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April 25, 2013There is no denying that the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers got the players they wanted in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night.
With the sixth pick of the draft, Cleveland selected LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo. Meanwhile, San Francisco traded up 13 spots to choose Tigers safety Eric Reid with the 18th pick.
For the second consecutive season, LSU had two defensive players chosen in the first round. A year ago, cornerback Morris Claiborne was selected by the Dallas Cowboys as the sixth pick, while defensive tackle Michael Brockers went to the St. Louis Rams with the No. 14 pick.
In the past seven drafts, the Tigers have now had eight defensive players chosen in the first round. All but Reid and Brockers were one of the top six selections each year ? Mingo, Claiborne, Patrick Peterson, Tyson Jackson, Glenn Dorsey and LaRon Landry.
The Browns have a new head coach in Rob Chudzinski and a new defensive coordinator in Ray Horton. Cleveland is switching to a 3-4 defense which means that Mingo will be an outside linebacker. The Browns signed Baltimore Ravens free agent Paul Kruger to play on the opposite side.
“Mingo’s athleticism speaks for itself,” said Chudzinski on a conference call with Cleveland media. “He’s explosive. He’s got speed off the edge. Mingo is battle-tested in the SEC. But, he’s got plenty of room for growth.”
Ironically, Mingo was wearing a brown-striped tie with an orange pocket square ? the colors of the Cleveland NFL team.
“Those were my stylist’s favorite colors,” Mingo said. “It was a real big coincidence. This was just an exciting moment. It snuck up on me. I can’t wait to get to Cleveland. It has such a loyal fan base with hard-working people.”
Mingo admitted that he intends to be a starter for the Browns’ season-opener.
“My goal is to be starting week one and help us win games,” Mingo said. “I’m high energy. I have a quick first step, a good burst to the ball. That’s what (Browns) liked about me and that’s what they wanted to add to this team. I am focused on the next chapter in my life and I am ready to get to work.”
San Francisco needed a free safety after Dashon Goldson signed a five-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was obvious that Reid was the person the 49ers pinpointed as Goldson’s replacement. San Francisco traded its first and third-round picks to the Dallas Cowboys to get Reid.
“Eric believes he’s a winner all the way,” said San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh, who recruited Reid while the head coach at Stanford, on the team’s web site. “He is a champion kind of guy and football player. I can’t wait to have him here in our home in Santa Clara.”
Reid had a lengthy conversation with Harbaugh at the NFL Combine two months ago.
“When I met with coach Harbaugh at the combine, he was very confident in my knowledge of the game,” Reid said. “We chit-chatted after that. I want to be a jack-of-all-trades at the next level. Whether that is covering the slot or blitzing, I am willing to do whatever coach wants me to do.
“It’s a privilege to go to an organization as well respected as San Francisco. When I think of the 49ers, I think of great players. I have followed them for a long time.”
The NFL draft will continue Friday night with the second and third rounds.