The first Sashii Brown draft for the Cleveland Browns wasn’t quite what fans hoped it might be.
The 2016 NFL Draft was the first draft under the new Cleveland Browns front office led by Executive Vice President of football operations, Sashi Brown. After finishing the 2015 season with a 3-13 record, Brown began to tear down the roster and wanted to build a young team through the draft.
With the tear down underway, Cleveland had the option of drafting the best player available with almost every one of their picks. But the biggest need for the Browns in this draft was to find their franchise quarterback. Cleveland entered the draft with the second overall selection but traded the pick to Philadelphia a week before the draft, netting them two extra selections in this draft.
The Browns made four more trades throughout the draft and ended up making the most selections in the league, drafting 14 players.
Round 1 (Pick 15)
Corey Coleman was the first wide receiver drafted in the 2016 NFL Draft. During his time at Baylor, he used his blazing speed to create separation to become a vertical threat. He also showed his explosiveness by turning short receptions into big plays. With his selection, the Browns were hoping Coleman would be a game changer for whoever was under center.
But once he put on the brown and orange uniform, Coleman was never able to become the playmaker the Browns were hoping for. Despite his speed, Coleman struggled to create separation from NFL cornerbacks. He also dealt with multiple hand injuries that derailed both of his seasons in Cleveland. He was traded to the Buffalo Bills during the 2018 preseason. This selection has been heavily criticized because the Browns could have selected other players who have proven to be effective NFL players.
If Cleveland would not have traded out of the second overall selection, they would have had their pick of Pro Bowlers: Carson Wentz, Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, and Jalen Ramsey were all available. But around the 15th overall selection, there were not many other options who jumped off the page. If the Browns felt they needed to still select a wide receiver, Michael Thomas has easily proven he was the best wide receiver in this class and would have been a much better selection for the Browns.
Round 2 (Pick 32)
Emmanuel Ogbah is one of the few players from this draft class who remains on the Browns roster to this day. However, he has not made the type of impact a team would want from a defensive end selected with the first pick of the second round. Coming out of Oklahoma State, Ogbah was a menacing pass rusher. He was one of the youngest players in the draft as well, so the Browns were hoping he would develop into being a dominating pass rusher in the NFL. Instead, Ogbah has had to deal with injuries that have slowed him down the past two seasons.
Despite dealing with the injuries, Ogbah has shown an ability to get to the quarterback, just not as often as the Browns would have hoped. Ogbah has been a solid piece of the Browns defense, but Cleveland could have nailed this selection if they had drafted Xavien Howard. Howard emerged as a playmaking cornerback in 2018 and played like one of the next best young cornerbacks in the league.
Round 3 (Pick 65)
Much like the selection of Ogbah, the Browns were hoping to draft another defensive linemen who would pressure the quarterback. However, Carl Nassib struggled to do so in a Browns uniform. Despite receiving plenty of playing time, Nassib struggled to get off blocks, hurting his overall production. Although Nassib is a solid rotational player, the Browns missed the chance to select Yannick Ngakoue, who has become a dominating pass rusher for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ngakoue was drafted four selections after Nassib and has performed at a much higher level than the Browns selection.
Round 3 (Pick 76)
Shon Coleman started every game for the Browns at right tackle in 2017 but struggled to hold up at the position. He allowed too many pressures, creating a lot of problems for the Browns passing offense. But despite his struggles, there were no other offensive linemen selected around him who would have dramatically improved this selection.
Round 3 (Pick 93)
The Browns made headlines with this selection because of then-head coach Hue Jackson saying to “trust him” about the Cody Kessler selection. Despite Jackson’s confidence, Kessler did not make much of a difference as the Browns quarterback. Although he completed passes at a solid rate, Kessler struggled to push the ball down the field, limiting the Browns passing game. A good backup, but the Browns should not have believed Kessler could be their long-term starter.
Round 4 (Pick 99)
Finally, a player the Browns drafted in 2016 who is still on the team! Drafted as an outside linebacker, Joe Schobert has emerged as one of the leaders of the Cleveland Browns defense. However, he is making his impact playing as the Browns’ middle linebacker. He is effective against the run and is one of the best linebackers when playing in coverage. But the most important aspect of Schobert’s game is his knowledge and ability to put the rest of the defense in the right places.
For a fourth round pick, the Cleveland Browns could not have done any better with this selection. Schobert is one of the most underrated players in the NFL and is a reason why there is so much hope for the Browns defense.
Round 4 (Pick 114)
The Browns drafted four wide receivers in this draft and only two remain on the roster, with Ricardo Louis being one of them. Louis showed the potential of being a vertical threat while at Auburn but has been unable to translate that success into the NFL. After missing the entire 2018 season with a neck injury, Louis’ chances to make the roster in 2019 are very slim.
Round 4 (Pick 129)
Derrick Kindred had become a solid role player for the Browns defense, primarily playing at strong safety. He may not be a playmaker on the defense, but he plays his role well when playing closer to the line of scrimmage. Even though he wasn’t a regular starter on the Browns defense, Cleveland did well with their selection of Kindred in the fourth round. That being said, Kindred was waived this past offseason and will try to make his bones in Indianapolis.
Round 4 (Pick 138)
When the Browns selected Seth Devalve, it was obvious he had plenty of athletic potential. His athleticism has helped Devalve carve out a nice role as the Browns’ second tight end. Devalve has made plays down the seams of a defense and is a good receiving threat. Devalve is also growing as a blocker, making him more reliable whenever he is on the field.
Round 5 (Pick 154)
Jordan Payton had a very unmemorable run during his time as a Cleveland Brown. He could not play a role on a bad Browns offense, and then was suspended after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. If the Browns had selected almost any other player, it would have been a better selection than Payton.
Round 5 (Pick 168)
In both of his seasons with the Browns, Spencer Drango started the season as the team’s sixth offensive linemen. He would fill in at both guard and tackle, but he struggled to perform at a high level and allowed too much pressure to be an effective player.
Round 5 (Pick 172)
It may have taken a few seasons, but Rashard Higgins has emerged as key component of the Browns’ offense. Higgins has built solid chemistry with Baker Mayfield and his play has taken off ever since. He may not stretch a defense vertically, but he is a strong route runner with reliable hands. Cleveland finding their No. 3 wide receiver on a loaded offense was an absolute steal for a fifth round pick.
Round 5 (Pick 173)
It is always a bonus for a team to receive significant production from a fifth round selection, but the Browns missed completely with the selection of Trey Caldwell. Even with a need at defensive back, Caldwell was unable to carve out a role as a backup.
Round 7 (Pick 250)
It’s not often teams will hit with their seventh round selection, and that was the case for the Browns when they selected Scooby Wright. Wright signed to the team’s practice squad after the preseason, but was signed to the Arizona Cardinals active roster during the 2016 season.
The Browns drafted multiple players who have carved out some key roles on the roster to this day. They also drafted a player who is one of the best players at his position, so they did well in the draft. However, there are too many misses in the class to warrant a much higher grade. Considering the Browns also missed on their first round selection, they receive an average grade for this draft class.