With all the recent talk about who the Browns should/shouldn’t/will/won’t draft with the No. 7 pick in the upcoming draft – please, not a QB in the first round and no “projection” players – not as much attention has been made to the selections in later rounds. Of the Browns’ 12 picks in the upcoming draft, seven of them are in rounds four through seven. Can the Browns find talented players who can contribute on the field in the later rounds?
To answer that question, I went back through every Browns draft since 1975 – around the time I started following the team – to see if they were able to find talent in the later rounds (defined here as fifth round or later because the draft used to be 12 rounds). Here’s one person’s take on the 10 best late-round picks by the Browns:
10. Mike Babb (5th round): He started and was a main component on the line for the Browns from 1983-87, and again in 1990 and ’91.
9. Paul Farren (12th round): A solid offensive lineman who played with the team from 1983-1991. A starter from ’85-’90 who missed only three games in that span. He was named the team’s lineman of the year in 1988 and offensive lineman of the year in 1989.
8. Ryan Pontbriand (5th round): A Pro Bowler in ’07 and ’09 as a long-snapper. Butch Davis’ best draft pick.
7. Lawrence Vickers (6th round): A solid blocker who rarely touches the ball.
6. Reggie Langhorne (7th round): Had 261 receptions for 3,597 yards from ’85-’91. A key receiver on the teams that made three AFC Championship game appearances.
5. Michael Jackson (6th round): Played five years with the team, catching 170 passes for 2,797 yards and 28 TDs. Caught Bernie Kosar’s last TD pass as a Brown.
4. Eddie Johnson (7th round): Recorded 712 tackles over his nine-year Browns’ career (’81-’90). A cornerstone on the teams that made three AFC Championship game appearances.
3. Dick Ambrose (12th round): Started in his rookie season, held starting MLB role for rest of his Browns’ career (’75-’83). Led the team in tackles five times.
2. Cody Riesen (7th round): Made two Pro Bowls (’87 & ’88); was on seven playoff teams in his 10 seasons.
1. Earnest Byner (10th round): Three 1,000-yard seasons, 6th in career rushing, 7th in touchdowns and 10th in career receptions.