August 26, 2014

Browns add Bess and McFadden, pass on Honey Badger

Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi, and the rest of the Browns’ front office gave Cleveland a general sense of optimism with the selection of Barkevious Mingo with the 6th overall pick on Thursday night. Mingo, a  freakish athlete from a dominant college program, surely wouldn’t please everyone but he did a good job trying. He wore the  brown tie and the orange pocket square, he said he it was “a lifelong dream to play in a city that loves football“, and even was recognized as Name of the Year in 2009, but none of those matter if the kid can’t play.

“He’s too small.” “His stats dropped off last year.” “He can’t play every down.”

These things will be said, and rightfully so, but in large Banner and Lombardi survived round one unscathed.

Now on to round two.

With the selection of Josh Gordon in last year’s supplemental draft, the Browns were without a second round pick in 2013. Set to be simply spectators in round two and with so many appealing players on the board, fans and media alike couldn’t help from questioning, pondering, and dreaming of any way the Brownies could get back into the action. Draft day is the Super Bowl in Northeast Ohio, except every year the Browns get to participate. Depriving Browns fans from having a high round pick in the draft is like depriving a young child of a toy on Christmas morning.

The reality of it was that the Browns didn’t have the ammo to get back into the second round. The best trade bait is picks in the current draft and the Browns, a team with so many needs, had little to spare in terms of extra players and picks to move back up in the draft. Still, this didn’t stop Banner and Lombo (as he is affectionately called on NFL Network) from attempting to give Browns fans the thrill of adding to the roster just not by drafting a player, but trading for one.

Davone-Bess

At about the time of the Browns would have been selecting in the 2nd round, news broke that a deal had been struck between Miami and Cleveland for wide receiver Davone Bess. The deal was a win for the Browns who didn’t have to give up any picks1 yet still obtained a productive receiver in Bess. It’s possible that the deal  just happened to be agreed to as the second round began on Friday, but the cynic in me likes to believe this deal was done well before and the Browns wanted to wait until the second round began on Friday night to announce it. Just minutes after news of the trade broke, so did the news that Bess and the Browns had agreed to a three year contract extension. Talks had obviously been taking place between the parties if a new contract was agreed to as soon as the trade was reported.  Maybe I’m giving the people in Berea too much credit, but having news of the trade break when the Browns would have been selecting had they had a pick seems like a perfect use of media relations by the Browns.

When the third round began the Browns had some momentum building with the selection of Mingo and acquisition of Bess. Cornerback was by far the most glaring need for Cleveland in round 3 and there was one honey badger sized corner still on the board.

Available CB’s at pick 68.

Leon McFadden – San Diego State
Blidi Wreh-Wilson – Connecticut
Jordan Poye – Oregon State
B.W. Webb – William and Mary
Tyrann Mathieu – LSU
Will Davis – Utah State
Tharold Simon – LSU

Unless you’re a fan of the likes of William & Mary, UConn, Utah State, and SDSU I’m guessing not many names on that list really resonate. Maybe you’ve heard of Simon from LSU or even Poyer from Oregon State, but the one name on everyone’s mind at 68 was Tyrann Mathiue a.k.a. The Honey Badger. Mathieu was a finalist for the 2011 Heisman Trophy, a first team All-American, and became notorious for his fearless, attacking style and Honey Badger nickname. Like Mingo, Mathieu was an impact player on one of college football’s most dominant defenses in 2011. He was all the rage following the 2011 season before being dismissed from LSU’s team prior to the 2012 season for testing positive numerous times for marijuana.

While Mathieu’s own confession that he “lost count” of how many drug tests he had failed is a bit troubling, it’s hard to judge a college kid for smoking pot these days. Mathieu passed his drug test at the combine and appeared to be doing and saying the right things leading up to the draft. He is a playmaking ballhawk of the Ed Reed mold, a dynamic return man, and had more impact as a member of the LSU secondary than high performing pros Mo Claiborne and Patrick Peterson did during their time in Baton Rouge. Taking Mathieu may have been a risky swing for the fence by Banner and Lombardi, but who wouldn’t rather see a Reynolds moonshot over a Chissenhall single.

Leon McFaddenThe Browns passed on Mathieu and selected San Diego State cornerback Leon McFadden, and with the next pick Arizona took Mathieu. Mathieu will team up in the Arizona secondary with his LSU secondary mate Patrick Peterson. McFadden on the other hand will join a group of Browns corners in desperate need of depth. McFadden was a three year 1st team All Mountain West Conference selection and is slotted to play nickel corner in the NFL because of his smaller size.  Adding a nickel corner isn’t exactly sexy, but it is a need the front office felt they needed to address and the third round was the perfect place to draft a player of that value. I get all that, but if you’re going to draft a nickel corner and one is on the board who single handedly took over college football two years ago then I’m taking that guy.

College football is not the same as pro football, and while the Mountain West may not be a slouch of a conference these days, the SEC is as close as it gets in college football to the pros. Give me the choice of McFadden who was all-conference in the Mountain West or Mathieu who was a Heisman candidate from the SEC, I’ll take the Honey Badger every time.

Time will tell how Banner and Lombardi make out from their first draft with the reigns in Berea, but the first three rounds will be remembered for three things.

  • By drafting Mingo the Browns are showing they are serious about getting to the quarterback.
  • Banner and Lombardi acquiring a quality receiver in Bess for basically nothing.
  • Choosing McFadden the pick directly before the Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu was selected. They play the same position, were drafted back to back, and will be linked for the years to come.

Banner himself said that not all holes could be filled this offseason, but you’ve got to give the Browns credit for going after those holes. They added another pass rusher in round one, depth and a veteran presence to the receivers in Bess, and added must needed corner with McFadden in round three. Safety, tight end, and guard have to be places the Browns look on the final day of the draft.

The draft concludes Saturday with rounds 4-7. Below is the list of picks Cleveland has on the draft’s final day.

Round 4, Pick 14 (111) (From Dolphins)
Round 5, Pick 6 (139)
Round 6, Pick 7 (175)
Round 7, Pick 11 (217) (From Dolphins)
Round 7, Pick 21 (227) (From Bengals through 49ers)

 

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Footnotes:

  1. the Browns and Dolphins swapped picks in two rounds []
  • Garry_Owen

    It’s hard to judge a college kid for smoking pot these days???

    Unless you’re a judge in a criminal court. Or unless the college kid in question also happens to be “a finalist for the 2011 Heisman Trophy and a First Team All-American” with every promise of future success if he doesn’t act like an idiot.

    Some things in life are hard. This isn’t one of those things.

  • Mic

    I can’t believe how poorly written this article is. Wfny is my go-to for Cleveland sports news, but jesus, the syntax is unbearable. Also, as Scott mentioned in the comments earlier, Mathieu was the sexy pick but doesn’t fit our needs as well.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Chill out dude!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    DOH!

  • Esco

    Leon McFadden can play outside. He did in college. His length, strength, vertical, technique, and ball hawking skills make up for his size. He plays bigger than his height indicates. Just because some national TV guy said he’s too short doesn’t mean he can never play outside. Remember, he’s about as tall and 10-13 pounds heavier than Brent Grimes.

  • MrCleaveland

    The real news here is that the Bengals passed on Honey Badger. They love irresponsible low-character criminal types. Too bad.

  • BROSEPH

    I’d say if it was just one instance of getting into trouble then it’s fine. Do it, get caught, suffer the consequence, grow from it and move on. It’s the getting caught and failing something like 10 different drug tests that I’m going to judge the hell out of you. If the problem is bad enough that you end up in rehab multiple times and put millions of dollars at risk and yet still have marijuana problems, I can’t let that slide. You’d think the getting kicked out of LSU would wake someone enough, and it didn’t. Really hope he grows up and becomes a good player and man, but I’m not betting on it happening as of right now.

  • terminal tower

    How can you give them credit? They traded the 4th and 5th picks, and have $30 million in cap space. Of course they have holes, they never actively pursue the problem areas. I’m tired of always waiting for next year – other teams try to be competitive year after year. Isn’t that the way t should be?

    p.s. They don’t need to waste these extra picks they got for next year on a Ryan Mallet or Brian Hoyer, whose been cut by a couple of teams!

  • terminal tower

    s/b “who has” – sorry

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Between Bryant and now Groves the Browns have enough to worry about off the field.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Next Browns Backers Valley View Bridge meeting is scheduled for May 1, 2013! Be there or be square as in a waffle.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=527688311 Matthew Grant Anson

    Jesus*.

    Can you link your own analysis of the draft here? Thanks.

  • Harv 21

    It’s not just the drug tests, it’s the family background, company he keeps and that he also reportedly recently no-showed two separate NFL team interviews. Unlike, say, Josh Gordon, no one’s saying this is a good kid. He couldn’t even fake like he’d cleaned up his act for purposes of the draft under the supervision of an agent. If I have only two picks in the first three rounds, no way he’s one of them. They’d be counting on him to start immediately and he’s a team or league suspension waiting to happen.

  • co811809

    and the honey badger is playing FS with the cardinals that has already been announced. Obviously people do not think he can play outside which is what we needed.

  • mgbode

    Mathieu is a NFL FS, not a CB. Arizona has already said that as well. I wanted him and wanted him there, but if we were drafting CB, then we’re better off with McFadden.