Browns fans who turned off the TV when the team selected Miami running back Duke Johnson with the third round's 14th pick tuned out 30 minutes too soon.
For the second consecutive year, the Browns traded back into the third round to land a player they coveted. In 2014, it was running back Terrance West, and on Friday it was Washington State defensive lineman Xavier Cooper.
The trade was the second of three the Browns made throughout the draft's three days. It was the only one that saw Cleveland give up picks to move up.
Browns general manager Ray Farmer joined Cleveland Browns Daily on Monday and explained why the Browns were willing to fork over a fourth-round (111), fifth-round (147) and sixth-round pick (202) with the New England Patriots to nab Cooper at No. 96. Cleveland also acquired a seventh-round pick in the deal and used it to select USC linebacker Hayes Pullard.
"Xavier Cooper is a young man who plays with his hair on fire," Farmer said. "You put the tape on, this guy was hustling, he competed, he found the ball, has an exceptionally explosive first step, the quickness, the speed … Anytime you have a guy on the defensive line, it's generally one of two skill sets you covet. It's either the guy that has the explosiveness and quickness to penetrate and play behind the line of scrimmage. Or it's the guy in the case of Danny Shelton where his strength becomes the other skill set you look for.
"This guy, the sky's the limit. He very well may be one of the guys people look at and say, 'how did he get to this point?' because his skill set is that dynamic and the things he can accomplish."
Asked whether he thought Cooper fit best at the three-technique or five-technique end positions, Farmer said "both."
"When you look at him, a lot of five-techniques are 6-foot-5, 35-inch arms, etc., 280-90 pounds," Farmer said of Cooper, who is listed at 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds. "He's a squattier-body, thicker-framed kid, but I do think his skill set would allow him to play either position and still have success."
Cooper will join a defensive line room that grew by two through the draft and plans to expand even more when the Browns bring in a slew of undrafted free agents and tryout players this weekend.
Farmer said the arrival of new players across the team will push the returning players to perform even better than they have in the past.
"We talk about driving competition. When you drive competition it inherently puts some insecurity in other people," Farmer said. "The reality is you've got to find a guy to the point where he's not afraid of competition. He looks the competition in the eye and he says, 'I'm better than you.' That's what we want. That's how guys get better. You don't get better when you look at the guy behind you and say, 'he's terrible.' You just don't get better that way. In our minds, it's all about pushing those guys."