Sunday, August 31, 2008

Browns Roster Moves Call Savage’s Draft Record into Question

By cutting the ties with failed draft choices Travis Wilson and David McMillan this weekend the Cleveland Browns acknowledged that they made some mistakes on draft day. You have to commend that as many teams continually carry players who they drafted and release superior players that are undrafted or free agents.

However, it does call into question Browns’ General Manager Phil Savage’s track record in the later rounds of the NFL draft since his hiring after the 2004 season.

Savage’s third through seventh round selections from 2005-2007 are as follows:

3rd Round – QB Charlie Frye – Traded after 1 game in 2007. 3rd string QB with Seattle
4th Round – DB Antonio Perkins – Released in mid-2006. Out of football.
5th Round – LB David McMillan – Released Saturday.
6th Round – LB Nick Speegle – Released after 2006. Out of football.
6th Round – DL Andrew Hoffman – Released after 1 year on the Practice Squad.
7th Round – OL Jonathan Dunn – Released after 1 year on Injured Reserve.

3rd Round – WR Travis Wilson – Released Saturday.
4th Round – LB Leon Williams – Back-up LB.
4th Round – OL Isaac Sowells – Back-up OL. Plated in 1 game in 2 years.
5th Round – RB Jerome Harrison – Back-up RB.
5th Round – DB DeMario Minter – Released by Arizona Saturday.
6th Round – FB Lawrence Vickers – Starting FB.
6th Round – DT Babatunde Oshinowo – Released by Washington Saturday.
7th Round – DB Justin Hamilton – Released in 2006. Back-up DB with Washington.

5th Round – DB Brandon McDonald – Starting CB.
6th Round – DL Melila Purcell – Released Saturday.
7th Round – DL Chase Pittman – Released Saturday.
7th Round – WR Syndric Steptoe – Back-up WR after 1 year on Practice Squad.

Now the NFL is a crap shoot, even in Round 1, but the great GMs earn their keep by finding those gems in the later rounds of the NFL Draft. Phil Savage may have found some gems in Vickers and McDonald but it’s hard to find and other studs on his draft list.

In the NFL, with its brilliance promoting parity and a level playing field, finding these late round sleepers not only gives you depth but also money underneath the salary cap to sign those critical free agents in the off-season.

One can not argue that Phil Savage has done a helluva job in turning around the Browns’ direction, or lack there of, after taking over in 2004. But one can also not argue that if some of these late round selections would have panned out, especially in the defensive backfield and linebacking core, that the Browns may be in a more enviable position heading into 2008 than they are now.

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