Mingo’s injury puts spotlight on McFadden

272-20130726-0687_600Last season the Browns started several players that were drafted in 2012. They included Trent Richardson, Brandon Weeden and Mitchell Schwartz, plus spot starts or significant contributions from Billy Winn, John Hughes, James Michael-Johnson and Travis Benjamin. In addition, undrafted free agents Craig Robertson, L.J. Fort, Tashaun Gipson, Josh Cooper and Johnson Bademosi all were on the team and had an impact. And of course there is Josh Gordon, selected in the supplemental draft.

Eight of those rookies could be in this season’s starting line-up when the season starts September 8th. This is an unusually high number. Teams don’t expect one class of rookies to be such a vital foundation to the future of the team. This year’s class is a completely different story.

I was critical of the Browns for not using all of the picks at their disposal in the 2013 draft. The Browns traded out of the 4th and 5th rounds for 3rd and 4th round picks in next year’s draft. Did they get value for those picks? Certainly.

The Browns have said part of the rationale for the trades was that they were cautious about adding too many new players this season. Whether adding two more players in the mix would have been a mistake remains to be seen.

With Barkevious Mingo out for an unknown amount of time while his bruised lung heals, the spotlight of this year’s draft class is on the third pick, cornerback Leon McFadden and safety Jamoris Slaughter.

McFadden played in his first preseason game Saturday against the Colts. He was on the field for 31 defensive plays, the most of any non-starter. He recorded four tackles and deflected one pass. Colts receivers were targeted six times against McFadden, catching four passes for 45 yards. Here is what Pro Football Focus said about McFadden’s debut.

“McFadden’s first look at the field (-0.9) saw more varied chances as he got shots at passes to both T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey in addition to Wayne. The rookie got his hand to one ball, but surrendered four first downs of his own and let Hilton get behind him on an overthrown pass in the second quarter.” [Drummond/PFF]

If this class is to have an impact this season and beyond, obviously Mingo will have to recover and live up to his potential, but Leon McFadden will also have to become a solid contributor. Playing the nickel role is fine. He doesn’t have to be a “lock-down” corner and expecting him to be is asking too much.

Garrett Gilkey could still end up starting at right guard, if not the first week then at some point down the road. Jamoris Slaughter also saw his first action against the Colts, albeit limited action. Armonty Bryant did not play in the Saturday’s game. For the preseason, Bryant has a sack and three QB hurries to his credit.

(Photo: Jon Cole Photography for WFNY)

  • CB Everett

    Let’s be fair–Since they were without their high second rounder, I think was unrealistic to expect significant contributions from the rookies this year outside of Mingo. Even if you disagree with the trades of the 4th and 5th rounders, what did you think you were going to get from those potential picks (special teamers? depth/non-starting caliber DBs? developmental guys on the line?). Let’s be honest, those picks are a crap shoot.

    Mingo’s injury is obviously unfortunate, but it’s unfair and illogical to then put the McFadden pick on the “spotlight” (hot seat)–implying that his success now will make or break this year’s draft.

  • 240

    “Not using all of their picks.” Such a ridiculous statement made by so many people in this town. You all obviously ignore when other writers (Barnwell for example) talk about how moving up in future rounds is so critical to long term success of a franchise. In my opinion they used those 4th and 5th round picks as effectively as they possibly could have.

  • Harv 21

    I watched McFadden carefully in the first half and the sky is not falling, he played fine for a guy in his first pro game against established receivers. Better than we should expect of a third rounder. A third round CB is going to give up some plays, fall for a double move, etc. his rookie year. Even Hanford Dixon, who was a first rounder, had some rocky early games.

    But as for Gilkey, I’m sorry Rick. He’s a small school project playing a position new to him at any level, would take a major FO snafu for him to start the opener. Gilkey may not even be on the roster come mid-season. Keep your eyes on the waiver wire …

  • mgbode

    TY Hilton and Wayne are tough covers for any corner. I didn’t watch it, but I’m not going to get worried based on what I read. Completely agree that mid-round CBs have rocky roads. Heck, 1st round CBs usually start off rocky (Patrick Peterson and Joe Haden both were burnt often early in their rookie year).

    also, mostly agree on Gilkey. I don’t want him starting week1. but, it’s going to be tough for him to not be out there at this point as he may be our best internal option and a waiver/cut OG is running out of time to learn enough to play week1. it is a FO snafu (I was among those calling for them to do something at OG), but it’s not the worst offense to have 2 potential starting OGs get hurt preseason and needing a bandaid for a couple weeks (let’s see what happens and if we can mask the issue).

  • mgbode

    It is essential assuming you also have enough current depth to do it. We sat on $30mil in cap space + traded the mid-round picks and have a few “obvious even to us dumb fan” holes on the team.

    That is the issue (trading the picks is the lesser evil to me though as we do get better round picks next year for them).

  • Harv 21

    I meant a snafu now – failing to pick up a released veteran who might be very mediocre but with enough NFL game experience to muddle through for a few weeks. They have to make a decision on Weeden this year, and they can’t do that if he goes down in early season with a major injury. Opposing d-coordinators would salivate seeing us throw Gilkey out there.

  • nj0

    I’m all about trading up from year to year. Using picks just to fill the roster, regardless of the level of talent, seems ridiculous to me.

    For the life of me, I don’t get the $30M in cap space though. I realize balancing the cap is confusing and I’m not smart enough to get the ins-and-outs, but I don’t see how we couldn’t have used some of that space just on this year to improve the team. Poor Dolan. Why don’t we ever hear about Haslam being cheap?

  • Natedawg86

    I am working on a lung protector for Mingo to wear. It is similar to a rib protector, but larger and it basically covers everything from the belly button to the armpits. give me a few more days and it will be ready. Mingo – You should be good for the first game.

  • Natedawg86

    unfair especially when you are drafting a third rounder expecting him to start AND putting him on an island as a corner covering the teams #2 WR.
    I am looking hard at that pick traded to Pitts. We need to score big on that pick. That to me is a no-fail pick (it could be used to move up, but if that person is a fail this is a huge fail)

  • Natedawg86

    Normally trading a Browns 4th for a steelers 3rd is only about a 10-15 pick difference, but I can see them getting a pick in the 70-75 range from the 111th pick. That is huge.

  • CB Everett

    Yep, agreed the Pitt pick is key. People are hand wringing over Shamarko’s fate–but the flip side is that if Pitt has a down year (hopefully aiding by us whipping them twice), that high pick could turn out to really bite them.

  • mgbode

    agree that the cap space is more perplexing.

    the draft pick(s) are more about recognizing we had issues at OG, TE, FB, CB, and S. now, we might not have thought any of the guys drafted there could have helped us out at those slots. if so, then the trade makes perfect sense. but, we have seen teams double-up at positions only to have the lower ranked guy play a significant role too (see: Hughes & Winn).

  • Natedawg86

    Pitt could easily end up on the bottom of the division this year.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Nope.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Sounds like a flak jacket.

  • BenRM

    If Gilkey starts, I’m not sure how much of a snafu I would consider it. You lost your starter and your backup. And then your late round pick plays better than your veteran backup’s backup (WIN! – Good drafting!).

    A team can only have so much depth because there is only so much talent to spread around the league. At a certain point, the backup backups will not be noticeably more or less talented than one another or than late-round rookies.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Hilton was barely used it was Bruce Wayne who tore ‘em up.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    wait a sec harv, shouldn’t we for the regular season for this sort of conjecture?
    -with love,
    Kanick

  • CBI

    Interesting read about the success rate of draft picks by round:

    http://cfn.scout.com/2/1180349.html

    Personally, I’m still on the fence about the trade, so I’ll leave it at that.