly emerged as one of Baker Mayfield’s favorite targets last year, getting 4 touchdowns and 639 yards. His future with the Browns may be uncertain, but so far, David Njoku has proved he was worth spending a first rounder on.
Corey Coleman: Miss
Corey Coleman. Why. Just why. This draft class was filled with solid WRs – Sterling Shepard, Tyler Boyd, Will Fuller. But two names stand out most, and those names are Tyreek Hill and Michael Thomas. Corey Coleman was the first WR drafted in 2016. Coming from Baylor, Cleveland had high hopes for him after using their only first rounder on him. He did have 5 touchdowns while in Cleveland, but stats don’t tell the whole story. He had many drops, one even causing the Browns to lose the game. Coleman just didn’t end up how Cleveland hoped.
Danny Shelton: Miss
Shelton is another player who wasn’t necessarily bad for the Browns, he just wasn’t first round quality. He did win a ring with New England though. He only had 1 sack with the Browns. Now I know that sounds awful, but he had 128 tackles. Which isn’t so bad for a huge nose tackle. Shelton is a player who did his best once he left the Browns, which seems to happen alot.
Cameron Erving: Miss
Yikes. Another player who performed well for a team that’s not named the Cleveland Browns. Cameron Erving is currently a quality starter for the Chiefs, and he has a ring to prove it. Erving was bad when he was on the Browns. So bad, I kept on waiting for the moment he’d be gone. And now that he’s on the Chiefs, he’s finally doing good. What luck for Cleveland.
Justin Gilbert: Miss
Possibly the worst first round pick by the Browns in their history. With 1 interception, 39 tackles, and a whole lot of sideline time, Justin Gilbert never even got close to living up to his expectations. He had a short stint with the Steelers, where he did nothing as well. A huge fail, and a huge wasted pick. To make it worse, Odell was taken 4 picks later. Tragic.
Johnny Manziel: Miss
Do I really need to explain this one? I don’t think so, but I will anyways. Manziel was supposed to be the future of the Browns. Or at least a decent starting QB. But as you all know, that never happened. Manziel was caught doing many bad acts off the field, and he was not much better on the field. Maybe he’ll join the XFL for one day, but for now, he’ll be remembered as a huge bust.