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.
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.
The 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)
- the Browns and Dolphins swapped picks in two rounds [↩]