A Letter to the Haslims
When Can We Have a Real Team?
I believe I can speak for all Cleveland Browns fans when I say, "We are fed up with mediocrity and constant change every two years." The inability to maintain stability in a coaching staff, system, and player personnel has played an integral part in the demise of this team.
Let's recap the first two rounds of draft picks since 2010. The Browns selected Joe Haden, TJ Ward, and Montereo Hardesty. Joe Haden is a slightly above average corner who has been the best pick this team has had in about a decade. TJ Ward is a solid safety, but for some reason we decided to get rid of him and D'Qwell Jackson (Who led the NFL in tackles last year) and pick up two players way beyond their prime in Carlos Dansby and Donte Whitner. These guys were paid around the same amount in contracts so why do this? Jackson and Ward are both having Pro Bowl caliber years each season with their new respective teams. The last pick, Hardesty, was often injured and out of the league after a few underwhelming seasons.
In 2011, we selected Phil Taylor, Jabaal Sheard, and Greg Little. I don't need to remind you that none of these players played for the Cleveland Browns in 2015. Taylor was always injured and overweight, and Greg Little couldn't catch a cold. Sheard on the other hand, has been a great player for the New England Patriots, because we decided to let him go. Apparently we saw he may be a decent player so we got rid of him like we did with Ward from the previous year.
2012, the year of Richardson and Weeden in the first round. Who in their right mind thinks it's a good idea to draft a 28 year old quarterback in the first round? Oh yeah, the Cleveland Browns. Richardson was supposed to be great, so I'll give the team a pass on this bust, but Brandon Weeden was one of the biggest mistakes in franchise history. Richardson currently isn't on a roster and Mitchell Schwartz is an underachieving lineman who gets beat more often than not in pass protection.
2013 left us with one pick in the first two rounds, and we decided to go with Barkevius Mingo? Granted, this wasn't the greatest draft class, but we past on guys like Sheldon Richardson, Tavon Austin, and Jonathan Cooper. Typically this team is always quick to trade down and pass up elite talent. Why not do that this year? Maybe there weren't any takers, but Mingo did not seem to be the logical fit here.
In 2014 we traded down, passing on a laundry list of elite players, including Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham, and Zack Martin, to name a few. And who did we decide to take? A corner in Justin Gilbert who was the fifth ranked defensive back in the draft on most boards. Seriously? I remember watching this draft in disbelief. "How could a professional organization with so much time to prepare and scout make such an awful decision?" This was the question I kept asking myself. The organization then follows it up with moving back up and taking Johnny Manziel in the first round. Here's a theory for taking a quarterback in the first round. Since this is the player that will be leading your franchise for the foreseeable future, you should be in LOVE with this guy and do whatever it takes to get him. You past on him with your first pick which means you weren't that sold on him. So why move back up and take him? Now, after two seasons, both of them refused to play the final game and both want out of town. This may be a worst first round than the Richardson/Weeden fiasco a few years prior.
2015 saw us take Danny Shelton. The jury is still out on him, but as a rookie, he did not do much to sure up a defensive line that couldn't stop the run and couldn't get to the quarterback. We also took Cameron Erving, who was benched mid season due to lack of production.
I can understand missing on a few draft picks here and there, but when you strike out on every pick, you really have to question what's going on with this organization. You said in your press conference that you want to build through the draft, not free agency. I agree, this is a solid and intelligent way to build a team, but not when you put together the five straight drafts that are listed above.
As a life long fan, all I can ask of you is this: Please take your time in selecting a GM and head coach. We need someone who can build a team. We need an experienced GM with a proven track record in putting together a talented team. I love the Browns more than anyone. My basement is painted brown and orange and I'm typing this letter from a Cleveland Browns recliner. You will not find a bigger fan than me. So I'm asking, please put a respectable team on the field.