CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Austin Corbett was a bust from the first day of OTAs this May, unless he was already a bust from the moment the Browns reached for him at the top of the second round of the NFL Draft in April 2018.
John Dorsey cut and trudged Tuesday, dumping the failed tackle turned failed guard turned failed center on the L.A. Rams for a fifth-round pick. Corbett, one pick away from being a first rounder, exits Cleveland after taking part in 15 offensive snaps in his 22 games with the team. He was such an obvious whiff; the Browns didn’t even have to play him to figure it out.
He was teased like a high schooler during OTAs in May when he was supposed to be winning a starting spot. The Browns traded Kevin Zeitler and gave Corbett a locker in the row with all the offensive line starters, but they knew from Day 1 of offseason workouts, when Kyle Kalis was taking some first-team reps away from Corbett, that they were in trouble. Then they scavenged other rosters at the end of the preseason in a desperate search for linemen and made Corbett a healthy scratch whenever they could.
Whatever Dorsey does for the rest of his general manager career, Corbett is the new floor. What, Dorsey drafted a bag of oranges in the third round? Well, can’t be worse than that Corbett pick. Because on a long list of blown picks in Cleveland draft history, Corbett ranks as one of the two worst picks since the franchise returned, outdone only by first-round cornerback Justin Gilbert when it comes to lack of bang for the buck.
In a stockpiled 2018 draft that was supposed to reinforce a team on the rise, completely blowing the first pick of the second round is a major malfunction. It hurts less because Dorsey inherited extra prime picks -- No. 4 pick in the first round and No. 35 pick in the second round -- through no work of his own, and also took Baker Mayfield at No. 1. It’s easier to hide the Corbett mess when you can bury it under Denzel Ward and Nick Chubb.
But the offensive line is the biggest issue with this team right now, serving as the underlying deficiency shaking the confidence of a quarterback and play caller. Forget about Eric Kush beating out Corbett for the right guard job. Corbett was a tackle his entire college career, and with Chris Hubbard a run-blocking black hole and general mess at right tackle, the idea that Corbett was never even considered as a solution there told you what you needed to know.
Hey, we need some O-line help. Let’s try everyone except the No. 33 pick from two years ago.
In the 2018 draft, 12 offensive linemen were taken in the first rounds. Corbett was the seventh picked. Ten of the other 11 have started at least 12 games in their careers. The exception is New England tackle Isaiah Wynn, taken 10 spots ahead of Corbett, who missed all of last season with an injury and is on IR again now after starting two games and hurting his foot.
But the Patriots love him. Most of the teams who took offensive linemen in the first two rounds in 2018 love their guys, the other exception possibly being Cincinnati’s Billy Price, a first-rounder from Ohio State who failed to win a starting job at the beginning of this season, but took one back now.
Corbett didn’t win anything. He never had it. Not only did Dorsey reach for him at a time when picking a Joe Thomas replacement would have made sense, he then traded a borderline All-Pro in Zeitler while anticipating Corbett was ready in Year 2. No one clears a spot for Eric Kush.
Teams whiff on picks. It happens. But when it does happen, you take a moment and say whifffffffff. This mistake is hurting the Browns right now. So I’m assuming some people will quickly move on to praising Dorsey for having the foresight and gumption to acknowledge his own mistake and not force Corbett into the lineup. Great job putting out the fire in the living room. But you also lit the match.
On the website profootballreference.com, there’s a stat called Career Approximate Value. It assigns a single number to the general value of a player’s career. Since 1999, among players drafted by the Browns among the top 50 picks, only four have a CAV of 5 or lower. Here are those scores.
5, Johnny Manziel, QB, 2014 draft, No. 22
4, Justin Gilbert, CB, 2014 draft, No. 8
3, Brian Robiskie, WR, 2009 draft, No. 36
2, Brady Quinn, QB, 2007 draft, No. 22
1, Austin Corbett, OL, 2018 draft, No. 33
Quinn started 12 games before the Browns gave up. Manziel started eight. Robiskie started 14. At least they played and proved they weren’t the answer.
Gilbert started just three games in Cleveland and was a bigger miss than Corbett as a top-10 pick. And Corbett started once. That was it. A first-teamer in the locker room, he was a third-teamer on the field. Cleveland is a place where people sometimes have a habit of hanging mistakes around people’s necks like anchors. Dorsey has one of those mistakes now.
Everyone’s talent evaluator misses. It’s part of the job. And this is part of the deal. This miss hurt the Browns. And it was a big Whifffffffff.
And, if Rams make him into a starter..........................it's going to make the Browns a little embarrassed I would think. Why, why I can't understand with all the past historical great OL players we had in the past that our decision makers can't see that the foundation (Interior Lines) have to be built first if you have your starting QB. I think Baker will be very lucky if he survives this season and if things aren't changed up front drastically after the bye week and continue to be embarrassing albeit the schedule will be weaker; we should consider shutting him down a bit in games where there is no need for him to be on the field whatever the situation may be. If we can't fix the OL and find a pass rusher who dominates like Bosa we might need to be drafting in the top 7 of the 2020 draft. jmho