In the third round, the Cleveland Browns surprised the NFL world by selecting BYU linebacker Sione Takitaki. The former Cougar looked like a reach initially, but if he lives up to his raw potential, he could be one of the steals of the draft.
The Cleveland Browns spent the 2019 NFL Draft trying to beef up their defense. Last season, the Dawg Pound fell short in many a game due to a lack of defensive depth, and they were determined to rectify their biggest problem this offseason.
The Browns added LSU cornerback Greedy Williams in the second round at No. 46 overall, a consensus bargain pick. But, John Dorsey surprised fans with the No. 80 pick, selecting linebacker Sione Takitaki.
Takitaki had a troubled past, and while at BYU, was suspended multiple times. However, he was able to turn himself around with the help of his wife and became a team captain during his final year with the Cougars. When he’s on the field, Takitaki can shape the entire defense with his physical, violent style. He’s very raw, but defensive coordinator Steve Wilks is going to love his aggression and hard-hitting potential.
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Outside of his past brushes with the law, Takitaki was projected to fall to the late rounds due to his unrefined abilities as a linebacker. Although Takitaki can make some great plays and pop the ball out with his hard tackling style, he tends to miss due to over-pursuit. He gets his ankles broken on simple juke moves, but the potential is there. If Sione Takitaki can live up to his potential, he could turn into Cleveland’s best pick.
The Browns had a need at linebacker this offseason, and they knew they could address it during the draft. Joe Schobert is a solid piece in the middle, but Christian Kirksey could easily be upgraded upon. The release of Jamie Collins also leaves a void on Cleveland’s roster, and the Browns remedied these two holes with Takitaki and fifth-round linebacker Mack Wilson from Alabama.
Steve Wilks might have his hands full with Takitaki’s weaknesses, but there’s so much raw talent that the potential is hard to ignore. Fantastic on tape, Takitaki’s big plays jump off the page, and he has shown that he’s a much more mature man now.
He needs coaching, and fans can’t expect him to make an impact right away, but Sione Takitaki could become a massive steal for John Dorsey and the Browns.