The history of the Cleveland Browns is littered with draft-day misses. The 2012 draft is no exception.
Working off a 2011 season in which they went 4-12 while splitting quarterback duties between Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace, they desperately needed an infusion of talent under center. People were skeptical about whether they’d actually go after it. McCoy was supposed to be a prodigy, and Wallace was a favorite of the coaching staff.
It came as no surprise when the Browns used their No. 3 pick in the 2012 draft on Trent Richardson. Both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were off the board, and the next QB taken was Ryan Tannehill. No harm, no foul.
But then the Browns burned their 22nd pick on signal-caller Brandon Weeden. That proved to be a mistake. He would go on to play in 35 career games and throw almost as many interceptions (30) as touchdowns (31).
Whether the Browns deserved to be killed for this selection is a matter of debate. Another quarterback wasn’t taken until Brock Osweiler at No. 57. His career only turned out better than Weeden’s in the sense that he secured a major payday after one quality season.
And yet, Russell Wilson (No. 75) and Nick Foles (No. 88) both went in the third round of this draft. The Browns didn’t have a pick between Nos. 37 and 87, so taking Wilson was out of the question, but they selected Phil Hughes one spot ahead of Foles.
This may not seem like a huge deal. Mid- and late-round prospects can often be a crapshoot. But the best squads know to scout deep into the draft and find talent where others might not. The Browns have not done a great job at this over the past two decades, particularly when it comes to selecting quarterbacks. They’ve racked up basically all flops, many of them taken in the first round, including Weeden and Johnny Manziel.
Just imagine what the Browns could have looked like with Foles or Wilson, both of whom have won Super Bowls, instead of Weeden. Maybe neither player would’ve developed into a long-term starter under Cleveland’s tutelage. Foles, after all, has been touch-and-go while battling injuries.
On the flip side, maybe both were talented enough to get the job done anywhere. Wilson specifically is a one-man offense unto himself in Seattle. He could have done the same in Cleveland. The Browns will never know, They’ve instead remained on their treadmill of bust QBs, from Weeden and Wallace to Manziel and Brady Quinn and many others.