In this past spring’s NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns addressed their defensive line needs. Little did they know soon after the draft, second year defensive tackle Phil Taylor would injure himself while working out in the weight room. The draft picks would come in handy quicker than they thought.
When Cleveland selected defensive linemen Billy Winn from Boise State and John Hughes from Cincinnati University, some people and experts shook their head in disbelief at both selections. It was almost if they should have swapped draft spots. Winn was projected by analysts to go anywhere between the second and fourth round, while Hughes was expected to go after the fifth round. Respectively, the Browns snatched them both up.
Needing a major upgrade (remember Jayme Mitchell?) and depth on the defensive line, the Browns bolstered their front with Winn and Hughes. After Taylor’s pectoral injury, both Winn and Hughes have thrust in to starting roles splitting time. Both players have shown their feisty motor and have picked up the defense fairly quick. Against the Baltimore Ravens in a physical AFC North battle, Winn posted 5 tackles and a qb pressure. The former Bearcat, Hughes in limited action has stuffed the run and recorded one sack on the season so far. For Browns fans, it must be nice to see mid to late round picks actually making a name for themselves early in the season.
Their play is not going unnoticed by the Cleveland faithful either, life long Browns fan, Ron of Kent, Ohio had this to say “Anybody can draft a Michael Jordan, Mario Lemieux, or a Peyton Manning, but winning organizations are built in the lower end of the draft. The Browns seem to have hit big on both of these young men.”
So far this year, Winn and Hughes have done everything asked of them filling the shoes of Taylor. It’s just a matter of time before one of them has a breakout game. Both of them could be nice pieces to the puzzle for years to come.
Ryan Ruiz – Cleveland Browns Writer
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