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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Coach Mike Pettine – First Impressions

Coach Mike Pettine – First Impressions

Initial Thoughts on Mike Pettine Hire:

After nearly four weeks without a head coach, the Cleveland Browns finally inked former Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine as their new leader.  There has been an ample amount of negativity surrounding the hiring process (which is warranted, based on the franchise’s recent history) – here are a few things I noticed about the newest head coach. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2014 in Front Office/Coaching

 

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Defensive Players to Watch: Senior Bowl 2014

Players to Watch for – 2014 Senior Bowl:  Defense

 In continuing with our Senior Bowl analysis, let’s take a look on the defensive side of the ball.   With another coaching change (and a likely new defensive system), there will be some turnover from the 2013 roster.  The Browns’ scouting department should spend a good deal of time with several guys in Mobile, Alabama in the coming days.  I omitted punters and kickers, as I feel Spencer Lanning and Billy Cundiff had solid seasons and won’t be replaced by rookies.

Defensive Line:  Tackles – Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh), DaQuan Jones (Penn State), Caraun Reid (Princeton), and Will Sutton (Arizona State).  Ends – Dee Ford (Auburn), Kareem Martin (North Carolina), Trent Murphy (Stanford), and Chris Smith (Arkansas).

– Analysis:  Assuming the base defensive front remains at a 3 – 4, then the Browns may only gloss over this group (at least in the earlier part of the draft).  Donald and Jones are two of the better tackles in this year’s crop, but I anticipate both being chosen before the Browns are ready to take a defensive tackle.  On the outside, Ford really impressed me in the championship game against Florida State – however, he falls into the category of being drafted before the Browns should select a defensive end.  The franchise may draft for defensive line depth and special teams; similarly to how Armonty Bryant was last year.  This could leave Caraun Reid as the only viable option on NFL Draft weekend.

Linebackers:  Outside – Kyle Van Noy (BYU), Michael Sam (Missouri), Marcus Smith (Louisville), and Jonathan Brown (Illinois).  Inside – C.J. Mosley (Alabama), Jordan Zumwalt (UCLA), Christian Kirksey (Iowa), and Christian Jones (Florida State).

– Analysis:  Drafting Barkevious Mingo and picking up Paul Kruger in free agency last season offers few reasons to believe the Browns will take another outside linebacker early in the draft.  Noy is my favorite of the group, but could go as early as the first round.  Perhaps one of the other three athletes will slip into the later rounds and the front office gives him a chance to find the field in the fall.  Many believe that both inside spots could be in flux this offseason.  D’Qwell Jackson is due a huge roster bonus, leading to a potential release, and Craig Robertson had his issues in pass coverage.  I anticipate at least one inside linebacker being added from the college ranks.  Mosley tops the list, but I doubt the Browns take a linebacker with an early pick.  It will be up to several front office members to figure out if any of the other three guys can be a starter and select him when it’s appropriate.

Secondary:  Safeties – Jimmie Ward (Northern Illinois), Dontae Johnson (North Carolina State), Ahmad Dixon (Baylor), and Deone Bucannon (Washington State).  Cornerbacks – Stanley Jean-Baptiste (Nebraska), Kyle Fuller (Virginia Tech), Darqueze Dennard (Michigan State), Aaron Colvin (Oklahoma), and Chris Davis (Auburn).

– Analysis:  Another part of the team with a question mark is safety; this relates to pending free agent T.J. Ward and whether the Browns re-sign him.  If that is not the case, they must find his replacement and a rookie could be the option.  Jimmie Ward (no relation) is intriguing, and I hope his smaller size and perceived lesser competition does not hurt his standing with the front office.  Buchannon appears to be more in the mold of the incumbent strong safety, totaling 100 tackles and three forced fumbles last year.  However, if the team wants more of a coverage guy, they may want Dixon who finished 2013 with seven pass breakups.  The Browns took a cornerback (Leon McFadden) with their second pick in last year’s draft; that doesn’t mean the front office will stray from that philosophy in 2014.  I believe both Jean-Baptiste and Dennard could start in the season opener, and the former’s size (six-foot three inches, 220 pounds) may vault the athlete up draft boards.

Conclusion:  It’s widely believed that the front office feels more confident about the Browns’ defense than their offense.  While that may be true, the scouting department must still determine who can be impactful defenders – regardless of the round they are selected (if at all).  There could be one to four new faces on the starting defense in 2014; scouting and drafting the right guys are paramount for success.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in NFL Draft, Players

 

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Senior Bowl 2014: Offensive Players to Watch

Players to Watch for – 2014 Senior Bowl:  Offense

Once again, the Senior Bowl is almost upon us.  A week of practice and a contest on Saturday,  January 25th, gives NFL scouts and talent evaluators an opportunity to talk to players and see how they perform against some of the best athletes exiting the NCAA.  The next two upcoming blogs will mention a few guys the Cleveland Browns should take an in-depth look at.  Up first is the offense; the side of the ball that will need to see more personnel upgrades before the first contest in September.  I left off fullbacks, as this team will likely not draft one and they do not have an expanded role in this offense.

Quarterbacks:  Tajh Boyd (Clemson), Derek Carr (Fresno State), David Fales (San Jose State), and Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois).

– Analysis:  There’s no doubt that the Browns will draft a signal caller early in the upcoming draft.  However, I believe it will be an underclassman with their fourth selection.  That likely eliminates Boyd and Carr from the draft board of the Browns, as the former could go in the second or third round and the latter could be a late first round pick.  Nonetheless, I still hope the team looks at these guys.  Do not be surprised if the franchise drafts another signal caller later (fifth to seventh round) and choose to develop him down the road.  This is where Fales and Garoppolo can come into play; I was impressed with both this year – it will be interesting to see if this continues in Alabama.

Running Backs:  James White (Wisconsin), Marion Grice (Arizona State), and Antonio Andrews (Western Kentucky).

– Analysis:  Judging by the futility of the running attack last season, the Browns will be in the market to complement Dion Lewis.  They do not value this position too greatly, so if the front office uses anything earlier than a third rounder – it would be a shock.  The three guys are all smaller, quicker athletes who can be productive.  I could see the Browns utilizing either one of their third or fourth round selections on a guy who “takes pressure” off the 2014 quarterback.  White has played against the best competition, while Grice is coming off an injury.  Could Andrews be a sleeper, as he is coming from a small university?  This is where homework can come in handy when the draft rolls around.

Wide Receivers:  Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt), Jared Abbrederis (Wisconsin), Kevin Norwood (Alabama), Mike Davis (Texas), and Shaquelle Evans (UCLA).

– Analysis:  At the wide receiver position, there’s Josh Gordon and then a bunch of guys for the Cleveland Browns.  The team will probably cut ties with a few athletes and will need to replace them with bona-fide options.  I believe the team will either use the twenty-sixth selection or their second round pick on a wide receiver.  From this group, and assuming a few guys like Allen Robinson and Marquise Lee are off the board, I would love to see the team pick up Matthews.  He has been excellent playing against the best conference in the country.  Abbrederis has definitely been underrated this season and abused early-round draft prospect Bradley Roby earlier this season – I would spend a middle-round pick on him.  The other three are likely complementary pieces, which can still be upgrades over Greg Little and Davone Bess.  If their play and attitudes in Mobile stand out, the Browns might pick one in the later rounds.

Tight Ends:  C.J. Fiedorowicz (Iowa), Arthur Lynch (Georgia), and Jacob Pedersen (Wisconsin).

– Analysis:  The emergence of Jordan Cameron last year may deemphasize the need to improve the tight end position via the NFL Draft.  I would be surprised if the front office decides to use even a middle round selection on this position, but all bets are off on the later rounds.  I could see one of these three guys replacing either Gary Barnidge or MarQueis Gray next season – depending on the type of offense the next coach wants.  Along those lines, the scouting department would identify which of these three stand out (if any) and should he be available on the third day of the draft, pick him as a supplement to Cameron.

Offensive Line:  Centers – Tyler Larsen (Utah State) and Travis Swanson (Arkansas).  Guards – Cyril Richardson (Baylor) and Gabe Jackson (Mississippi State).  Tackles – Jack Mewhort (Ohio State), Zack Martin (Notre Dame), and Morgan Moses (Virginia).

– Analysis:  This part of the Cleveland Browns’ roster is the most difficult to predict for a few reasons.  Will the team re-sign center Alex Mack?  Would Mitchell Schwartz move inside and play guard?  The Browns can do anything in May, including picking one to three offensive linemen – and in all three positions.  Richardson has been dubbed as one of the best pro prospects and could be taken by the Browns with their second choice (if that’s their direction).  I like both Martin and Mewhort as options to replace Schwartz on the right side, but the front office may not agree.  Of the centers, both are viable options that could go between rounds two and four; perhaps they can be day one starters if drafted by this front office.

Conclusion:  There are multiple guys that must get a further evaluation this week in Mobile.  Having two picks in the first, third, and fourth rounds give the team a lot of flexibility.  Making smart decisions begins at the Senior Bowl; not all of these guys will be evaluated as highly as their counterparts (who were not invited), but as general manager Michael Lombardi knows – it’s all about value in the NFL Draft.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2014 in NFL Draft, Players

 

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Part III – Breakdown of Potential 2014 QBs

A Sneak Peak into the Quarterback Class of 2014 – Part III

We now take a third (and final) look at a few more potential quarterbacks that the Browns can choose from in the upcoming draft.  Three different styles of quarterbacks are in this group; hopefully the Browns determine which they can win with going forward.  Continuing in chronological order – based on the team’s bowl game – the final three quarterbacks are Blake Bortles, A.J. McCarron, and Tahj Boyd

Blake Bortles (Fiesta Bowl):  20/31 passes (64.5% completion rate), 301 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interception, 93 rushing yards, and 1 rushing touchdown.

Analysis:  The signal caller did a lot of things well in Glendale, Arizona.  Despite not rushing for a great deal of yardage in the regular season, Bortles carried out several nice read-option plays while moving the chains (and even found the end zone once).  Passing-wise, he was also able to put up over 300 yards and three touchdowns, en route to his team scoring 52 points.  Granted, the Baylor defense isn’t dominant but that was still an excellent outing.  The downside of Bortles’s performance was his turnovers – I have no doubt he can clean these up, but bad passes are not easily forgotten.  All that said, the quarterback can go anywhere in the draft (including #4 overall) and the next few opportunities to impress scouts are vital.

(2013 Season):  239/351 passes (68.1% completion rate), 3,280 yards, 22 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 179 rushing yards, and 5 rushing touchdowns.

Analysis:  Winning the American Conference, beating Teddy Bridgwater, and winning a BCS Bowl are three major accomplishments that garnered attention for Blake Bortles.  However, accuracy, yardage, and a solid touchdown-to-interception ratio did not hurt either.  Being six-feet four inches are roughly 230 pounds makes him a coveted prospect – considering a couple of his counterparts are deemed as “small” or “frail”.  What’s between his ears and how he interviews with definitely help or hurt his case, and I highly doubt that the UCF athlete will say anything to tarnish his image.  One thing that could be concerning is the perceived lesser level of talent that Bortles has faced this season (compared to Manziel’s and McCarron’s).  However, Bridgewater was a member of the same conference and it doesn’t appear to be a factor for him.

A.J. McCarron (Sugar Bowl):  19/30 passes (63.3% completion rate), 387 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and 1 fumble lost.

Analysis:  Just looking at the statistics, and one could assume that the Alabama quarterback did an adequate job of getting the ball downfield and to his receivers.  However, football is all about turnovers and three of them are not going to get it done at the NFL level.  The interceptions were poorly thrown and the Oklahoma defense gave their offense opportunities to score.  McCarron’s fumble was scooped up and returned for a touchdown – sealing the contest.  The quarterback’s outing was definitely an aberration, as he had not succumbed to three turnovers all season long.  Hopefully the signal caller can use this as motivation as he heads into the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine.  I believe his last performance will not affect his draft stock too dramatically, and some franchise will select him in the earlier rounds of the draft.

(2013 Season):  207/306 passes (67.6% completion rate), 2,676 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions.

Analysis:  The perceived “game manager” had another stellar season with minimized mistakes.  McCarron had a yards-per-attempt of 8.75, not exceptional but better than some of his highly touted counterparts.  What hurts the athlete’s stock is the lack of production by Alabama quarterbacks over the past few years, whether it’s unfair or not.  Transitioning to the NFL will put McCarron in situations where his offense will not be “head and shoulders” above his competitors, in terms of talent.  That’s not to say he still cannot make plays and be the leader of the offense.  I anticipate longer, complex plays (especially during Senior Bowl week) will be put upon him to see how he reacts to the challenge.

Tahj Boyd (Orange Bowl):  31/40 passes (77.5% completion rate), 378 yards, 5 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 127 rushing yards, and 1 touchdown.

Analysis:  Facing one of the poorest defenses in the nation, the quarterback had an exceptional game.  Granted, most of his big plays went to one player (top-draft option Sammy Watkins), but utilizing the offense’s strength is the name of the game.  With the great rate he completed passes and doing so forty times, his interceptions can be somewhat minimized.  However, Boyd cannot toss it directly to defenders at the next level – or his career will not be a long one.  I feel this performance can help move the quarterback up draft boards; provided he continues this trend over the next few months.

(2013 Season):  252/373 completions (67.6% completion rate), 3,473 yards, 29 touchdowns, 9 interceptions,  273 rushing yards, and 9 rushing touchdowns.

Analysis:  Glaring at the quarterback’s statistics, and one would deduce that he has had a remarkable season. While this is true, many feel that Boyd could not get it done when it mattered most.  In Clemson’s two biggest games (FSU and South Carolina), the signal caller struggled mightily and the team faltered as a result.  Despite this, the guy still possesses great speed and adequate size.  There will no doubt be NFL executives who will wonder “what went wrong” and Boyd will have to face the tough questions.  Despite the drop of the athlete’s stock since September, the quarterback can still prove himself and have a productive professional career.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in NFL Draft, Players

 

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Breaking News! Regarding IntentionalHounding

Expanding within the Blogosphere – Joining 360browns.com:

I just wanted to update my readers in regards to my whereabouts online when it comes to covering the Cleveland Browns.  After just two years after the creation of intentionalhounding.com, I have been selected as a blog writer at 360browns.com!  My username is edubs1983; feel free to visit that site (tell your family and friends) and read my articles – if you want to enjoy, argue, debate the contents surrounding the franchise.

I appreciate everyone who has taken time out of his or her day to visit this site and read my blogs.  I will still maintain this current site and post my regular blogs, however the site’s twitter account (@intentionhound) might have more activity with 360browns.com posts.

Thank you to all of those who follow the Cleveland Browns the way I do and read the posts on IntentionalHounding.  I am very excited with this new chapter in my writing career and look forward to communicating with you in another outlet!

Much appreciated and Go Browns!

Eric Saunier

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2014 in Set Up

 

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Potential 2014 Quarterbacks Breakdown – Part II

A Sneak Peak into the Quarterback Class of 2014 – Part II

Let’s now take a look into a few more potential quarterbacks that the Browns can choose from in the upcoming draft.  Again, there are many variables that go into the draft process – as well as differing styles of quarterbacks.  Continuing in chronological order – based on the team’s bowl game – the next three quarterbacks are Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, and Johnny Manziel. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2014 in NFL Draft, Players

 

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Breaking Down Potential 2014 QBs

A Sneak Peak into the Quarterback Class of 2014 – Part I

Over the next few weeks, we’ll examine the potential quarterback class that the Browns can choose from in the upcoming draft.  First we’ll take a look at the signal caller’s bowl game then compare that to his stats during the regular season.  Obviously, these are only a few of the factors in which scouts will consider when determining which of these (if any) should be selected in May.  We’ll go in chronological order – based on his team’s bowl game – the first two quarterbacks are Derek Carr and Teddy Bridgewater.

Derek Carr (Las Vegas Bowl):  29/54 passes (53.7% completion rate), 216 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception.

Analysis:  It was a rather underwhelming performance by the senior quarterback, who played against his stiffest competition of the entire season.  Throws were missed – especially in the red zone – and turnovers were included.  To add injury to insult, Carr was visibly holding his right arm in the first half.  I doubt the injury is severe, or will even linger for that matter, but it definitely did not help things.  Of course this outing could be somewhat absolved from NFL talent evaluators’ minds rather quickly if he does all the right things (both with tangibles and intangibles) prior to the draft.

(2013 Season):  453/659 passes (68.7% completion rate), 5,082 yards, 50 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions.

Analysis:  These are tremendous statistics by the signal caller.  Some may argue that the Mountain West Conference may not be the greatest measuring stick to base his statistics off of.  However, touchdowns are still touchdowns and fifty of them are nothing to scoff at.  Reviewing a few films of games by Carr this season, and it appears his bread and butter is the shotgun formation with shorter, underneath throws.  Browns’ fans could cringe as a result of this, as it looked like similar game plans to what Tim Couch and Brandon Weeden employed in the NCAA.  His yards-per-attempt of 7.71 is lower than many of his counterparts – teams will no doubt press the Fresno State star about this.  I would highly expect a good deal of longer routes in the Senior Bowl week and the Scouting Combine, however.

Teddy Bridgewater (Russell Athletic Bowl):  35/45 passes (77.7% completion rate), 447 yards, 3 touchdowns.

Analysis:  What an incredible performance displayed by Bridgewater; the quarterback made quick decisions, avoided a costly mistake, and put the football where only his targets could catch them.  It’s not surprising that opted to leave to school after a performance like that – it’s also unlikely that the signal caller would fall down to the number four draft spot.  However, the scouting combine and pro day are still a few months away; spots where his stock could get hurt (I predict limited work to reduce those opportunities).  It will be interesting to see the kid’s personality and how he responds to difficult questions and circumstances, both on and off the field.

(2013 Season):  268/382 passes (70.2% completion rate), 3,523 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions.

Analysis:  His yards-per-attempt is 9.22 – coupled with his exceptional completion percentage, and scouts really like his potential.  Like Carr, playing in a perceived lesser conference could be a red flag for the quarterback.  Despite tossing for significantly fewer yards and touchdowns than Derek Carr, Bridgewater was more accurate in his throws and was able to limit his turnovers.  Also, entering this 2013 campaign, the Louisville signal caller was highly regarded as the best professional prospect.  Barring injury or a drastic drop-off, he would still be viewed by many as the best.  That turned out to be the case, and depending on what he does in February and March, Bridgewater could land at the first overall draft position.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2014 in NFL Draft, Players

 

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