Most people say you have to wait three years before properly judging a draft class. This is a good time frame, but four years is even better.
All rookies under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) sign four-year contracts, with the first round picks getting a team option for a fifth year.
With the sixth overall selection in 2011, how did the Cleveland Browns do?
Round 1 (Pick #21, from Chiefs): DT Phil Taylor, Baylor
Round 2 (Pick #37): DE Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburgh
Round 2 (Pick #59, from Falcons): WR Greg Little, North Carolina
Round 4 (Pick #102): TE Jordan Cameron, USC
Round 4 (Pick #124, from Falcons): FB Owen Marecic, Stanford
Round 5 (Pick #137): CB Buster Skrine, Chattanooga
Round 5 (Pick #150, from Giants via Vikings): G Jason Pinkston, Pittsburgh
Round 7 (Pick #248): CB Eric Hagg, Nebraska
Draft Grade in 2011:
ESPN (Mel Kiper Jr.): B+
Yahoo! (Jason Cole): A
First Round Pick: Phil Taylor
Originally, the Browns held the sixth pick in the draft, but Atlanta came calling and offered a package that involved a future first round selection. Cleveland then made another trade, moving up from the Falcons pick to number 21 to take Taylor. A 335-pound nose tackle, Taylor was supposed to anchor the Cleveland defense for years to come. He started all 16 games in 2011, but then missed eight games in 2012 and 11 games in 2014. On the field, injuries slowed him down and he never played at the level the Browns expected. Cleveland selected Danny Shelton in the first round this year, who will replace Taylor at nose tackle.
Best Pick (Not First Round): Jordan Cameron
A former basketball player, the 6-foot-5 Cameron is one of the most talented tight ends in the NFL. It took two seasons to get adjusted to the professional game, but in 2013, he exploded for 80 catches, 917 yards and seven touchdowns in Norv Turner’s tight end friendly scheme. Last season was a disappointment, with only 20 receptions, but he missed six games with a concussion. Cameron signed with the Miami Dolphins in free agency a few months ago, but––for a fourth round pick––he was very successful.
Worst Pick: Owen Marecic
The fourth round is a high selection for a fullback, so you would expect a lot more than 24 games (less than two seasons) from the player. Marecic gained eight yards on four carries and caught five passes for 31 yards with the Browns and never graded well in Pro Football Focus’ rankings, grading negatively both years. Well known at Stanford for playing both fullback and linebacker, Marecic never worked out in the NFL.
At the time, the trade down looked good, as the Browns added a future first round pick and other selections, but Cleveland ended up with Taylor, Little, Marecic and Brandon Weeden. These players are either out of the league (Marecic) or backups in Cleveland (Taylor), Cincinnati (Little) and Dallas (Weeden). Needless to say, the Browns didn’t use these picks effectively. The failed trade hurts their grade, but other picks were successful. Sheard recorded 23 sacks in four seasons, Cameron was a Pro Bowl tight end in 2013, Skrine started 37 games at cornerback and Pinkston looked to have a promising career ahead of him before having to retire for medical reasons.