By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
The Morning Kickoff …
Making room: New management regimes almost always keep their drafted players on the roster for at least the first year. That’s why, barring unforeseen developments, all five of the Browns’ 2013 draft picks should make the roster in September.
That would mean somebody has to go to fit each of the Joe Banner/Mike Lombardi collaborative picks on the final 53.
Which of the returning players are most vulnerable this summer as a result of the 2013 draft class? We analyze.
Draft pick: 1st round/6th overall. Linebacker Barkevious Mingo.
Rich free agent signee Paul Kruger will be one of coordinator Ray Horton’s starting rush linebackers, probably from the left (or strong) side. Converted end Jabaal Sheard would have been the other starter. He lined up on the right (or weak) side at minicamp two weeks ago. If Mingo is as good as the Browns expect, he will relegate Sheard – at some point early in his career -- to a rotational sub off the bench. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Mingo will be on the field for first down of the season opener, or at all in 2013. Aldon Smith was the seventh overall pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2011. He did not start a game his rookie year and turned in 14 sacks his first season. So Mingo doesn’t have to play on first down to make an impact. A potential problem exists in Horton’s run defense, which has been summarily ignored by everybody. Sheard was uncomfortable lining up on the right side as a rookie, so he was quickly moved to the left side. Even there, Sheard was a virtual nonentity against the run for two years. Lining up Sheard at weakside linebacker invites opposing offenses to run behind their left tackle on first down, second down …
Draft pick: 3/68. Cornerback Leon McFadden.
Make no mistake, McFadden – all 5-9 5/8 of him – was tabbed to replace Sheldon Brown at the right cornerback spot. At San Diego State, McFadden started for four years at cornerback after arriving as a wide receiver. If McFadden earns the job in training camp, Buster Skrine would be the favorite to cover slot receivers as the nickel back. McFadden’s arrival probably would most imperil the roster status of Trevin Wade. Why? Besides McFadden, the new regime signed free agent cornerbacks Kevin Barnes and Chris Owens. Although low-priced, Barnes and Owens would have to be absolute busts not to stick; each received a cash bonus to sign. The other relevant cornerback is Johnson Bademosi and his roster spot is safe because he is the baddest special teams player on the team now that Josh Cribbs is gone.
Draft pick: 6/175. Free safety Jamoris Slaughter.
Slaughter tore an Achilles tendon in Notre Dame’s third game on Sept. 15 and had surgery shortly thereafter. Slaughter said he is 90 percent recovered and expects to be fully ready for training camp. If so, Slaughter will be given every chance to win the starting free safety job. The incumbent is 2012 undrafted free agent Tashaun Gipson, who was more impressive than 2011 seventh-round draft pick Eric Hagg. Hagg was given the starting job at last year’s minicamp. He was benched after two games. Usama Young, who replaced Hagg, was released last month.
Draft pick: 7/217th. Defensive end Armonty Bryant.
Bryant was a puzzling pick even without considering his arrest in October for selling dope to an undercover cop on his college campus. His pass rush ability against Division II competition was hard to ignore. But at 6-4 and 264 pounds, he does not appear to be a fit as an end in the 3-4. Some scouting publications projected him as a linebacker in the 3-4 but coach Rob Chudzinski said he would be an end with the Browns. At best as a rookie, Bryant would be a situational rusher in four-man fronts. The Browns’ defensive line depth chart is loaded with tackle types. A 3-4 team mathematically would struggle to keep more than six linemen. The most affected players if Bryant squeezes in are Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, a prototype nose tackle who did OK as an undrafted free agent while Phil Taylor recovered from pectoral muscle surgery, and Brian Sanford, a 2011 undrafted free agent who fits better as a 4-3 end.
Draft pick: 7/227th. Offensive lineman Garrett Gilkey.
Gilkey dominated at Division II Chadron State (Neb.), but has the dreaded “short arms” for a lineman. That means he is headed to guard. There, he conceivably could compete for the starting left guard spot that was shared last year by Jason Pinkston and John Greco. Pinkston has been officially declared free of the blood clot that incapacitated him last season. Greco is a gem as an interior swingman – the only lineman who could swing to center in a pinch. The Gilkey drafting would seem to most affect Pinkston, and reserve candidates Jarrod Shaw and Dominic Alford.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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