They say it takes three to five years to be able to properly grade an NFL draft. I agree with that statement, however you can definitely see which direction a draft is trending after a year. After two seasons, the writing is certainly on the wall for any specific player or draft.
I'm not talking about the 2014 Cleveland Browns draft today. The top portion of that draft (Justin Gilbert, Johnny Manziel) has some work to do if they want to catch up to the rest of the class though (Joel Bitonio, Terrance West, Christian Kirksey) and everyone knows it.
The back-to-back drafts in 2012 and 2013 are the nightmares I am writing about today.
Let's start with the positive. That 2012 draft includes a starter on the offensive line (Mitchell Schwartz) selected in the second round, a pair of defensive linemen that are in the rotation (John Hughes and Billy Winn) plus PR/WR Travis Benjamin.
That first round of Richardson and Weeden will haunt Browns fans for years.
There's really no sense in rehashing Brandon Weeden's struggle with accuracy or Richardson's yards per carry here. Neither are with the team any longer, which says all you really need to know about the picks.
Recently, Fred Greetham wrote a piece on his Top Five Browns heading into camp. Paul Kruger was Fred's number five. Kruger was a high-priced free agent. Tashaun Gipson was Fred's choice at number four, and an incredible story of an undrafted player working his tail off to make it.
The top three are no surprises. Joe Thomas, Joe Haden and Alex Mack are the choices there. What do those three have in common? They were consecutive first round picks for the Browns. The cornerstones of the franchise.
In 2012 the Browns had a pair of first round picks, and have nothing to show for it headed to training camp in 2015.
Enter the 2013 draft.
Two players remain from this class. Top pick Barkevious Mingo and seventh round choice Armonty Bryant are all that is left from this class. Well, not exactly.
Josh Gordon was selected in the 2012 supplemental draft with the 2013 second round pick. Gordon will not see the playing field in 2015 due to violations of the league's substance abuse program. The Browns (specifically Joe Banner) were adamant after the draft that Gordon and WR Davone Bess (whom the Browns traded for during the draft) had to be included in discussions about the class. Fine. That doesn't help the case for 2015.
Armonty Bryant was one of the pleasant surprises in the 2014 season, and if fully healthy in 2015 could provide some much needed pass rushing for the Browns.
Then there's Mingo.
While we aren't going to declare Mingo a bust yet, he is trending in that direction. Undersized from the start, Mingo has been dogged by a number of injuries. His speed and quickness is certainly as advertised, but his lack of bulk seems to be a problem getting off of blocks and making plays.
If Mingo doesn't have a breakout year, that would make three consecutive first round picks that don't pan out for the Browns, a nightmare for a team that is perpetually trying to turn things around.