Was the pick of Montario Hardesty a good or bad idea? Depending on what argument you are intent on making, you could probably argue both sides. Hardesty received rave reviews from rookie sessions and from voluntary sessions prior to training camp. In his only and limited pre-season action, Hardesty did enough to impress at least a few fans that I heard from.
Of course, then he got hurt and the old negativity rose quickly and easily to the top. Hardesty tore his left ACL, which was incidentally the other knee from the one that the team was worried about and caused him to miss all but the final pre-season game. Naturally, then Hardesty became the worst draft pick in the history of the NFL to a lot of fans. On draft day Hardesty was known for his, shall we say, limited durability. Yet the new Browns front office with Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert traded up to get him.
For a weary Browns fanbase, it instantly feels like another wasted draft pick. William Green and Lee Suggs all over again from a running back perspective, while seemingly Courtney Brown from a health perspective. Of course none of this judgment is really fair. Holmgren and Heckert weren’t even here when those other guys were picked. And just because all draft picks don’t work out doesn’t mean that this certain measured risk was a bad idea. If all ideas were judged on results alone, nobody would ever agree to be a decision-maker in this world. Thankfully, Heckert and Mike Holmgren seem prepared to roll with the punches.
They have strong enough history and conviction in their process that they will let the fears of Browns fans roll right off them. When Heckert was asked about Hardesty, he instantly invoked the dangers of playing football in general. “Obviously, he tore his ACL. Was it riskier drafting him rather than a guy who didn’t have a history? We felt comfortable when we took him he was going to be OK.” Additionally, Heckert doesn’t appear prepared to call the pick a bust either. “I’m sure everybody says this, but the doctors have said there is no reason the player can’t come back from this. We had Correll Buckhalter who came back and had two ACLs. We’re confident he’ll be back.”
It is nice that Heckert will be confident, but until Hardesty finds his way back onto the field, he will have to endure some groans from Browns fans. In that respect Heckert and Holmgren must have a thick skin so they can endure all the negativity created by their predecessors. They don’t necessarily deserve to be on such a short leash with fans, but they probably knew the situation before they took the job.