This morning on Twitter, Tony Grossi linked to a website talking about the all-time 1st round flops in the NFL draft. As he noted, the Browns didn’t crack the list, surprisingly enough. As is often the case with the Internet, I found myself on a different page that listed the worst draft classes in modern history. Modern history is considered 1994-2004. 1994 is when the draft was cut to seven rounds. They cut it off at 2004 because they don’t feel the story has been told on a draft class until seven years have passed. The other considerations are the number of years the class played, the number of years they were starters, the number of five year careers, five year starters, career starts, pro bowls, and all pros. Congrats Cleveland Browns 1995, you are the worst.
The good news (in this one isolated case) is that the Cleveland Browns fans never really had to watch these guys play much. Obviously in a perfect world the Browns would have gotten to live through all the flame out of these careers. Then again, if any draft class could be last before moving on to Baltimore, it is nice that it turned out to be one that is this badly. I just wish it had been bad enough to keep that Super Bowl trophy away from Art Modell in the 2000 NFL season.
The site also has some breakdowns of drafting by position which yield some interesting thoughts as the Browns head into this second draft with Tom Heckert. Some of these seem like common sense, but it is good that some can back it up statistically.
Wide Receivers – DraftMetrics says that other than running backs, wide receivers are the riskiest position to draft. Wide receivers are also least likely to start as rookies even if they do work out in the end. 2/3 of the 5-year starters come from the “big 5″ conferences, led by the Big 10. I wouldn’t have guessed this.
Defensive Linemen – There is a heavy bias for drafting d-linemen early in the draft. The position is second only to DBs in terms of numbers. About 2/3 of defensive linemen that are drafted between 1-13 will start as rookies. The Browns obviously need one to start if they select a d-lineman with the #6 pick.
Defensive Backs – The success rates among the various defensive backs selected from the first pick to the 48th pick in the draft isn’t very different. This means that teams can do very well drafting DBs later in the first round and into the second round.
So, this just backs up what I was already hoping for. I am not overly excited about drafting a wide receiver first. If Patrick Peterson drops to the Browns, I am fine with that selection. Otherwise the Browns should try to trade down or take the best available defensive lineman. My thinking is that the Browns can draft a DB later and still do very well, but Patrick Peterson just might be a once-in-a-generation physical freak.
Obviously this isn’t to say that the Browns can’t win by picking a wide receiver. It is just an acknowledgement that doing so is a statistically higher risk proposition.