No need for Browns fans to panic over draft

Never has it been more important to let a draft class breathe a couple of years before giving last rites than now.

The five-player haul brought in by the Cleveland Browns last week was generally graded in the C-to-F range. Fans angered by the lack of the wow factor haven’t held back in expressing their frustrations via social media.

The best advice for them is to remember how they felt after the 2007 draft, which landed offensive tackle Joe Thomas, quarterback Brady Quinn and cornerback Eric Wright in the first two rounds. The class was widely hailed as one of the best in the NFL. Then-general manager Phil Savage went on radio the day after the draft and acted like a conquering war hero.

Six years later, all the Browns have to show for that draft is Thomas, who’s developed into a future Hall of Famer. Quinn bombed in Cleveland and is hanging on to his career for dear life. Wright had one decent season and then couldn’t cover fast or slow receivers and is now a journeyman.

Does anyone remember the rest of the names in that class? Cornerback Brandon McDonald, defensive lineman Melila Purcell, defensive lineman Chase Pittman and receiver Syndric Steptoe. You can see why it’s easy to forget.

Savage has never been offered a high-ranking position since being fired after the 2008 season. Instead, he’s an analyst on the Alabama radio network and works for the Senior Bowl.

On the surface there are understandable concerns about the plan CEO Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi followed. Trading fourth- and fifth-round picks in exchange for picks next season didn’t sit well with critics, especially when the fourth-round choice went to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

A positive spin on the trades is that the Browns received picks one round higher, which means an extra third-rounder and an extra fourth-rounder in 2014. Why complain about that strategy, even if the choices might be low in the rounds if the Steelers and Colts both have winning seasons?

The Browns were able to make those trades because of a shrewd move involving the Miami Dolphins. In acquiring receiver Davone Bess, the Browns simply swapped spots with the Dolphins in the fourth and fifth rounds. Normally, teams yield draft choices on trades for an established player.

For those compelled to put a grade on the draft, it’s a must to add receiver Josh Gordon and Bess to the group. Gordon was acquired for a second-round choice in a supplemental draft last June.

Gordon had 50 receptions for 805 yards, five touchdowns and a team-leading 16.1 yards per catch in his rookie season, numbers that might have made him a first-round pick this year. Bess had 61 receptions for 778 yards and one touchdown last season, and in his five-year career he’s averaging 64.2 catches for 689.4 yards per year.

The draft essentially included linebacker Barkevious Mingo, Gordon, cornerback Leon McFadden, Bess, safety Jamoris Slaughter, defensive end Armonty Bryant and offensive tackle Garrett Gilkey. Looks much better that way, doesn’t it.

In the long term the 2013 draft will have directly or indirectly added 16 players, assuming no more trades are consummated. Next year the Browns will have six picks in the first four rounds.

This isn’t to make excuses for this year’s draft class. It’s to put things in perspective in taking an honest view of what transpired.

Beside the point, will anyone be complaining if Mingo has double digits in sacks next season? Probably not.

It’s hard to ask a Browns fan to chill out and let it all be, but there’s no other choice.