They say it takes at least 3 years to judge a draft.
While Mel Kiper will hand out his grades for this weekend's draft, we will actually look back on a draft in which we can draw some conclusions on. Will no more build-up, let's take a look at the last draft that Butch Davis had in Cleveland.
The Browns were coming off a season in which they were 4-12, scored 17 points a game and gave up 24. Butch Davis was slowly losing power and his hand picked players were not living up to their supposed potential.
Gerard Warren was making headlines for the wrong reasons (arrests, fines, etc.) Chaun Thompson looked like a really good athlete trying to play football and William Green was too busy banging Kevin Johnson's wife to play good football.
In other words, the kingdom was collapsing on Butch.
The Browns went into the draft picking in the 7th selection.
The Browns needed help everywhere, and this draft was considered one of the deepest in quite sometime. Most people had the Browns focused on a few players. Sean Taylor the safety from Miami, Ben Roethlisberger the Quarterback from Miami of Ohio, Robert Gallery the offensive tackle from Iowa and Kellen Winslow II from Miami.
Once the draft process started, most people believed that the Browns wouldn't get a chance at Gallery or Winslow.
The Raiders loved Gallery and needed Tackle help and it would have cost the Browns too much to trade up. He would have been nice, but the ship had sailed.
Winslow was a different case. Winslow had been recruited by Davis at "The U" and had a strong relationship with Davis. But weeks before the draft, Winslow was the main target of the Washington Redskins, who were picking 5th. But as luck would have it, Winslow was represented by the Poston Brothers.
If you aren't familiar with the Poston brothers, here is a quick recap. At that time they were known as ransom negotiators. Having players hold out of camp and complained to the media more than the organizations. They had such a poor relationship with some organizations that some teams wouldn't even draft their clients. The Redskins weren't one of these teams.
(By the way, in case you are wondering the Poston brothers were suspended by the NFLPA because they admitted to not reading LaVar Arrington's contract. Arrington missed out on a 6.5 million dollars worth of bonuses that he didn't earn, yet was told he did and accused the Redskins of stealing from him. In other words, the Poston's were and still are morons.)
The Redskins wanted to kick the tires on Kellen Winslow II before the draft, as they were down between K2 and his college teammate Sean Taylor. Gibbs wanted to meet Winslow face-to-face.
The morning of the meeting, in which the Poston brothers had set-up, Kellen Winslow slept in and didn't make the meeting on time. When he finally did show up, he feel asleep during the meeting. Needless to say, Joe Gibbs was not impressed. Guess who the Redskins drafted? Yep, they went Sean Taylor.
So, the Browns were down to Ben Roethlisberger and Kellen Winslow.
As I mentioned earlier, Butch was losing the team. He was coming off a poor season in which his hand picked Quarterback, Kelly Holcomb, had gone into the tank. He needed a spark. He couldn't wait on a rookie Quarterback to come in and get developed. He needed results.
So before the draft, the Browns went the free agent route. They signed Jeff Garcia, who was coming off a poor season in San Fran, to a 4 year 25 million dollar contract. What could go wrong? Butch had made his move at the Quarterback position.
When the draft rolled around, the Lions started making noise that they were interested in Kellen Winslow II. Almost everyone on earth was convinced that the Lions were in love with WR Roy Williams. After all, the Lions #1 WR the season before finished with 449 yards. The Lions were starving for some play-makers on the outside.
The Lions made an outrageous demand. They wanted a 2nd round pick to drop down one spot. When the Lions were on the clock, Butch bit. He sent the 37th overall selection to the Lions to move up one slot. (The 37th pick ended up being Teddy Lehman)
That is where we start:
1st round, 6th pick overall: Kellen Winslow II, TE, University of Miami
Winslow could have been great. I truly think that. After his accident, he never had the same explosiveness and play making ability that he showed in college. He was truly amazing to watch at Miami. He was too fast for Linebackers. Too big for corners and safeties. Good Lord did he have hands. Anything in his zip code he brought down.
But we know the story. Two games into his career he snapped his ankle trying to recover an on-side kick against the Dallas Cowboys, landing on IR. The following off-season was the Evil Knievel stunt.
He had two good seasons in Cleveland, making the Pro Bowl in '07, but had a poor season in '08 and was sent packing to Tampa Bay. The Browns received a 2nd round pick in return, which turned out to be Mohamed Massaquoi.
Winslow could have been great, but the price paid by Butch was a horrible mis-step.
2nd round, 59th pick overall: Sean Jones, Safety, University of Georgia
Trader Butch was back at it again. The Browns sent their 3rd round pick (Ben Hartsock), 5th round pick (Jake Scott, a guy who has 117 starts in his career) and our 6th round pick (Von Hutchins) to move up 9 spots to take Sean Jones. Browns also got the Colts 5th rounder, the 161st pick.
Another injury. Jones missed his entire rookie season after tearing his ACL before the start of the season (seriously, how does this keep happening to the Browns?!). After that, Jones was actually pretty solid for the Browns when he was on the field. He lead all safeties in tackles in '06 and '07.
He picked off 14 passes for the Browns, and racked up 204 tackles. When his contract was up, he signed a one year deal with the Eagles replacing Brian Dawkins in the line-up. After that, he moved to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he played for two seasons.
4th round, 106th pick overall: Luke McCown, Quarterback, Louisiana Tech
Cool hand Luke. Well, that's what I called him.
McCown was drafted as a project, with the supposed belief that he would have multiple seasons to sit and learn behind Jeff Garcia. After Jeff Garcia quit on the team and decided that he would no longer suit up, McCown was forced into action under Terry Robiskie. He was terrible.
During the 2005 NFL draft, the Browns sent McCown to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a 6th round selection (turned out to be Andrew Hoffman). He has bounced around the league for awhile, playing with the Jaguars as well.
5th round, 161st pick overall: Amon Gordon, Defensive Tackle, Stanford
Gordon was able to make the team as a rookie, posting 10 stops and looking like he had some upside. The following season he tore up a knee and missed the entire season.
By the way, if you are counting, that is three combined full missed seasons in the first two years for this draft class. Is that some kind of record?
Still, wouldn't know this dude if I hit him with a car.
We could have drafted: Rex Hadnot
6th round, 176th pick overall: Kirk Chambers, Offensive Tackle, Stanford
Back to the Tree we go.
Chambers never started a game for the Browns during the two years he was here. He has started some games with the Buffalo Bills, but has pretty much been bouncing around as depth for teams.
7th round, 208th pick overall: Adimchinobi Echemandu, Running Back, California
I was excited about this pick. He had some size and could move. He had a knee injury in college, but bounced back and posted some nice numbers at Cal.
It took me about three weeks to learn how to say his name. He took him about three weeks to get cut from the Browns. He finished his Cleveland career with 8 carries for 25 yards. He bounced around the league for years, probably just because of his bad ass name.
So when you look back at this draft, to me it is the classic what could have been. If K2 stays healthy. If Garcia wasn't a quitter. If Sean Jones didn't tear an ACL. This draft could have been one of the best.
At the end of the day, this shows why the draft is such a crap shoot. On one hand, you have a player who is driving a motorcycle without a helmet, without a license on a busy street. He hits a car face first, and goes on to win two Super Bowls. On the other, you have a player in a parking lot, with a helmet, trying to pop a wheelie. He wrecks his career and costs himself millions of dollars.
Look at the Redskins. They pass on K2 because of the meeting, but end up with Chris Cooley later on in the draft.
Sometimes it comes down to luck. Sometimes it comes down to not giving away a 2nd round pick to move up a spot.
Either way, the Browns came up short in the 2004 NFL draft.