Did the Browns miss out on an opportunity to improve? By @AJDownattheOne
With only one player that looks ready to contribute in 2013 (Barkevious Mingo) and only five selections made overall, it’s difficult to say that the Browns made themselves better in the immediate future with this year’s draft haul.
The 2012 Cleveland Browns weren’t as bad as their 5-11 record shows but it’s fair to say they needed an influx of talent this offseason to seriously contend for the playoffs in 2013. Despite being relatively active in free agency, the only player that will likely improve the roster is Paul Kruger. Even so, he largely looks like a coup in part due to his impeccable timing in racking up sacks. In his last 12 games as a Raven, including the playoffs, Kruger amassed 12 sacks; in the 37 games previous to that, he only managed 9.5 sacks. He got hot at the end of the season and there’s a reason Baltimore let him walk; he’s not much more than an average pass rusher.
That’s partly the reason they also drafted Mingo. They wanted to ensure they got the most out of Kruger in their transition to a 3-4 defense by pairing him with a top quality rusher on the other side. That’s fair enough but the Browns could really have improved their 20th ranked offensive line by drafting Jonathan Cooper or Chance Warmack and hopefully seen a better return on 2012 selections Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson.
Outside of Mingo, the Browns only made four other picks; once in the third, once in the sixth and twice in the seventh. They used their second round pick last year in the supplemental draft selecting the average Josh Gordon when I’m sure they could have used the 38th pick this year to find an equal or better talent on either side of the ball (Geno Smith, Robert Woods, Menelik Watson, Johnthan Banks, Kawaan Short and Johnathan Hankins were all available where Cleveland should have been selecting had they not sacrificed their second rounder on Gordon). They sent their fourth round pick to Miami for Devone Bess but excuse me if I don’t hold a parade, especially as the two selections directly after the traded 111th pick were Tyler Wilson and Barrett Jones; would a potential alternative to Weeden or a starting interior lineman not have been preferable to a receiver that performed barely above the level of an average replacement last season? Admittedly they turned their fourth and fifth round picks into 2014 third and fourth round selections but what good does that do them in 2013?
I worry that the only additions Cleveland have made this offseason are two shaky pass rushers and fear that they might actually regress if either of those two don’t turn out like planned. The draft is an opportunity to get better, I’m not sure the Browns can safely say they did that.