The dust has settled from the Cleveland Browns’ 2013 draft, and the reviews are certainly mixed. The general consensus seems to be one of disappointment and lukewarm optimism, but that’s nothing new for immediate draft reactions, especially when a team doesn’t do anything Earth-shattering.
The Browns kept it simple this year. They drafted Barkevious Mingo with the sixth overall pick and plan on making him an outside linebacker. Many thought the Browns would look at a cornerback like Dee Milliner with that pick, but the team opted instead to build serious depth in its front seven. While the secondary remains a question mark, it’s hard to argue with that philosophy.
But it was the Browns’ late-round trading that seems to have really divided everyone. The Browns wound up trading their fourth-round pick to the Steelers for a 2014 third-round pick and their fifth-round selection to the Colts for a fourth-round pick next year.
Here is why those were great deals for the Browns: too much emphasis is placed on the later rounds of the draft. Can good players be found in the depths of the last four rounds of the draft? Sure, but it would appear that Tom Brady has spoiled us. More often than not, later rounds offer little more than roster fillers, unrealistic expectations and future trivia answers to questions about obscure players.
Yes, the Browns could have found a serviceable starter in those traded picks, but they instead chose to give themselves leverage in 2014. They could package those picks to trade up or could simply use them to add more depth. When one factors in the free agent acquisitions of this offseason – including linebacker Paul Kruger, defensive lineman Desmond Bryant and linebacker Quentin Groves - along with the trade for wide receiver Davone Bess, there is no denying that the roster isn’t better. The Browns could afford to trade a few draft picks and still bring value to the team.
As always, though, trying to dissect a draft only a few days after its conclusion is an exercise in futility. No one knows if Mingo will work out or if Leon McFadden will become a serviceable starting cornerback. If he does, that alone could make this year a success.
The Browns’ roster will look quite different in 2013. This was going to be a polarizing draft no matter what, and for one that was deemed to be thin on talent, the Browns did the right thing. True judgment will be reserved, but the Browns didn’t reach or make an outlandish move (like, say, drafting quarterback Geno Smith), so that alone should be applauded.
Pundits need something to say about every team, though, and it’s much harder to dissect the teams that don’t do something flashy. We’re all clueless about how top prospects will turn out (and even more so on everyone else selected past the first round), but everyone has agreed that Mingo has the tools to succeed in the NFL.
When you have the sixth overall pick, that’s all you can ask for.