The Cleveland Browns once again proved they are the kings of mystery when it comes to the NFL Draft.
Prior to the start of the draft, the Browns held seven picks overall, having a selection in every round except for the second, which they forfeited last season by selecting wide receiver Josh Gordon of Baylor in the supplemental draft. And, while at the end of the third day they had selected five collegiate prospects, the manner in which they went about making those selections was odd, to say the least.
The Browns traded picks with three other teams on the final two days of the draft, including AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers. The last time a Cleveland football team made a trade with Pittsburgh prior to yesterday was in 1968.
Of the Browns five selections, only one (Barkevious Mingo, DE from LSU) appears ready to make an immediate impact, and he may not even be a starter. Two of the other four prospects appear to be question marks due to either injury (safety Jamoris Slaughter of Notre Dame only played three games in 2012 due to an Achilles injury) or character issues (defensive end Armonty Bryant was arrested for selling marijuana to minors). The other two prospects, Leon McFadden and Garrett Gillkey, might be good but it is really too early to tell.
The Browns front office would say that the bigger picture must be taken into account, that the draft was part of an overall strategy that included free agent signings (Paul Kruger, Quentin Groves, and Jason Campbell among the bigger names) and trades (Cleveland acquired Miami wide receiver Davone Bess in exchange for swapping draft positions).
Cleveland fans, however, have grown tired of the same old song and dance. The last time they had a winning season, in 2007, some fans considered it a fluke. Six seasons later their intuition could not have been more spot on. And while owner Jimmy Haslam has his own issues to hash out, Browns fans don’t really care. The bottom line is that while the three other teams in the AFC North continue to improve, the Browns look more and more like a three ring circus.