Mark Clark: Okay Cleveland, let’s see how badly you can ruin another player’s career

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Tonight is the night a lot of people have waited for since the last second clicked off the Super Bowl game clock. It is time for the annual NFL Draft.

If you are potentially among the players being considered for the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, get a good agent – a very good agent. If you have to suffer being the first pick in the draft, you should at least be paid well to become the next player whose football future is ruined by the Cleveland Browns. When you hear your name called, I am sure you will turn to the person next to you and say, “Say it ain’t so.” Sorry, it is.

Cleveland seems to be the team that gets the No. 1 pick every year – not really, but it does seem like that. Quick, name a player selected by Cleveland that has actually had a successful career in Cleveland. While last year’s No. 1 pick, Myles Garrett, showed signs of a bright future for the team. He played in 10 of 16 games and suffered through several injuries including a high ankle sprain and a concussion. That is not exactly the way anyone wants to begin their professional career.

Remember Corey Coleman? He was Cleveland’s first pick in 2016. In three years at Baylor, he had 3,009 yards in receptions and 33 touchdowns. He broke his hand in his rookie season with the Browns and in two seasons has 718 reception yards with five touchdowns. No, it was not a fantastic start to his pro career.

In 2015, Cleveland selected a defensive lineman – Danny Shelton of Washington. Shelton did start his NFL career in a positive manner, making  129 tackles through the 2017 season which he missed a good portion of because of a broken wrist. He is no longer with Cleveland. He was traded to New England, along with a fifth round pick in 2018, for a third round selection in 2019.

I know everyone remembers Cleveland selected Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, but he was not Cleveland’s first pick that year. That honor went to Justin Gilbert, a cornerback from Oklahoma State. Both players are out of the NFL at this time. Manziel is playing for some outlaw football league in hopes of returning to the league one day soon. Do not count on that happening. Gilbert is out of football because he is under a one-year suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

Of all the first round picks by the Browns that I have listed so far, the player selected in the 2013 draft has been the most successful – Barkevious Mingo of LSU. The linebacker did not start his career with a bang, but he did start with a bruise. In the second preseason game of his rookie season, he bruised his lung and was hospitalized. IN three seasons in Cleveland, Mingo had 87 of his career 166 tackles. He gained 20 pounds in order to play the outside linebacker position and lost his starting position. The Browns declined to pick up the option on his contract, so he was traded to New England for a fifth round pick in 2017. He helped the Patriots to the Super Bowl in 2017. He then signed a one-year contract with Indianapolis. His career continues on as he signed with Seattle in March of this year.

In 2012, Cleveland made its biggest mistake of the 2010s when it traded picks with the Minnesota Vikings in order to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Trent Richardson. It did not appear right away to be a bad pick as Richardson tied Jim Brown’s franchise rookie record of nine touchdowns. But, Richardson also averaged just 3.6 yards per carry that season which was the worst average among rookie running backs in 2012. He was traded to Indianapolis for a first round pick in the 2014 draft. He was there two years before being waived. Oakland signed him to a two-year contract, but released him before the 2015 season. The Baltimore Ravens gave Richardson another shot at the NFL, but once again he was released before the season began in 2016. So, in 2017, Richardson moved on to the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. He played in four games last season before an ankle injury cut his season short.

If there truly has been a player who had a successful career after being drafted by the Browns during the 2010s, it is Florida’s Joe Haden. The cornerback played seven seasons with the Browns before being released in 2017 after the Browns were unable to trade Haden and he refused to take a pay cut from $11 million to $7 million to remain in Cleveland. He signed a three-year $27 million contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers and in 2017 he played his first season on a winning team and started in his first playoff game during his NFL career.

Now, we come back to the 2018 NFL Draft. Cleveland has the first pick in the draft – the overall No. 1 selection. Whoever the Browns select is going to be a multimillionaire just like last year’s top pick Myles Garrett. That, my friends, is the only bright side to becoming a Cleveland Brown. There will be other players who will be drafted by the Browns in lower rounds that will not fare as well. So, whose playing career will the Browns ruin next? I am going to go with USC’s Sam Darnold. If the Browns decide to shock people, they will pick quarterback Josh Allen of Wyoming. The most ridiculous pick Cleveland could make is Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. Several mock drafts have the three quarterbacks as the top three picks in this year’s draft. I kind of doubt it, unless there are some trades made to juggle the current rotation of picks.

The one player I think will be the best player selected in the Top 10, and should go no lower than No. 2 overall, is Penn State’s Saquon Barkley. And, he will not have to worry about the Browns having a shot at him with their second pick in the first round.

Mark Clark is a local sports writer for 

The Citizen of East Alabama.