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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Early Options for the Browns – Offense

Early Options for the Browns – Offense

NFL Scouting Combine – Part One

Offensive Line

The more I think about it, and the more I hear from NFL Insiders – should the Browns opt for a offensive lineman (at least early in the draft), it will be a guy on the outside. This does not bode well for Mitchell Schwartz, unless he assumes the role of right guard and embraces competition with John Greco. The three guys listed below are possible draft picks for the Cleveland Browns: 

T.J. Clemmings did not hurt his draft stock in Indianapolis. The converted defensive end excelled in the forty-yard dash as well as individual drills. He finished his collegiate career at right tackle, but could obviously slide over to the blind side of the quarterback. Many pundits list him as their best rated offensive tackle, which sounds like the Browns would draft him – if he were to be available with the twelfth pick.

Ereck Flowers drew some national praise from the media during his work at the combine. Some wonder if he will struggle at the left tackle spot, and might be better as a right tackle. In 2015, that is not a problem for the Cleveland Browns (assuming they select him) – however when will the Browns find the replacement for Joe Thomas and move the veteran to the right side? On the contrary, the Browns could wait until possibly the second round to take Flowers (while acquiring two playmakers at other positions first).

I really liked Laken Tomlinson ever since the Senior Bowl. The guard walled off defenders and was athletic in drills. If the Browns surprise some and choose the guard, I would be eager to see what they choose to do at right tackle. There are a few options there currently on the roster, including Michael Bowie (who is coming off injured reserve).

Tight Ends

In my opinion, there are only two realistic game-changers for the tight end position this year (while Nick O’Leary is a maybe in that department). The Browns can take the top guy with their third pick, and the other guy a round or two later. Since Jordan Cameron is likely departing, and Jim Dray and Gary Barnidge are complementary pieces – I want to see the Browns acquire their main tight end this year.

Clive Walford did not display exceptional speed during the forty-yard dash, but hopefully that will help the Cleveland Browns during their draft. Walford looked smooth in drills and displayed athleticism that is lacking at that position. I would be very happy if the Browns took him, and getting him the third round would be a steal. Of course it all comes down to Ray Farmer’s draft board and how the chips fall on the table in April.

Another guy who is an athletic freak is Maxx Williams from Minnesota. He has made some acrobatic grabs during his collegiate days, and will be required to replicate that if he dons the orange and brown. He also displayed soft hands during the combine, something that made scouts happy. The quarterback’s best friend is a threat in the red zone. Whether it is Johhny Manziel, Connor Shaw, or someone else – having a security blanket like Williams would be a nice luxury to have.

Wide Receivers

Realistically, Amari Cooper will be drafted before the Cleveland Browns are on the clock at the twelfth selection. However, there are two viable options that I would like the team to select in the first round. Should they choose either (and add a veteran like Cecil Shorts via free agency), and my faith in the team’s passing game would be heightened.

Kevin White put on a show in Indianapolis – the athlete broke the 4.4 barrier in the forty-yard dash and was exceptional during drills. He has been climbing up draft boards over the past few months, but hopefully not too high where he’s taken in the top ten. Not playing with an exceptional quarterback in college should be looked as a positive – there’s a great chance the Browns don’t have their franchise signal caller in 2015. That being said, why can’t he perform at the next level?

The other guy Ray Famer might want to look at is DeVante Parker from the University of Louisville. He did not perform as well as White did at the combine, but he was just as impressive on the field. Despite Teddy Bridgewater’s departure and a foot injury, he still put up good numbers (five touchdowns in seven games). I think he can develop into a number one wide out and have the team forget about that dude from Baylor.

Conclusion: While the Browns appear to be solid in a few areas of their roster, they can always stand to upgrade. Getting a top right tackle and a stalwart at tight end would be a solid start to the offseason – nailing down that top wide out is a must. In a few months, the offense can be completely transformed (to hopefully a feared one). Management is due to make it happen for the Cleveland Browns.

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Posted by on February 26, 2015 in NFL Combine, NFL Draft

 

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Gangs of Indianapolis – Who to Scout?

Gangs of Indianapolis – Who to Scout?

Four Position Groups I’ll be Scrutinizing During the Combine

This week is a critical one for all NFL teams; this is a chance to get a better look into many different options to choose from during the final weekend in April. The Cleveland Browns need to improve in many areas (quarterback included) – but I feel there are four parts where the team should focus their attention during the first few rounds. Not surprisingly, they are mostly within the trenches – but I also included skilled positions as well. Breaking it down: 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

I do not care whether Ray Farmer said wide receivers are of tremendous importance or not – the Browns must acquire some talented guys at this part of the team. Kevin White and Davante Parker are two of my early favorites in the first round, but who knows what the team will actually do with those picks.

Along those lines, the tight end position is in dire need of upgrading (when Jordan Cameron leaves via free agency). A Clive Walford or Maxx Williams needs to be brought into this offense, to give the guy under center a reliable receiving option on passing downs. Upgrading both wide outs and tight ends would really give me confidence in the 2015 offense.

Offensive Line

Right now, the Cleveland Browns’ offensive line is better than average but is still lacking in certain areas (consistency, for one). The right side stands to be improved, and I would not be opposed if the team selected a guard or tackle in the first few rounds. Assuming that guy is near the capability of Joel Bitonio, which is a tall order, than this unit can become one of the best in the league. Are the Browns looking deeply into T.J. Clemmings, Cedric Ogbuehi, or Laken Tomlinson (to name a few)? I certainly hope so.

Defensive Line 

As of this point, I expect Ray Farmer to look more at interior guys upfront who can win the line of scrimmage battles during run plays. It’s no secret the team was porous in this area in 2014 and will likely lose veteran Ahtyba Rubin in a few weeks (as a free agent departure). Therefore a Danny Shelton, Eddie Goldman, and Malcom Brown are a few possibilities in the first round. Should the team take one of the three and, more importantly, he pans out – this defense should be feared.

Outside Linebackers

The depth of this positional group is not as strong as others, however it is still a huge need for the Cleveland Browns. Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo are going to likely be the only alternatives to start next year – and the latter has underwhelmed since joining the league. Therefore the team might want to turn towards an Alvin Dupree or a Dante Fowler to secure their edge rusher for many years. Solidifying the front seven must be a priority, and a consistent edge rusher is key to that equation.

Conclusion: We shall see what the Browns do with their quarterback in the next few weeks and months. Regardless, the team needs to improve along both lines, receiving options on offense, and a guy who can get to the quarterback. I anticipate Ray Farmer will get it right for these four spots.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2015 in NFL Combine, NFL Draft

 

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The “New” Offense and Expectations

The “New” Offense and Expectations

Can DeFilippo’s Offense Work? 

Reading into the new offensive coordinator’s press conference, it appears that the Browns will be similar in some aspects while changing a few things up as well. The beginning of the 2014 campaign displayed a promising offensive unit, only for that to be very underwhelming during the last month. I think the Browns can utilize a successful offense next season – but by how much is the biggest question.

Continuity with the Zone Blocking Scheme 

Last year was the first campaign the orange and brown shifted away from man blocking and used a zone scheme. While the guy in charge is new, hopefully some of the same concepts will remain fresh in players’ minds. Joe Thomas, Joel Bitonio, and Alex Mack all should know what is expected to occur – in terms of blocking. The learning curve should be much smaller than it was a year ago. I anticipate Greco and Schwartz to have to fight for their starting jobs among free agents and potential draft selections. Whoever fills the unit upfront could struggle initially (if it’s their first season with the club), but there’s enough leadership that can overcome this.

Employing the Running Backs as Receivers

While I enjoy adding wrinkles to an offense that desperately needs it, I do not feel quite confident in the rushers running routes during passing plays. Assuming status quo, Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West are going to be the main backs next season. The former was strictly a carrier, while the latter caught only a few passes while still in the backfield. Can both improve to be threats for the quarterback to hit down the field? Surely, but they will have to be leaps and bounds better than they were during their rookie campaigns. Perhaps the team will also look for a veteran who can expedite this transition.

Increased Vertical Routes

This is music to my ears; no matter who is under center, the threat of a long completion must be there to give defenders something to think about. Whether it was the personnel or the coach’s decision – the orange and brown flung the football downfield on rare occurrences. Josh Gordon is not going to be on the roster next season, so Ray Farmer must find a solid replacement (and by judging by the wide out’s 2014 output, that shouldn’t be too hard). Toss in a solid draft choice, and perhaps this offense can be dynamic and even potentially feared.

Conclusion: I’m not going to say that the Kyle Shanahan-led offense was horrific, but I am rather excited to see what the team can do under DeFilippo. 2014 was where the foundation was laid for this unit, now they must build upon this. Better personnel will help further aid this – along with correct coaching decisions.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2015 in Front Office/Coaching, Players

 

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Browns are in the Crosshairs Again

Browns are in the Crosshairs Again

Here We Go Again – The League’s Punching Bag

Once again, the time of the year has come where national pundits (mostly Jason LaCanfora) target the Cleveland Browns and point them out as to how horrible everyone in that franchise is. Let’s review what this big shot said, and why everyone hired by the team should resign and the team should move altogether.

Alec Scheiner Watched Game Film

God no! The President of the team is watching film with the General Manager – he should be fired! All joking aside, I could not care less whether Alec Scheiner is watching film on Monday mornings. Maybe he is interested in that, and wants to be a part of the film study. However, this is horrendous according to LaCanfora – and those in non-football roles are not allowed to consider acquiring knowledge about the game in any fashion.

Jimmy Haslam is Very Meddlesome

According to LaCanfora, Haslam is a cruel boss who wants to fire everyone every day. People have to agree with each of his decisions at all times – otherwise they will be let go. It’s been reported that he has had his hands in football decisions, and I feel that he has a ways to go until to becoming a great owner. That said, I feel he can continue to improve over time. Maybe LaCanfora wants Randy Lerner still owning the team? How’d that work out? One winning season that he stumbled into? Seven wins are already the second-most victories in a season that Lerner would have had.

Kyle Shanahan is the Modern-Day Bill Walsh

The Browns must be kicking themselves that Kyle Shanahan wanted out of his contract. He had a good year running the zone read with Robert Griffin III in 2012, until defenses game planned for it. Other than that, he’s Mike Shanahan’s son. However, that doesn’t fit into LaCanfora’s agenda – so let’s build up Shanahan as the best coach within the organization. That is the easiest way to hammer the Browns’ organization even more, which is unfounded.

The Environment is Toxic and Everyone Wants to Leave 

This is laughable; if this is actually the case – why hasn’t everyone left then? Why is John DeFilippo joining a staff where everyone wants out?  Let’s dismiss the fact that there are eleven teams with a worse record than the Browns in 2013 (some have been perennial losers as well) – and focus entirely on those in Berea.

Conclusion: Are the Browns a perfect franchise? Of course not, I’ll admit they have their issues. But what is LaCanfora attempting to gain with his article? Does he want the team to leave again? Does he have an agenda against Haslam and his franchise? It seems like he’s just picking on them at this point, and it’s frankly just sad. I’m looking forward to real news for the Cleveland Browns this offseason.

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2015 in Front Office/Coaching, Offseason

 

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