Apr 30, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Cameron Erving (Florida State) poses for a photo after being selected as the number 19th overall pick to the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
The Cleveland Browns did not make a splashy trade during the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, but that doesn’t mean the team didn’t have a surprise in store for its fans.
With the expectation that the team would select a wide receiver or perhaps an edge rusher with the team’s second pick in the opening round, general manager Ray Farmer pulled off a surprise by selecting Florida State offensive lineman Cameron Erving.
The versatile Erving started his college career as a defensive tackle before spending two-plus years at left tackle, then his final five games at center, joins an offensive line that was already one of the strengths of the Browns.
“Playing left tackle at Florida State, (Cameron) played some of the better pass rushers you’ll see in this draft, whether it’s Vic Beasley (or) it’s Eli Harold,” Farmer said on the team’s website. “He played against those guys and you could see his athleticism and his ability to translate to the National Football League rather easily.”
The fact that Erving played multiple positions at Florida State is a positive. As the Browns learned the hard way last season with Alex Mack, you are only one injury away from seeing a team strength transform into a liability.
As to where Erving will line up, a shift to the right side of the line seems in order for this fall, with right guard John Greco or right tackle Mitchell Schwartz in line to head to a reserve role.
Which is part of what we find puzzling about the pick. While we like Erving the player, it seems as if Farmer jumped a year early in drafting a player that, hopefully, won’t play his preferred position at center for a long time.
The consensus appears to be that Farmer made the Erving pick as insurance in case Mack opts out of his contract after the upcoming season and becomes a free agent. It is part of the ongoing narrative that everyone wants to bolt from the Browns at the first opportunity, even though that doesn’t appear to be the case.
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While Erving could replace Mack, that won’t happen until 2016 at the earliest. (And why Mack would leave one of the best offensive lines in the NFL is a question we have yet to hear a viable answer to.)
Erving could also be a better option than Greco and Schwartz this fall, but there is no guarantee of that happening. He’s versatile, no doubt, but moving around in college is a bit different from doing it at the NFL level.
“As rule of thumb, teams find a lot of ways to win games,” Farmer said about selecting Erving. “From my perspective, I think our competitive advantage right now for the offense is the offensive line. To bolster that group, we took the guy that we thought had the most additional versatility and the skill set for who we wanted to be. Regardless of where he gets inserted, it is a positive for us.”
If Erving is as talented as Farmer believes, then the Browns just took the offensive line, already a strength, to another level.
We just can’t help but wonder if that was a priority that could have waited another year.
How would you grade the selection of Cameron Erving?