By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor
Here are my five biggest takeaways from the Browns’ draft and undrafted free-agent signings:
>Player-personnel types with whom I’ve spoken around the league love Barkevious Mingo’s speed and athleticism, saying they’re as exceptional as could be found in any player in the draft. They see the most effective way for him to make an immediate impact as an outside linebacker is in obvious pass-rush situations, and expect him to be a nice complement to fellow outside linebacker Paul Kruger. But they also maintain high regard for Jabaal Sheard and think he can make a successful conversion from end to outside linebacker and will fill a key role in the defense, especially on early downs.
>At 237 pounds, Mingo is somewhat light for his position. The sense I get from NFL player-personnel types is that he can comfortably add weight, in the form of additional muscle. One told me that it was conceivable that Mingo could get close to 250 pounds, but that it was more realistic to envision him hovering in the low- to mid-240s. On the issue of how well the former LSU defensive end can adapt to dropping into coverage as an outside linebacker, another player-personnel man said Mingo’s background as a basketball player should serve him extremely well when it comes to positioning and body control.
>Leon McFadden is seen by player-personnel people with whom I’ve spoken as about as good a cornerback as the Browns could have selected in the third round. In fact, Gil Brandt, the architect of the Cowboys’ dynasty of the 1970s and a player-personnel guru for NFL.com and SiriusXM NFL Radio, told me he had a second-round grade on McFadden because of his speed and ball skills. The biggest reason this choice makes sense is the nature of the 3-4 scheme that defensive coordinator Ray Horton is installing. By design, this defense puts immense pressure on cornerbacks, who are constantly challenged in coverage because of the abundance of defenders rushing the passer, and they must be smart and instinctive. According to one NFL source, McFadden did well on the Wonderlic test, given to all draft prospects.
>Safety Jamoris Slaughter is the prototypical sixth-round pick. The former Notre Dame standout is recovering from a ruptured Achilles, but his low-round status minimizes the risk and sets the table for a tremendous reward if Slaughter is able to make a significant contribution as a rookie and/or beyond. Slaughter says he expects to be able to participate by the start of training camp in late July, and that seems reasonable considering that he suffered the injury early last season. But it’s entirely possible the Browns will decide to shelve him for his rookie year and see what he can contribute in 2014.
>Consider this fun fact: There are 15 undrafted free agents in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That’s two more than top overall draft picks in the Hall and seven more than Heisman Trophy winners in Canton. Do the Browns have any such gems among the 18 undrafted free agents they’ve signed? Who knows? What’s interesting is that the positions with the most undrafted free agents are wide receiver (five) and offensive tackle (four). The Browns didn’t address tight end in the draft, as many of us expected, but did pick up a couple among their undrafted signees: Garrett Hoskins, from Eastern Michigan, and Travis Tannahill, from Kansas State.
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