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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Barkevious Mingo – Pick #6 of the 2013 NFL Draft

Cleveland Browns 2013 Draft – Round 1 – Pick #6 – Barkevious (“Keke”) Mingo

The Browns chose to bolster their defense (primarily pass rushing) on Thursday night with the former LSU standout.

Pros:  After signing free agents Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves, the Browns began their transition into the 3-4 defense by getting experienced linebackers.  The acquisition of Keke will now take pressure off these two veterans; double teams will likely not be as prevalent against the tremendous edge rushers.  In passing situations, opposing offenses will now have to look across the entire field or their quarterback will be sacked (or hurried or hit) repeatedly.

In addition to getting to signal callers, Mingo has shown an ability to slow down running backs.  Clearly this will have to develop against better talent in the NFL, but if he does this, the former LSU star will prove his worth as a full-time player.  Where he can make is mark, is consistently tackling ball carriers for losses.

The speed of the outside linebacker is undeniable – the scouting combine is proof.  In the 40-yard dash, the athlete ran an incredible 4.58 seconds and was the top performer in the three-cone shuttle (with a time of 6.84 seconds).  His quick burst will be paramount for success with the Browns, and hopefully he can get behind larger, offensive linemen right after the snap.

Off the field, Mingo comes across like a “nice” guy (which was verified in his first press conference on Friday) – he is intelligent and cordial.  However, between the sidelines I envision a nasty leader who is very destructive on most plays.  This is the type of mentality the team needs to possess – opponents must be concerned when game planning for these defenders.

Cons:  Many believe that, while the front seven could use an upgrade, the secondary was in more of a dire situation.  After the first round completed, the Browns were still seeking another starting cornerback opposite Joe Haden (who can play exceptionally).  Hopefully, the Browns can find a gem in the middle rounds to fill that need; if they do not, the team could struggle against the pass in 2013.

Playing in a 4-3 defensive system in college, Mingo was a defensive end; however he will have to learn a new position in Ray Horton’s 3-4 defense.  There are several recent examples of players who failed to transition in the league – especially very early draft picks (i.e. Vernon Gholston, Aaron Curry).  Obviously the current Browns’ selection has no correlation to those, but recent history is not on his side.

Playing against larger athletes, the belief is that the outside linebacker must put on weight – as he admitted to being just 237 pounds (or sixty pounds lighter than the average offensive lineman).  If he remains at that size, Mingo might either get pushed around or injured.  The other worry is that after putting on pounds, there is a chance this could hinder the athlete’s dynamic speed.  Strength and conditioning will be key in the growth of Keke’s professional career.

My Take:  This was a solid selection by the Cleveland Browns; currently I do not love the pick but I do not hate it either.  It’s a high risk, high reward option – coming from a regime that was viewed as conservative; it was refreshing to see this aggressiveness.  With proper coaching and scheming, Mingo can hopefully prosper in the defense for a long time.

I believe he epitomizes the type of defense this team wants – a fast, physical, and disruptive force (for opponents to deal with).  I anticipate the Browns easing him in (during passing situations), and increasing his workload as the season progresses.  The defense desperately needs a sack artist – they have improved recently in making life arduous for opponents, but they want to become one of the best.  If I had to grade it, I would give the selection a B, but I hope that improves down the road.

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Posted by on April 27, 2013 in NFL Draft

 

NFL 2013 Draft – Pick #6 – Option #4

2013 NFL Draft – Option 4 for Pick #6 – Cleveland Browns

Chance Warmack – Guard, University of Alabama

Analysis:  Many suspect the Browns will choose one of the premier defensive athletes with their first-round pick, however they either may not be available or the front office could have other plans.  With solid offensive linemen already in place at tackle (Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz) and center (Alex Mack), the franchise might look to solidify the unit with the highest-rated guard in the draft.  Doing so could provide gigantic running lanes for Trent Richardson and Montario Hardesty, in addition to more time for the quarterback (presumably Brandon Weeden) to throw the football.

Last season, the Browns were ranked 24th in the league in rushing yards (21st in yards per attempt), and they were tied for 16th in sacks allowed – with thirty-six.  Overall, the running game was rather mediocre, as rookie Trent Richardson could not hit the 1,000-yard mark.  Getting someone who can dominate up the middle should help with those third-and-short situations, where the team failed to convert multiple times last season.  Keeping the team’s signal caller off the ground will also be huge for the offense.

Biography:  A linemen who played all four years in college, Chance Warmack was a three-year starter (for thirty-nine games) with the Crimson Tide.  There, he provided many opportunities for Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy, and T.J. Yeldon – who amassed 1,679 yards, 1,322 yards, and 1,108 yards (respectively) on the ground during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.  A.J. McCarron is a very good quarterback, but there’s no denying that the team’s running attack was an important reason why the offense was successful.  Warmack ended his collegiate career as a unanimous first team All-American and first team All-SEC.  Leading Alabama with thirty-seven pancake blocks (driving his opponent into the ground) is also impressive – he typically faces larger athletes than offensive tackles would.

What teams want, is to draft Warmack in the first round and not have to worry about their guard position for the next decade.  He has been nothing less than consistent at the University of Alabama and front offices anticipate this will continue in the NFL.  The lineman never seemed to have trouble against defenders; Warmack was only penalized twice during his senior year.  Speedy and strong athletes did not force mistakes from the interior of the line – whether it was via a false start or holding penalty.

At the scouting combine, the offensive guard arrived at six-feet, two-inches and weighed three hundred seventeen pounds.  Being over three hundred pounds, Warmack possesses the prototypical size for a professional-level football player.  His 5.49 (seconds) forty-yard dash time is slightly below average for linemen, but as long as he keeps opponents from getting behind him, there should be no issues.  After his time in Indianapolis, Warmack still remained the highest-rated athlete at his position.

Conclusion:  Should Warmack be taken by the Cleveland Browns early in the first round, he would definitely be a starter for the opening of the regular season.  The team’s offensive line might then be listed as tops in the league; containing three former first-round selections and a second-round choice.  As a result, getting those tough yards would be much easier in 2013 than they were in 2012.  If Brandon Weeden (or another quarterback) can get another second or two when dropping back to pass, the Browns’ aerial attack would improve upon their ranking of 28th in touchdowns and 19th in yardage.

The downside to selecting an offensive guard with the sixth overall selection, is forgoing an opportunity to choose an excellent athlete elsewhere.  This includes a cornerback opposite Joe Haden, a dynamic pass rusher, or a potential “franchise quarterback”.  Also, many general managers in the league feel guards can be taken later in the drafts or addressed through free agency.  Along these lines, there are some who believe that offensive tackles can be moved to guard (i.e. Robert Gallery) – therefore this position may not be as high of priority as others for NFL franchises.

If the Browns were one piece away from winning the Super Bowl, I could get behind the selection of Warmack in the first round.  However, Milliner, Jordan, or Ansah should be the pick if they are available.  Should all three be selected earlier, then the front office may have to decide between an offensive target, a trade down, or Warmack.  The guard is the safest option – but I would rather see the team take a risk with their top selection.  The previous regime went the conservative route, and it did not turn out extremely well.

Additional Offensive Options:  A trio of wide receivers in Cordarrelle Patterson (University of Tennessee), Keenan Allen (University of California) and Tavon Austin (West Virginia University) could be drafted early.  However, after selecting Greg Little and Josh Gordon in the second round over the past two seasons, it does not seem likely the Browns will target another pass catcher early in the draft.  Quarterback Geno Smith (West Virginia University) is the wildcard, would the Browns select the signal caller if he is available?

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2013 in NFL Draft

 

NFL 2013 Draft – Pick #6 – Option #3

2013 NFL Draft – Option 3 for Pick #6 – Cleveland Browns

Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah – Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Brigham Young University

Analysis:  Another intriguing alternative for the Browns is the dominant athlete born in Ghana, Africa.  As mentioned (in the Option 2 for Pick #6 Blog), the team can never have enough depth at the outside linebacker position.  Getting the highly touted star would bolster the corps and might take some pressure off of Paul Kruger, Quentin Groves, and Jabaal Sheard.  Perhaps Ansah will be able to transition very easily between linebacker and defensive end – keeping him on the field longer.

Surprisingly, the Browns were fourth in the league in tackles last season with 1,127 stops.  However, this stat could be misinterpreted to think they had one of the better defenses in the league.  Being on the field a majority of the time, and there are more opportunities for the defense to record tackles.  Going forward, the franchise will need to have impactful tackles; some that are for losses and others that can change the course of the game.

Biography:  Growing up nearly five thousand miles from the U.S., Ansah was heavily involved in sports.  However, he initially chose soccer and basketball; after a suggestion from a Mormon missionary, the athlete attempted to continue playing in college (at Brigham Young University).  The result was two failed try-outs and a switch to the track team – for a year.  In 2010, he was then persuaded to get onto the gridiron and play an unknown sport of football.  After learning the proper rules and techniques, Ansah’s statistics shot up significantly.  This culminated in 2012, when four-and-a-half sacks, thirteen tackles for a loss, and sixty-two stops occurred for the outside linebacker.  He was a part of a defense that allowed just over eighty-four rushing yards per game (2nd in the nation) and was fifth in scoring defense (176 points allowed).

Front offices are intrigued at how a talented athlete, with no prior knowledge of the game, can become one of the better defenders just two seasons later.  Many would feel that with year-round training and workouts, Ansah might be an elite defensive end or outside linebacker at the next level.  Several scouts felt confident following the Senior Bowl, as the Ghanan-born star was dominant in practice.  He followed that up with a team-high seven tackles and a sack-and-a-half on the opposing quarterback (during the game); thus further rising his draft stock.

Standing at fix-feet, five inches and weighing two hundred seventy-one pounds, and Ansah has tremendous size for the NFL.  A forty-yard dash time of 4.63 seconds and one of the best performances in the twenty-yard shuttle (4.26 seconds) turned heads at the NFL Combine.  However, critics still worry about his desire for the game and debate possible long-term success.

Conclusion:  Along the lines of Dion Jordan, Ezekiel Ansah would likely not be a starter at the beginning of the 2013 season for the Cleveland Browns.  There is a great probability that the former BYU star will have to learn the professional game and its differences from NCAA football.  However, perhaps simplifying tasks for the athlete may be the best thing – the team could ask Ansah to exclusively rush the quarterback early on.  Should he excel in that facet, the Browns could then employ additional tasks during games.  Regardless of his role, opponents would have to keep an eye on the outside linebacker when he is on the field.

In addition to a few talented linebackers already on the roster, some of the negatives regarding Ansah have to do with his history with football.  Will he continue to love the sport and have a daily passion for years to come?  Would he finish his career early to return home and be with his family in Ghana?  Additionally, detractors may downplay some of the defender’s collegiate statistics – as his team played a schedule ranked in the bottom half of the country (according to Phil Steele).  Brigham Young University faced a few solid opponents, like Notre Dame, but the overall competition does not compare to that of the SEC.

Should neither Dee Milliner nor Dion Jordan be available, I hope the Cleveland Browns draft Ezekiel Ansah with the sixth overall draft selection.  He has one of the highest “ceilings” in the draft class and can become an exceptional NFL defender.

Additional Defensive Options:  Although the defense seems to have multiple stars along the line, the team may grab a highly touted one in the first round (should they be available).  Two of these are Sharrif Floyd (University of Florida) and Star Lotulelei (University of Utah).  Floyd will likely be taken within the first three picks, but if he’s still there at number six the Browns could steal a great defensive tackle.  Lotulelei was diagnosed with a heart condition at the combine, but he has since been given a clean bill of health.  Should the Browns determine there are no health risks, they may surprise a few people and take the University of Utah athlete (who was once considered to be the number one ranked prospect).

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2013 in NFL Draft

 

NFL 2013 Draft – Pick #6 – Option #2

2013 NFL Draft – Option 2 for Pick #6 – Cleveland Browns

Dion Jordan – Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, University of Oregon

Analysis:  Even though veterans Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves left the Ravens and Cardinals, respectively, to play outside linebacker for the Browns – the team needs depth.  Currently, Jabaal Sheard will be converted from defensive end and will become another edge linebacker.  Running a 3-4 scheme with multiple fronts and many substitutions (for the varying situations), and the franchise could be looking to add a dynamic athlete who gets after quarterbacks regularly.  Plus, with a physical game like football; injuries can occur and players need to fill in.

In 2012, the Browns accumulated thirty-eight sacks as a team (averaging just over two per contest), which was just above the league average of thirty-six and a half.  Getting into the upper portion of the league (this season) will help out the unit immensely; opposing quarterbacks would see more pressure – leading dire situations and possible mistakes being made.

Biography:  Believe it or not, Jordan was recruited by Chip Kelly to be a tight end.  After his redshirt season, however, the athlete converted to defensive end.  He spent three seasons on the defense and played terrifically.  His number of total tackles went from thirty-three in 2010 and increased to forty-four in his final season.  As a frame of reference, these totals are on par with defensive standout Star Lotulelei, (whom had forty-four and forty-two tackles, respectively, in his final two years at the University of Utah).  Jordan also ran in three two-point conversions, had two pass deflections, and forced four fumbles in his collegiate career.

However, NFL scouts and front offices are looking at output revolving around sacks and stops for losses from the former University of Oregon star.  Sacks were compiled to seven-and-a-half in 2011 (fourth in the Pac 12) and five in 2012.  Tackles for losses were also abundant; Jordan recorded thirteen of these in his redshirt sophomore year (fourth in the Pac 12) and ten-and-a-half in his final season in college.  Collectively, the extremely athletic player has been solid in his job as an edge defender.

Looking at the measurables, Jordan is six-feet six-inches and weighs two hundred forty-eight pounds.  This is very good size for the NFL, especially for where the Browns would want to play him – outside linebacker.  His 4.60 forty-yard dash is much quicker than a few of his counterparts; this could possibly be the difference between being drafted in the top five and later in the first round.  However, like Dee Milliner, Dion Jordan finished his collegiate career with a shoulder injury that required surgery.

Conclusion:  While he is extremely dynamic and talented, its not certain whether Dion Jordan would be a starter with the Cleveland Browns for the opening of the 2013 season.  He could likely learn from his coaches and the veterans on the roster until an acceptable comfort level is met.  Selecting the speedy linebacker could cause nightmares for opposing offenses – not only would quarterbacks have to double check their blindside, but blocking schemes may have to be altered (reducing the number of receiving targets).

The arguments for going in another direction are based more on his position.  The Browns’ front office may feel they did an adequate job in addressing their linebacker corps in free agency and may try to target other areas early in the draft.  Also, Jordan may be viewed as a part-time player and therefore not worthy of a top ten draft selection.  The injury issue must also be checked out and confirmed that this was an isolated incident; otherwise teams (like the Browns) might be hesitant to choose Jordan.

I would be perfectly content with the Cleveland Browns taking Dion Jordan with the sixth overall draft pick; he has been dominant and could really help this defense.  This is reliant upon Dee Milliner’s situation however, I would prefer the cornerback but the Oregon athlete is a worthy option.

Additional Outside Linebacker Options:  Should the franchise seek additionally draft selections (i.e. getting their second round pick), the Browns may want to trade down in the first round.  Two outside linebacker options whom may be available a few selections later are Jarvis Jones (University of Georgia) and Barkevious Mingo (Louisiana State University).  Both are rated lower and have concerns – Jones’s spinal stenosis and Mingo’s lack of production, but some general managers look at value during the NFL Draft.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2013 in NFL Draft

 

NFL 2013 Draft – Pick #6 – Option #1

2013 NFL Draft – Option 1 for Pick #6 – Cleveland Browns

Dee Milliner – Cornerback, University of Alabama

Analysis:  After the team focused primarily on pass rushers and a defensive lineman in free agency, the Browns acquired a pair of cornerbacks in Chris Owens and Kevin Barnes.  Both of which are “depth signings”, as neither will likely be starting opposite Joe Haden when the 2013 regular season commences.  Incumbent Sheldon Brown was not offered a new contract, and younger veterans Trevin Wade, Buster Skrine, and Johnson Bademosi have not proven themselves (up to this point) – so it appears the team should get a highly talented cornerback in the draft.

Coupling this with the fact the Browns went 0 – 5 in games without Haden last year and it becomes evident that viable options (and several of them) will be required.  Currently, Milliner is rated as the top available cornerback coming out of college; the former teammate of Trent Richardson is looking to making his name after winning a pair of National Championships.

Biography:  Entering the draft early (following his junior year), Milliner became a full-time starter in his final year of college.  During that period, the cornerback played against the best competition (SEC) and performed exceptionally.  After a freshman season that included forty-one tackles, his total dipped to fourteen in 2011 – however Milliner was then able to get close to his 2010 output (with thirty-three stops).  Corner blitzes never seemed to be in Nick Saban arsenal; only one-and-a-half takedowns on opposing quarterbacks occurred during his three seasons.

In the passing game, Milliner compiled six interceptions in his collegiate career.  Starting every game in 2012, one would expect the junior to come away with more than two picks – but that stat does not tell the entire story.  The University of Alabama star was a part of twenty pass breakups (which was equal to his total of his first two years there).  Additionally, he defended twenty-two passes over the season – the most in the entire NCAA.  Throw in a fumble recovery and a blocked kick, and Milliner has done a little bit of everything during his time in Alabama.

As far as his measurables go, the cornerback comes in just under six feet tall (5’11 ¾”) and two hundred one pounds.  His forty-yard dash of 4.37 was exceptionally fast in the combine and helped to vault his draft stock.  One concern involving the athlete was his labrum injury following his 2012 season.  The cornerback required surgery on it and was forced to miss his bench press as a result (many will argue that this is not important with this position group, however).

Conclusion:  Therefore, there are a multitude of positives that surround Dee Milliner.  He is a day-one starter who would fill a void within the franchise.  The secondary had its ups and downs last year and getting a solid playmaker would cause opponents to think twice when facing the Browns.  The defensive back is fast and athletic, and the rest of the defense will be better as a result (deflecting passes and slowing down runners are two examples).

However, the team may not draft Milliner (should he still be available) for a reason or two.  First, the injury to his shoulder may worry some in the front office – his production could suffer and further injuries may incur in the NFL.  Also, the Browns still have needs on offense and might want to address these early in the draft instead.  (Touchdowns are obviously necessary, and the Browns need to score many more of them than they have in previous seasons).  The team could then take a member of the secondary, or two, in the later rounds.

Personally, Milliner is my favorite option for the Browns at pick number six – assuming the roster is status quo and the cornerback is available there.  Offensive athletes can be taken in rounds three and four, but shoring up the cornerback position will really help out this team.

Additional Secondary Options:  If the team chooses to trade down from their first-round pick, Xavier Rhodes (Florida State University) and Desmond Trufant (University of Washington) are a pair of high-quality cornerbacks that would still be available several selections later.  Perhaps the team may want to trade and get an athlete to pair with T.J. Ward in the safety position.  In this case, the Browns may look to acquire Kenny Vaccaro late in the first round.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2013 in NFL Draft