Sunday, April 28, 2013

Breaking Down the Browns 2013 Draft

     Before breaking down what the Browns got in the 2013 draft, let's talk about what they didn't do.  They didn't make the classic mistake of drafting a quarterback with the top pick, or signing a glamour free agent.  This offseason they have been picking up quality players, some blue collar types.  I generally agree with that.  I'm glad we didn't package two or four guys to move up a few positions in the draft for no reason as we have done in past years.  

     This year the Browns managed to come away with six players--five actual draftees and one guy (wr Davone Bess) who they acquired in a trade.  They wound up trading two picks in the 2013 draft for higher picks in the 2014 draft, which may not be a bad idea if the new front office believes that scouting will be improved in the next year.  Bess was available because Miami had salary cap problems after creating a megadeal for Mike Wallace, hence they practically gave him away to the Browns, who were wise to take a proven NFL starter.  

     However, in my view the Browns overreached a little in Round 1, taking defensive end Barkevious Mingo, with the intention to try him out at outside linebacker.  Thus he is in the same role as Jabal Sheards, who was a sack specialist for the Browns last year, but perhaps too small for defensive end in the 3-4 alignment. My gut reaction is that the sixth overall pick should actually be able to play the same position in the pros that he played in college. Mingo had 4.5 sacks at LSU last year.  So, is he better than Sheard, who had 7 sacks last year in the NFL?  

So is converting lineman Mingo to linebacker a better idea than converting lineman Sheard to linebacker?  

The Browns are going to start three defensive tackles on the d-line this year, while upgrading the linebacker corps.  Maybe the biggest question mark is whether they have linebackers that can drop back in coverage.  Does a converted defensive lineman in Mingo help?  Honestly, I give a slight edge to Sheard, though both will certainly get playing time.   Depth at linebacker is nothing to sneeze at, but it would be better if the first round pick was actually going to fill a positional need.  Or are they going to try one or the other in the middle? We'll see what happens in training camp.  

Well, Mingo has a linebacker's number.  Now, can he play linebacker?

The Browns traded away their 2013 second round pick last year, so their next pick was cornerback Leon McFadden in Round 3.  The Browns need another cornerback, so McFadden may start the season.

Old friend Brian Sipe coached McFadden  at San Diego State. 

    Wide receiver Bess was a starter for the Fish, and may start for the Browns as well.    This was a coup, created by the Fish sabotaging their salary cap structure by signing Mike Wallace.  Wallace is a very good receiver, but the Fish have to cut a few starters now, and the Browns benefited from this.  The Browns now are at least five deep with Josh Gordon, David Nelson, Travis Benjamin, Jordan Norwood and Greg Little.  Josh Cooper may also challenge for a job.
Davone Bess is a quality staring wide receiver.  Brandon Weeden ought to be licking his chops this year.  

  The Browns also took Jamoris Slaughter, a safety and possible special teams player trying to come back from career threatening Achilles surgery. This is an amazingly stupid pick. Slaughter may not be able to come back from Achilles surgery, and if he does come back he is still not thought of as a prime prospect.  Prior to his injury,  CBS Sports listed him as the 16th best Notre Dame prospect for the 2012 season. Well, he must have shown an awful lot in the 3 games he played in 2012. 

     In the NFL, each team generally has to find 3 or 4 starters every year from the draft.  The sixth round might be a place to take a chance on a guy that is injured, but he should otherwise be the equivalent of an earlier round pick.  It is very weird to take an injured player who was already a marginal NFL prospect.   So I give the Browns a big, fat, juicy, red  F for that pick.  

 In the sixth round they also picked Armonty Bryant, a defensive end who was busted for selling marijuana. As mentioned above, the Browns are planning to start converted tackles at end, so a guy who can really get after the passer might get some playing time. But is he ready to turn his life around?  You can rationalize the pick because in the sixth or seventh round it's probably time to take chances, so this not a horrible pick.  Guard Garrett Gilkey, a guard wtih good numbers from Chadron State rounds out the group.  The main knock on Gilkey is that he comes from a small program, but it is possible that he can really play.  What the heck.  

     It appears likely that the Browns have starters or at least major contributors at cornerback, wide receiver and outside linebacker.  They are taking a chance with their late round picks, but that is the nature of the later rounds.  We'll see how well they did their homework.

    The Browns did not address the fullback position or punter, although those positions are often filled by undrafted free agents, and the Browns are bringing in several candidates at each position.  

    In summary, I am not sure what position Mingo is going to play, which makes me question the value of that pick for the Browns.  They did come away with at least two starters in Bess and McFadden and were able to invest in the future by trading for two number 3's in 2014.  Then they are rolling the dice with their late round picks.  They still need a lot of help, and undrafted free agents could play a role with this team.  


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