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The Browns Have A Long List Of Draft-Day Regrets

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Tim Couch became the first of a long line of Browns draft busts following their return to the NFL. Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images
Tim Couch became the first of a long line of Browns draft busts following their return to the NFL. Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images

Thursday will mark the Cleveland Browns’ 65th draft overall, and 61st in the NFL.

When a team has been drafting for that long, it’s inevitable that it’s going to mess things up from time to time.

And the Browns have done their share of that through the years, particularly early in the draft.

The following is a look back at some of those top picks who failed to become top players:

QB Bobby Garrett, Stanford (No. 1 overall in 1954) – The Browns took their turn with the league’s bonus pick by unknowingly selecting a quarterback who stuttered, thus showing that even the great Paul Brown could make mistakes.

WR Bobby Cespino, Mississippi (No. 10 in 1961) – He didn’t catch on – literally and figuratively – by grabbing just six passes in three seasons.

WR Tom Hutchinson, Kentucky (No. 9 overall in 1963) – The Browns suffered another miss at this position as he had only 18 receptions in three years.

QB Mike Phipps, Purdue (No. 3 overall in 1970) – The Browns traded Pro Football Hall of Famer Paul Warfield so as to get the chance to take the flop of all draft flops.

WR Steve Holden, Arizona State (No. 16 in 1973) – The fact he had just three catches as a rookie was a sign of things to come.

DE Mack Mitchell, Houston (No. 5 overall in 1975) – He had a good rookie season with eight sacks and then turned into a draft disaster.

WR Willis Adams, Houston (No. 20 overall in 1979) – Maybe the Browns should have stayed away from players from Houston.

LB Mike Junkin, Duke (No. 5 overall in 1987) – Duke produces a lot of great basketball players, but it isn’t quite the same in football, as evidenced by the man described by a Browns scout as “a mad dog in a meat market.”

LB Clifford Charlton, Florida (No. 21 overall in 1988) – Taking Junkin and then Charlton in back-to-back years really set the franchise back down the road.

RB Tommy Vardell, Stanford (No. 9 overall in 1992) – It was good that Bill Belichick liked to build teams up the middle, but it’s just that he took the wrong player this time.

LB Craig Powell, Ohio State (No. 30 overall in 1995) – Missing badly on this Youngstown, Ohio native was just the first of many negative things that happened during the original franchise’s last year in Cleveland.

QB Tim Couch, Kentucky (No. 1 overall in 1999) – The expansion team wanted him to become the face of the franchise. He was in many ways, unfortunately, just that.

DE Courtney Brown, Penn State (No. 1 overall in 2000) – Taking “The Quiet Storm” proved the Browns could also do a poor job of evaluating defensive players – not just offensive ones -- to choose with the top pick.

DT Gerard Warren, Florida (No. 3 overall in 2001) – “Big Money” earned big money for doing very little.

RB William Green, Boston College (No. 16 overall in 2002) – The Browns stunningly took him knowing full well that he had substance-abuse issues. Tthey paid for it dearly, giving them four busts at the top of the draft in as many years and setting the franchise up for prolonged struggles.