TEAM NEEDS: CB, FS, LB, QB, G, K/P
Mike Lombardi isn’t a popular guy in Cleveland after an unsuccessful first stint with the Browns, despite the fact that he wasn’t pulling any strings during his first Browns tenure. Either way, the importance of the inaugural draft of the Jimmy Haslam era can’t be understated.
The Browns front office wasn’t as active as many thought they would be in free agency. After big splash signings of Paul Kruger and Desmond Bryant, the Browns signed a handful of depth players (Kellen Davis, Quentin Groves, Jason Campbell, Chris Owens, Gary Barnidge, and trading for Dion Lewis). The Browns headed into free agency with a boatload of cap space and come out of it with the same. That said, the Browns filled some holes and made it clear all offseason that they weren’t going to fill all the holes on this team in one offseason.
I give the Browns organization an A for this offseason. I wasn’t wild about some of the draft picks but trading for Davone Bess made up for some of the errors in the draft.
After the break, check out a pick by pick analysis of the Browns 2013 NFL Draft selections.
Round One, (6) – Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
I haven’t been as high on Barkevious Mingo as others. I have no doubts that he’s NFL ready to go get the quarterback and can cover tight ends, backs, and even the slot from his new spot. Where the doubts enter my mind is Mingo as anything more than a subpackage rusher early in his career. At 230 pounds, Mingo lacks the power to take on blocks and could be a major liability against the run until he improves his strength and bulk throughout his wiry frame. Mingo could be a guy that puts up 8-10 sacks in his rookie year but I’m not sure he’s going to make any impact on run downs in the league for a long while.
Round Three, (68) – Leon McFadden, CB, San Diego State
For me, this was by far the best pick by the Browns all weekend. McFadden is a highly experienced corner with flawless technique as he carried a high second round grade on our board. He’s a plug and play defender that can play inside or outside in year one. The former WR had teams completely ignoring his side of the field as a senior, so he slid a bit under the radar. He should fill the gigantic hole opposite Joe Haden from day one.
Round Six, (175) – Jamoris Slaughter, SS, Notre Dame
Slaughter will be recovering from a torn Achilles that he suffered against Michigan State on September 15. Slaughter gives the Browns some versatility as he can play strong or free safety. I didn’t have a draftable grade on Slaughter and don’t think he impacts the Browns in the secondary, although he could be a solid special teams contributor once he’s fully recovered.
Round Seven, (217) – Armonty Bryant, DE, East Central (OK)
Bryant’s off the field issues had him falling into the seventh round. Bryant is an explosive defender that will work in the defensive line rotation for the Browns. He was a solid value this late in the draft as he gives Ray Horton some versatility. If the Browns plan on keeping him on the DL, he will have to add some bulk to his frame.
Round Seven, (227) – Garrett Gilkey, OG, Chadron St.
Gilkey is a huge swing tackle/guard that the Browns could use as depth on the offensive line. He is probably best suited to play inside in the NFL but will get a shot to compete for a backup job at RT.
UNDRAFTED FREE AGENT SIGNINGS: Ryan Aplin, QB, Arkansas State – Jamaine Cook, RB, Youngstown State – Keenan Davis, WR, Iowa – Dominique Croom, WR, Central Arkansas – Mike Edward, WR, UTEP – Cordell Roberson, WR, Stephen F. Austin – Perez Ashford, WR, Northern Illinois – Travis Tannahill, TE, Kansas State – Garrett Hoskins, TE, Eastern Michigan – Braxston Cave, C, Notre Dame – Caylin Hauptmann, OL, FIU – Chris Faulk, OT, LSU – Martin Wallace, OT, Temple – Aaron Adams, OT, Eastern Kentucky – Justin Staples, DE, Illinois – Dave Kruer, DE, Utah – Paipai Falemalu, LB, Hawaii – Mike Niam, LB, Wofford – Ricky Tunstall, DB, Deleware – Josh Aubrey, DB, Stephen F. Austin
The Davone Bess trade saved this draft for me. That, combined with the Josh Gordon pick, which cost them their 2nd round pick in the draft have to be factored into this year’s haul. With those factors considered, it would have to be counted as a success.
Overall the Browns actual draft selections were…meh. I wasn’t blown away with Barkevious Mingo at No. 6 and felt they needed to add some depth to this roster in the draft. Trading away picks is always a good idea if you have your roster in order, the Browns do not. One has to wonder whether the Browns front office didn’t have confidence in a scouting department that was no longer going to be with the team after the draft. That had to play a factor in the Browns dealing into next year’s draft, when they have their own scouting department intact.
The Browns roster, as a whole is very solid in several areas and very weak in others. This may be one of the best front sevens in all of football. A very strong defensive line with what can be a good group of linebackers makes for an intriguing fit in Ray Horton’s defense. The secondary is another story. Leon McFadden is going to be thrust into a starting role, whether he’s ready or not. The free safety position is a mess as it appears Eric Hagg will be the starter. Hagg didn’t work out well in 2012 and will have to play much better if the Browns are going to be successful in the backend.
The offense will go as Brandon Weeden goes. Weeden was mediocre at best in 2012 and will need to show marked improvement for the Browns to be a .500 team. He has the weapons to be successful and will be on the chopping block if he doesn’t outperform his 2012 play.
The good news for Browns fans is that the roster is not far off from competing in a tough division. 2013 will be make or break for Brandon Weeden as they head into what looks to be a strong quarterback draft in 2014.