NFL Team Report - Cleveland Browns - INSIDE SLANT
Davone Bess, acquired in a draft trade with the Miami Dolphins, might become the steal of the draft for the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns traded their fourth-round (104) and fifth-round (164) picks to the Dolphins for Miami's fourth-round (111) and seventh-round (217) picks plus Bess, a five-year veteran with 321 career catches. Bess played mostly in the slot in Miami but did line up outside in some formations.
Bess was offered to several teams because the Dolphins signed Mike Wallace and Brandon Gibson in free agency and re-signed Brian Hartline. Bess passed his physical with the Browns and then promptly signed a three-year contract extension through 2016.
"Being down here in Miami since my rookie year, having developed a relationship with the organization and fans and kind of embracing my opportunity was something special here," Bess said. "All good things, they say, must come to an end and to jump ship to Cleveland is a great stepping stone for my career."
The Dolphins signed Bess as an undrafted rookie out of the University of Hawaii in 2008. A year later, former Browns head coach Eric Mangini used a second-round draft choice on Brian Robiskie and another second-round pick on Mohamed Massaquoi.
Bess caught 267 catches from 2009-12. Massaquoi and Robiskie, who played for the Jaguars and Lions after being released by the Browns in October of 2011, have a combined 161 erceptions over the same period - 106 fewer than Bess alone caught.
"I'm a get-it-done type guy," Bess said. "Whether it's inside or outside, whatever the coaches want my role to be, I'm going to give 110 percent and maximize it to the best of my ability.
"I take great pride in being productive and converting on third down. A big part of it was obviously the opportunity the coaches put me in and being able to find mismatches and let me do what I do."
Bess' nose for the ball on third down was appealing to Browns general manager Michael Lombardi. Bess has 130 catches on third down in the first five years of his career. Eighty-eight were converted for first downs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"He's caught a lot of passes, converted a lot of third downs for the Dolphins," Lombardi said. "They signed a couple other receivers this year so it was a good opportunity for us to bring him in here and see what he can do in terms being inside the slot and play outside. He does both. He did both last year for Miami. He's been very productive since he was a free agent out of Hawaii so he'll certainly give us a chance."
Bess gives the receivers veteran leadership that has been lacking on the practice field and in the locker room. Massaquoi played four seasons with the Browns before using free agency to leave and sign with the Jaguars, but he never embraced the role of leader. Josh Cribbs, an eight-year veteran, wasn't used enough at receiver to be declared a leader among receivers.
Bess wants to be that experienced player to help nurture Greg Little, Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin.
"They have a bunch of young guys there who had pretty good seasons last year who are young and hungry with physical ability," Bess said. "To come in and just share my knowledge and be able to help out a group, not only from a play-making standpoint but just more mental and understanding the game of football Xs and Os, is something I can do."
Little led the Browns with 53 catches last year followed by Trent Richardson with 51 and Gordon with 50. Benjamin caught 18 passes.
NFL Team Report - Cleveland Browns - NOTES, QUOTES
--Director of college scouting John Spytek was fired with one year left on his contract. The leadership team of CEO Joe Banner and general manager Michael Lombardi also fired area scouts A.J. Durso and Tom Headlee.
Spytek was hired by former Browns general manager Tom Heckert in 2010. Durso and Headlee worked for former Browns president Mike Holmgren in Seattle and were also hired in 2010.
Senior national scout Pat Roberts, a key part of the Browns' personnel department for eight seasons, will not be back for a ninth season. His contract is up and he was told it will not be renewed.
Roberts was hired by former general manager Phil Savage in 2005. He survived the takeover by Eric Mangini in 2009 and former general manager Tom Heckert kept Roberts when he took over in 2010, but the current leadership of CEO Joe Banner and Lombardi decided to make a change.
Roberts was a national scout for the last three seasons. He was the Director of college scouting in 2009 and was a national scout from 2005-08.
--Third round draft pick Leon McFadden went to San Diego State as a wide receiver but was converted to cornerback as a freshman. The San Diego State quarterbacks coach is Brian Sipe, the former Browns quarterback and MVP of the 1980 season.
"I'm very excited about him being a Brown," Sipe told Ohio.com. "I've known the kid for four years, watched him play. I'm excited for the Browns, and I think they got a great third-round draft pick."
--Guard/tackle Garrett Gilkey, chosen by the Browns in the seventh round with their final pick (227), is the third player in the history of Chadron State to be drafted by an NFL team. The Vikings selected defensive end Bennie Francis in the 15th round in 1970 and the Bills drafted wide receiver Don Beebe in the third round in 1989. Beebe played nine seasons with the Bills, Panthers and Packers.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Quarterback is an important position. We are always going to be open to looking at the position. We are always going to be evaluating everybody and every option there is to get stronger there. That's just a matter of organizational philosophy." - Browns CEO Joe Banner.
NFL Team Report - Cleveland Browns - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
A closer look at the Browns' picks:
Round 1/6 - Barkevious Mingo, LB, 6-4, 237, LSU
The Browns want Mingo to start on the right side with Paul Kruger on the left and pressure the quarterback relentlessly. Mingo had eight sacks in 2011 and 4.5 last year, but coach Rob Chudzinski isn't concerned about the decline. Mingo did very little pass coverage at LSU and will have to learn that with the Browns.
Round 3/68 - Leon McFadden, CB, 5-10, 193, San Diego State
McFadden can play corner or nickel. The Browns need a player at both positions. He was a four-year starter for the Aztecs and led his team with three interceptions last year. He returned two for touchdowns.
Round 6/175 - Jamoris Slaughter, FS, 6-0, 195, Notre Dame
Slaughter's left Achilles was torn in the third game last season. If he is healthy he is expected to challenge Tashaun Gipson for a starting job.
Round 7/217 - Armonty Bryant, DE, 6-4, 263, East Central University
Bryant can play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. He had a school-record 26.5 sacks, but he was also arrested selling marijuana to an undercover agent. "It was a stupid mistake," Bryant said.
Round 7/227 - Garrett Gilkey, OL, 6-6, 318, Chadron State
Gilkey started 12 games at left tackle in 2012 at Division II Chadron State. He can play guard. Browns offensive line coach George Warhop worked him out two weeks ago. He played for former Bills receiver Don Beebe in high school.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None
TRANSITION PLAYER: None
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (6)
--CB Sheldon Brown won't be brought back. He is 33 and his biggest supporter, former general manager Tom Heckert, was fired in the Jimmy Haslam regime change.
--WR/KR Joshua Cribbs is unlikely to be re-signed. His usefulness as a wide receiver is negligible and the rule change from 2011 has diminished his value as a kick returner.
--P Reggie Hodges won't be back. He missed all of 2011 with an Achilles tendon tear and finished 31st last season with a net punting average of 37.1.
--RB Brandon Jackson won't be back. He missed 2011 with a toe injury and did not carry the ball until the 16th game last year.
--DE Juqua Parker won't be back. He is a 4-3 end and is not a good fit in Ray Horton's defense.
--S Ray Ventrone won't be back. He is a special teams leader but has had injury problems the last two years.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--LB Auston English (not tendered as ERFA).
--DE Emmanuel Stephens (not tendered as ERFA).
--FB Eddie Williams (not tendered as RFA) missed all of 2012 with a back injury.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
--WR Jordan Norwood: ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--RB Chris Ogbonnaya: Not tendered as RFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--LS Christian Yount: ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--CB Kevin Barnes: FA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--TE Gary Barnidge: UFA Panthers; $3.75M/3 yrs, $650,000 SB.
--DT Desmond Bryant: UFA Raiders; $34M/5 yrs, $15M guaranteed.
--QB Jason Campbell: UFA Bears; $4.25M/2 yrs, $500,000 guaranteed.
--TE Kellen Davis: FA Bears; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--K Shayne Graham: UFA Texans; $940,000/1 yr.
--LB Quentin Groves: UFA Cardinals; $2.4M/2 yrs.
--LB Paul Kruger: UFA Ravens $40.5M/5 yrs, $6M SB/$20M guaranteed.
--RB Dion Lewis (trade Eagles).
--WR David Nelson: Not tendered as RFA by Bills; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--CB Christopher Owens: UFA Falcons; $1M/1 yr.
--LB Emmanuel Acho (traded Eagles).
--K Phil Dawson: UFA 49ers; $2.25M/1 yr, $1M SB.
--LB Scott Fujita: UFA; retired.
--LB Chris Gocong (released).
--QB Josh Johnson: UFA Bengals; $1.895M/2 yrs, $500,000 guaranteed.
--LB Kaluka Maiava: UFA Raiders; $6M/3 yrs, $2.035M SB.
--WR Mohamed Massaquoi: UFA Jaguars; $4.7M/2 yrs.
--QB Colt McCoy (traded 49ers).
--DE Frostee Rucker (released).
--TE Alex Smith: UFA Bengals; terms unknown.
--TE Benjamin Watson: UFA Saints; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--S Usama Young (released).