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Category Archives: NFL Draft

What’s the Latest from Berea?

What’s the Latest from Berea?

Pre-Combine News and Notes: Cleveland Browns

In just over a week, the Browns will be sending representatives to Indianapolis at the Scouting Combine.  That is a crucial part of the NFL season for two reasons.  Outside of the obvious that front offices can get up close looks at potential new members of their clubs, recent history has shown that this has been an outlet for trade and free agency discussion amongst franchises.  However, before that begins let’s look back at what has gone down for the Cleveland football team.

McCloughan on Board

The former General Manager of the Redskins, Scot McCloughan has joined up with the Browns in a consulting role for the upcoming league year.  It’s been reported that the executive has shared his feelings regarding some possible quarterbacks for the Browns.  First, is that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback – but not a great, franchise signal caller (you can win championships with).  Secondly, McCloughan has made mention that he is supportive of the former University of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.  Granted, the former Redskin will be employed in a part-time advisory role, but one would have to believe his thoughts and beliefs will have to be considered strongly.  Personally, I would be ok with either – assuming the Browns secure both a veteran and a top-end rookie, they should vastly improve that position.

A.J. is Unrestricted

In an unusual set of circumstances, Bengals’ quarterback (for the time being) has been granted unrestricted free agency with the team who drafted him, following a grievance hearing.  I’ve always envisioned him with the dreaded label “game manager”, but it would appear that he might get his shot to be a full-time starter in 2018.  After nearly trading for McCarron last fall, the Browns might take another shot to secure the athlete.  The big difference between 2017 and 2018 is that the team has replaced Sashi Brown with John Dorsey (and Eliot Wolf and Alonzso Highsmith).  One would have to believe that the influx of football knowledge would overrule Hue Jackson if they did not share the same feelings towards the signal caller.  McCarron wouldn’t be my first choice as a Browns’ quarterback but the team could do worse.

Canton/Cleveland Draft?

It was recently announced that Canton and Cleveland (in a joint weekend) is a possible destination for either the 2019 or 2020 NFL Draft.  I would be happy that the local economy would see another spike over a couple of days, as well as northeast Ohio being the center of the professional football world.  I might even attend some part of the event – provided they win the right to host.  There are other worthy candidates like Kansas City and Denver (to name a few).  Either way, I will be watching from somewhere and hope the Browns pick last in the first round instead of first.

Conclusion:  In the first slow period after the Super Bowl, the Browns will receive bits of information regarding potential new  members of the 2018 squad.  First, Scot McCloughan will put in his two cents about the team’s direction going forward.  It will be very interesting to see how it aligns with the rest of the front office.  Also, A.J. McCarron will be on the market next month, with no compensation required to sign him.  Will signing him be a sound decision, or was Hue Jackson (and company) panicking last year when they nearly traded for the Bengals’ backup quarterback?

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News About the Browns

News About the Browns

Latest Details Surrounding the Cleveland Browns

Instead of getting ready for the Super Bowl (like all other fifty-one times), the Browns are in the midst of their offseason.  We are already aware of the hiring of the new general manager, and a few members who have recently joined his staff.  However, the team recently added a guy to a role that has not been separate from the head coach (since Hue Jackson has been hired).  Meanwhile, a very important week just concluded for the front office – which included an opportunity to get a closer look at possible new members of the club.  Finally, a longtime veteran has been doing the rounds in the media; prompting the question – what does this mean?

A New Play Caller

Following his six seasons as offensive coordinator to a team east of the Browns (who wear black and yellow), Todd Haley’s contract was not renewed with that team.  Just a few days later, the Cleveland Browns spoke to him to fill the same role with the orange and brown.  Not a short while longer he accepted and for the first time since the Mike Pettine era, the Browns will have a head coach and an offensive coordinator who are two different people.  There have been multiple rumblings that Haley is a difficult guy to work with and can get under players and other coaches’ skin.  However, at this point I am not concerned about that; he seems like he knows what he is doing and that is good enough to feel that the Browns have made a solid hire.

Senior Bowl

The ever important week that occurs in Mobile, Alabama is wrapping up this evening following the playing of the Senior Bowl.  The headliners were (at least that is what local media told me) Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen; a pair of signal callers who can still easily fall or climb in draft boards during the coming months.  I hope that John Dorsey keeps an eye on a couple late round guys (where Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt were selected in prior years) – who can vastly improve the team.  Should they take a senior in the early rounds?  I would be okay with that, as long that the value is worth the investment.

Joe Thomas Hitting the Circuit

In case you haven’t heard, but Joe Thomas has been a popular member of the media over the past several weeks.  In addition to having his own podcast with Andrew Hawkins, he has been on multiple radio stations and television segments.  A local radio guy even got worked into a fit that Joe (a former athlete) could actually excel in another industry.  Personally, I think Joe is funny and knowledgable about multiple subjects beyond football.  I would prefer he continue his professional career with the Browns for a few more seasons but completely understand him continuing his career off the field.  Is (at least) one playoff game for Joe Thomas and the Browns too much to ask?

Conclusion:  The Browns secured a solid offensive mind to their coaching staff, and are doing their due diligence with the upcoming draft class.  I would like to say the arrow is pointing up for the franchise, but a tremendous amount of work still has to occur prior to any sort of success still occurring.  Up next is the NFL Scouting Combine, where underclassmen will join the seniors in preparing themselves for the upcoming draft.

 

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More Changes for the Browns

More Changes for the Browns

Out with the Old…

Another offseason and yet another overhaul for the orange and brown.  That is not surprising, considering what the franchise has become over the past few seasons.  I remember a younger version of myself where I used to think “now they have it right with (enter new general manager, head coach, etc)”.  However, I cannot get hyped anymore regarding changes with this team – at least until they can show consistent winning – and deep playoff runs.  Nevertheless, let’s look further into a few tweaks to the members of the franchise.

New Guys in the Front Office

Following the replacement of Sashi Brown for John Dorsey – they also added Alonzo Highsmith (for the role of Vice President of Player Personnel) and Eliot Wolf (as the assistant General Manager).  The Browns are putting together a front office that is full of “football guys” after years of having members without much experience with the league or football in general.  They don’t have to do much to improve upon their predecessors and can trip and fall over that low bar.

Turnover in Coaching Ranks

Looking at the offensive side of the football, Ken Zampese replaces David Lee as the Browns’ quarterback coach.  Zampese has worked multiple years with coach Jackson in Cincinnati – but was ousted as offensive coordinator last season amid a struggling offense.  That position remains open for the orange and brown and many are wondering if coach Jackson is willing to give up play calling duties.  Stayed tuned to see what route the Browns take for their 2018 campaign and beyond.

After spending seven years under multiple coaches and general managers, the special teams will no longer be headed by Chris Tabor.  I wish him the best as he seems like a nice guy and a passionate coach – but they Browns were not winning games because of this aspect of their team.  I would be surprised (and disappointed) if the special teams takes a step back under their new coach.

Next Steps

The new front office will be busy over the next few weeks attending several collegiate all-star games across the country.  It’s well-known about their assets in the upcoming draft; it would be nice to see the men selecting draft picks actually take franchise-changing athletes who can significantly improve this team.  Five selections in the first two rounds does not come around every year, thus the Browns must take advantage.

Conclusion:  The anger, frustration, and parade are fortunately over for the 2017 Browns and I am moving forward.  I look for a strong increase in talent and play next fall, but many correct decisions must be made by John Dorsey and Company before that happens.

 

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The Latest From Browns Town

The Latest From Browns Town

What is New in Berea?

Outside of an embarrassing segment on a morning talk show radio (accusing Browns’ players of frequent drug use), the Browns have relatively been out of the news since the draft has ended. I am excited to hear that the rookies are ready to take the field, and a veteran will be able to participate this season without any contract issues. On the other hand, the 500-pound elephant in the room reared his ugly head. Let’s look further into the recent happenings.

Thumbs Down to Gordon 

In an unsurprising move, wide out Josh Gordon’s appeal back into the league was denied. It’s rough and probably unfair – but at this point, Gordon has not taken a regular season snap since 2014. It is time to cut the cord and move on from this disastrous supplementary draft pick made several years ago. I wish the Browns had drafted another wide receiver a few weeks back (as they could use another talented weapon in that group) – but now they have to hope that Rashard Higgins, Ricardo Louis, or Jordan Payton step up in their second season.

Crowell Signs Tender

Fortunately, running back Isaiah Crowell inked his restricted free agent tender (at a second round price) a few days ago. 2017 will likely be a “prove it” deal for the rusher – and if he parlays this into a sizable contract with the Browns, then I will not complain. Odds are that he will be the primary runner this season; I anticipate that he will continue to run well for the team.  I would hope he can accumulate over 1,000 yards on the ground in 2017.

Minicamp Begins for Rookies

Sure they are just wearing shirts and shorts with their helmets at this time of year – but at least Myles Garrett, Jabril Peppers, and David Njoku (to name a few) will be on a field together representing the Cleveland Browns. Obviously I will not be able to watch these practices directly, but I would hope to hear about positive reports coming out noting how these guys appear to be much faster, stronger, and bigger than their predecessors. If Deshone Kizer is light years ahead of schedule as to where Cody Kessler was a year ago – that would not be a bad thing either.

Conclusion: We all know that real football does not begin for several months – but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing going on for the orange and brown. The rookies are getting a taste as the work environment, in addition to some good and bad news relating to a pair of veterans.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2017 in NFL Draft, Offseason, Players

 

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Thoughts about the Draft

Thoughts about the Draft

How I Feel about the Browns’ Draft

After several months of reports, smokescreens, and debate – the 2017 NFL Draft is in the books.  The Browns came away with ten selections and have improved their team overall (but all franchises can say that).  Let’s go a little more in depth regarding their selections.

Day 1 Picks:

Myles Garrett was a no brainer selection; I am glad the Browns made him their choice and look for him to play well immediately.  I am eager to see him coming off the edge opposite Emmanuel Ogbah and disrupting opposing quarterbacks.  Jabril Peppers was a bit of a stretch when taken at the twenty-fifth selection, but I will give him a chance.  After thinking about it, Gregg Williams should be able to find a role for Peppers (likely at strong safety).  I have no doubts he can support the run and can make plays with the football in his hands.  However, I still worry about his pass coverage.  David Njoku was a value pick and his athletic ability is unmatched.  He might take a year to develop but he might be a dominant tight end in this league.  At the end of the day, how much better are O.J. Howard and Malik Hooker than the two guys the Browns chose?  If the orange and brown secured a pair of athletes with little drop-off than the two aforementioned players – the trade down was worth it.

Day 2 Picks:

I will admit that I have never been a huge Deshone Kizer fan, but as is the same with Peppers – I will give the signal caller a chance.  The fact that the team waited and did not force the pick for a quarterback speaks volumes about the front office.  If he isn’t the guy, then try it again next year.  At least the team did not mortgage the future in the process of the draft.  Larry Ogunjobi is a guy I really did not whole a ton about prior to the draft.  After hearing his story, I am pulling for the guy and would like to see him line up opposite Danny Shelton at some point.

Day 3 Picks:

Two guys who stand out are Howard Wilson and Caleb Brantley.  The former is a cornerback who, despite being a one year starter, could compete in this secondary.  I do not have tremendous faith in him immediately, but he could surprise me and the coaching staff alike.  Brantley is an enigma; he has a second round talent but his pending misdemeanor for assault is something to worry about.  I hope the team did their homework, as wasting a draft selection is not anything this franchise can afford.

Conclusion:  I would rate the Browns draft as a B overall, but looking at the values (of the players) they got – an A is not out of the question.  I’m already for the group to suit up and begin practicing, but I know I now have to wait several months…

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2017 in NFL Draft, Players

 

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Presser and Analysis

Presser and Analysis

Three Takeaways

There was a press conference today in Berea with Browns’ front office personnel Sashi Brown and Andrew Berry – which is typical for a team to do with just over a week until the impending NFL Draft. What can be gained from listening to these men converse with the media? As expected, not a ton but there was at least three things I picked up on.

1 – Standing Pat (at Least Early)

When asked whether a similar philosophy to 2016 (where they traded down multiple times) would be in place this year, Sashi Brown said he would be surprised if this occurred. He obviously left the door open for this scenario to occur, but the Browns need playmakers not extra picks after tearing down their roster following the 2015 campaign.  Andrew Berry mentioned that the team doesn’t want to get into a habit of turning two picks into one.

Therefore, I anticipate the team going forward with the first and twelfth selections in the draft (barring something wildly unforeseen).  However, the second round choices and beyond could be moved one way or the other.

2 – Targeting their Signal Caller

In regards to the position of quarterback, Sashi referenced a scarcity of these proficient athletes and Berry mentioned that are so few who can play quarterback in the NFL. What I garner from this is they believe that the most important position in sports must be filled with an exceptional player. Whether it is a trade for Jimmy Garappolo or a move up for a third choice in the first round – the Browns would give up a lot if it resulted in a franchise quarterback.

3 – Not Responding to Rumors

This was obvious yet refreshing to hear to the guys in charge of the press conference. There was no upside to answer questions about guys who the team may or may not choose. Brown and Berry have their draft board in place and changes during the draft could allow them to modify things. I’m frankly sick of all the rumors myself and am looking forward to draft weekend.

Conclusion: From the meeting with the media, it is apparent that theBrowns will not be trading down early on in the draft. Once they determine who their franchise signal caller will be (if applicable in this year’s draft) – they will stop short of nothing to secure him.  If there are no guys to fill the bill, I expect a repeat of last year’s draft. There are many ways the team can go next week in Philadelphia – and for once they might actually do it correctly.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2017 in NFL Draft, Players

 

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PSA Reminder

PSA Reminder

PSA:  Don’t Forget it’s Silly Season

Now there are reports of the Browns drafting Leonard Fournette or Mitchell Trubisky with the first overall pick.  There are also musings of the team putting a trade down “in play”.  This is a friendly reminder that this is not the truthful season.

It is not time to overthink this Browns’ fans.  When the Browns have made monumental moves historically – they were not announced in the media two weeks before the draft.  The same could have been said about other teams.

I fully expect the Browns to make move during the draft weekend; however it will not be the type of trade being announced in the media.

I am ready and eager about this pending draft, but I am not concerned about what the team may or might not do.

Expect other news to come out over the coming weeks regarding the Browns.  Remember, however, don’t believe everything report you hear.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2017 in NFL Draft, Players

 

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