Defense, defense and more defense.
That was the focus of the Browns when the NFL Draft was held on Jan. 19, 1951.
The Browns, not even a month removed from having won the championship in their first year in the NFL, picked five defensive players in Kenny Konz, Art Donovan, Walt Michaels, Don Shula and Carl Taseff, who, in one, way, shape or form, really made their mark in the league.
Konz, a first-round choice from Louisiana State, was a safety/punt returner for the Browns for seven seasons (1953-59) and is a Cleveland Browns Legend. He is fourth on the club with 30 career interceptions and is second with four interceptions returned for touchdowns.
He either led the team or shared the lead in interceptions in five different seasons, getting a career-high seven in 1956.
That was also the year that Konz topped the NFL in punt returns with an average of 14.4 yards.
For his career, Konz is eighth on the Browns in punt return average at 8.2 yards, and is ninth with 556 return yards.
Donovan, a defensive tackle from Boston College tabbed with the last of three fourth-round picks, never played with the Browns but went on to have a Pro Football Hall of Fame career with the Baltimore Colts.
The latter of two seventh-rounders, Michaels, from tiny Washington & Lee, played his first season with the Green Bay Packers, then returned to Cleveland in 1952 and became one of the best linebackers in the NFL over the next decade. He went to the Pro Bowl four times, tied for the most by a linebacker in Browns history, and is a Cleveland Browns Legend.
Michaels finished his 12-year career in 1963 with the New York Jets, whom he would later serve as head coach.
Shula, a defensive back who played at Painesville (Ohio) Harvey High School and Cleveland’s John Carroll University, was the latter of the Browns’ two ninth-round choices. He had four interceptions in 1951 in the first of his two seasons with the Browns, then went to the Baltimore Colts for four years and the Washington Redskins for one. He had 17 interceptions with those two teams for a career total of 21.
But it is Shula’s long head coaching tenure with the Colts and Miami Dolphins, setting an NFL record for career victories, that earned him a spot in the HOF.
Also a defensive back, Taseff played at Cleveland East High School and then was a teammate of Shula’s at John Carroll. A 22nd-round selection in the 30-round draft, he played just that 1951 season with the Browns before spending three years with the Baltimore Colts and one with the Buffalo Bills. Taseff is best known as having been a longtime assistant coach under Shula.
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