Simply put, there is no better way to build up your team than by hitting on your first-round draft picks when it comes to the NFL. They are the best source of talent that any team has available to them, and represent players that should become cornerstones of the franchise for a decade or more, ideally.
In spite of the fact that they tend to have an excess of them, the Cleveland Browns have been quite terrible at drafting and retaining players that they have selected in the first round, even if much of that has to do with the frequently-shifting front office and coaching staff that results in those in power having different opinions about how to do things and who can get those things done.
The fact of the matter is that, even with their ample selections at their disposal, the Browns only retain just four players that they have drafted in the first round on their current roster. Ever. A lot of those players are even still in the league. They’re just not with the Browns.
Cleveland lost two of them quite recently, seeing their greatest draft pick ever, Joe Thomas from the 2007 NFL Draft, choose to retire, also having traded 2015 first-round draft pick Danny Shelton to the New England Patriots earlier this offseason.
Prior to that, just before the start of the 2017 regular season, the team released longtime starting cornerback Joe Haden, from the 2010 NFL Draft, and the Pittsburgh Steelers inked him to a three-year contract by the end of the day.
Around that same time, they also traded offensive lineman Cameron Erving, the other first-round pick from the 2015 NFL Draft along with Shelton, to the Kansas City Chiefs. So the new regime traded both of the last first-round picks from the old regime.
2013 first-round pick Barkevious Mingo was traded to the Patriots in 2016. 2014 first-round pick Justin Gilbert was traded to the Steelers in 2016 as well. Pittsburgh likes Cleveland’s cornerbacks as much as New England likes their front seven, I guess.
Johnny Manziel worked himself out of the league by being a fool. Trent Richardson was traded a year after he was drafted, and Brandon Weeden was a massively overrated prospect in the first place, but that’s what you get when you keep selecting quarterbacks in the 22nd spot in the first round.
Like Brady Quinn, also from the 2007 NFL Draft.
Alex Mack was a great draft pick, but, basically, he wanted out. While the Browns signed him to a long-term extension, he had an out in his contract and he took it. He is still in the league as a 2009 first-round pick. Phil Taylor is the only other first-rounder from 2007 to 2015 I haven’t named yet. Knee injuries derailed his career.
That leaves Cleveland with just Corey Coleman from 2016 and Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, and David Njoku from 2017. How much longer will they last in Cleveland?