The Buffalo Bills' 16-year playoff drought notwithstanding, there may not be a bigger mess in the NFL than the Cleveland Browns.
Owner Jimmy Haslam's tenure has been nothing short of disastrous, with a constant influx of new front-office members, coaches and players leading to predictably terrible results. Entering 2016, the Browns don't appear close to breaking out of that cycle as they start the process of a full-scale rebuild.
Cleveland entered the draft with the No. 2 overall pick, but traded down twice to accumulate more ammunition for the future. The team came away with 14 picks this year, in addition to first- and second-round picks in 2017 and an extra second-round pick in 2018. It's part of the plan implemented by former baseball executive Paul DePodesta to rebuild through the draft. The success or failure of that plan won't be known for at least a few years.
After firing former Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine as head coach, the Browns hired Hue Jackson away from their divisional rival Cincinnati Bengals to take over.
The Buffalo News continues its look at the Bills’ opponents in 2016 with a closer look at the Browns, who visit Ralph Wilson Stadium in Week 15.
Additions: QB Robert Griffin III (formerly with Washington), LB Demario Davis (New York Jets), G Alvin Bailey (Seattle), FS Rahim Moore (Houston), LB Justin Tuggle Houston, CB Eric Patterson (St. Louis).
Analysis: Jackson is known for his work with quarterbacks, and Griffin III will be a huge project after his career nosedived in Washington. The signing is low risk for the Browns, though, so it's a pretty good gamble. If he's got nothing left, the Browns can turn to Josh McCown for the rest of the season and turn their attention toward the 2017 draft. ... Davis started 48 straight games for the Jets. ... Bailey could end up moving to right tackle for the Browns. He'll be just 25 this season, but couldn't earn much playing time on a poor Seattle offensive line. ... Moore was a full-time starter for Denver from 2012-14, but got benched with the Texans last year. ... Cleveland still has a massive amount of salary-cap space -- more than $40 million -- which shows they're electing to carry that over until the team is closer to contention.
Subtractions: C Alex Mack (signed with Atlanta), FS Tashaun Gipson (Jacksonville), RT Mitchell Schwartz (Kansas City), WR Travis Benjamin (San Diego), LB Craig Robertson (New Orleans), TE Jim Dray (Buffalo), LB Karlos Dansby (Cincinnati), QB Johnny Manziel (released).
Analysis: Ouch. The Browns lost two starters along the offensive line, including a Pro Bowler in Mack and a home-grown talent in Schwartz, their leading receiver in Benjamin and a respected, productive veteran in Dansby. Oh, and Gipson has also made a Pro Bowl, too. The Browns' roster isn't loaded with talent to begin with, and that's a massive loss of good players. And Manziel.
Draft report: Baylor WR Corey Coleman (first round), Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah (second round), Penn State DE Carl Nassib (third round), Auburn OT Shon Coleman (third round), Southern Cal QB Cody Kessler (third round), Wisconsin LB Joe Schobert (fourth round), Auburn WR Ricardo Louis (fourth round), TCU S Derrick Kindred (fourth round), Baylor OT Spencer Drango (fifth round), Colorado State WR Rishard Higgins (fifth round).
Analysis: Coleman scored 33 touchdowns and was a two-time All-American at Baylor. He figures to give the Browns a solid top two receivers if Josh Gordon returns to form after his suspension. ... Ogbah finished second in the nation with 12.5 sacks last season and has a great combination of size and speed. ... The player Ogbah finished behind? That would be Nassib, who had 15.5 sacks with Penn State. He's a one-year wonder, though, after having just two sacks in his first three years. ... Coleman overcame leukemia to start for the Tigers, and will compete for the right tackle job. ... Kessler completed 67.5 percent of his passes and threw for 88 touchdowns against just 19 interceptions with USC, but most draft analysts have him pegged as a backup, mostly due to his size (6-foot-1). ... Schobert was Wisconsin's MVP in 2015 and figures to be a special-teams contributor. ... Drango could move to guard. He was also a two-time All-American for Baylor. ... Higgins led Colorado State in receptions (239), yards (3,649) and touchdowns (31).
Returning Pro Bowlers: OT Joe Thomas.
Biggest question: How many of the Browns' 14 draft picks will stick on the 53-man roster. Answering that question will begin to show just how far along the Browns' rebuild really is.