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.
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.
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.
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.