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Intriguing Battles for the Roster – Offense

Intriguing Battles for the Roster – Offense

Guys to Keep an Eye on Next Month

Well, the Cleveland Browns are not full of Joe Thomases and Joel Bitionios – therefore several positions are up for grabs as the team gets back on the field in Berea in July.  Outside of the obvious (and annual) quarterback derby that has already been underway, there are a few key spots where one guy who can separate himself from the rest of the pack.  Let’s look further into those position groups.

Right Tackle

It appears that Shon Coleman will have the first crack at the starting lineup for the orange and brown.  He is big, mean, and has a solid track record in college; however the second-year athlete has yet to prove he can make it work (consistently) in the NFL.  I have faith that coach Bob Wylie will work his “magic” (pun intended) with the former Auburn star.  Meanwhile Spencer Drango and Cameron Erving are waiting in the wings for their opportunity.  I have mixed feelings about Erving, who has been rather underwhelming since joining the team.  Drango had an up-and-down rookie campaign, but getting another training camp under his belt should help his progress.

Tight End

The release of veteran Gary Barnidge opens the door completely for a guy or two to secure the starting position.  The frontrunners are rookie David Njoku and Seth DeValve, who have been impressing the coaching staff up to this point.  Both are receiving threats but could use some work attempting to develop as a run blocker.  Randall Telfair and maybe a wildcard could earn some playing time; however, I would be surprised if the aforementioned duo does not get the lion’s share of snaps.  The question might be, can DeValve hold off the first round rookie?

Wide Receiver

Under the assumption that Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt remain healthy and play up to their capabilities, the Browns will have their top two wide out options.  That still leaves another athlete or two who the team will be counting on to haul in passes for the franchise.  Rashard Higgins, Ricardo Louis, and Rannell Hall are three options to fill a void that was missing in 2016.  Like some of the tight ends, a young athlete (Louis) has been garnering solid reviews from his supervisors.  However, I am intrigued to see how Hall bounces back from a promising 2016 exhibition season prior to missing the entire year due to a broken leg.

Conclusion:  There is a long way to go until the regular season kicks off in just over two months.  However, the roster must be settled prior to that point in time.  This would include several competitions at position groups, hopefully with the best man winning the gig.  I would like to believe that these include guys who can play in the NFL and not roles just needing to be filled.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2017 in NFL Season, Players, Training Camp

 

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Updating the Cleveland Browns

Updating the Cleveland Browns

The Latest News Coming from Cleveland

Well, there are other things going on in the world of sports – outside of the NBA Finals.  The Browns are making moves both by acquisition and departure, hopefully they were the correct ones.  Meanwhile, a possible issue could be looming for one of the team’s better players.

The Trade (Heard Round the World?)

I am being a tad facetious when I mention the swapping of underachieving athletes between the Browns and the Jets.  The Browns sent linebacker Demario Davis to his former club and agreed to take Calvin Pryor (the former first round safety from the University of Louisville).  I am hoping that Pryor can fill in at the strong safety role for the orange and brown – while rookie Jabril Peppers plays a hybrid linebacker/safety role.  It’s a boom or bust proposition made by the Brown; a gamble I would prefer over Demario Davis.

Potential Contract Dispute?

It will be interesting to determine whether running back Isaiah Crowell will be on the roster for several more years or just though the 2017 campaign.  The veteran signed a restricted free agent tender a couple months ago, guaranteeing his spot on the club this year.  What will happen after this occurs?  The Browns have Duke Johnson and newly acquired Matthew Dayes to compete at the running back position.  I would venture that the team would add another talented runner to this group if they wanted to get rid of Crowell.  I would prefer the team keeps the veteran on this team, but that is the nature of the business – anywhere the team can upgrade, they should do it.

Latest Release

Before he could even put the pads on and get ready for training camp, Tyvis Powell was let go by the orange and brown.  Personally, I would have liked for him to compete on the gridiron to see what will be the best combination of safeties for this franchise.  However, the team did not agree with me and they will go the other direction.  I sincerely hope that Derrick Kindred and Ed Reynolds step up and provide solid play at that position.  Anything similar to what we saw in 2016 and the Browns are in trouble this fall.

Conclusion:  There were some under the radar rumblings for the Cleveland NFL franchise at this point in the season.  I firmly believe they will be improved from a year ago – but am far from confident that they are making all the correct decisions.  Hopefully the team has taken to the new leadership (especially on defense) and fans will see an up close difference during next month’s practices.

 

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Latest News with the Browns

Latest News with the Browns

Newsworthy Browns Notes

The stories are not as enticing as they were during the NFL Draft, but the Browns are still grabbing headlines. First they added a new man to bring in talent for the franchise; meanwhile there has been some backlash by the media regarding both veterans and rookies alike.

Another Addition to the Front Office

A few days ago, the Browns announced that Ryan Grigson was added to the staff with the title of Senior Personnel Executive. I must admit that I have mixed emotions regarding this decision. On one hand, the franchise added a solid scout who has had a respectable track record in that department. However, Grigson is coming off of a stint as a general manager of the Indianapolis Colts that left much to be desired. The draft misses, trading for Trent Richardson, and inability to surround quarterback Andrew Luck with a reputable supporting cast come first to mind. I guess I will give the new hire a break, but do not to expect that he will do anything of significance while being with the orange and brown.

Brock Osweiler Banter

The veteran quarterback was peppered with questions following the recent OTAs practice sessions – a majority of these were of negative tone imitating that the signal caller will not be the “guy” for the Browns. Regardless of what last year’s film says – Osweiler will get his shot with the team to prove he can handle the duties on Sunday. Personally, I don’t know what was gained by a reporter being combative at this point of the year. Perhaps this will be a driving force for the newly acquired quarterback?

Early Injuries?

Of course fans and media alike are making gigantic deals of Myles Garrett and Jabril Peppers not practicing due to minor injuries in May. The pair of first round draft selections will be made or broken in the fall, not whether they are 100% full go four months prior to the regular season beginning. If Howard Wilson’s injury should have taught us anything, it’s that people can be sidelined at any point in the season. Therefore, I am ok with Hue Jackson taking precautions during spring practices.

Conclusion: Unfortunately, there was not a bunch of positive news for the Cleveland Browns these last few days (unless you think the Grigson hire was a home run). The doldrums of the NFL calendar march on, and we have just under two months until the team hits training camp in stride. In the meantime, we should expect less than ideal stories surrounding the team.

 

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Offseason Moves Edition: Cleveland Browns

Offseason Moves Edition: Cleveland Browns

What is Going on in Browns’ Town

In the week in between the rookie minicamp practices and the veteran group practices, there were some noteworthy events that occurred for the Cleveland Browns.  The first was an unfortunate injury that happened to a recently signed draft selection, followed by a veteran signing shortly thereafter.  After that was a needed break by the franchise that has not been common for this franchise.

Howard Wilson Injury

It was difficult and unfortunate to see rookie Howard Wilson suffer an injury (especially a non-contact one) so early in the campaign.  Similarly to what happened to Kyrie Irving two seasons ago, Wilson fractured his knee cap – this occurred during the rookie minicamp practices.  The NBA star was out several months following his surgery (in 2015).  It is still not set in stone as to
how he will rehab this injury, though.  Personally, provided Wilson is healthy, I would like to see him participate and gain valuable
experience in 2017.  With the recent news that he will not necessarily need surgery, he could still see a fair amount of action on the Browns’ roster this campaign. .

Jason McCourty Signing

Did the re-signing of Jamie Collins open the floodgates for future veterans to latch on to the Cleveland Browns?  I would not got that far just yet (however some in the media are already declaring this), but acquiring a solid veteran in Jason McCourty was a wise move by Sashi Brown and company.  McCourty will provide another veteran for a thin (in terms of experience) position group – especially following the injury to Howard Wilson.  I do not anticipate the former Tennessee Titan to light the league on fire during his time with the Browns; but he should be competent enough to eliminate the possibility that teams can play catch up-and-down the field against the secondary of the orange and brown.

Update on Caleb Brantley

Caleb Brantley was back in the news earlier this week – it was not negative this time around.  The rookie sixth-round selection entered the draft with battery charges towards a woman during an altercation in a bar.  Those charges were recently dropped, allowing the rookie to perform on the field without the dark cloud hanging over his head.  Assuming he can outperform his lowered expectations (as he fell mightily in the draft) – the Browns will have gotten tremendous value from the former Florida Gator.  I hoping that he is truly 100% innocent and did not escape his charge due to technicality, but there is a great chance that I and many others will never know.

Conclusion:  Following the unlucky injury news, the Browns received a pair of two positive stories regarding their roster.  My optimism in the 2017 season is slowly rising, but there is a long time between now and week one of the regular season.  I am particularly intrigued to see how different training camp is from 2016 one – as result from the infusion of talent.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2017 in Free Agency, Offseason, Players

 

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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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