Do the Cleveland Browns actually have a plan of attack?
Well, it sure looks like it.
So many new faces have arrived in Berea since the end of last season, but it seems like new defensive coordinator Ray Horton is the one getting all the new toys.
Horton’s stockpile continued Thursday night when the Browns selected LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo with the sixth overall pick.
Strange name, indeed. But can this guy play football?
First and foremost he’s fast and athletic. When was the last time the Browns defense had a lot of fast and athletic players, especially at linebacker. For years, the Browns’ 3-4 defense wallowed with slow, un-athletic players.
The switch to 4-3 the last few years wasn’t much better. Who can forget the image of Tennessee Titans tight end Jared Cook simply out running the Browns linebackers for an 80-yard touchdown pass in 2011?
Mingo is an athletic freak and NFL Network’s Mike Mayock was quick to compare him to last year’s first-round pick Bruce Irvin of the Seattle Seahawks.
“Exact same height, weight and speed,” Mayock said. “He’s an explosive presence off the edge.”
Irvin had eight sacks for Seattle last season. Hopefully the similarities continue.
Mingo joins a growing corps of Browns front seven players who are considered pass rushers. Free agent Paul Kruger was the most notable acquisition while Jabaal Sheard is moving from a 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker.
“You can’t have enough pass rushers,” Browns new head coach Rob Chudzinski said.
Which brings us back to the Browns top offseason plan - get guys who can get the quarterback. This new regime knows what it’s up against within the AFC North.
Three quarterbacks, two of which have four Super Bowl appearances and three rings and a third who is showing the signs of being a good young player.
The last two front offices have a combined zero playoff victories and only a handful of AFC North victories. CEO Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi know if they are to turn things around in Cleveland, it begins with victories against the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Two regimes ago, Phil Savage took over as general manager. In 2011, Tom Heckert replaced Savage. Combined, the Browns went 9-39 against the AFC North during those two regimes, or from 2005-12.
First, the Browns hired a defensive coordinator that is from the Dick LeBeau school of defense - run a 3-4 and get after the quarterback. From there, the Browns have seemed to continuously stockpile pass rushers, which brings us to Mingo.
Why take Mingo? Alabama cornerback Dee Millner was still available. So, too, was West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Unlike a cornerback or quarterback, Mingo adds more depth, talent and speed to the Browns’ front seven.
Horton, whose mentor is LeBeau, is getting the players to run the system the way he wants to. The way LeBeau runs it in Pittsburgh. That said, the idea of having two stud cornerbacks isn’t necessary. The plan, at least it seems this offseason, is for the Browns aggressive front seven is to get fast and get after quarterback.
On the way to sacking Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger or Andy Dalton, tackle any and all ball carries to shut down the opponents’ running games.
There is downside with Mingo. He’s a bit undersized, his pass rushing skills need to be improved and you wonder why he only managed 4.5 sacks last season at LSU.
You can’t teach speed. You can’t teach athleticism. The more players the Browns can add with those traits, the better.
The Browns added one Thursday night.