2013 Draft Lacked Style But Browns Feel It’s Full Of Substance
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BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns entered the 2013 NFL Draft with 7 picks and the need to answer a few questions.
3 days later, some questions remain.
CEO Joe Banner and general manager Michael Lombardi made 3 trades, picked 5 players – including Barkevious Mingo No. 6 overall – and acquired a 6th player from the Dolphins this weekend.
“We think of our draft as the 5 players, plus Josh Gordon, plus [veteran receiver Davone} Bess, plus the 2 future assets [2014 3rd and 4th round picks] we acquired, plus the undrafted players we’ll sign,” Banner said.
Although Banner includes Gordon, who led the team with 805 receiving yards in 2012, as a member of this year’s draft class, he refuses to give the decision to take him last July in the supplemental draft his seal of approval.
“Time will tell,” Banner said. “We’re certainly rooting for him to prove that was a great decision.”
The Browns finalized a 3-year contract extension with Bess, who was acquired from Miami on Friday, after he passed his physical Saturday morning.
As for the draft itself, they did address a few needs – but they were hardly home runs or sure shots.
Aside from Mingo, who now will be expected to headline the new aggressive pass rush happy defense, the Browns added San Diego State cornerback Leon McFadden in round 3 and Notre Dame safety Jamoris Slaughter, who is coming off a torn Achilles and hopes to be ready in time for training camp, in round 6.
Despite the rumors that they’d take a quarterback this weekend, the Browns only took 1 offensive player – offensive tackle Garrett Gilkey from Chadron State with the 227th overall pick in round No. 7.
“I feel good about the group,” head coach Rob Chudzinski said of his current roster of quarterbacks. “How it plays out, we’ll see in time and we’ll know in time. I’m excited about Brandon [Weeden] and I’m excited about the progress he’s made learning the system. I’ve also been pleased with Jason [Campbell] and the role he’s taken in being there.”
It marked the first time since 1988 that the Browns used their first 4 draft picks on the defensive side of the ball.
Prior to the selection of Gilkey, Cleveland selected East Central Oklahoma defensive end took Armonty Bryant No. 217 overall. Bryant was arrested last year for attempting to sell marijuana in a school zone but had tremendous production at the Div. II level.
In 30 games Bryant registered 165 tackles (49 for loss), 27.5 sacks, 8 blocked kicks, 9 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries and 1 interception.
The Browns started day 3 by making a deal with their rivals – the Pittsburgh Steelers – sending their 4th round selection to them for a 2014 3rd round pick.
It was the first trade between the 2 teams since 1968.
The deal sent fans into a tizzy and the Steelers selected whom they hope to be the heir apparent to Troy Polamalu – Syracuse safety Shamarko Thomas.
Handed to them on a silver platter by the Browns.
“I prefer to trade within the division,” Banner said. “You don’t make a trade if you don’t think you’re winning. So if you’re winning a trade in your own division you’re even better than winning in another division.
“Obviously, that can burn you from time to time, but in Philadelphia we traded [Donovan] McNabb to the Redskins and everybody thought, ‘What are we doing?’ We thought we strengthened the Eagles and didn’t do anything to help the competitor. We try to make the best deal and don’t care with who if it benefits us.”
Adding more intrigue with the Steelers is the fact that Pittsburgh selected Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones, who some considered the top pass rusher in the draft, No. 17 overall in the first round.
The Browns followed the trade with Pittsburgh up by sending their 5th round pick to Indianapolis – this time for a 2014 4th rounder.
“Listen, we’re not asking for a free pass for this year,” Banner said. “We expect to improve. We expect it to be conspicuous. We’re not going to reach all of our goals or fill all of our needs this year. We think we’ll be play aggressive, exciting football and it will be clear the team is continuing to improve and position it well to have a chance to become very good consistently.”
Banner is counting on being able to take 2-3 more years to complete the Browns’ rebuild, which began in 2010 under the previous regime but skeptical fans might not be willing to give them that long.
Banner and Lombardi didn’t win many over with their decisions – especially on day 3 – but they will if the new additions help them win on the field this fall.