Phil Savage Is Good At Drafting

WFNY had a fun little riff this morning comparing the Bengals disastrous 2005 draft with the Browns catastrophic 2000 draft, and that got me to thinking about all the different drafts the Browns have had since 1999, particularly by GM.

Obviously the Dwight Schrute Clark drafts of 1999-2001 were abysmal while Butch Davis drafted talented position players (KW2, Sean Jones, Andra Davis) but generally failed at drafting to team needs (coughcoughoffensivelinecoughcough); Phil Savage, however, has been an early round mastermind and has shown genius strokes drafting in the middle rounds as well.

Sure, he hasn’t pulled a Tom Brady or Marques Colston out in the last couple rounds–yet–but take a look at four drafts worth of Savage and how they stack up heading into this season…

2005:

RD.NO PLAYER WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
1.3 Braylon Edwards Starting #1 WR, 2007 Pro Bowl selection
2.34 Brodney Pool Starting FS
3.67 Charlie Frye Traded to SEA
4.103 Antonio Perkins Released (2006) — Now with IND
5.139 David McMillan Backup OLB, Special Teams regular
6.176 Nick Speegle Released (2006) — Out of the league
6.203 Andrew Hoffman Released (2005) — Did not play in the NFL
7.217 Jon Dunn Released (2005) — Now with DET

Not a bad start for Savage, with the universally liked pick of the Pro-Bowler Edwards he hit the ground running, though the jury continues to be out on Brodney Pool, particularly at the Free Safety position. Obviously the Charlie Frye experiment failed, but remember that at the time ESPN and Mel Kiper had Frye as the top-rated senior QB in the Draft and most considered him to be an early second-rounder that Savage managed to nab in the 3rd… so at least we didn’t waste a 2nd-rounder on him, right? Right? Oh, and in case you need it he signed an undrafted free agent you may have heard of named Josh Cribbs, too.

2006:

RD.NO PLAYER WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
1.13 Kamerion Wimbley Starting ROLB, 16 sacks in 2 years
2.34 D’Qwell Jackson Starting RILB, 101 tackles in ’07
3.78 Travis Wilson Backup WR, permanent resident of Romeo’s doghouse
4.110 Leon Williams Backup LILB, saw significant time in rotation with Andra Davis in ’07
4.112 Isaac Sowells Backup G
5.145 Jerome Harrison Backup RB, sees decent 3rd down playing time
5.152 DeMario Minter Released (2006) — Now with ARI
6.180 Lawrence Vickers Starting FB, 2 TD in ’07
6.181 Babatunde Oshinowo Released (2007) — Now with CHI
7.222 Justin Hamilton Released (2007) — No longer in the NFL

An even better entry in 2006, arguably, as Savage addressed some glaring needs in the team’s linebacking corps with Wimbley, Jackson and Williams. Not only that, but he tricked Baltimore into coughing up a 6th round pick to move up and take the disappointing Haloti Ngata. The gem of this draft was Vickers, who would eventually supplant Terrelle Smith as the starting fullback, a position that he has yet to relinquish. I also continue to be a big fan of Jerome “The Ghost” Harrison as a change-of-pace back. 3 starters and 4 backups (one of which sees constant rotation) in one draft is very solid.

2007:

RD.NO PLAYER WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
1.3 Joe Thomas Starting LT, 2007 Pro Bowl Selection, 2nd in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting
1.22 Brady Quinn Backup QB
2.53 Eric Wright Starting LCB, 76 tackles & 1 INT in ’07
5.140 Brandon McDonald Projected starting RCB
6.200 Melila Purcell Backup DE
7.213 Chase Pittman Backup DE
7.234 Syndric Steptoe Backup WR

This will likely go down as Savage’s masterpiece; drafting a franchise Pro Bowl left tackle in Thomas, trading up to get a QB of the future (maybe?) in Quinn, trading up again to get an undervalued cornerback (a staggering need at that time) in Wright, then finding another day 2 gem in McDonald–a guy who had his breakout performance when he shut down All-Pro wideout Andre Johnson in Houston.

Will this year’s draft stack up? Tough to say when you consider the total lack of day one picks, but let’s just say that as far as Phil Savage goes in the middle rounds of drafts, I hold out great hope for guys like Beau Bell and Martin Rucker.

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4 Responses

  1. If Wright keeps his head on straight, and all signs point to yes (so far), it’s simply a great draft. And not all was terrible with Davis. Andra was a fifth rounder (I believe), and while it was laughed at at the time, Pointbriand has been one hell of a pick…

    Too bad thats about it…

  2. Scott, that’s one of my favorite things about the Wright pick: he’d been cleared of the charges! Everyone was viewing the guy as a character risk because he was forced out at USC because of the allegations, but the charges were dismissed, making Wright one of the safest ‘character gambles’ Savage could have taken.

  3. I believe it was Michael Smith that said it best: If the guy can play two years at UNLV without an incident, he’s going to be fine.

  4. Phil Savage has sucked in the draft. The only first round pick he’s gotten right has been Thomas – and that was a no brainer! Edwards looks more and more like a bust every game and the Wimbley-Ngata deal was idiotic at best. He’s found a few gems in late rounds, and his free agent pics have been outstanding, but teams are built in the draft and Savage has not drafted well.

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