NFL Scouting Combine – Part Two
It all starts upfront for the Clevleand Browns. If you cannot prevent the opposition from slamming the ball down your throat, your odds of winning are somewhere near zero. I’m always in full support of athletic guys – but the Browns need a large athlete who can clog the interior gaps (i.e. a zero-technique player). Should the front office go for this position of the roster early, there would be a few to keep an eye on. It appears that Danny Shelton may no longer be an option, which is a downer but understandable.
An athlete who could be taken by Ray Farmer in the first round is Malcom Brown. Possessing versatility is something that Mike Pettine would love to utilize, and Brown fits that description. Not only would he be counted on to contribute at tackle, the team could use him at end alongside Phil Taylor or John Hughes. I would enjoy seeing him in the trenches for the Cleveland Browns, but there is one huge question that remains. Do the Browns value this position over an offensive game-breaker?
Strictly speaking as a run defender, Eddie Goldman is a man among boys. The defender consistently displays strength and tenacity when offenses keep the ball on the ground. He would likely just play in the middle, while Taylor, Hughes, and Billy Winn would rotate on the ends. There’s a chance the Browns could wait and still pick him up with their second or third pick, and pair him with a Kevin White or DaVante Parker. That’s not a bad consolation prize, but that is dependent on many things falling into place.
Getting to the quarterback and making his life miserable is something the Browns’ defense should subscribe to – they are getting to that point, but it is still relatively lacking. Being able to bolster three rushers (assuming Barkevious Mingo can improve drastically) who opponents must game plan for, and the defense will be feared on third downs.
Should Jabaal Sheard leave as a free agent, might the Browns go for Vic Beasley? The athlete was impressive during the combine, and his speed is undeniable – the main concern is, how can he progress as a pro? Will Vic underwhelm as some first-round pass rushers have over the past few years (Aaron Maybin and Vernon Gholston come to mind)? Or will the former Clemson standout be the type of player that many compare him to – Bruce Irvin? There’s no doubt the team needs to have depth and reliability at this position, but when should they nab this guy draft weekend?
Bud Dupree could be a value pick if the Browns choose him after the first round. While not as explosive as his counterpart from Clemson, he size is intriguing. The Browns took Barkevious Mingo a few years ago in the first round, and he appears too light to be counted upon an every down basis. Dupree packs on an additional thirty pounds from Mingo (most of which is muscle) – and that could help against the run as well his usual pass-rushing role. He should definitely be an option for the team, provided Ray Farmer values pass rushers very highly.
With Jim Leonhard retiring, and Donte Whitner nearing his completion of his professional career – the Browns would be wise to find a stud at safety to pair with Tashaun Gipson for the next few years. It would appear the team would be in the market for a more physical athlete, one who excels in run support. Ideally, if he can hold his own in coverage – then that would be a home run.
If the Browns get their guy early (possibly the second round), they could do a lot worse than Landon Collins. The tenacious “in the box” defender has the size and speed that teams are looking for. Being six feet tall is a great start, but his hitting of opponents is what stands out on film. You can be sure that Whitner would be a great teammate and show him the ropes. The back end of the defense will be pretty close to complete – depending on what occurs at the corner spot.
Conclusion: While the Browns’ defense was ahead of their counterparts last year, there is a great deal of room to improve all over. They need both speed and attitude at all three levels of the defense, but it is very possible that Ray Farmer can secure multiple players that posses those traits during the draft.