This list includes some of the best players in the NFL today. That is because the Browns consistently have a top-10 draft pick, and a lot of times much higher (except for 2011 when they had the 21st draft pick and 2016 when they had the 15th pick). The Browns are always so bad that their draft spot is always so good. That means a lot of talented guys are on the board, but the Browns always seem to pick the wrong player.
This list will sting a bit for Cleveland fans. There’s a lot of really talented players that the Browns have passed up, but these rankings include the top 15 missed opportunities for Cleveland. The crazy part is that all of these guys have a chance to play in the NFL for many years to come and they have a chance to put together Hall of Fame worthy careers. At the pace they’re currently producing, most of these guys would be a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Regardless of what the following list of stars do in the rest of their careers, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the Browns would have been better off if they had gone a different route with their draft pick. Cleveland has a long list (that seems to be growing) of failed draft choices. Maybe this upcoming year will change things for Cleveland, but for now we take a look back at the top 15 players that the Browns could have drafted.
15. DAK PRESCOTT (2016)
Originally Drafted: #135 By Dallas Cowboys
It has only been one year since Dak Prescott was drafted, but that year has been amazing for the young star. Prescott started all 16 games, went 13-3 in the regular season and was selected to the Pro Bowl. Even more amazing was his stats. Prescott completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 3,667 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Still not convinced? Well he only threw four interceptions. For a rookie quarterback, that’s insane. Although he couldn’t push his team past the first round of the playoffs, making the playoffs was enough of an accomplishment for the rookie that took over the starting gig in Dallas. It looks like the Cowboys stole Prescott with their third round pick in 2016 and the only reason Prescott leads off this list is that he doesn’t have the multiple seasons of success that the rest of the guys on this list have accumulated.
14. LE’VEON BELL (2013)
Originally Drafted: #48 By Pittsburgh Steelers
Le’Veon Bell might be one of the most talented guys in the NFL, but he just can’t stay active long enough to truly be named one of the league’s best. Bell played and started the entire 2014 season. During that season he was a Pro Bowl selection and was a first-team All-Pro selection. He also made the Pro Bowl last season despite only playing 12 games.
Bell is unlike any other running back when he carries the ball. He looks like he’s moving in slow motion as he surveys the defense, then explodes through tight openings to make some solid gains out of plays that looked like they were going to fail. And he’s a good receiver too. In the 2014 and 2016, he had about 80 receptions each year. But he was suspended for four games each of the last two seasons and in 2015 he was injured and only saw six games of action. More time on the field would drastically improve Bell’s ranking.
13. DEZ BRYANT (2010)
Originally Drafted: #24 By Dallas Cowboys
One knock against Dez Bryant is that he has missed some time and only has three seasons where he’s played in every game. But he’s still started in 83 games over the course of his seven-season career. And Bryant has proven to be a star. He’s been selected to three Pro Bowls (2013, 2014 and 2016) and led the league in touchdowns in 2014 with 16.
Back in 2014, Bryant capped off his third-straight year of recording more than 1,200 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. But the past two seasons are keeping Bryant from getting any higher on this list. His catch percentage has plummeted to 43 percent in 2015 and 52 percent in 2016, and he has played in just 22 games over the last two seasons.
12. KAM CHANCELLOR (2010)
Originally Drafted: #133 By Seattle Seahawks
Kam Chancellor has been an absolute force on the Seahawks defense and he’s one of the reasons they’re so reliable. Chancellor had a rough rookie season as he did not start any games during his rookie season and saw limited time on the field (he recorded just 10 tackles that season). But everything changed in 2011.
Following his 2011 season, Chancellor was selected to his first of four Pro Bowls. During that year he recorded four interceptions, two forced fumbles and 73 tackles. Since then, he has started nearly every game, however, the last two seasons he has missed a total of nine regular season contests. But his production has remained consistent, so, as long as it doesn’t decline any more, he’ll remain on this list for years to come.
11. T.Y. HILTON (2012)
Originally Drafted: #92 By Indianapolis Colts
There’s not many negative things you can find about T.Y. Hilton. The worst stat he’s put up since entering the league is 861 receiving yards during his rookie season and that was the only year he hasn’t been selected to the Pro Bowl.
Hilton has been active in all but two games during his career and has posted more than 1,000 receiving yards in his past four seasons. Last season he led the league with 1,448 reception yards. The one downside to Hilton’s gameplay is that he’s not much of a scorer. He averages six touchdowns a season and has never had more than seven touchdown receptions. He’s reliable, consistent and gets a ton of receptions. But if Hilton would score more, he’d be much higher up on this list.