The Time We Almost Lost Joe Thomas

Three tie breakers. That is all the NFL has in place when trying to figure out the draft order.

• Strength of Schedule for the previous season is the first tie-breaker for teams with the same winning percentage. The team with the lowest strength of schedule percentage wins the tiebreaker and picks ahead of all other teams with the same record.

• Divisional and conference records are the next step in the tie-breaking procedure.

Seems like a business as large, and successful, as the NFL could maybe throw another stipulation in there, but alas, we are left with three.

If the teams are still locked up after that, they go to the final step. The coin flip.

That is exactly where the Browns found themselves in 2007. The Browns and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished with the exact same 4-12 record. Every thing else, exact same. They went to the coin.

The Bucs were in need of a Left Tackle. In '06 Tampa Started Anthony Davis at left tackle the previous season. Davis, undrafted out of Virginia Tech in '04, was a far cry from what the Bucs needed to man the blindside. The Bucs were done with Anthony Davis as a starter after '06. In fact, many mock drafts had the Bucs taking Joe Thomas, like the one at ESPN:

The Bucs might work out a deal with the Lions to move up to No. 2, but they would be happy if Thomas falls to them at No. 4. He would be their most talented left tackle since Paul Gruber.

The Browns were also in need of a Left Tackle. We had given up 54 sacks the previous season, and almost everyone in the free world believed that Kevin Shaffer was a better RT than LT. Those people were right.

In the 2007 NFL Draft there was one elite Tackle: Joe Thomas. Levi Brown was considered by most to be the second ranked Tackle in the class, but he wasn't in the same atmosphere as Joe Thomas.

So they went to the coin toss.

The rest is history. We were a coin toss away from Joe Thomas possibly being the Greatest Tampa Bay Buccaneer of all time, and the Browns reaching for Levi Brown to hold down the LT spot. Seriously, I almost threw up when I typed that sentence.

Of course Levi Brown went on to be a RT for the Arizona Cardinals. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers tried 2nd round pick Aaron Sears at LT in camp, but quickly realized that he was better suited for LG. Bucs then named Donald Penn, who they had signed off the Vikings practice squad the previous season, as their LT.

So the next time you hear a Cleveland fan say "We have nothing but bad luck" explain to them, that for at least one day in 2007, we were the luckiest franchise of all-time.

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