It takes something special to go 1-15 in the N.F.L., and then get worse. Count on the Cleveland Browns to keep delivering.
The Browns traded wide receiver Corey Coleman to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday for a draft pick, widely reported as a seventh rounder. That’s a big drop in value for a guy who was a first-round pick only two years ago.
The Browns originally held the second pick in the 2016 draft, but traded it to the Eagles in exchange for a package of picks that included the No. 8 over all. The Browns then sent that pick to the Titans for a package that included the 15th pick overall.
The Eagles used the No. 2 for Carson Wentz, who led them through most of their Super Bowl-winning season in his second year. The Titans picked tackle Jack Conklin, who was a first-team All-Pro selection in his rookie season.
The Browns got Coleman.
To be fair, many people saw Coleman as a good prospect coming out of Baylor. A speedy playmaker, he was likened to Percy Harvin. “He’s a dynamic player to add to our offense,” Browns Executive Vice President Sashi Brown told Cleveland.com on draft day. “He has the speed and tenacity to turn small plays into long plays.”
But Coleman had injury problems, too, notably breaking his hand early in both the 2016 and 2017 seasons. And when he played, he didn’t catch the ball very often.
In 19 total games over his first two seasons he had 56 catches, despite being targeted a generous 131 times. His catch percentage — a measure of how often a receiver catches a ball thrown his way — was 39.7 last season, the third-worst in the league among those with 20 catches or more.
Notably, he dropped a fourth-down pass with less than two minutes to go at the 10-yard line in the season finale as the Browns drove for a possible winning touchdown against the Steelers. That ensured the Browns would finish 0-16.
Thanks to a sequence of poor records, the Browns have had some good draft slots, taking the overall No. 3, 6 and 8 in recent years. But of their first rounders from 2012 to 2016, none are still with the team, and none made it past three years in Cleveland.
Of these, the most disastrous was probably Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy-winner whom the Browns selected in the first round in 2014. In 15 games with the team, Manziel posted anemic numbers and showed a disturbing penchant for partying. He was cut and has since caught on with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. In his C.F.L. debut over the weekend, he threw four interceptions.
The Browns’ abysmal last two seasons earned them the No. 1 overall pick in the last two drafts. Their No. 1 last season, defensive end Myles Garrett, had seven sacks but played in only 10 games because of injuries. This year the team opted for another Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma.
Last year’s quarterback, DeShone Kizer, was among the league’s worst statistically. This year the Browns will turn to Mayfield and Tyrod Taylor, acquired in a trade, in their continuing quest for an acceptable starter. Since the team re-formed in 1999, the Browns have started 28 different players at quarterback.
After 3-13, 1-15 and 0-16 seasons, oddsmakers are setting an over/under for wins for the Browns at 5 or 6 for the coming season. After 15 years out of the playoffs, and 11 without a winning record, most Browns would gladly welcome anything close to that.