Expansion Browns, take 2.
In case you missed them, here are 1999 and 2000.
Two seasons back and the Browns had five combined wins. It was past the honeymoon stage, and the natives were getting restless. On January 11th, Chris Palmer was fired as the Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns. Looking back on it, Palmer was given chicken sh*t and asked to make wedding cake. I don't think that Paul Brown himself would have gotten more than 5 wins out of those teams, the talent just wasn't there.
It took some time, but the Browns decided on hiring Butch Davis, the HC at the University of Miami. I have watched a good amount of football, but I have never, and probably will never again, see the amount of talent that Miami had on their football team under Butch Davis. Look at this roster that Davis left in Miami. Their running backs were Clinton Portis, Frank Gore, Willis McGahee and Najeah Davenport! Their defensive backfield was Ed Reed, Sean Taylor, Antrell Rolle, Kelly Jennings, Phillip Buchannon, and Mike Rumph all first rounders! The fact that Larry Coker only won ONE national title says a lot about him. [Don't forget mad love for the Silver Bullets]
Dwight Clark was kept on as GM, but it would quickly become known that he would have little to no power. The defacto GM would be Davis himself and his own personal do-bitch, Pete Garcia whom he brought in from Miami. Davis was hired late in the game and didn't have much time to prepare for the upcoming draft.
But who cares? We had the greatest evaluator of talent that football had seen in the past 25 years! He was Vince Lombardi and Ron Wolf rolled into one! The Cleveland Browns had their newest great architect for the new decade and it was only a matter of time before we were printing Super Bowl memorabilia.
3rd Pick, 1st Round, 3rd Overall: Gerard Warren, DT University of Florida
In the book False Start, author Terry Pluto gave some awesome insight to the Browns thinking leading up to the draft. The previous regime was in love with Texas Christian University Running Back LaDainian Tomlinson and would have been the pick if Palmer wasn't fired.
But even with holdover GM Dwight Clark, this was the Butch Davis show. Davis had three players on his board, two defensive and one offensive. The offensive player wasn't LT, it was University of Michigan WR David Terrell. Terrell was a huge bust in Chicago and would have done the same here. His two defensive candidates were Richard Seymour and Gerard Warren.
The scouts loved Seymour. He was a high motor guy that could play numerous positions on the defensive line. He didn't have anything that he did poorly and he was strong. He lead a good UGA team in TFL and had zero personal questions. Seymour was a two time All SEC including '99 in front of Warren.
Warren on the other hand was somewhat of a wildcard. At times he flashed amazing potential and was unblockable. He gave himself the nickname of "Big Money" at the University of Florida because he was destined to be a star. His motor was a question mark and his work ethic was even more so of one.
Leading up to the draft, Davis, Garcia and Clark agreed that if he was there at pick number three, Richard Seymour would be the Cleveland Browns number one pick in 2001.
Morning of the draft, Davis had a change of heart. No one but Davis knows why. Some think it was because Davis recruited Warren to Miami but lost out to UF and he now had a shot at hooking the one that got away. No matter the reason, it was Butch's call and he chose "Big Money" Warren.
Warren had a disappointing career in Cleveland. He had decent stats (16.5 sacks in Cleveland), but Warren always let me wanting for more. It seemed that in every game, Warren would have a string of 4-5 plays where he was just destroying the interior of the opposing offensive line. He was a man possessed. Where did that player go the other 50 plays of the game? Why did Warren never have the want to truly be great? Warren is still getting paid in the NFL because he is a rare physical freak. Big, fast and at times nasty.
While I can make excuses for CBrown and Couch, I can't do the same for Warren. Maybe Butch coddled him too much. Maybe he was just lazy. I don't know, but I know that Warren was a major disappointment, and a poor first pick for Butch Davis.
Did I mention that Warren was arrested for gun possession hours after beating Baltimore in '01? Sweet.
He was traded in 2005 to the Denver Broncos for a 4th round draft choice.
Career Stats: (As a Brown, he is still in the NFL)
4 Seasons: 116 Tackles, 16.5 sacks, 4 FF, 4 FR
Players we could have drafted: (Yes I know this is stupid and 100% subjective to many factors, but I always like looking back at who we "could have drafted" just for fun.) LaDanian Tomlinson and Richard Seymour
2nd Pick, 2nd Round, 33rd Overall: Quincy Morgan, WR Kansas State University
Quincy Morgan was a good college WR. He started his career at a JUCO, then exploded on Manhattan (Kansas). He finished his time at KSU with the 5th most yardage as a WR even though he only played there two seasons. His senior season he caught 64 passes for 1,166 yards (18.2 YPC) and 14 TD's.
He wasn't great as a Brown, but he was decent. Not a great trait for a second rounder, but passable. He started 9 games his rookie season and notched 432 yards with 2 TD;'s. His second season was by far his best as a Brown. He notched 56 catches for 964 yards, leading the NFL with a 17.2 YPC and 7 TD's.
In 2004 Morgan was swapped mid-season for notorious head case and uber talented WR Antonio Bryant.
164 catches, 2,466 yards, 17 TD's
Players we could have drafted: Chad Johnson/Ochocinco, Kris Jenkins, Alge Crumpler, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Shaun Rogers (Drew Brees, Todd Heap, and Reggie Wayne were the three picks before Morgan.)
3rd Pick, 3rd Round, 65th Pick Overall: James Jackson, RB University of Miami
With all the talent that Miami had at running back, we ended up with James Jackson. This guy took the Miami RB job after Edgerian James and left it to Clinton Portis. Only the early Browns would be able to pull a complete scrub from the University of Miami backfield. Once again, our offensive line sucked, but Jackson was nothing to write home about. He stepped in right away and was the starter for the Browns splitting time with Jamel White. To say that he sucked would be a massive understatement. During his rookie season he averaged 2.8 YPC on 195 carries. Wowza that is low. His long run for the season was 22 yards.
His offensive line sucked (Roger Chanoine anyone?) but to not even average 3 yards on almost 200 carries has to be some sort of record of futility. He was traded mid-season in 2004 to the Green Bay Packers, then cut after one game.
325 carries, 1082 yards, 3.3 YPC, 5 TD's, 32 catches, 232 yards
Players we could have drafted: Steve Smith, Kareem McKenzie, Dwight Smith, and Jonas Jennings (Adrian Wilson went the pick before)
2nd Pick, 4th Round, 97th Overall: Anthony Henry, CB South Florida
The best pick of this draft, hands down. Anthony Henry had an awesome rookie season and should have gotten Defensive Rookie of the Year (Kendrell Bell of Pittsburgh got it). He played nickel back (Behind McCutcheon and Corey Fuller) and led the NFL with 10 INT's. He added in a 97 yard INT return for a TD as his signature moment.
From there it was less than awesome. He struggled in man coverage and ways always a pump fake away from being beaten deep or committing defensive PI. He was at his best when he could ball hawk as a nickel back. When he was asked to match up against 1's and 2's, it was a mismatch.
Anthony Henry left the Browns as a FA in 2005. Prior to last season he was traded to Detroit for back-up QB Jon Kitna.
Career Stats (Only as a Brown, since he is still in the NFL):
203 tackles, 17 interceptions, 3 FF, 1 defensive TD
Players we could have drafted: Rudi Johnson, Edgerton Hartwell, and Roberto Garza. Looking back on it, Henry was a great pick in the fourth round.
3rd Pick, 5th Round, 134th Overall: Jeremiah Pharms, LB University of Washington
I just noted that Anthony Henry was maybe the best draft pick since the Browns came back. This one is easily the worst. That isn't a low bar my friends. Here is a quick background on our fifth rounder, Mr. Pharms.
On October of 1999, Pharms was arrested for assulting his wife over an argument over a girlfriend.
On March 14th, 2000, Jeremiah Pharms was involved in a shooting of a local drug dealer. His bloody finger print was at the scene. He was picked out by the victim. One of Pharms old girlfriends car was used in the get away. His DNA, after a prolonged investigation, was proven to be at the scene of the shooting. At the time of the draft, the investigation was still on going.
On December 27th, 2000, Police seized four pit bulls from Pharms house. The dogs were suffering from malnutrition and as the vet called them "all bony prominences". The dogs were never returned to Pharms.
With all of this hanging over his head, the Browns decided to use a fifth rounder on Mr. Pharms.
Shockingly, (I cannot stress the amount of sarcasm I am using here. The guy HAD A BLOODY FINGERPRINT AT THE SCENE OF A SHOOTING!) Pharms was charged in the shooting two months after the NFL Draft.
"This was kind of a shock to everybody, but one of the most horrible things you can do, is jump to conclusions". - Browns Head Coach, Butch Davis
Maybe someone should explain what "shock" means, because Butch and I must have very different ideas.
Needless to say, the Browns cut Pharms before he even put on a Browns uniform. If there was a worst draft pick in NFL history, I am all ears.
Pharms was released from prison and caught on with the New York Dragons of the Arena League. He didn't last one full season. In 2008, Pharms was charged with two felonies, illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and discharging a firearm in a grossly negligent manner that could harm or kill.
3 felonies, 0 tackles.
Players we could have drafted: Matt Lehr, Ross Hochstein (It was a fugly round, but we drafted the only felon)
2nd Pick, 6th Round, 165th Pick Overall: Michael Jameson, CB Texas A&M University
Dude was really small. Texas A&M had him at 5-11 179lbs going into his final season as an Aggie. He played FS at Texas AM, but he mostly stuck at CB for the Browns. He was mostly a special teamer during his years as a Brown. He only had one start his entire career. He played with the Browns for four seasons. Not the worst return on a sixth rounder.
17 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 FF
Players we could have drafted: Cedrick Wilson, Renaldo Hill
3rd Pick, 7th Round, 203rd Overall: Paul Zukauskas, OG Boston College
The thing I always remember Zukauskas was for his blocking on kick returns. He wasn't just an odd shape on returns though, he did start 10 games in 2003. He wasn't great but he was a decent fill in. For a seventh rounder he was a great get. How often can you find a OL that can fill in at all offensive line positions? That was a nice find by Butch.
18 Starts, 10 in '03
Players we could have drafted: T.J. Houshmanzadeh (pick right after Zukauskas), Kynan Forney, and Marlon McCree
43rd Pick, 7th Round, 245th Pick Overall: Andre King, WR University of Miami
Andre King was more athlete than football player. King played in the Reds and Braves minor league systems. Butch always seemed to go after Miami players or players that he recruited. Usually this wouldn't bother me, but it always seemed like Davis was reaching for the wrong Miami guys.
This being said, King was a decent gamble. He was a great athlete and could have been a good player. He always seemed to make the team for no reason under Davis. He stuck around for 4 seasons even though it seemed that he never made much of an impact. Think of him as an athletic Syndric Steptoe.
30 catches, 327 yards, 0 TD's
Players we could have drafted: Antonio Pierce, Stephen Neal and Nick Harper
Looking back at this draft, I would have to give the Browns a D+. We got an overpaid, off-the-field mess at DT. A WR that was a question mark at best. A RB that sucked big time. Outside of Anthony Henry the Browns got zero playmakers out of this draft. Did I mention that we drafted a player who was arrested weeks after the draft for a shooting that happened before the draft? HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN?!
Davis had a drafting strategy. Draft athletes. It's what makes Davis a great college HC. He can take those athletes, plug them in and destroy a lesser college. In the NFL, everyone has great athletes. Butch never understood this.
Once again, the Browns had another draft at the top of the draft board and we came away with nothing special. If you look at this drafts ('99-'01), it would blow your mind that Butch somehow took this team to a 7-9 record in '01. These horrible drafts set up what was coming in three years, another massive rebuilding.