Last 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)