Whiteboxer Blog

Five for Friday: 2.20.2009

Plenty of redesign goodness around the web:

White House web site redesigns

Some nice write ups on not only the redesign, but also some new features from Greg Storey.

Involution Studio redesigns

Excellent work from an excellent group of folks. Even more impressive when viewed next to their new brochure as well.

ESPN redesigns

Mike Davidson has a nice write-up on his impressions of the new design. I agree with just about everything he says.

Mike Davidson redesigns

Speaking of Mike, he recently rolled out a spiffy new design for his personal site. Lovely.

Mets drop the ball with stadium patch

The only non-redesign in the bunch, but too good to not have. One of the lamest patch designs in history.

Cleveland Browns Redraft:2003

After redrafting the Browns from 1999 to 2002, we have a powerhouse club set, in theory, to win multiple championships. We have Pro Bowlers at almost every position, and a good amount of talented depth. Now, our goal is to maintain that level of talent as we continue to reexamine the drafts, while also facing the challenges of salary caps, free agency, and risk of injuries. Here’s what out team looks like at this point (1999 free agent signings in italics, number of Pro Bowl selections for players indicated by number after name):

Position Player Position Player
QB Kerry Collins (1), Jeff Garcia (4), Jake Delhomme (1), Tom Brady (4) DT Kelly Gregg, Rob Meier, Kris Jenkins (3)
FB Tony Richardson, Dan Kreider DE Jevon Kearse (3), Aaron Smith (1), Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (1), Adewale Ogunleye (1), Aaron Kampman (2)
RB Reuben Droughns, LaDainian Tomlinson (5), Dominic Rhodes, Brian Westbrook (2) ILB Eric Barton, Brian Urlacher (6), Antonio Pierce (1), Larry Foote, Bart Scott (1)
WR Marty Booker (1), Brian Finneran, Donald Driver (3), Laveranues Coles (1), Dante Hall (2), Steve Smith (3), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (1), David Givens OLB Jamir Miller (1), Joey Porter (4), Adalius Thomas (1), James Harrison (1)
TE Desmond Clark (1), Jermaine Wiggins CB Corey Fuller, Mike KcKenzie, Nate Clements (1), Nick Harper, Sheldon Brown
C Jeff Saturday (3), Todd McClure SS Mike Green, Ed Reed (5)
OG Adam Timmerman (1), Randy Thomas, Jamar Nesbit, Brian Walters (3), Floyd Womack, LeCharles Bentley (2) FS Mike Brown (1)
OT Jon Jansen, Chris Samuels (5) LS Mike Schneck (1)
K Phil Dawson P Chris Gardocki (1)

I’m assuming at this point we’re losing players. In reality, LB Jamir Miller retired following a serious Achilles injury in 2002, and offensive guard Randy Thomas left as a free agent following the 2002 season. CB Corey Fuller, TE Desmond Clark and OG Jamar Nesbit were either released or left their 2002 teams as free agents. I’ll assume all of those occured as well. That thins our roster a bit. Now let’s look at what picks I have going into the 2003 draft:

Round Player
1 C Jeff Faine (21)
2 LB Chaun Thompson (52)
3 DB Chris Crocker (84)
4 RB Lee Suggs (115)
5 C Ryan Pontbriand (142)
5 DB Michael Lehan (152)
6 DE Antonio Garay (195)

Cleveland’s draft that year was better than in year’s past, but average at best overall. I would be happy to keep things as they are, but I also have a number of players that are good trade material in positions that are loaded, and could net me some additional draft picks. Looking back at the actual 2003 draft, there was a lot of talent that came out, especially in rounds 2-4. One strong potential trade would be with the Dallas Cowboys, who had one of the worst passing attacks (31 of 32) in the NFL in 2002, still struggling with the retirements of Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin. Dallas is also known to like to wheel-and-deal during the draft. I would offer QB Jeff Garcia and WR Laveranues Coles and my second fifth-round pick for Dallas’ third round pick (69) and sixth round pick (178).

I would also try to work out a deal with the Houston Texans. I would offer ILB Eric Barton, RB Reuben Droughns and WR Marty Booker for their second of three third round picks (75) and a possible conditional pick in 2004. Next, I would trade FB Cecil Martin and C Todd McClure and my last sixth-round pick to Atlanta for their fourth round pick (121) and their sizth-round pick in 2004. Lastly, I would trade WR Brian Finneran or WR Dante Hall and the third round pick from Houston to Arizona for their second round pick (54). That leaves my draft board looking like this:

Round Player
1 C Jeff Faine (21)
2 (from Arizona)
2 LB Chaun Thompson (52)
3 (from Dallas)
3 DB Chris Crocker (84)
4 (from Atlanta)
4 RB Lee Suggs (115)
5 C Ryan Pontbriand (142)
6 (from Dallas)

That leaves me with nine total picks. Let’s look at what we can (re)do with the 2003 draft:

2003 Redraft

Round Original Pick New Pick
1 C Jeff Faine FS Ken Hamlin

A second round pick, Hamlin made an impact immediately with Seattle, playing in every game during his rookie year and starting 14 games. With the exception of 2005, when he missed ten games due to injury, Hamlinhas played in every game, starting all but two during his rookie year. During his three full years with Seattle (2003, 2004, 2006), he recorded at least 80 tackles a season and and averaged over two picks a season. He signed with Dallas in 2007 and played in every game in his two seasons with the Cowboys, averaging 70 tackles and recording six INTs in those two years.

Round Original Pick New Pick
2 none WR Anquan Boldin

Wide receiver is a major strength of my new team, even after trading away a number of players in this position. But Boldin, the Cardinals second-round pick, is so talented, its hard not to take him. He caught 101 receptions his rookie year and was the only rookie elected to the Pro Bowl that year. A three-time Pro Bowl participant, Boldin has set numerous records during his brief career with Arizona. Despite missing 16 games during his career, Boldin has averaged 84 receptions for 1,083 yards and seven TDs. If you remove his 2004 stats, in which he only played in ten games, his averages jump to 89 receptions for 1,175 yards and eight TDs.

Round Original Pick New Pick
2 LB Chaun Thompson OLB Lance Briggs

Like Boldin above, Briggs joins an already deep position on my new team, but is too talented to pass on. A third-round pick by Chicago, he is a four-time Pro Bowler (2005-2008), and has missed only two games in his six-year career with the Bears. Briggs averages 109 tackles, one sack and 1.5 interceptions a season.

Round Original Pick New Pick
3 none TE Jason Witten

Taken in the third round by Dallas, Witten caught 35 passes his rookie year, and became the starting tight end in his second year. Since then, he’s been elected to the Pro Bowl every year (five times so far) and averages 79 receptions with 918 yards and five TDs. In 2007, Witten became only the third tight end to catch at least 96 passes in a season. He’s become the favorite target of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

Round Original Pick New Pick
3 DB Chris Crocker CB Asante Samuel

A fourth round pick by the Patriots, Samuels worked his way into New England’s starting lineup during the 2004 season, and never gave it up. His best season was 2006 with 64 tackles and ten interceptions. He earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl the following year with 44 tackles and six INTs. Samuel signed with Philadelphia the following year as a free agent and earned his second straight Pro Bowl trip.

Round Original Pick New Pick
4 none DE Robert Mathis

The Colts fourth round pick, Mathis established himself as a pass rush specialist his rookie year, seeing action in all 16 regular season games and recording 20 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. During the last five seasons, he’s played in all but seven games and averages 47 tackles and ten sacks a season. Mathis was elected to the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2008.

Round Original Pick New Pick
4 RB Lee Suggs P Mike Scifres

Picked by the Chargers in the fifth round, Scifres became their primary punter in 2004. During the last five seasons, he’s averaged 44.1 yards per punt and 29 punts inside the 20 yard-line a season. He was elected to the Pro Bowl in 2005 and 2006. In the Chargers’ 2009 Wild Card Playoff versus the Colts, Scifres kicked a 67-yard punt and averaged 51.7 yards with six punts. Also, all his punts during the game were inside the Colts’ 20-yard line, with 4 inside their 10-yard line.

Round Original Pick New Pick
5 C Ryan Pontbriand G Kris Dielman

Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Chargers, San Diego converted Dielman from a defensive tackle of offensive lineman. By 2005, he became their starting left guard and missed only two games since. He’s been elected to the Pro Bowl in 2007 and 2008. Dielman’s teammates referred to him as their “enforcer” and “battering ram”.

Round Original Pick New Pick
6 none TE Antonio Gates

Another undrafted free agent signed by the Chargers, Gates has gone to five consecutive Pro Bowls (2004-2008). He’s played in all but three games for the Chargers, and started all but seven. Over the last five seasons, Gates has averaged 75 receptions for 935 yards and tex TDs.

2003 Redraft Summary

With the 2003 redraft, I addressed the last few weaknesses on my team at tight end (Witten and Gates) and depth at free safety (Hamlin), and also drafted a replacement for punter Chris Gardocki (Scifres), who left the Browns as a free agent following the 2003 season. I also added to already deep positions at outside linebacker (Briggs),wide receiver (Boldin), cornerback (Samuel), defensive end (Mathis), and offensive guard (Dielman). This helps me out over the long term with free agent defections and salary cap issues, enabling me to part with higher-paid players in those positions without losing quality. Overall, the team that I built over the last five years is incredibly talented and deep, and should be a dynasty if their level of play with my team matches what they’ve done in reality.

I think I’ll end my redrafts of the “new” Cleveland Browns here after five seasons (the same length as my ’90s redraft of Cleveland). I could go on through Davis’ last year, and reexamine the Savage/Crennel years, which just ended, but you get the point. Granted, anyone can go back and lament who their favorite team passed over and build almost the exact team I did during the same seasons. And there’s no guarantee that a team with all this talent will actually win a multiple Super Bowls, much less one. But my point is to show just how poorly the Browns have performed in the personnel department over their first five years upon reentering the league. Even if they took half, or even a quarter, of the players I did, the end results could have been much different over this past decade of football futility in northeast Ohio. One can only wish and dream.

Five Questions for Eric Rickabaugh

Eric Rickabaugh is the owner of Rickabaugh Graphics, located in the Columbus, Ohio suburb of Gahanna. For over twenty years Rickabaugh Graphics has been creating award-winning logo designs for numerous Fortune 500 companies including Hasbro Toys, Coca-Cola, Toyota, MGM and Clorox. The firm has also worked on pro sports brands for the NFL, the NHL, the NBA and Minor League Baseball. Over the last decade and a half the firm has been applying their extensive logo expertise to the collegiate market.  In this time they have become the leading collegiate branding firm and their clients have included the Big East Conference, the Ohio State University, the University of Wisconsin, Seton Hall University, Vanderbilt University, North Carolina State, Baylor, Texas A&M University and many, many others.  Their tremendous success in revitalizing collegiate brands has resulted in the studio becoming the primary firm assisting schools with native American nicknames build new traditons around less controversial icons.  The studio’s collegiate designs have been the subject of feature articles in five major design publications and the firm’s owner, Eric Rickabaugh, has lectured on graphic design and branding issues at conventions for the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, the International Collegiate Licensing Association, Major and Minor League Baseball and at the The Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.

White Boxer (WB):
You’ve been going graphic design professionally for 24 years, but during the last 10-15 years, you’ve really made a name for yourself in rebranding colleges and universities. How did that come about?

Examples of Eric Rickenbaugh's work
Logo designs by Eric Rickenbaugh (Clockwise from upper left): The Ohio State University, Vanderbuilt University, Old Dominion University, Philadelphia 76ers.

Our company has always been known as a leading logo/identity firm but early on we primarily did corporate logos. Based on our accomplishments in corporate identity we were selected in 1991 by The Ohio State University to redesign their athletic identity. We applied all that we had learned in doing award-winning corporate identities to that project and it was a real success. In the first couple of years after the new identity was introduced the university saw a 225% increase in licensed income (that represents about one and a half million dollars). Of course with that kind of success other universities took notice and we were soon hired to design athletic identities for the University of Dayton and Xavier University. In 1995 the NBA noticed our work on these three projects and hired us to redesign the identity for the Philadelphia 76ers. It was at this point that I realized we were developing a very positive reputation in the specific field of athletic identity design. I began to actively promote Rickabaugh Graphics as an athletic identity design firm and also started to aggressively seek out clients who might be interested in our expertise. It is now nearly fifteen years later and we have worked for the NBA, the NFL, the NHL, Minor League Baseball and over one hundred universities across the country. Our expertise has also grown quite significantly from just doing athletic branding to also providing academic branding, youth mark and kid’s club programs, identity research and testing, mascot costume design and many other full-range collegiate branding services. Our many years of experience have provided us with the necessary insights to really assist our collegiate clients in dealing with many very challenging branding issues.
How is working with colleges and universities, and pro sports leagues for that matter, than working with your typical corporation when doing a rebranding project?
Working with pro sports leagues is very much like working with any corporate client when creating a retail mark. The pace is fast, the goal is profit and the process is straight forward. Collegiate clients on the other hand are a very unique animal. The attachment to their logos is very emotional. Even a small change must be considered carefully as the response to an improperly handled change can be very negative. In addition, the stakeholders at a university are not only personally connected but they are also very diverse. A university’s audiences include students, faculty, administration, alumni, the community and fans just to name a few. The extreme range of their values, attitudes and age make the collegiate environment very complex and highly political. For this reason it is tremendously important to have a very deliberate branding process that includes involving many members of these audiences in focus groups to get a sense for their reaction to any proposed design. It is a very challenging and demanding branding specialty.
I would also think another challenge with the collegiate clients is the obscure or historical mascots some schools have that aren’t associated with sports very well (North Carolina Tarheels for example). One client of yours that seems to fit that is the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. How did you go about finding an identity that the university’s audience got behind?

Examples of sports logos
Clockwise from upper left: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Houston Texans, New York Yankees, University of Texas Longhorns.

Certainly many colleges have some very interesting nicknames. In addition to the Hilltoppers we have also done Catamounts, Nor’easters, Wonder Boys and of course the Buckeyes. The challenge in coming up with an image for a unique name is part of the fun of what we do. The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers is an interesting case. When I arrived on campus they had a poorly drawn image of a “severed” hand holding a red towel as a logo. I was absolutely certain that we would come up with something other than that for the new athletic image. But upon doing the necessary research and talking to the university’s stakeholders it was clear just how “near and dear” that red towel image was to the WKU fans. It is steeped in a tradition which surrounds a famous WKU basketball coach who always waved a red towel at the games. It soon became apparent that we would be re-drawing the red towel logo rather than discarding it. We added a new set of wordmarks to the new red towel logo and the brand was complete. As you can see we let the university audiences help us find the correct image for their school.
What college or pro team identity do you see out there, besides your work,  that you really admire?
There is a lot of wonderful work that exists in the sports identity market. Of course the Yankees logo is a classic that has stood the test of time and is a very identifiable symbol. The Texas longhorn silhouette is another classic that stands out. More recent brands that appeal to me include the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Houston Texans among many, many others.

Comparing the NFL logos
The old NFL logo (left) and new (right).

Two recent professional logos have been revealed this fall. What’s you opinion of both the updated look of the NFL logo, and the logo for the NBa’s Oklahoma City Thunder?
The new NFL logo is an excellent refinement of a very successful brand. The typography has been cleaned up and given a much more contemporary feel. The football illustration looks like a dimensional football rather than the “hamburger” that the NFL players fondly called it. And the eight stars in the blue field now represent the eight divisions in the NFL and should be much easier to embroider. Overall an great job by the designers.I hate criticizing other designer’s work because none of us know the issues that were involved in the design process. Did the client dictate the design or in some other way hinder the design process? We don’t know the inside story. Still the new NBA Thunder logo is somewhat disappointing. Rather than portraying an image of a sport that is fast and exciting the logo looks dated and stagnant. There is very little personality in the design and if you take away the basketball it has very little meaning. There could have been a lot of visual excitement with the use of some lightning or clouds. Seems like a missed opportunity.

Five for Friday: 1.2.2009

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and wrap up to 2008. mine was pretty enjoyable, although hectic with two young girls in the house and traveling to visit family. 2008 was a busy year for me, so I thought I’d kick off the new year’s Five for Friday series with five projects I wrapped up over the last quarter of 2008. These are all web sites I completed at the day job as lead (meaning sole) web designer and developer atTCS Software. All sites are built using ourRuby-On-Rails-driven WebSuite2 CMS.

National Career Development Association (NCDA)

Screenshot of NCDA web site
Launched in early December, the NCDA site redesign was a major challenge and undertaking. Not only did we need to work with the client in reworking the content structure, but this is the first site using the Products Module, WebSuite2’s custom shopping cart. The early feedback from members indicates that the relauch exceeded expectations.

National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI)

Screenshot of NADDI web site
The NADDI redesign was an interesting project. The previous version of the site was fairly dark in appearance and mood, and the navigation structure was rather difficult to sort through. We worked with the client to steamline their content structure and made the site warmer in feel. The home page also better organizes their important content without seeming cluttered.

Ohio Automobile Dealers Association

Screenshot of OADA web site
TCS Software was contracted by OADA to redesign their web site to be more engaging, visually more appealing, and easier to use. Along with a complete design makeover, the backend improvements to this site is what really makes it zing, especially the member management features.

Payments Central

Screenshot of Payments Central web site
A slight redesign of a current client, the Payments Central web site doesn’t seem much different from the version that ran on our previous CMS. The real difference is on the back end. The CSS structure is significantly cleaner than the previous version, which was about three years old. There are also additional features that came along with the new CMS, including a true sitewide search and better member login and management features. This is also the second site to use our new Prodcuts Module. On the visual side, the home page is better organized and uses the space much better than the previous version.

Association for Financial Technology

Screenshot of AFT web site
A complete overhaul of their previous site, AFT jumped to TCS Software to have a true CMS system for their site content. Not only is the site appearance a vast improvement over its predecessor, but the interactivity greatly enhances the site’s usability and value.

This is a small sampling of the work I’ve been doing at TCS Software this past year. Overall, I’ve been pleased with the work our team has produced, and the vast majority of our clients are great to work with. You can see more of my work at TCS Software at TCS Labs in the upper right rotating portfolio. All but three or four of those sites were designed and built by me. This year, I also plan to post some write-ups of the creative process on some of those projects as well as some new ones that are currently in the works.

Five for Friday: 12.26.2008

Obama logos that weren’t chosen

Interesting look into the process that created the highly-recognizable Obama Campaign logo.

Design contest debate

Steve Douglas, founder of The Logo Factory, responds to some issues brought u[ about the legitimacy of logo design contests. On the other side of the ring, George Ryan, who made the original post Steve responds to, offers his rebuttal in the comments.

Content. Content. Content.

What’s the most important part of a web site? Content. A List Apart @274 focues on that verytopic.

Font Conference

Hillarious clip, especially if you’re a typeface geek like me.

Recession Tips For Web Designers

Great tips from Jeffrey Zeldman and 24 Ways.

Carbon Neutral for a Day

One Day from Brighter PlanetJeffrey Zeldman recently offered a gift of carbon neutraliy. Being an advocate of environmental responsibility, I took him up on his offer, and in turn, offer this gift to you as well.

So far, Brighter Planet has given away over 3,700 gifts and offset more than 504,000 pounds of CO2. The goal is to give away 5,000 One Day gifts and offset 680,000 pounds of CO2. Per their site:

The average American emits 136 pounds of carbon dioxide each day. About 36 pounds come from driving, flying, and other travel. Another 22 pounds come from heating, cooling, and powering our homes. The final 78 pounds come from producing, transporting, and disposing of all the stuff we buy, and from shared services like schools and street lights. 136 pounds would fill 5,000 balloons — imagine releasing that every day.

To me, its definitely worth signing up. Did I mention its free? Thanks to Zeldman for the post and passing it on to the rest of us.

Five for Friday: 12.12.2008

Beware the Doghouse

A little holiday humor for the holiday season. Guys, be warned. You may also end up on the list (see links below the video).

Advent Conspiracy

A more serious video with a holiday theme, and a definite contrast to the clip above. This one helps put theholidays in perspective.

The 2008 Pentawards for packaging design

Some really incredible work here. Via Cameron Moll.

How to Draw Beer

Great tutorial on what Illustrator can do. Via Mike Davidson.

The Book Design Review’s Favorite Book Covers of 2008

Some really nice print work displayed here. Via Cameron Moll.

Five for Friday: 11.7.2008

This is a day late, but considering my goal was to do this weekly, but have only made one post for this category before now in two months or so, I’ll let it slide.


Really nice redesign by the folks at Airbag Industries. Change.org is a site for people to stay informed on social issues and get involved with causes and related non-profits.

Housing Works

Another recent redesign of another non-profit group. Started in 1990 by four members of ACT UP, Housing Works helps people who are homeless and have HIV or AIDS. Housing Works not only saves lives, it restores dignity, purpose, and hope to those whom society has cast aside. Excellent work by the folks at Happy Cog.

Is your (website’s) underwear showing?

Jeffery Zeldman, the man behind the previously-mentioned Happy Cog, wrote an interesting blog post this week regarding setting a background color on your web site. Check out the Flickr screen shots.

Pepsi Rebrands

Pepsi unveiled its new logo and branding this past month. Lots of mixed opinions of the design community. Honestly, I’m not sure what I think of it yet.

Portfolio Stadding Blog

Lastly, my friends at Portfolio Staffing added a blog to their site. There’s some very good posts worth reading, especially if you’re looking for a job.

It’s Finally Over!

The elections are over. No more junk mail stuffed in my mailbox daily. No more mudslinging commercials airing on my TV. No more campaign supporters knocking on my door while the baby is trying to sleep. And especially no more recorded campaign phone calls that were around five a day wasting my time. Seriously, any future candidate that supports adding recorded campaign messages to the National Do-Not-Call list automatically gets my support. Congratulations to all the winning candidates throughout the country, regardless of party affiliation. You have a big task ahead of you, don’t disappoint the citizens that got you there

Cleveland Browns Redraft:1995

In anticipation of the 2008 NFL season, and the high expectations of the Cleveand Browns actually making the playoffs, I’ve been looking into the past, especially the draft, and seeing how I would do things differently during the five years that Bill Belichick was head coach. Why this time period? It is primarily due to a series of articles examining the failure of the Belichick era in Cleveland preceding the team’s move to Baltimore. I guess in the back of my mind I’m thinking if the draft (and overall team management) went the way I’m redoing it, the team may never have left following 1995.

The Brown’s drafts under Belichick were nothing short of failures. Jesse Lamovsky stated it best:

The team’s draft record during Belichick’s tenure, although not as famously bad as that of the expansion Browns in 1999 and 2000, left a great deal to be desired. Of the forty-one players taken in the five drafts of the Belichick era, only one- Eric Turner- ever made it to a Pro Bowl. It’s a matter of talent, and the Browns of the early ‘90s were mediocre largely because they had mediocre talent.

After reworking the previous four years, its time to wrap things up with a rework of the 1995 draft. In reality, 1995 was nothing short of a disaster for the Browns. Belichick continued his trend of dumping productive and popular players that he didn’t draft. This offseason, Michael Dean Perry and Eric Metcalf, both whom went to the 1994 Pro Bowl, were gone. Owner Art Modell, always the meddler, signed WR Andre Rison to a huge free agent contract that turned into a major mistake.

The sorry state of the team was only compounded by the complete mismanagement of the draft that year. Looking to draft TE Kyle Brady, the Browns traded up to the tenth spot. However, when Brady was drafted ninth, Belichick didn’t seem to know what to do, and traded back down to the last pick in the draft (as well as picking up additional picks later in that draft and for 1996). With that pick, Belichick took LB Craig Powell, which stunned everyone. Powell, the second best linebacker on his Ohio State team, never amounted to anything in the NFL. Basically, the pick was forfeited. The Browns also lost their second and sixth round picks due to bad player trades the previous year. With all that said, here’s how their 1995 draft materialized:

Round Number Player
1 30 LB Craig Powell
3 84 QB Eric Zeier
3 94 DE Mike Frederick
5 141 DT Pupua Tau
5 171 WR Mike Miller
7 203 WR A.C. Tellison

When I say this draft was a complete waste, here’s my argument. Not one single person made any sort of significant impact for ANY team they played on, much less the Browns. Powell played a total of 14 games in three years, for three different teams. Not what you expect from a first round draft pick. Zeier, although decent, had career stats that equated to a decent single season. In seven years for three teams, Zeier’s career stats are 16 games started, 3,520 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Fredrick amassed two sacks during his five-year career. Tau never saw the field during his one year in the league, and neither Miller nor Tellison could make a roster.

There’s a lot about this year that I would do differently. First off, Perry would still be on the team. He was good and popular, and didn’t deserve the exit he received. Metcalf, on the other hand, was expendible. He wasn’t a featured running back, and there was too much talent on our new team at wide receiver with Keenan McCardell, Robert Brooks, Troy Brown and Rod Smith. However, I would try to trade him for something instead of just releasing him. Also, Rison would never have come to Cleveland except as a member of the Brown’s opponent.

Now let’s look at the draft. I honestly don’t know what I would have done with some of these draft day deals that went on. After four years, there really is no areas of need. All we’re looking for at this point is depth and preparing to replace older players we originally drafted. For certain, I wouldn’t have lost the second and sixth round picks with player trades the previous year. However, the other draft pick deals are harder to judge. All remaining picks involved gaining additional picks for the 1996 draft. Looking at the 1996 draft, it was loaded with talent, and making those deals look good. But also knowing that those picks eventually went to the Baltimore Ravens, not the Cleveland Browns, makes it difficult.

The truth is, no one outside Art Modell knew the financial state of the Browns. His income was the Browns, unlike almost every other NFL owner at the time. The team played in a trash bin called a stadium at the time, Modell lost money by the Indians moving into a new stadium (and hence, not renting out the Browns stadium from Modell) and poor free agent acquisitions, and the team was losing. Hopefully our new team would have been more successful, and hence, generated more income. Maybe the winning Browns would have helped convince Cleveland administration to help build a new stadium for the Browns. Or maybe, the winning Browns would have least had helped convince city and NFL leaders to convince Modell to sell the team to someone who would properly invest in the team.

Regardless, the head coach and other football personnel were supposedly in the dark about a potential move to Baltimore. With that fact, we need to make deals good for the team, even if that assumes it plays in Cleveland in 1996. I then make thetrade with Jacksonville, giving up my fourth round pick for the Jaguars 1995 and 1996 fifth round picks. However, I’m still not sure about what to do with the San Francisco deal. Cleveland originally moved up from 26 to 10 (swapping with Atlanta). When Brady came off the board, the Browns then swapped back down with San Francisco, moving from 10 to 30. They also picked up San Francisco’s third and forth round picks, as well as the Niners first round in 1996. Looking at my team’s situation, I’m thinking the deal with Atlanta never goes through, and doesn’t start the chain reaction that occured. So now our new draft picks look like this:

Round Player
1 LB Craig Powell
2 ???
3 QB Eric Zeier
5 DT Pupua Tau
5 WR Mike Miller
6 ???
7 WR A.C. Tellison

That gives us seven picks in the 1995 draft. After four years of stellar redrafting, there really aren’t any holes to fill anywhere, so our philosophy is to grab the best available player and let the chips fall where they may. I also pondered another interesting situation that played out in reality. The Packers had both Brett Favre and Mark Brunell on their team, just like I do. Jacksonville traded their 3rd and 5th round picks to the Packers for Favre. Considering the state of our team, I wouldn’t be interested in that deal. However, I have another deal that I think would work with Jacksonville.

The Jaguars held two first round picks that year, the 2 and 19 picks. They used the 19th pcik on running back James Stewart. In exchange for the 19 pick, I would give Jacksonville Mark Brunell, swap my second round pick with their third round pick (71), and also give them my second fifth round pick (and maybe part with RB Gary Brown as well). To gain a new back up quarterback, I would sign Trent Green, who at this time was playing in the CFL. My new draft board would look like this:

Round Player
1 ???
1 LB Craig Powell
3 ???
3 QB Eric Zeier
5 DT Pupua Tau
6 ???
7 WR A.C. Tellison

I still have seven picks, but with another first round selection, while slightly moving down from the late second to early third round, and giving up a late fifth round pick. Here’s what I would do with those picks:

Round Original Pick New Pick
1 none T Korey Stringer

I’m a mark for Stringer, one since he grew up not far from me (Warren, OH) and played at Ohio State. He was also a stud offensive tackle. Taked with pick 24 by the Vikings, I would get Stringer five picks earlier. This would also enable me to move Larry Allen to his more natural guard position. Stringer became an instant starter for Minnesota, missing only three games, and starting all but two, during his brief six-year career. He was elected to his only Pro Bowl in 2000. Unfortunately he died of heat stroke the following year in training camp.

Round Original Pick New Pick
1 LB Craig Powell OLB Derrick Brooks

Picked 28th overall by Tampa Bay, Brooks has been one of the most dominant linebackers in the NFL. He was selected to the Pro Bowl ten consecutive times, a streak that ended this past season (2007). Suring his career, Brooks has yet to miss a game due to significant injuries. Recently, an ESPN writer also argued that Brooks is a lock in the Hall of Fame.

Round Original Pick New Pick
3 none RB Curtis Martin

Drafted by New England in the third round, Martin is considered one of the best running backs in the history of the NFL. During his 11 years with New England and the New York Jets, he rushed for over 1,000 yards his first ten years, a feat previously only accomplished by Barry Sanders. He likely would have eclipsed 1,000 yards his eleventh year if not for a knee injury that forced him to miss the final four games of the 2005 season (he ran for 735 yards at that point). During his career, Martin averaged 1,281 yards rushing and eight touchdowns per season. He was also elected to five Pro Bowls.

Round Original Pick New Pick
3 QB Eric Zeier MLB Stephen Boyd

Boyd was drafted by the Lions in the fifth round, and played all seven years in Detroit, and bbecame the starting middle linebacker in his second year. During the next four years (1997-2000), Boyd led the Lions in tackles, averaging over 175 tackles per season during that span. He was elected to two Pro Bowls before retiring in 2001 due to a back injury.

Round Original Pick New Pick
5 WR Mike Miller RB Terrell Davis

Playing all seven years with the Broncos, Terrell Davis was a steal in the sixth round. He had n incredible first four years in the NFL before being plagued by injures that eventually ended his career. A three-time Pro Bowler, Davis is only the fourth player in NFL history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a single season (2,008 in 1998), and won the NFL MVP award that year. During those first four years, he averaged over 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns a season. He was an essentialpart of the Broncos teams that won consecutive Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998. He was elected Super Bowl MVP in 1997 as he rushed for 157 yards, caught 2 passes for 8 yards, and became the first player in Super Bowl history ever to score 3 rushing touchdowns. Along with winning the MV award in 1998, Davis also won his first league rushing title and third consecutive AFC rushing title.

Round Original Pick New Pick
6 none G Adam Timmerman

Drafted by the Packers in the seventh round, Timmerman became a key member to the Green Bay offensive line that appeared in two Super Bowls, winning one of them. He then signed with the Rams in 1999, where he was part of one of the greatest offenses in NFL history, and appeared in two more Super Bowls, winning a second title in 1999. He was elected to the Pro Bowl in 2001.

Round Original Pick New Pick
7 WR A.C. Tellison DT Jason Fisk

Drafted by Minnesota in the seventh round, Fisk played 12 seasons in the NFL, the first four with the Vikings. He signed with Tennessee in 1999 to become a starter, and played in his only Super Bowl with the Titans.

(1991-) 1995 Redraft Summary

With little pressing needs, this draft helped strenghten some areas, most notibly linebacker and offensive line. But the biggest improvement was nabbing two stud running backs that already had a future Pro Bowler from the year before (Jamal Anderson). This year’s group, along with the last four years drafts, has built (at least on paper) one of the most talented teams in the NFL. Here’s a breakdown of the entire five years of redrafts by position with the number of Pro Bowl selections  in ( ):

QB Brett Favre (9), Mark Brunell (3)
FB Kimble Anders (3)
RB Gary Brown, Jamal Anderson (1), Curtis Martin (5), Terrell Davis (3)
WR Keenan McCardell (2), Robert Brooks, Troy Brown (1), Rod Smith (3)
TE Ben Coates (5), Frank Wycheck (3)
C Jay Leeuwenburg, Kevin Mawae (6)
G/T Erik Williams (4), Kendall Gammon, Will Shields (12), Ron Stone (3), Larry Allen (11), Korey Stringer (1) Adam Timmerman (1)
DT Chester McGlockton (4), Santana Dotson, Jason Fisk
DE Michael Sinclair (3), Michael Strahan (7)
MLB Corey Widmer, Ed McDaniel (1), Stephen Boyd (2)
OLB Mo Lewis (3), Bryan Cox (3), Jessie Armstead (5), Jason Gildon (3), Derrick Brooks (10)
CB Aeneas Williams (8), Mark McMillian, Dale Carter (4)
SS Blaine Bishop (4), Rodney Harrison (2)
FS Merton Hanks (4), John Lynch (9)
P Mitch Berger (2)

I think this would be considered one of, if not the best, five-year drafts in NFL history. It’s a group not only loaded with talent (150 Pro Bowl appearances), but longevity (at least ten players still active during the 2008 season). The selections by position are also spaced out fairly well. Only the outside linebacker position has more than four selections over the five years (average of one per draft). I lumped the offensive guard and tackle positions because a couple of players were versatile enough to play either spot. Combined, I drafted seven players to fill four starting positions, with three players in reserve. The only position I didn’t draft was a kicker.

Would this team have won at least one Super Bowl, much less a number of them? Who knows, but with this talent, it was possible. Would Bill Cowher have done a better job coaching than Bill Belichick? Again, who knows, but he at least wouldn’t have alienated the existing veterans and media (and consequently, the fans) the way Belichick did. Would this team, with its potential for winning, have gotten the Browns a new stadium or new owner, or both? Would it at least have kept them from moving to Baltimore? Again, who knows, but I like the chances. In wrapping up this series, it seems appropriate to quote Shakespeare from Hamlet:

“To sleep, perchance to dream-ay, there’s the rub.”