The 2012 NFL Draft Was A Franchise-Altering Disaster For The Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns
have benched quarterback Brandon Weedenafter a disappointing start to the season.

Weeden was one of the worst quarterbacks in the league this year by most statistical metrics, so this isn’t a surprising decision.

But when you consider the big picture — that the Browns are giving up on Weeden 18 months after drafting him 22nd overall in the 2012 NFL Draft — it’s a shocking downfall.

Cleveland’s 2012 draft, particularly the first round, was an unprecedented disaster. They had two picks in the top 22, and made the following selections:

  • Trent Richardson, running back (3rd overall)
  • Brandon Weeden, quarterback (22nd overall)

Richardson played 17 games and averaged an abysmal 3.6 yards per carry for the Browns. In September he was traded to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick — which was an absolute steal for Cleveland considering Richardson’s performance.

Weeden started 19 games for the Browns before being benched. He finished last season 33rd in DYAR (an advanced QB stat) and 36 in QBR (ESPN’s advanced QB stat). He threw 19 INTs and 23 INTs while completing just 56% of his passes. His team was 5-14 in games he started and 3-1 in games he didn’t.

A year and a half after the 2012 Draft, neither player in a meaningful part of the team.

It could have been much different.

The St. Louis Rams had the No. 2 overall pick and were fielding trade offers from teams who wanted to draft Robert Griffin III. The Browns were interested, but they didn’t offer enough. The Washington Redskins outbid them and landed RG3.

Rather than waiting until the middle rounds and taking a quarterback like, say, Russell Wilson, the Browns decided to pull the trigger on Weeden at No. 22.

At age 28, Weeden was the oldest player in the NFL Draft. He was considered a reach in the first round by nearly every expert.

The new regime in Cleveland has made the right decision to cut ties with Richardson and Weeden rather than investing even more heavily in them.

But that draft really changed the franchise. The coach and GM were both fired. It resulted in two lost seasons, and sent the team back into a rebuilding mode when it should have been competing for the playoffs by now.

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