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Evaluating past Browns' drafts: 2009

6/23/2014

NFL folks are wont to say that drafts can’t be judged the night of the draft, but instead three or four years down the line. At that point a team should have an idea of the quality and quantity of the players it selected.

In that light, the next three days we’ll evaluate the Cleveland Browns drafts of five, four and three years ago. The 2009 draft was run by Eric Mangini, and ’10 and ’11 by Tom Heckert and Mike Holmgren. In 2010, Heckert was working with Mangini as the coach, in ‘11 with Pat Shurmur.

Today: 2009.

The picks (round/overall pick): C Alex Mack (1/21), WR Brian Robiskie (2/36), WR Mohamed Massaquoi (2/50), DE David Veikune (2/52), LB Kaluka Maiava (4/104), DB Don Carey (4/177), DB Coye Francies (6/191), RB James Davis (7/191).

Mel Kiper then: “Alex Mack was a good pick at No. 21 and Mohamed Massaquoi was a very good pickup in the second round.” ... “I think ... David Veikune was a bit of a reach in that (second) round ...” ... “They didn’t get a great receiver in Brian Robiskie in the second round, but he’s polished enough as a rookie that he could be a solid possession guy for this franchise.” -- From Kiper’s evaluation the night of the draft.

Starters remaining: One (Mack).

Others to note: Maiava is a part-time player with the Raiders, Carey started three games in Detroit last season. No other players are in the league.

Evaluation: Mack is as good a center as there is in the NFL, and he could blossom further in Mike Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme that takes advantage of athletic and smart players. But when you consider that the Browns originally had the fifth overall pick and traded down three times to get extra picks and wound up with a center and nothing else ... well, this draft is the blueprint for struggles. Especially since all but two of the guys drafted are not even in the league anymore. When a team has three second-round choices and has no starters five years later, that’s failure. In many ways, this draft epitomized the Mangini way of picking: He loved solid, non-flashy players. It had to be a coincidence that none had speed. Massaquoi could have been a decent third receiver, but James Harrison’s ugly cheap shot after a reception in Pittsburgh effectively ended his career. Robiskie never found his confidence in Cleveland, and Veikune was a bust. The rest of the draft was a washout. Mack, though, is an excellent player who has shown the confidence Mangini showed in him was warranted. The top of this draft is not filled with playmakers, but would the Browns have been better with a playmaker like a Michael Crabtree or a Percy Harvin and a less talented (and less expensive) center? Tough to answer, because Mack is so good. But it’s worth discussing.

Grade then: B-minus, per Kiper.

Grade now: D-minus.