March’s Happening and Looking Forward to April
The Browns made several moves to enhance their roster for 2019 and beyond. In doing so, the fans and media (local and national) are noticing – some are even stating the team has most talented skilled positions in the league. Is it hyperbole? Possibly, but I’ll take these guys over any group. That said, let’s review a few things from March and what that means for April for the Cleveland Browns.
It was somewhat of a busy month for John Dorsey and the Cleveland Browns. At this point, we are all aware they jettisoned a pair of 2019 draft picks (first and third round), Jabril Peppers, and Kevin Zeitler for Odell Beckham Junior and Olivier Vernon. These two players fit in category one – full-time starters. I expect both to be on the field a majority of the time, only coming off the field in certain situations. I expect both to acclimate quickly to this franchise and locker room (looking at OBJ’s instagram account, it appears he is eager and excited to be on the club).
As a result, the Browns will not make either of these positions a priority in April’s draft. They could take a flier on a guy in the middle to later rounds, but fans should obviously not anticipate a splash pick at wide out or defense end with their first or second selections.
The Browns fortified the interior of their defensive line by nabbing tackle Sheldon Richardson. The former first round pick had a tremendous first few seasons with the Jets (averaging 5.5 sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 14.5 hits on the quarterback) before his production dipped in Seattle and Minnesota. Always a fan for reclamation projects, Dorsey found a guy who could pair well with Larry Ogunjobi in the middle. I put Richardson in the second category – part-time starter. He will likely be on the field for the first two downs, and situations will dictate what the team does on third down. Sheldon will still likely be there in short yards to gain, while passing downs will include multiple pass rushers for the Browns.
This move does not take defensive tackle out of the equation for a early selection (that includes a guy like Jeffrey Simmons – who is a talented DT, but tore his ACL while training for the draft and will likely miss the 2019 campaign). What the Richardson signing does is fills a gaping hole alongside Ogunjobi and pushes down Trevon Coley further down the depth chart.
The departure of Zeitler allows second year guard Austin Corbett to step into the starting role at right guard. Searching for reinforcements, the Browns acquired Eric Kush and Kendall Lamm this past month. Both coming from the Bears; Kush is primarily a guard while Lamm has been at the tackle spot. Meanwhile Adarius Taylor is now a linebacker for the Cleveland Browns, after the Buccaneers let him walk. Finally Demetrius Harris was signed before the team released Darren Fells at tight end. These players are the third group: reserve role/emergency starter. These are depth signings and I applaud them, but there are more important moves coming.
I think the priority for offensive line and tight end has diminished a bit with these signings. The Browns could still get a guy in rounds three through seven, but I don’t see either spot being filled at the forty-ninth choice. I prefer to see the team select either a safety or linebacker with their first choice, as both spots need depth seeing Jamie Collins and Jabril Peppers leave this franchise.
Conclusion: Exciting times are a coming for northeast Ohio and the professional football team. Some might want to realize they have not accomplished anything of significance on the field – but the expectations are high nonetheless. In some aspects I feel the Browns are following the Ohio State model – good offseason, talented players, and fans expecting to win every game. I am waiting for the type of vitriol from other fan bases that accompanies the scarlet and gray (but that with comes with consistent winning).