Article #2 in this series will look back on, well, day two of the draft. Teams usually find some key players in the second and third rounds “respectively” and surprisingly the Browns are no different, even since coming back in 1999. So without further delay, here’s my top 5 list:
5. Dennis Northcutt
Okay, hear me out. Northcutt was the 32nd overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft out of Arizona. He played seven seasons with the Browns for a total of 99 games. Was he ever the star receiver for the Browns? No, but was he a fairly reliable player (yes I know the playoff game vs Pittsburgh)?
Yes. 15 total touchdowns, including three as a punt returner. Longevity is a factor too. Not many Browns picks, let alone high-round picks, stuck around through multiple regime changes. Oh, and he was my favorite player as a kid, so sorry. Not sorry.
4. D’Qwell Jackson
Everyone’s favorite Browns linebacker since 1999. Taken 34th overall out of Maryland in the 2006 draft Jackson played seven seasons with the Browns. Unfortunately, he missed the entire 2010 season due to injury and missed 10 games of the 2009 season. But other than those two seasons he was a consistent starter for the Browns through *checks notes* four different regimes. 826 total tackles in 97 career games in Cleveland. 13 total turnovers and was the heart and soul of mediocre defenses throughout his Browns career.
3. Mitchell Schwartz
Here’s where play > longevity factors in. Schwartz, who was drafted 37th overall out of California in 2012, started in all 64 games of his four-year career with the Browns. He never missed a snap during his career either. Crazy the Browns had two “iron men” manning both tackle positions from 2012-2015. Schwartz is the definition of “the one that got away”. Sashi Brown refused to pay up for the right tackle, who left for Kansas City and continued to become one of the best in the league.
2. Joel Bitonio
Now, who doesn’t love Joel? Taken 35th out of Nevada in the 2014 draft, Bitonio was a starter from day one on one of the best offensive lines in Browns’ history. That 2014 line had: Joe Thomas, Bitonio, Alex Mack, John Greco, and Mitch Schwartz. Man the zone blocking scheme works wonders right?!?
His seven-year Browns’ tenure is still ongoing and doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. Bitonio is a three-time Pro Bowler and after enduring the 1-31 days, he finally tasted success this past season playing in his first career playoff game.
TJ Ward: Ward was taken 38th overall in the 2010 draft. He was a pro-bowler for the Browns in 2013 and was a fan favorite in his four seasons in Cleveland. After the 2013 season, the Browns decided to sign Donte Whitner instead of Ward. Ward signed with Denver and went on to win a Super Bowl with them.
Kevin Johnson: The second draft pick of the expansion Browns in 1999 (32nd overall). His five-year career with the Browns better than most and in reality should make number five of this list. 23 touchdowns in 73 games as the Browns de facto number one receiver.
1. Nick Chubb
This should surprise no one. Chubb is already one of the best running backs in Cleveland Browns history…and they’ve had quite a history. Chubb was taken 35th overall in the 2018 draft and my goodness, all he’s done is produce in his three seasons. It’s insane to think John Dorsey had to trade Carlos Hyde in order for Chubb to get more carries.
30 total touchdowns in 44 games. In 2019, he finished second in the league in rushing yards with 1,494. Last season in only 12 games, Chubb managed to surpass the 1,000 yard mark and found “pay dirt” 12 times. All this while sharing carries with Kareem Hunt. It’s incredible to think about. Chubb is an elite running back. And for those who say “Running Backs don’t matter”, well I don’t know what to tell you.
Be sure to tell me I’m wrong on Twitter: @KatelinKnowsCLE