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 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
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 .