Browns could be willing to gamble on Sam Beal
The NFL will hold its annual Supplemental Draft on Wednesday and there is growing speculation that the Cleveland Browns will be players for the first time since 2012.
There are five players available: Virginia Tech cornerback Adonis Alexander, Mississippi State safety Brandon Bryant, Oregon State linebacker Bright Ugwoegbu, Grand Valley State running back Martayveus Carter and Western Michigan cornerback Sam Beal.
The Browns reportedly have their eye on Beal, who decided to pass on his senior season at Western Michigan due to academic issues. He finished last season with 26 tackles, a pair of interceptions, and 10 passes defended while being named to the All-Mid-American Conference second team.
Beal, who is just a shade under 6-foot-1 and 178 pounds, is being hyped as a player who “would have been one of the top cornerbacks selected” in the 2019 NFL Draft, which makes it easy to see why every NFL was represented at his quickly arranged Pro Day last month.
Of course, projecting what might have been next spring is not the same as determining what Beal’s value will be come Wednesday. It is extremely doubtful that a team would spend a first-round selection on Beal, and it is still questionable if someone would use a second-round pick unless it was at the bottom of the round.
But a third-round pick? That could be the type of gamble that Browns general manager and noted “football man” John Dorsey might be willing to take as the club currently has a pair of third-round picks at their disposal — their own and one from the New England Patriots, acquired in the Danny Shelton trade.
It sounds odd, at first, to think that Dorsey would select a cornerback after drafting cornerbacks Denzel Ward (first round) and Simeon Thomas (sixth round), and signing free agent cornerbacks TJ Carrie, E.J. Gaines and Terrance Mitchell.
Add in incumbent Briean Boddy-Calhoun, and the cornerback room looks to be pretty full.
There are a couple of caveats to those players, however, that could lead the Browns to take a shot at Beal.
While Carrie and Mitchell both signed multi-year contracts, the nature of the Browns salary cap gives the team the luxury of moving on from both of them after this season without much financial pain. Gaines is on a one-year deal, so that makes him an easy drop after the season if need be.
Pair that with the fact the Beal needs some more seasoning before he is ready to take the field at the NFL level — he only played cornerback for two seasons in college after spending most of his freshman year as a wide receiver — and the Browns could select Beal secure in the knowledge that they can basically redshirt him for the upcoming season and still be protected at the cornerback position.
Select Beal on Wednesday and the Browns get a jump start on working with him on his technique, getting him into the weight room, and then having him available for the entire offseason program.
It may sound like a bit of a luxury to pick a player and then plan to not have him play for the first year. But if it is OK for the top overall selection in the draft, surely it would fly with a player selected in the third round of the Supplemental Draft?
In the six months or so that he has been on the job, Dorsey has received a lot of praise for the work he has done. While some of that praise is a result of the anti-analytics crowd going overboard to justify their ignorance, much of it has been well-earned as Dorsey works to accelerate the rebuilding efforts.
Selecting Beal – even if he does not play until 2019 – is the type of move that could pay off in a big way down the road, which is why it wouldn’t be surprising to see Dorsey take a shot on Wednesday afternoon.
After all, Dorsey didn’t become a noted “football guy” by sitting back and waiting for someone else to make a move.
(Photo via si.com)