No. 6 – LSU pass rusher Barkevious Mingo
No. 68 – San Diego State cornerback Leon McFadden
No. 175 – Notre Dame safety Jamoris Slaughter
No. 217 – East Central (Okla.) pass rusher Armonty Bryant
No. 227 – Chadron State (Neb.) offensive lineman Garrett Gilkey
BEREA -- The third day of the NFL Draft was a bizarre one for the Browns, filled with curious moves, more zzzz’s than buzz and interesting explanations.
In the first draft under CEO Joe Banner, general manager Michael Lombardi and coach Rob Chudzinski, the Browns selected only five players and turned an eye to 2014 four months before Week 1 of the 2013 regular season. In the four rounds to finish the draft Saturday, they made two trades into next year’s draft, waited four hours to turn in their first pick and added three players – all have had medical issues, two played at Division II schools and one has an arrest record.
The pick of Barkevious Mingo at No. 6 on Thursday night felt like a decade ago.
“The philosophy really is to treat everything we have, whether it’s a draft pick or an undrafted free agent, cap space, whatever it is, as an asset, try to maximize the value we can get for it,” Banner said. “Having in mind the idea of building a really good team over two to three years as opposed to worry about filling every single need that we could identify at this moment.”
He counted the weekend’s five picks, receivers Josh Gordon and Davone Bess and the two future picks as the total draft haul. Gordon was a supplemental pick in July, and Bess was acquired in a trade with Miami on Friday in which the Browns moved down twice but didn’t surrender a pick.
The start of the day foreshadowed the long, odd hours to follow.
The Browns were scheduled to pick at No. 111 in the fourth round, but sent it to Pittsburgh for a third-rounder in 2014. The rivals hadn’t agreed on a trade since 1968, when the Browns fleeced the Steelers – Cleveland got quarterback Bill Nelsen for quarterback Dick Shiner.
Banner said he had multiple similar offers, but thought the Steelers’ was the best.
“I prefer trading within the division,” he said. “You don’t make a trade you don’t think you’re winning, so if you’re winning a trade within your own division, you’re even better than winning a trade in another division.”
The Browns pulled a similar move in the fifth round, shipping No. 139 to Indianapolis for a fourth-rounder next year.
When they got around to picking, they took Notre Dame safety Jamoris Slaughter (6-foot, 195 pounds) in the sixth round and East Central (Okla.) defensive end Armonty Bryant (6-4, 263) and Chadron State (Neb.) offensive lineman Garrett Gilkey (6-6, 314) in the seventh round.
Slaughter suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon Sept. 15 backpedaling vs. Michigan State. He expects to be 100 percent by training camp and could compete for the starting free safety job.
Bryant transferred twice before finishing his career at East Central, where he totaled 13.5 sacks in two years. He had to answer character questions after being arrested on a felony charge of marijuana distribution in a school zone. He got a five-year deferred sentence. He had surgery to repair a torn labrum after his junior season.
“We felt like he’s past his mistakes that he’s made and ready to move on and he’s matured,” Chudzinski said.
Gilkey had heart surgery as a freshman in high school that kept him from playing sports and appendicitis as a junior at Chadron State. He’s healthy, was invited to the Senior Bowl and will likely shift to guard after starting at left tackle at Chadron.
Owner Jimmy Haslam and Banner have been vocal during the offseason that the building of the roster will take more than this offseason. That isn’t easy to hear for a fan base that hasn’t seen a playoff win since the 1994 season, and the acquisition of two 2014 picks was a harsh reminder.
“Listen, we’re not asking for a free pass for this year,” Banner said. “We expect to improve, we expect it to be conspicuous.
“We’re not gonna reach all of our goals or fill all of our needs this year. But we think we’ll play exciting, aggressive football. I think it’ll be clear that the team is continuing to improve, as I think it has for the last year or two, and positioning itself well to have a chance to become very good and sustain it.”
The Browns hit their biggest needs with the five picks, adding a couple of pass rushers, a cornerback, a safety and offensive line depth. They didn’t draft a quarterback, despite plenty of big names available in every round.
An nfl.com report said they’re interested in Arizona’s Brian Hoyer (St. Ignatius/North Olmsted), but they seem content to let Brandon Weeden have 2013 to prove whether he can make significant strides in his second season, the first with coordinator Norv Turner. Although Chudzinski stopped short of naming him the starter.
“I’m excited about Brandon and I’m excited about the progress he’s made thus far and learning the system,” he said. “And I’ve also been pleased with Jason (Campbell) and the role he’s taken in being there. And we want to give these guys every opportunity to succeed.
“We’re going to proceed as we’re proceeding right now, and Brandon’s getting the reps with the first team and working with the first group.”
The draft was conducted with the FBI investigation of Haslam’s Pilot Flying J as the backdrop. He spoke to sponsors Thursday and was in town all weekend but didn’t talk to the media.
“He’s actively involved in his way,” Banner said. “He holds everybody to a high standard, he asks a lot of very good, very smart questions, good things to make sure we think through. He’s a very positive energy and force to have around. I think it makes everybody feel like we have his support.”
It could be necessary after a weekend that is likely to be met with mixed reviews.
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