Random Thoughts: Where are They Now?

In this week's <i>Random Thoughts from a Wasted Mind</I>, Dale Galbraith offers a look at what happened to the draft class of 1999... and 2000... and 2001...

Where are they now?

Since their rebirth in the NFL in 1999 the Cleveland Browns have drafted the exact number of players it takes to fill an NFL roster. That's right. Fifty-three players have put on a Cleveland Browns' ball cap on Draft Weekend over the past six years. Taking a look back, it is evident how poor Phil Savage's predecessors were on evaluating talent.

1999 Draft Class

From the first Draft in 1999, only cornerback Daylon McCutcheon is on the Browns' roster.

Tim Couch, the number one overall pick of the Draft, is rehabbing a sore throwing arm and is out of football. Three of the picks are still in the NFL but with different teams. Middle linebacker Wali Rainer just re-signed with the Detroit Lions where he was a backup in 2004. James Dearth is currently the long-snapper for the New York Jets. Wide receiver Kevin Johnson went to the Jaguars when the Browns released him at mid-season in 2003, then to the Ravens who let him go this off-season. It appears that he and Dick Vermeil, who has been courting him for years, will finally get together in Kansas City.

Three of the 1999 draft selections are still playing football, but not in the NFL. Marquis Smith is currently representing the Oakland Raiders in NFL Europe and is playing outside linebacker for the Hamburg Sea Devils. Rahim Abdullah played defensive end for the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL in 2004, and is pondering signing with Ottawa as a free agent in 2005. Darrin Chiaverini is a starting wide-out for the Austin Wranglers in the Arena Football League. Marcus Spears, Kendall Ogle and Madre Hill are all out of football. Madre Hill was hired in December of 2004 to coach the running backs at the University of South Carolina, his Alma Mater. 

2000 Draft Class

Five players from the 2000 Draft are still active in the NFL but only receiver Dennis Northcutt and tight end Aaron Shea are still with the Browns.

Brad Bedell recently resigned with the Green Bay Packers where he will compete for a starting offensive line position in 2005. Cornerback Lewis Sanders went to the Jags then back to the Browns. This off-season he re-signed with the Browns, oops wait a minute, he went to Houston as a free agent. After being released this year by the Browns, defensive end Courtney Brown, the ‘Quiet Storm' in Cleveland, will attempt to become the ‘Raging Blizzard' in Denver. Defensive back Anthony Malbrough and quarterback Spergon Wynn headed north of the border to pursue their trade. Malbrough started for the Ottawa Renegades last year and may sign as a free agent with the Calgary Stampeders for the upcoming season. Wynn has not fared as well.  He is the back-up quarterback for the B.C. Lions.

Travis Prentice, JaJuan Dawson, Lamar Chapman, Manuia Savea, Eric Chandler and Rashidi Barnes are no longer playing football. Lamar Chapman is the defensive backfield coach for Nazarene University.

2001 Draft Class 

Out of the 2001 Draft only safety Michael Jameson is on the roster. Jameson has fought hard to stay on the roster by doing whatever the Browns have asked of him.

On the other hand defensive tackle Gerald Warren, the overall number three pick of the entire Draft, did little of what the Browns expected of him and was moved to Denver for a fourth round pick. Cornerback Anthony Henry has played well in the NFL, but will be playing for the Dallas Cowboys in years to come. The Browns did swap wide-out Quincy Morgan, who was a third round pick, to the Cowboys for wide receiver Antonio Bryant. Therefore, the selection cannot be considered a bust for the Browns at this time. It will depend how long and how well Bryant plays for them.

Running back James Jackson was waived during the 2004 season and was signed by Green Bay who also released him. James is currently looking to find a team. Offensive lineman Paul Zukauskas and receiver Andre King are unrestricted free agents this year and have yet to find a team. All indications are they probably are no longer in the Browns' plans.

Then there is linebacker Jeremiah Pharms who was never offered a contract because of the legal problems he was experiencing shortly after the Draft. Pharms is playing this year for the Everett Hawks of the newly formed Professional Indoor Football League.

2002 Draft Class

The 2002 Draft has produced two players that are return starters and one that is penciled in as starter in 2005. The often-injured Andre Davis will return to anchor one of the receiver positions and linebacker Andra Davis will also return from an injury to start at one of the middle backer positions of the 3-4 defense being installed by Romeo Crennel and the coaching staff.

Ben Taylor is slated to start at the other inside backer spot. Taylor has never played in a 3-4 defense in his career.

That year's Draft also produced two backups with center Marvin Fowler and running back William Green. Fowler is a restricted free agent who the Browns want to re-sign and most likely will. Green the Browns' first pick that year, who is still under contract, may be on his way out if the Browns can find a trading partner. Tight end Darnell Sanders, who will forever be known as the first Butch Davis' draft pick to be cut by Davis, was with the Falcons in 2004 and is currently on the Bears roster. Linebacker Kevin Bentley signed with Seahawks and Joaquin Gonzalez signed with the Colts in this year's free agency.

2003 Draft Class

Out of the 2003 Draft only sixth round pick defensive lineman Antonio Garay is not with the Browns. The injury plagued Garay is out of football at this time. It is still to be determined what impact starters center Jeff Faine and linebacker Chaun Thompson will have in upcoming years.

hris Crocker replaced Earl Little at free safety in 2004 and will compete with newly acquired  Brian Russell for the same position in 2005. Lee Suggs will part of the anticipated one-two punch with Reuben Droughns in the backfield. Ryan Portbriand may hold down the long snapping duties for years to come. Long snapper seems like the safest position on any NFL roster these days. Michael Lehan will have to make the team as a special team ace.

2004 Draft Class

Last year's Draft was the ‘Draft that Never Was' for the Browns. First round pick tight end Kellen Winslow held out of training camp with a lengthy contract negotiation, then was lost for the season after suffering a broken leg against Dallas in the second game.

The Browns' second pick safety Sean Jones injured a knee in mini camp and never made the playing field. Luke McCown was forced into action when quarterbacks Jeff Garcia and Kelly Holcomb were injured.

Defensive lineman Amon Gordon and offensive lineman Kirk Chambers participated in six games but saw sparse playing time. Chambers is an exclusive rights free agent and is contemplating retirement to become a missionary. Running back Adimchinobe Echemandu saw a little action at the end of the season when games started to look a lot like preseason events.

The Totals

Out of the 53 players drafted 21 are still on the team. That might seem like a reasonable number until you take a look at how that number breaks down: 

  • 6 starters on the Browns ever-changing 2005 depth chart
  • 2 players that should start in 2005, but haven't fully recovered from injuries sustained last season
  • 1 player who started mid-season in 2004 but will have to win the spot in training camp
  • 5 players that are penciled in as backups in 2005 but have seen significant playing time
  • 1 player that saw most of his action on special teams
  • 1 long snapper
  • 1 third string quarterback who was forced into action because of injuries to the other QBs
  • 2 players that saw very limited playing time in 4-6 games in 2004
  • 1 player looking to join the missionary after one year of limited service in the NFL
  • 1 former troubled first round pick whom the Browns are looking to trade

Starting corner Daylon McCutcheon, third wide receiver Dennis Northcutt and back-up tight end Aaron Shea are the only players left from when Dwight Clark was calling the shots on Draft Day. The rest are Butch Davis' choices. It remains to be seen how many of them will become Savage's guys. My guess is you will be able to count them with one hand.

No versatility

Phil Savage does not seem to emphasis versatility in a player. Butch Davis used the word frequently during his tenure as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. My definition of a versatile  player is he is average at many positions, but not great at any. The Browns do not need versatility. They need greatness.

Wasted mind was wrong

Last week I said that Sterling Harris is the backup right offensive tackle for the Frankfurt Galaxy. Zac Jackson reported last week for the Browns' website that Harris had broke into the starting line-up. So there is something to keep our eyes on there.

The Schedule

A lot of observers feel that a week four bye is too early. But with Training Camp usually starting at the end of July, the football season is actually twenty-two weeks long. The bye date of October 2, is the ninth week of the twenty-two-week period which is almost the midpoint. As fans we are just getting going, but the team needs a break by then.

I believe that the 2005 Browns will get better as the season progresses. Therefore having what appears to be the toughest part of the schedule, although there are no easy games in the NFL, toward the end of the year sets well with me.

The two home games on Christmas Eve against the Steelers and New Year's Day against the Ravens means I have to rethink my Holiday wishes. Usually I don't care if I receive any presents for Christmas, this year I definitely want a win. I try to start every New Year off with the resolution that I will have ‘good will toward men'. That can't be with the Ratbirds in town.

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