BEREA: The Browns filled a dire need on their offensive line and bolstered their depth in the trenches on the defensive side Friday night during the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft.
Meanwhile, they neglected their need at wide receiver.
The Browns selected California offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz in the second round (No. 37 overall). In the third round, they traded down from No. 67 to No. 87, gaining a fourth-round pick (No. 120) in a deal with the Denver Broncos. They took Cincinnati defensive tackle John Hughes at No. 87.
Four receivers were chosen in the second round after the Browns picked Schwartz. Another four went off the board after they traded down in the third round.
“There were some [wide receivers] we liked, but we obviously liked Mitchell better,” Browns General Manager Tom Heckert said. “So we decided to go in that direction.”
Schwartz will be expected to join the Browns’ first-round picks, Alabama running back Trent Richardson and Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden, as starters next season. Hughes will be used to spell starting defensive tackles Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin.
After cutting starting right tackle Tony Pashos last month, the Browns chose Schwartz as his successor.
“We felt like we needed to address the right tackle situation,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “It’s easy to say that you’re going to plug him in and play him, but he’s gotta go over there and learn to play right tackle in this league. We think he can do it.”
The 6-foot-5, 318-pound Schwartz played right and left tackle at Cal. With perennial Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas entrenched on the left side of the offensive line, Schwartz realizes he’ll be counted on to lock down the right side.
“I’m comfortable doing either,” Schwartz said by phone while watching the draft from home in Los Angeles. “But I know Cleveland obviously has probably the best left tackle in the game, so I kind of understand my role in regards to that.
“I do feel really prepared to come in and compete right away and start if I get the opportunity to.”
Schwartz, a former college teammate of Browns center Alex Mack, redshirted as a freshman. He started all 51 games during the next four years despite undergoing back surgery following his junior season.
“I put a pretty high premium on being on the field,” Schwartz said. “Obviously you’re no use to your teammates or the coaching staff if you’re not on the field. So I got [my back injury] cleaned up after the season, and it’s been great ever since.”
His brother, Geoff, is an offensive lineman for the Minnesota Vikings. The younger Schwartz believes his bloodlines will help his succeed at the next level.
“I got really lucky obviously having an older brother who’s been through the entire process already,” Schwartz said. “Coming out of high school I kind of knew what to expect with recruiting. And obviously now going into the NFL, I have a pretty good understanding of what to expect. He’s kind of been there, done that. I can learn a little bit about from his mistakes.
“Obviously we talk about football and how he likes it and what the challenges are going to be and all that. So it definitely kind of gives me a little bit of a leg up that other guys aren’t necessarily as fortunate to have.”
Last season, the 6-2, 309-pound Hughes, a Gahanna native, started 11 of the 12 games in which he played. He compiled 51 tackles and five sacks.
“He’s a big, physical guy,” Heckert said. “He’s not a great pass rusher. But he is a really, really good run player.”
The third and final day of the draft will kick off at noon today. The Browns have the following picks: fourth round (Nos. 100 and 120), fifth round (No. 160), sixth round (Nos. 204 and 205) and seventh round (Nos. 245 and 247).
Receiver remains a pressing need.
“We still have some picks left and there’s some [receivers] that we do like,” Heckert said. “We’ll see.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at https://ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/browns.abj.