Browns’ past drafts nothing short of horror

Looking for a scary book to read to the kids around a campfire at summer camp?

I’ve got the perfect choice. It’s the Cleveland Browns media guide, which is full of frightening details that should make for many a sleepless night.

Turn to page 171 of the 2012 guide. From that point through the end of page 172 you’ll see the list of players the Browns have drafted since their expansion season of 1999.

If that doesn’t strike fear into your heart, you’re good to go watching Silence of the Lambs.

There are 119 players listed, including 2012 supplemental pick Josh Gordon. This would turn into a mini-series if the players who had less-than-stellar careers were detailed.

There are so many appalling facts about the failures of the 14 drafts. Needless to say, they provide all the answers for why the Browns have had just two winning seasons and only one playoff appearance during the stretch.

The process started bad and has never recovered. In the first two drafts the Browns had a combined 24 picks, including the first overall choice in 1999 and 2000. Those picks brought in quarterback Tim Couch and defensive end Courtney Brown, neither of whom lived up to the billing.

The failures of personnel director Dwight Clark in those drafts were alarming and all but assured the franchise a lengthy and frustrating road to respectability. Players who had OK careers from the first two drafts were receiver Kevin Johnson, cornerback Daylon McCutcheon and receiver Dennis Northcutt. That’s three out of 24, which is like returning from a gold hunt with a pinch of dust.

It was then imperative that coach Butch Davis, who acted like owner, president and general manager, changed the trend when he entered the scene in 2001. Four years later he left town after an apparent panic attack, which might have been induced by the damage he did running the operations.

Davis’ first choice in 2001 was defensive tackle Gerard Warren, who had a long career with several teams. However, he never did much with the Browns. The best comment about Warren during his time in Cleveland came from former team president Carmen Policy, who, after Warren was arrested for carrying a firearm illegally, noted that the police officers said Warren was one of the nicest guys they had ever arrested.

Davis picked running back William Green a year later. Green was plagued by off-the-field problems that included being stabbed by his girlfriend.

In one of his final acts with the Browns, in 2004, Davis selected tight end Kellen Winslow sixth overall. Davis decided to pass on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger because he felt comfortable going into the season with Jeff Garcia.

You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

Phil Savage joined the circus as general manager in 2005 and directed four drafts. Savage introduced us to receiver Braylon Edwards, whose claim to fame in Cleveland was punching one of LeBron James’ friends outside a bar shortly before being waived.

Savage also selected quarterbacks Charlie Frye (2005) and Brady Quinn (2007). Maybe that’s why Savage is now a radio analyst for the University of Alabama.

The Browns didn’t have any picks in the first three rounds of the 2008 draft because of trades that secured Quinn, defensive end Corey Williams and defensive tackle Shaun Rogers. Their first pick, in the fourth round, was UNLV linebacker Beau Bell, who might make for a good trivia question one day.

To his credit, Savage did draft offensive tackle Joe Thomas, who’s been to six straight Pro Bowls, and linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. Defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin was a 2008 find in the sixth round.

Eric Mangini oversaw operations as coach for two years. He conducted one draft, in 2009, before Tom Heckert was hired as general manager. After picking center Alex Mack in the first round, Mangini wasted the rest of the ’09 draft on busts, including second-rounders Brian Robiskie (receiver), Mohamed Massaquoi (receiver) and David Veikune (defensive end).

The situation improved in the three drafts conducted by Heckert. It’s now general manager Mike Lombardi’s turn to see what damage he can do from his perch inside the war room.

Perhaps the player that best epitomizes the Browns since 1999 was running back Ben Gay, who was thrown out of more than one college because of rules violations. Davis gave Gay a chance as a backup in 2001, which led to a 172-yard, one-touchdown season.

Gay, who enjoyed a short-lived celebrity status, was once asked about his sudden popularity. He said, “Maybe one day I’ll be up on Mount St. [sic] Rushmore.”

Right next to Tim Couch.