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NFL draft: Browns best ‘late-round gem’ was inducted into the HOF in 2007

Gene Hickerson blocked for a number of great Browns running backs

NFL: USA TODAY Sports-Archive Tony Tomsic-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL draft just two weeks away, sites from all over are covering the event in a variety of ways. While most are looking ahead to this year’s draft, others are looking backward at what has been in the past.

For the Cleveland Browns, the past has been a unique struggle. While QB Johnny Manziel was cited as the team’s worst pick in the first round, we shared a litany of problems since the team’s return in 1999.

The 33rd team didn’t stop by just looking at teams’ worst picks, they also spent time looking back at what a team did well. For the Browns, a number of “late-round gems” pop up from their NFL draft history but one stood out:

OG Gene Hickerson, 1957 (Round 7, 78)

The long history of the Cleveland Browns is filled with Hall of Famers who came late in drafts (including such future coaches as Chuck Noll and Don Shula. Many of those picks starred elsewhere, so it came down to impact players mainly in Cleveland. In his 15 seasons (he missed one for injury), Hickerson was a prime blocker for Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly, making six Pro Bowls. He started every game in each of his final eight seasons.

Hickerson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007. Struggling with health issues, he was pushed onto the stage by a trio of historic running backs (Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly and Bobby Mitchell) he had played with. Once again, Hickerson led the way, as he did in the picture above, for the great backs in Browns history.

Which late-round pick stands out to you from the Cleveland Browns NFL draft history?