New Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton met with reporters Thursday after the third session of organized team activities. Horton is spearheading the defense’s transition from a 4-3 system to his 3-4, multifront scheme. Below are some excerpts from Horton’s question-and-answer session.
Q: What did you see from outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft, before picking him and what have you seen since?
A: “Before, it was all obviously on tape, and he was an explosive player. And out here, he is a young man that played with his hand in the ground [as a defensive end] at LSU, and now we are asking him to stand up and do different things. So he’s got a learning curve and a timetable, and we don’t want to rush him. We don’t want to say, ‘This is what we expect day one, day two.’ We want it to be a growing process of learning. This is not a simple defense. It’s a complicated defense. He’s got a learning curve, and we want to make sure that he learns it.”
Q: Does Mingo, who weighs about 237 pounds, need to gain weight and what type of player do you want him to be?
A: “I want him to be a dominating player. Weight? Some guys are too big. Some guys are too small. Some guys aren’t fast enough. Some guys aren’t slow enough. But they learn how to play. We want athletic football players. He is an athletic football player, and that’s what we want him to be.”
Q: With the Browns drafting Mingo in the first round and cornerback Leon McFadden in the third round to go along with the signings of outside linebackers Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves and defensive end Desmond Bryant, do you feel like you’ve hit the jackpot with all of those defensive acquisitions?
A: “I thought you knew I bought a Powerball ticket last night. I didn’t check it yet. I am very pleased with how Mr. [Joe] Banner, Mr. [Jimmy] Haslam and how coach [Rob] Chud [Chudzinski] have stockpiled the defense. We’ve got a lot of talent, and we are going to try to figure out who fits where best for the Cleveland Browns to play very good defense. Everywhere I go I hear about the Dawg Pound. I meet people, and they are in the Dawg Pound third row or this or that, and they are excited. We are excited to put a good product on the field that the Cleveland fans will love and be excited about.”
Q: What is the biggest challenge for the players switching from a 4-3 defense to your 3-4, multifront system?
A: “It’s a totally different defense, so there is a lot of adjustments — terminology, drops, the way I call games, the way I ask them to learn the defense. So right now, I am just asking them to trust me and trust the defense, and they are doing that. We are pleased with where we are at day three of OTAs.”
Q: How is Jabaal Sheard doing in his transition from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker?
A: “He’s been doing great. We ask him to do different things. If you would have asked me what I am most excited and happy about, [it] is the way the guys have come in and trusted and applied themselves. We’ve had almost 100 percent participation. The guys are attentive, and they are doing what we ask them to do. The participation and the trust factor right now has been fantastic.”
— Nate Ulrich