Well, here we are! The draft is finally here. So let’s look back on the best 1st round picks since 1999. I don’t think anyone on this list is a surprise, and a few are considered franchise cornerstones for this current Browns team. So without further delay, Number 5…
5. Denzel Ward:
Ward was taken 4th overall in the 2018 draft out of The Ohio State University. Originally owned by the Houston Texans, the Browns acquired their 1st round pick in the Deshaun Watson trade up.
Denzel Ward has been nothing but spectacular since being drafted. A Pro-Bowler in 2018 as a rookie, Ward has become an elite defensive back in the league. Injuries have been an issue at times, but Ward has played in at least 12 games in each of his three seasons. Plus the injuries, were “freak injuries” to say the least. Concussions, a calf injury last year after playing in a monsoon verse the Eagles, and getting COVID-19.
4. Alex Mack
Arguably the second-best pick since 1999 besides the 1-31 years, Alex Mack is one of, if not the best center in recent history. Taken 21st overall out of California, Alex Mack started the trend of Eric Mangini taking “smart” players. The Browns traded out of number 5, where the Jets took Mark Sanchez. The Browns traded two more times before landing at 21, trading down from 17 to 19 and then 19 to 21.
Mack played seven seasons with the Browns and was part of one of the best offensive lines in Browns history during the 2014 season. Unfortunately, as we know, a broken leg ended his career snap streak and with it, the Browns offense wasn’t the same. 101 starts in his Browns career, three-time Pro Bowl selection, and was named to the “All-Decade Team”.
3. Baker Mayfield
Mr. Baker Mayfield, the quarterback the Browns selected number one overall in the 2018 draft. My goodness, the Browns finally found their franchise quarterback with this pick. Baker has had his ups and downs but last year under Kevin Stefanski, he saw his best year, with an 11-5 record. Mayfield led the Browns to their first playoff appearance since 2003 and their first win since 1994.
Mayfield has so much potential and is finally getting the opportunity to have the same head coach in consecutive seasons. Baker has played in 46 regular-season games with a 24-22 record…(I’m giving him that Jets win). 75 Touchdowns to 43 interceptions isn’t a great ratio, but last year his 26/8 ratio is what we should all expect going forward.
2. Myles Garrett
Yes, QB is the most important position, but Myles is a lock for the second best first-round pick since 1999. Garrett is a freak of nature. He was taken number one overall in 2017 and the Browns have to be happy with his production so far.
42.5 sacks in 49 games, 10 forced fumbles, and his unspoken leadership for a young Browns team. Myles Garrett signed a five-year extension last year keeping him in Cleveland for the foreseeable future.
Garrett is one of the cornerstones of this team going forward. His only negative was his infamous helmet issue with that trash quarterback in Pittsburgh. But in reality, I think Browns fans loved it. Even if it came at the expense of a six-game suspension and the Browns not making the playoffs in 2019.
1. Joe Thomas
10,363. That’s the number of consecutive snaps Thomas played during his 11-year career with the Browns. Thomas is a future Hall of Famer who was drafted 3rd overall in 2007. And honestly, I don’t know what more can be said about him. All-Decade team, 10x Pro-Bowler, 8x All-Pro, the guy was the only constant for the Browns…well besides losing I guess.
It really sucks that Thomas’s career ended the year before the Browns took Baker Mayfield. It would have been awesome to see Thomas playing left tackle for the Browns during a playoff game.
But as some might say, Thomas’s career died, so Mayfield’s could live…and maybe in the not-so-distant future we all can revisit this article and make an argument Garrett or Mayfield deserves to be number one on this list. 🙂