Not even the boss knows what he’s going to do with second-round draft pick David Veikune.
Veikune was a defensive end at Hawaii, which automatically meant he would get a crash course at outside linebacker in the Browns’ 3-4 scheme. His big body, overall skills and football IQ gave coaches the bright idea he could play inside linebacker, too. Indeed, he has.
“He has to be swimming,” Head Coach Eric Mangini said. “He’s played inside, outside, the buck position, defensive end.
“He’s going from a three-point to a two-point stance. There’s a lot of information. It will serve him well over time.”
What has it done for him lately? Veikune says he has “no idea” what his role will be in the season opener.
Has it been a quantum leap from Honolulu? A gradual one?
“I wouldn’t say quantum,” Veikune said. “Maybe in between those two.”
NOW THIRD STRING
Veikune heads into tonight’s game at Chicago listed as a third-string linebacker behind D’Qwell Jackson and Beau Bell. Bell, though, didn’t make a single tackle while appearing in four games as a 2008 fourth-round draft pick.
Veikune was drafted two rounds higher than Bell. He was the new regime’s first defensive draft pick. Will he move ahead of Bell? Do the math.
“One important thing that I’ve tried to get across to everybody, especially the rookies, is understanding the whole defense,” Mangini said. “If you understand why we’re doing it, what it’s designed to stop, what it should look like, where people should fit, then problems aren’t as tough to figure out.
“When you just know your spot, other stuff doesn’t make any sense.”
In Veikune’s case, he isn’t just soaking up knowledge. The staff envisions him as a versatile guy who can be solid in a base defense or move around and spring surprise attacks.
“I have a good amount of knowledge from Mangini in the teaching aspect,” Veikune said. “He makes sure we know everything.”
In Veikune’s case, he’s been practicing everything. Soon the games will be real.
“Everyone’s excited about the season,” Veikune said. “It’s really close.”