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Category Archives: NFL Combine

NFL Scouting Combine – First Reaction

NFL Scouting Combine – First Reaction

What’s Going on During the NFL Combine – Early Negativity

On the first day of on the field competition, no one really stood out as performing exceptionally well on the gridiron.  Instead, there were medical or physical issues with multiple guys that could lead to evaluations that might hurt their draft stocks.  Obviously (whether that happens or not), that will be up to front offices and how they react/value this information.  Also, a couple of athletes will not be participating due to injury or illness.  Let’s take a deeper look into these situations.

Everyone Doesn’t Love Reuben

Linebacker Reuben Foster – billed as a top ten draft selection since last season ended, was dismissed from the combine after an altercation with a hospital employee (presumably during his medical assessment).  This is clearly not a good look for two reasons; it shows a bad side of his behavior and not being able to control his emotions.  Additionally, did Foster have something to hide regarding his health?  I still think he will be a fine investment, but he will likely slide in the first round of April’s draft.  Personally, I don’t feel that the Browns should go for him with the twelfth choice.

Leonard Packing on the Pounds

Many were surprised at running back Leonard Fournette weighing in a 240 pounds as a running back.  Despite this (and explaining himself as retaining water weight) he ran the forty yard dash and drills pretty well.  I cannot confirm that teams will drop him as a result of him “not being prepared” for the combine – but perhaps he drops below Dalvin Cook as an option.  Running back is not a position of need for the Browns – unfortunately they do not have the luxury of loading up there.  Thus, Fournette will not be an option for the orange and brown if still on the board (during their second pick).

Hooker is Hurt

These injuries occurred prior to the combine, but now they are coming ahead for the former Ohio State safety.  Malik Hooker had shoulder and groin surgery several weeks ago – causing the star to miss time prior to the draft.  Will clubs see this as a guy who is injury prone?  Or will they see it as Hooker trying to be fully healthy before entering the league?  I would be on board with taking the star at number twelve, provided he drops that far.  The Browns need a tremendous safety for their defense and Hooker fits that description.  His injuries do not worry me at this point.

Barnett’s Unavailability at Indy

Just coming down is the news that pass rusher Derek Barnett will not be performing due to him being sick.  That should obviously not affect his draft status, as these things happen.  I would not be surprised to be an exceptional player in this year’s draft – but assuming the orange and brown select Myles Garrett with the first overall pick, they will not take Barnett with their second choice.

Conclusion:  I am eager to see the signal callers and wideouts perform in today’s action.  The Browns need to improve in these areas and I would like to hear about positive news coming from Indianapolis.

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Latest Tidbits from Indy – Browns and the Combine

Latest Tidbits from Indy – Browns and the Combine

NFL Scouting Combine

Well it was the combine that went down last week in Indianapolis for all thirty-two professional franchises.  Once again, many topics were discussed, dissected, and overblown both by the local and national media alike.  Only concerning myself with the Cleveland Browns, let’s review a few of the stories of what occurred for the orange and brown.

Don’t Repeat Past Mistakes

Remember two years ago when many were worried about quarterback Teddy Bridgewater due to his slender frame and smaller hand size?  It would appear that the Browns were concerned, as they took a guy who had larger hands (despite being shorter).  The team must realize there is much more to the puzzle than a few attributes.

Flash forward to this year; it is looking early on that Jared Goff is barking up the same tree.  His hands are a full inch smaller than Carson Wentz’s and he is tipping the scales at not much north of two-hundred pounds.  I will repeat my stance on this, as it has not changed from 2014.  Can the guy play quarterback in the NFL?  By which I mean, can the athlete process information quickly, make correct decisions, and perform at a professional level?  My answer to this regarding Goff still remains at yes; I hope the Browns are not afraid to take the University of California product.

Great Words to Hear

During his press conference, Hue Jackson said two things I enjoyed hearing.  The reason why I found them refreshing, it that is was a stark contrast from his predecessors (who ultimately failed).

First, the Browns’ coach will be heading to multiple pro days in the coming weeks.  He will get an up-close look at the prospects at all the important positions – including quarterback.  What a noble concept, actually scouting potential employees prior to working with them!  This was not the norm for several years prior.

Also of importance, Jackson stated that he will not put a tremendous amount of stock into the scouting combine.  Of course it will be important, especially with the personal interviews – but one workout or measurement will not define an athlete’s value.

Sashi Brown Ridding Misinformation

Many media outlets are dismissing the possibility of the Browns retaining any of their four top free agents.  However, Sashi Brown stated at his press conference that they have been having updated conversations with each guy (Alex Mack, Mitchell Schwartz, Tashaun Gipson, and Travis Benjamin).  Will they re-sign any or all of these guys?  Time will tell, but I am not ready to say they definitely will not.

Conclusion:  The week in Indianapolis is vital for all NFL teams; they must use their time wisely to get the required information from the young athletes.  However, this is also a chance for front offices to meet to agents to discuss future contracts.  It appears that the Browns are doing both currently (and in depth).  I am not certain that was the case under past regimes – so I guess that is a positive heading into the 2016 free agency period.

 

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2016 in NFL Combine

 

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Browns Finally Catching a Break

Browns Finally Catching a Break

NFL Finally got One Right

The league finally handed down their punishment on the Browns’ General Manager this week.  In the end, the team was docked $250,000 and Ray Farmer will be suspended for four games next fall.  Surprisingly, the team will not lose any draft picks as a result – something that was speculated to occur from some media members.  More surprisingly, I actually agree with the league’s decision on something.  Let’s delve into who why this matter was handled properly by the NFL.

Untouched Draft Board

It was the correct move not to hurt the team during draft weekend. Granted, texting down on the field during games is not a wise decision – but it did not give the Browns any sort of advantage over their opponent.  In fact, you could argue it hurt the team – causing infighting, hurt feelings, and the departure of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan (allegedly).  Hopefully what comes from this is that the
general manager makes the most of the team’s ten selections in a few weeks.

Hefty Fine

This should not be a shock to anyone, seeing that the team will forfeit a quarter of a million dollars.  While the only one hurt, monetarily at least, is Jimmy Haslam – you can bet that this will be in the back of his mind should Ray Farm make a poor decision regarding personnel.  I am hoping that in a few years the Browns are an
excellent franchise with many All-Pros and this fine is water under the bridge.  We are pretty far from that being a reality, however.

Four Weeks of Vacation

Another aspect of this ruling is that Farmer will be cut off from all team contact during the first four games of the 2015 regular season. Therefore, not only is he expected to draft exceptionally well but he must also have his “ducks in a row” once the exhibition season ends. The Browns’ final roster heading into the 2015 campaign will likely not be tinkered with for at least one month.  They cannot afford
injuries, and Farmer might want to tell Bill Kuharich and his scouts about a few athletes he has his eyes on (provided they are released during the suspension).

Conclusion:  Many Browns’ fans should feel relieved that their favorite team did not foolishly surrender any selections during the upcoming draft.  Although, the franchise’s general manager will have many eyes focused squarely on his moves this upcoming offseason.  Like many signal callers that have donned the orange and brown in the past decade and a half, the guy in charge might be on a “short leash”.  The franchise is more than due for a guy in that scenario to actually become successful at his job.

 

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Defensive Options – Early Rounds of the Draft

Defensive Options – Early Rounds of the Draft

NFL Scouting Combine – Part Two

Defensive Line

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.

Outside Linebacker

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.

Safety

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.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2015 in NFL Combine, NFL Draft, Players

 

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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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Defensive Players to Watch – 2013 NFL Scouting Combine

2013 NFL Scouting Combine – Players to Watch – Defense

In continuing the process of reviewing a few athletes in the Scouting Combine, let’s take a look at some of the defenders that will be there.  Many believe the defense is further ahead of the offense, but with the regime change and a switch to the 3-4 defense, the Browns’ roster will see a fair amount of turnover in the coming months.  A majority will likely occur in the front seven, where defensive linemen and linebackers will be shuffled in and out.

Defensive Line:  Barkevious Mingo (Defensive End – LSU), Star Lotulelei (Defensive Tackle – Utah), Bjoern Werner (Defensive End – Florida State), Damontre Moore (Defensive End – Texas A&M), and Dion Jordan (Defensive End – Oregon).

Conclusion:  There is a great chance this position will be the Browns’ first round draft selection – the team needs a dominant pass rusher and there are a couple here that fit the bill.  Lotulelei is the best at his position and may fall to number six, but with Phil Taylor, Athyba Rubin, John Hughes, and Billy Winn already on the roster – the team will (likely) focus primarily on the end position.  All four athletes will alternate between having their hand in the dirt and standing upright, but they will be called upon to get to the opposing quarterback regularly.  Jordan is the most athletic of the group; initially recruited as a wide receiver out of high school.  Werner is perceived to be more of a defensive end in the 4-3 (bigger and slower), so the front office may not be as high on him as other franchises.  Nonetheless, watching (testing, etc.) this group at the combine might be the most important task for Joe Banner and Michael Lombardi, as well as the scouts.

Linebacker:  Jarvis Jones (Outside Linebacker – Georgia), Manti Te’o (Inside Linebacker – Notre Dame), Alec Ogletree (Inside Linebacker – Georgia), Chase Thomas (Outside Linebacker – Stanford), and Sean Porter (Outside Linebacker – Texas A&M).

Conclusion:  Adding several linebackers to the current group should be a priority this offseason.  The team needs to add at least another member inside (to pair with D’Qwell Jackson), as well as outside (to go opposite Jabaal Sheard – who was formerly a defensive end).  Jones is the only option of the group at number six; he has had previous ailments that could steer the Browns from drafting him, however.  Besides the whole “Catfishing” story around Te’o, I hope the franchise avoids the linebacker – the Heisman candidate played extremely poor in his last collegiate game.  If Ogletree, Thomas, and Porter can slide down to the second or third rounds, I could see Lombardi making a move to help out the linebacker corps.  Before that happens, the Scouting Combine must commence; the linebackers will go through multiple tests to define their strengths and weaknesses.

Safety:  Kenny Vaccaro (Strong Safety – Texas), Eric Reid (Free Safety – LSU), Matt Elam (Free Safety – Florida), J.J. Wilcox (Free Safety – Georgia Southern), and Shawn Williams (Strong Safety – Georgia).

Conclusion:  After signing as a free agent two seasons ago, Usama Young has been rather disappointing for the Browns.  The free safety could possibly be replaced this season, especially by an early draft selection.  Tashaun Gipson showed some promise, but if there is a better alternative out there – the team will not hesitate to bring him on board.  I really liked Elam his season; if he or Reid are available it could be great for the organization.  T.J. Ward has played well when he’s been healthy over the past few seasons, but the strong safety has sustained several injuries dating back to 2010.  As a result, the team may pass over a strong safety option this year, but nothing surprises me with the Cleveland Browns.  The speed and agility tests for this group are important, but the Browns need a guy who can cover receivers exceptionally.  This indicates great closing speed and awareness are of importance, both of which are found on game film.

Cornerback:  Dee Milliner (Alabama), Xavier Rhodes (Florida State), Desmond Trufant (Washington), Robert Alford (Southeast Louisiana), Blidi Wreh-Wilson (Connecticut), and B.W. Webb (William & Mary).

Conclusion:  With Sheldon Brown getting older, his status with the team may be in jeopardy.  The Browns need another dominant cornerback opposite Joe Haden – many opponents were able to easily pass and have big days last season.  To counteract this, the Browns cannot hope that a late round pick (aka Buster Skrine, Trevin Wade, etc.) can overcome his weaknesses and turn into a starting NFL cornerback.  Milliner and Rhodes are first round picks, but both are perceived as “reaches” where the Browns are drafting.  However, Trufant helped himself a great deal in the Senior Bowl – perhaps he can evolve into a solid professional.  All have very good ability though, and I hope each test well in Indianapolis (both on and off the field).

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2013 in NFL Combine