Cleveland Browns: Daylon McCutcheon

In the final in a series of post-1999 draft assessments, we present a starting 22 for the Cleveland Browns from players taken in the draft since the team returned in '99 (which is actually a starting 23 because there were three-four and four-three defenses, which means we have to include two DTs, two DEs and two ILBs).

In some ways, the starting 11 on offense and (12) on defense shows why the Browns have struggled so badly, with one playoff appearance, one playoff game, two winning seasons and 12 double-digit loss seasons in the last 15. The talent level is not exactly overwhelming.

Since 1999, by unofficial count the Browns have drafted eight quarterbacks, 11 running backs, two fullbacks, 17 wide receivers, seven tight ends, five offensive tackles, nine guards, four centers (including a long snapper), seven defensive ends, eight defensive tackles, 16 outside linebackers, six inside linebackers, 19 cornerbacks and 10 safeties.

Here's the starting 11/12 for each side of the ball, with the 2014 draft excluded:


Quarterback: Tim Couch

Also considered: Charlie Frye, Brady Quinn, Colt McCoy, Brandon Weeden, Luke McCown, Spergon Wynn.

I can hear the cackles, but among those drafted Couch had the most wins (22), touchdowns (64), and most yards (11,131). Check the list of other quarterbacks drafted. Find any better than Couch there?

Running back: William Green

Also considered: Lee Suggs, Jerome Harrison

Green edges out the other two, though an argument could be made for any. Not that any of them were sterling. Green lasted four seasons and in the last one that knife jumped out of the box and landed in his back. His 2,109 yards are the most by any drafted Browns back since '99.

FB: Lawrence Vickers

Also considered: Owen Marecic

Vickers was a Romeo Crennel favorite from Day 1 and has gone on to have a solid pro career. We could have done without the fullback option passes, though.

WR: Kevin Johnson, Josh Gordon.

Also considered: Braylon Edwards

Edwards should have dominated this position with his ability, but he could never get out of his own way. Johnson had flaws, but he finished with more receiving yards and games played than Edwards, though Edwards had more TDs (28 to 23). Gordon makes it based on his spectacular 2013 season, and on the fact that the Browns snagged him in the supplemental draft. However, it's become evident why many teams were wary of him.

TE: Jordan Cameron

Also considered: Kellen Winslow

Winslow could have been spectacular if not for his motorcycle accident. As it was he was pretty good, but he ended his time in Cleveland as a headache. Cameron does a lot right, has improved every year and could be on the verge of stardom.

OT: Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz

Also considered: Nobody

Thomas is the only no-brainer on the list. Schwartz should be fine in the long run.

OG: Jason Pinkston, Shawn Lauvao

Also considered: Nobody

Tough position because teams don't draft guards high. Most starters are guys like John Greco or Jim Pyne who work hard and don't say much. Those guys did not come via the draft, though. Pinkston and Lauvao are two who did.

C: Alex Mack

Also considered: Jeff Faine

Mack and Faine are two similar players. Smart, aggressive, tough, able to move. But Faine's career was short-circuited by trade after the Browns signed LeCharles Bentley. Mack's career as a Brown is entering its prime years.


DE: Courtney Brown, Jabaal Sheard

Also considered: Nobody.

How tough is it to find a defensive end who can rush the passer? Ask the Browns. Brown's career was short-circuited by injury, and Sheard is listed as an end because that's where he'll be this season and where he's spent most of his time since he was drafted.

DT: Ahtyba Rubin, Phil Taylor

Also considered: Gerard Warren

Rubin and Taylor are the real deal, unlike Warren, who was a lot of bluster in Cleveland and wouldn't have been with the Browns were it not for the fact that Butch Davis overruled his scouts and chose "Big Money" over Richard Seymour.

OLB: Kamerion Wimbley, Chaun Thompson

Also considered: Rahim Abdullah, Ben Taylor

Like at end, there's not a plethora of overwhelming choices. After Wimbley it's pretty much a roll of the dice. To this day, it's hard to comprehend why the Browns ever traded Wimbley.

ILB: Andra Davis, D'Qwell Jackson

Also considered: Nobody

Two very good players who contributed for several years. Neither were great, but both were good for the team on and off the field.

CB: Daylon McCutcheon, Joe Haden

Also considered: Anthony Henry, Eric Wright

McCutcheon and Haden have contrasting styles, but both were effective. McCutcheon was a small but physical guy who got the job done with smarts and savvy. Haden is bigger, faster and more athletic; he's more of a pure cover corner.

S: T.J. Ward, Brodney Pool

Also considered: Sean Jones, Chris Crocker

Ward is the better of the big hitter types, Pool the better of the rangy guys.
Continuing the theme of draft rundowns, the next two days we will count down the Cleveland Browns' top draft picks since 1999 -- with Nos. 10 through 6 appearing today and the top five tomorrow (and a bonus Honorable Mention today!). On Monday, we will come up with a starting 11 from the team’s draft selections since 1999.

There is one rule in this list: The 2014 draft is excluded, because as exciting as it was, at this point it’s all based on potential. This list is based on production, and the emphasis is on consistent and dependable production.

The toughest question to answer: Does one include Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards as top draft picks even though their careers flamed out quickly in Cleveland? Both had exceptional seasons, but in the long-term were they productive and dependable when they only played a short time with the Browns?

Here is one list, starting with ...

Player: Ryan Pontbriand
Position: Long snapper
When: Fifth round, 2003
By: Butch Davis

A lot of people chuckled when Davis made a long snapper the fifth-round pick in 2003. Including Pontbriand. And me. I can still hear Pontbriand talking in disbelief that he was even drafted. “I’m only a long snapper,” he said, “and I must be pretty good at it.” Then he laughed. But until a couple years ago, Pontbriand was as dependable a player as the Browns had on the team. When he was released in 2011, placekicker Phil Dawson said he had witnessed perfection for the previous eight seasons.

Player: Daylon McCutcheon
Position: Cornerback
When: Third round, 1999
By: Dwight Clark and Chris Palmer

Smart, steady, dependable -- and also the first owner of the “teeny tiny break” (more later), McCutcheon was a very good Cleveland Brown for seven years. He started 96 of 103 games, and always played bigger than his 5-foot-10 size (Radio analyst Doug Dieken immediately dubbed him “McMunchkin.”) McCutcheon was honest, a good teammate and dedicated to winning. That it didn’t happen a lot in his tenure was not because of his failing. As for the teeny tiny break ... many Browns fans remember that happened with quarterback Kelly Holcomb and the “teeny tiny break of a non-weight bearing bone” in his leg, after which Davis said Holcomb might play the following week. The original “teeny tiny” break, though, belonged to McCutcheon. Davis said the corner had a “teeny tiny” break of his thumb. When the media saw McCutcheon in the locker room a few minutes later, he had a a cast the size of Gibraltar after having six screws and a plate surgically placed in the thumb.

Player: Josh Gordon
Position: Wide receiver
When: Second round, supplemental draft, 2012
By: Tom Heckert and Pat Shurmur

Were it not for Gordon’s looming suspension, he would be ranked as high as second. The guy is that talented, and his breakout season in 2013 seemed to bode well for the future. He still could have a bright future for the Browns even with a suspension -- provided the Browns stand by him. He is still young enough to come back from a missed season -- if he proves trustworthy. Gordon should go down as one of the all-time greats at receiver, and a draft steal. But there are these off-the-field issues. His selection was much questioned, and the suspension shows why. But on talent alone, the risk proved to be worthwhile.

Player: Andra Davis
Position: Middle linebacker
When: Second round, 2002
By: Butch Davis

Dependable, steady, team-oriented, humble ... Andra Davis gave the Browns seven very good years, and in one was voted the team’s Player of the Year by the local Pro Football Writers. While guys like Edwards and Winslow had flashier seasons, Davis had a more consistent and dependable Cleveland career. He might not have had the impact of a Brian Urlacher, but he was a good player in different systems.

NUMBER 7 (tie)
Players: Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard
When: First and second round, 2011
By: Tom Heckert

For whatever reason, these two guys seem to be a tandem. Both have been strong contributors to the Browns for four seasons and both seem to want to be with the Browns for the long-term. Sheard could be on the verge of stardom in the new defensive system, and Taylor is a run-plugging defensive tackle who can be dominant. As the foundation of the future defense with Joe Haden, they deserve mention.

Player: D'Qwell Jackson
When: Second round, 2006
By: Phil Savage

The logical choice for a team that needed a middle linebacker was Jackson, the best player on the board, from Maryland. The Browns wound up with a quality player and person. Jackson played seven years for the Browns, overcame injury and contributed every season he was healthy. His only flaw was being too nice on the field when it came to teammates’ mistakes, but in the aggregate he was a big plus for the team for many years.

Tomorrow: The top five