Tim Graham of The Athletic recently released an article that detailed the history of the Buffalo Bills’ pursuit of Russell Wilson, but it also included the Cleveland Browns’ 2017 NFL Draft miscues.
Buddy Nix, Buffalo’s former GM, recently made a confession.
— The Athletic Buffalo (@TheAthleticBUF) July 22, 2020
Although Buddy Nix did not have any inside information on the Browns, Cleveland’s 2017 quarterbacks coach David Lee did.
In 2017, the Browns selected Myles Garrett with the first overall pick, but they also had the No. 12 overall pick heading into the draft.
According to Lee, Browns general manager Sashi Brown was high on Mitch Trubisky.
Lee and head coach Hue Jackson were excited to draft Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson:
“Hue and I were in total agreement … We loved Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, and we would have been thrilled to death with either.”
While Mahomes went No. 10 overall, the Browns still could have drafted Watson at No. 12.
Instead, the Brown elected to trade their selection to the Houston Texans in exchange for their No. 25 overall pick in 2017 and Houston’s 2018 first-round pick:
“Sashi wanted [Mitchell] Trubisky and to accumulate picks rather than see the player that was right in front of him. When we made that trade with Houston for the 12th pick … I just said, ‘Where am I?’”
Unsurprisingly, 2017 was Brown’s last year as Cleveland’s general manager, as the Browns went on to draft DeShone Kizer and went 0-16.
The 2017 Quarterback Draft Class
On April 27, 2017, Trubisky went to the Chicago Bears with the No. 2 overall selection.
Mahomes and Watson were the only other quarterbacks drafted in the first round:
Mahomes. Trubisky. Watson.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 28, 2019
They all made their first Pro Bowl in their second NFL season.
Mahomes was the starter for the AFC, while Watson (AFC) and Trubisky (NFC) were alternates.
Meanwhile, Kizer lasted just one season with the Browns and went 0-15 in 2017.
The Browns had their chance to select Watson before trading the pick.
Lee mentioned that he and Jackson were enthused about Mahomes and Watson.
Despite not having a quarterback, the Cleveland Browns traded first round picks in 2016 and 2017. Those picks were used to select Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson.
— Alex Barth (@RealAlexBarth) April 23, 2020
The Browns could have had Wentz or Watson, but the Sashi Brown’s years will be remembered for their failures in the draft and on the field.
What was the Aftermath of the 2017 NFL Draft?
The Browns sure would have made the playoffs or would have been close with Mahomes or Watson under center.
Cleveland would have had Watson if the organization did not trade the selection.
If Watson was a Brown, maybe Cleveland would have been a Super Bowl contender.
Instead, the Browns drafted Jabrill Peppers with the No. 25 selection overall in 2017.
He lasted just two seasons with the Browns, and the strong safety ranked in the top 10 in yards per punt return in 2018.
The former All-American was then included in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade and is still with the New York Giants.
The Browns also received the Texans’ 2018 selection, and the Browns drafted cornerback Denzel Ward.
Ward has made one Pro Bowl through his two seasons with the Browns.
He also received All-Rookie Team honors.
Ward will not be able to impact the game anywhere as much as Watson or Mahomes do.
However, the Browns hope that his presence on the defensive side will salvage some value from the trade.