By: Will Burge
When the Browns selected Cincinnati defensive tackle John Hughes with the 87th pick in the third round, many people felt as though he could have been claimed later in the draft. Most draft “experts” had Hughes with a 6th, 7th, or undrafted free agent grade.
A league source tells ESPN Cleveland that Hughes would have been selected before the end of the 3rd round if the Browns had not selected him. The source said that Hughes had been fielding calls from multiple teams indicating they would select him with their third round pick. The Browns just pulled the trigger first.
General Manager Tom Heckert said that the Browns were ready to select Hughes at #67, but opted to trade back to #87 and acquire another 4th round pick to replace the one they traded to Minnesota to move up and select Trent Richardson. The Browns had to wait a whole hour to find out if their gamble paid off.
“To be honest, we were holding our breath there a little bit,” said Heckert. “I was getting a little concerned I shouldn’t have made the trade but it came down to John was still there. I was questioning myself there.”
It seems as though Heckert had a right to be concerned. The source also said the New Orleans Saints, who owned the #89 pick in the draft, were going to take Hughes if he was there. The Saints ended up selecting Regina defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, who is almost the exact same size as Hughes.
Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron likes to use an eight man rotation on the defensive line. Last year, that rotation included Brian Shaefering and Scott Paxson. After drafting Hughes and then Billy Winn in the sixth round, it looks as though they have made a significant upgrade to the rotation that struggled against the run last season.
As all picks, only time will tell whether or not the Hughes was worth a third round selection. If he becomes part of a dominant D-Line, he was most likely worth it. If the line continues to struggle against the run, Heckert will be questioned about the pick for years to come.
Will Burge covers the Browns for ESPNCleveland.com and hosts 3 Deep, Monday - Friday from 7pm-9pm.
Follow Will on Twitter @WillBurge
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