This will be my tenth NFL draft as a fan of the Cleveland Browns. I’m from San Diego and I always get asked why I am a Browns fan and the answer is Kellen Winslow II. I love that Cleveland loves and supports their team to no end. I envy that. I never really had a favorite NBA team, but after Lebron James left, I felt stung too. And now the Cavs are my NBA team. I’m going to go through each draft from 2004 up until 2013. I have never seen the Browns in person, and I don’t suffer through bad weather like Cleveland natives, but when the Browns lose, it still hurts.
2004 NFL Draft
When I woke up that morning to watch my second NFL Draft, I didn’t have a favorite NFL team. My family liked baseball so I never really watched football until about 2002 when I was 11 years old. At the time my favorite college football player was tight end Kellen Winslow II of the University of Miami and from San Diego. When he was drafted, the Browns became very appealing to me and they became my favorite team. Winslow got me into football and the Browns. When Winslow kept getting hurt the first two years, it pained me. But that night of the 2004 NFL Draft, I went to bed with a favorite team: the Browns.
2005 NFL Draft
I was washing my neighbor’s car and he was nice enough to put on the draft for me on his car radio. I had to wax it that day so I heard about five picks including the Browns pick at three. I’m sort of embarrassed to say this, but I didn’t know who Braylon Edwards was at the time. The radio announcers made him seem good and then later I saw highlights of him at Michigan and it left me very impressed. I was happy with the selection at the time.
2006 NFL Draft
This was my final draft where I didn’t know every player in the first round. I didn’t know who Kamerion Wimbley was, but I didn’t like the pick at all. I had a bias against defensive players then, plus I had never heard of him in a draft that featured Reggie Bush, Vince Young, and Matt Leinart, who I had just seen play in what I still consider the best game I have ever seen. My focus then wasn’t on the draft as much, but in 2007 that all changed.
2007 NFL Draft
In this draft I really wanted the Browns to draft Brady Quinn third overall. When they took Joe Thomas, I was pretty mad. So when they traded back into the first round and took Quinn 22nd overall, I was pretty ecstatic. I was in awe of Notre Dame and I thought he would be great in the NFL because he turned that program around when nobody previously had been able to. I thought he would be the savior Cleveland had been waiting for.
2008 NFL Draft
The Browns had just barely missed the playoffs. They didn’t have a draft pick in the first round of 2008 because they traded it for Brady Quinn. I wasn’t mad though, in fact, for the first time since I started to like the Browns, I was optimistic. I thought the Browns had two quality quarterbacks. Those thoughts exited pretty quickly once the season started.
2009 NFL Draft
This draft was painful. With the fifth pick I actually wanted Mark Sanchez and I was upset when they traded the pick. The Browns drafted Alex Mack 21st overall and that wasn’t a good pick. I wanted Sanchez so badly. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t run the franchise because I would have kept Sanchez. By this point it was brutal being a Browns fan from San Diego. When the teams played in 2012 and the Browns won, I was so happy. Wow, brings back the same feeling just thinking about that. It was my Super Bowl. The Browns made me very proud that day. I can’t even imagine how good it would feel if they ever win the Super Bowl or even make the playoffs. But back to the draft, when 2009’s ended, I wasn’t optimistic at all.
2010 NFL Draft
I hated Tim Tebow in college. Because of that, I also hated Florida. I rooted against them as if they were playing my favorite team every week. So when Joe Haden was taken, I wasn’t sure what to think. I knew he was good, but it took me a few days to like him. Now he is one of my favorite players.
2011 NFL Draft
I wanted Julio Jones so much. I still hate that trade. I thought he would be the next great receiver, and he could still become that. That year the Browns also got Phil Taylor. I just remember thinking, “Instead of a future play making proven wide receiver, we are ending up with a defensive tackle.” The only bright spot was also getting a 2012 first round pick, which turned out to be a low pick.
2012 NFL Draft
A minor draft day trade left the Browns with the third and 22nd overall picks. I thought that this was the year the Browns would finally draft the right players and be on their winning ways. Trent Richardson was the first draft pick that I had been happy about since Brady Quinn. With Joe Thomas, one of the best offensive lineman in the NFL, I thought it was a great choice. Then they took Brandon Weeden and that pick made me sick to my stomach. Why would anyone draft someone so old? He didn’t even look good in college. All my friends laughed. The 2012 season was terrible. It is probably my least favorite season as a fan. My Padres were terrible that season too. It was a bad year for sports overall.
2013 NFL Draft
Finally a new coach who I thought would be good along with Norv Turner who I had followed closely since he had been the head coach of the Chargers. I knew Turner was a Super Bowl winning offensive coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990’s and I was hoping he could become that good again. I bought into the hype. Even when the season started, I still believed. I thought they could win the division. Then, when Brian Hoyer got hurt, my hopes went away and the Browns season did too. I was fine with the Barkevious Mingo pick. With two first round picks and the return of Brian Hoyer, I am optimistic about 2014.
You can follow Thomas Frey on Twitter: @ThomasFreyRP