In a wise search for depth in our D, the Cleveland Browns drafted Brigham Young University linebacker Sione Takitaki as the 80th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Takitaki, a self-proclaimed physical linebacker with finesse, had the eye of Browns’ management going into the draft. The general consensus of the Browns’ front office was he played ‘like his hair was on fire.’
At 6 feet 1 inch and 238 pounds, he has a versatility that is highly coveted in linebackers. Takitaki’s prowess as a linebacker supersedes his offensive skills. During his career at BYU, the former three-star recruit anchored the Cougar defense with 145 solo tackles, 96 assists, 33.5 tackles for loss, and 15.5 sacks. Takitaki forced two fumbles, recovered two fumbles, blocked one punt, and nabbed an interception.
I won’t belabor the point regarding Takitaki’s suspensions and off the field antics in his early days at BYU. Suffice it to say that I do not know many people who haven’t done several things they would love to take back while they were in their late teens and early 20s. To his credit, a year away from football and his marriage added maturity and focus to Takitaki’s life. If anything, the fact that he matured and grew into a Cougar team captain speaks to his desire to play the game he loves and be a man who others can look up to as someone who has been through substantial struggles.
I believe there are good things ahead for the Browns and Takitaki. Assistant General Manager Eliot Wolf describes Takitaki as a “physical football player,” adding that Takitaki separated himself from the other linebackers in the draft because, “he plays with violence.”
I know that the word violence carries a negative connotation, but come on. We are not talking about ballistic weapons here. Without even a little bit of violence in football, we all may as well tune in to the origami championships on cable access.