Many of you know that I have praised the work of the Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto in the past. His article published on Sunday pertaining to the Cleveland Browns made some noise -- so much that Mike Florio from Pro Football Talk said the following after reading it:
Moving forward, we’ll keep an extra-close eye on Pluto’s news and analysis of the Browns, because it appears he has definitely found a pipeline into the thinking of the folks now running the team.
There is a lot of good material that Pluto had, and I don't want to regurgitate all of it here. Instead, I'll pick the two points that interested me the most:
The Browns had four players ranked as "blue-chippers." I could only come up with three names -- Barkevious Mingo and offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher. It's possible the fourth was guard Chance Warmack, although I'm sure they were not going to take a guard at No. 6. The main point was Mingo was on the list.
One of the myths surrounding the trade of a fourth-rounder to Pittsburgh (for a third-rounder in 2014) and fifth-rounder to the Colts (for a fourth-rounder in 2014) is that the new front office was using reports from the scouts of the Mike Holmgren/Tom Heckert regime -- and didn't trust the reports. One top operative became angry when I mentioned that, telling me: "We had all the information we needed. We did our homework. The scouts were not an issue when we came to the trades. We just didn't like the players available."
Ah, what a tease -- who was the fourth "blue-chip player?" There was an assumption among many Browns fans that Dion Jordan was at the top of the list. He wasn't available after the Miami Dolphins traded up to No. 3 overall to take him.
I can't believe they would have taken Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher, even with that type of ranking. Sure, they could contribute at right tackle, but it would have really missed on this team's needs, since Mitchell Schwartz did a great job there in 2012. Ultimately, Pluto says the Browns did have a deal available with the Rams, but chose to stick with Mingo because of how much they believe in him.
As an aside, Browns GM Michael Lombardi actually wrote a column in 2012 about blue-chip players in the NFL, where he defined specific criteria for a blue-chipper. Here is what he said:
Definition of a blue-chip player
» Demonstrates rare abilities and creates mismatches that have an obvious impact on the game.
» Is a premier player in the league and a weapon on the field.
» Combines competitiveness and skill to provide a consistent championship-level performance.
» Rates in the top five at his position in the league.
At the time, Lombardi's "blue-chippers" on the Browns included LT Joe Thomas, C Alex Mack, and CB Joe Haden. He also listed LB D'Qwell Jackson as a "red-chip" player, and said that DL Ahtyba Rubin just missed the cut of being a red-chipper. Lombardi's blue-chippers at outside linebacker included DeMarcus Ware, LaMarr Woodley, Tamba Hali, Aldon Smith, and Von Miller. Can Mingo join the ranks of those guys? I'm guessing Lombardi thinks so.
Moving on to Pluto's other point, I was one of the people who speculated that maybe the Browns didn't have the information that their scouts had synched up with the new regime, and that it was an incentive to defer a few picks until 2014. The "angry" tone conveyed to Pluto in an interview seems to indicate that it wasn't the case, and that all of the picks they took in the sixth round or later were great value players with minimal risk since they could be released if they don't turn out.