BEREA (AP) — The Cleveland Browns instead addressed their need at cornerback.
The Browns made two early trades and then selected Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert at No. 8 in the NFL draft on Thursday night.
With the first deal of the draft, the Browns moved down five spots and acquired Buffalo’s No. 9 pick and first- and fourth-round picks next year. Cleveland then swapped picks with Minnesota, acquiring a fifth-rounder before moving ahead of the Vikings and taking Gilbert, who can play on the opposite side of Pro Bowler Joe Haden.
Gilbert said he hasn’t sure the Browns were that interested in him until he was getting ready to head to New York.
“It kind of crept up on me,” he said on a conference call.
The 6-foot, 202-pound Gilbert had seven interceptions last season, returning two for touchdowns. He recently met Haden and is looking forward to playing with him.
“I pretty much can do it all,” Gilbert said. “I’m an all-around cornerback.”
Cleveland entered the most important draft in its expansion era with 10 picks, ample ammunition for new general manager Ray Farmer to add talent and depth to a team that went 4-12 last season.
Farmer’s expected to grab a quarterback at some point and possibly at No. 26. The Browns, who entered the draft with five of the first 83 picks, recently completed an exhaustive study on quarterbacks with Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater reportedly emerging as the top candidate.
Manziel, Texas A&M’s Johnny Football, has been a popular choice with Browns fans, who have been longing for a franchise quarterback for years to end the team’s run of futility. Brian Hoyer is expected to start for Cleveland next season but could be pushed by any rookie QB.
Gilbert can also help the Browns in the return game. He owns the Oklahoma State and Big 12 record with six career kickoff returns for touchdowns.
“Justin is a very gifted football player who brings a lot to a team, both on defense and in the return game,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “He is a playmaker. His decision to come back to Oklahoma State for his senior season really paid off because he established himself as one of the top players in this year’s draft. We’re very proud of Justin and happy for both him and his family.”
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