The Browns passed on a Hall of Fame QB and RB

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I know what your thinking. You probably believe that I think now that Sanchez the 5th pick overall pick in the 2009 draft is going to be a HOF QB. I don’t know about that. I still have a suspicion that Sanchez will be a good but not great QB. That is not the guy I am talking about.

In 1999 when the Browns were presented with the list of “vets” in the expansion draft from which they could build their roster, the name Kurt Warner was available! The Rams had put Warner on the list because they had brought Trent Green in as their starter and had Tony Banks who had been the starter for 3 seasons. They were also planning to draft a QB in 99. Warner was at best the 3rd QB on their roster.

Warner had been a super star in the Arena League. Before you laugh at that consider this–A critical key to success at QB is the ability to find the open guy and get him the ball in very tight windows quickly. The Arena League is a good training ground because there is only a 50 yard field that is 1/2 as wide as the NFL field and there are only 3 guys blocking for the QB.

Warner had also flourished in NFL Europe where he had been the MVP. Unlike the pinheads that were making decisions for the Browns, I had watched NFL Europe. I had also seen Warner in the Arena League a couple of times. As the Browns made their picks, I was S C R E A M I N G at the TV to take Warner. They didn’t. I threw an ashtray at the TV after the expansion draft and then went directly to Walmart to buy another one.

Every sports fan knows what happened then. Green went down in the preseason. Warner had beat out Banks for the 2nd QB spot in the 99 off season. Warner started and took a team that had won 2 games in 98 to a World Championship in 99.

The Browns on the other hand didn’t compete for a playoff spot. They went 2-14 and thus began the 11 years of inept play by the “new” Cleveland Browns.

What if?

What if in the Expansion Draft the Browns would have taken Warner? Then they could have traded their first 2nd round pick to the Colts for Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk. Then they could have traded their 1st pick overall to the Saints for their entire draft (except a 2nd round pick that had been traded previously) plus a 1st and 2nd or 3rd round pick in 2000 depending on RB Ricky Williams production. They would have had to pick up a vet free agent QB if they were not going to draft one early. Those that were available were Brad Johnson, Gus Frerotte, Trent Dilfer and Jon Kitna. All of them were capable of starting until Warner was ready. Of course Warner was ready long before anyone could have expected. Here is what their first draft could have looked like:

1-1 Traded to the Saints

1-12 DE Jevon Kearse TN

2-32 Traded to the Colts for Faulk

2-45 Fred Vinson CB GB

3-62 Cory Hall CB CN

3-71 Joey Porter LB PT

3-76 Mike McKenzie CB GB

4-107 Rosevelt Colvin LB CH

4-124 Ed Mulitalo G BA

5-125Traded to the Colts for Faulk

5-144 Jerry Azumah DB OK

2000 Draft

1-2 Chris Samuels T WA

3-64 Laveranues Coles WR NJ

Clearly it is easier to pick great drafts after the fact but I had every one of these players on my list and I am sure that other draft analysts had them as well. The key is if you have more picks even a blind draft guru can hit on more than if you have fewer picks. The extra picks could have made a huge difference in the team over the last 11 years.

Your fantasy football doesn’t have to be over. Run a pro football franchise all year long for free at . Tell them Coach Smith sent you.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio http://www.sportstalkcleveland.com/ Monday morning at 11. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

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The Dolphins will be a better team with a worse record.

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The 08 Dolphins improved every game last year and will probably do the same thing this year. But because they have a tougher schedule and more competition within the division, they may not win as many games as in 08.

I wrote a couple of years ago that Dolphin starting QB Chad Pennington has the brain of a coach, the heart of lion but the arm of a chicken. The truth hurts. But in the revamped Miami O, Pennington works well. He is extremely accurate and reads coverages like an offensive coordinator. But the lack of arm strengthen reduces the value of super speed WR Ted Ginn Jr. The Dolphins have two outstanding backup QBs as well. Chad Henne is a pocket passer with the potential to be an NFL starter. Pat White is the wild card in the Wild Cat. He is more accurate than people think, and is among the best athletes on the team.

The running game has both depth and quality. The combination of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams ran for over 1,500 yards and 14 TDs. Both would start on a lot of NFL teams. Brown is fully recovered from his ACL and Williams from his addiction to Marijuana.

The WR crew got another ex-Buckeye to add to starter Ginn. Brian Hartline (4th round pick) will contend for the 3rd WR spot and excels at getting open underneath the coverage. Ginn and Greg Camarillo start with Davone Bess as the 3rd WR going into camp. Starting TE Anthony Fasano and backup David Martin each got over 30 catches in 08.

A large part of the resurgence of the Dolphins offense was due to improved play on the O line. 1st overall pick LT Jake Long made the Pro Bowl as an alternate but should have been elected as the starter. Guards Justin Smiley and Donald Thomas were very solid but both lost games to injury. Assuming they are healthy in 09, they will help the O take the next step. C Jake Grove (FA Raiders) was signed to solve the problem at C handling the NT of the AFC East.

Two rookies stepped in at the DE positions to help solidify the D. Phillip Merling (2nd round) and Kendall Langford (3rd round) played well. Langford, who was one of my sleeper picks, started day 1 and got better as the season progressed. Merling did hit the rookie wall but recovered and helped with a critical interception to win the game against the Jets. NT Jason Ferguson is solid and keeps the O line off the LBs. There is some talent but very little experience behind the starting 3.

The Dolphins one problem spot last season was stopping the run. They allowed 9 games of 100 or more yards rushing and have to tighten that up.

HE’S BACK! Future Hall of Fame DE/OB Jason Taylor returns to the Fish to help on the pass rush subbing for starter Matt Roth at SLB. WLB Joey Porter is as good as any but the inside LBs are the weak point of this group. The Dolphins gave IB Channing Crowder a big money deal but are still waiting for him to prove he is worth it. His running mate inside is Akin Ayodele. Ayodele is developing but has to play the run closer to the line of scrimmage.

Despite shuffling the lineup a lot and free agent losses in 08, the D backfield is solid. Safeties Yeremiah Bell and FA Gibril Wilson (Raiders) are as good as any combo in the league if Bell can stay healthy. Wilson is a ball hawk and should improve the number of picks for the team. Will Allen has played at a pro bowl level for several years and Eric Green is capable.

If the Dolphins can be 5-2 on November 8 when they go to NE, and win that game, they will have a good chance to win the division. They are better than both the Jets and Bills but have to win tough games on the road get a repeat appearance in the playoffs.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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