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Free Agency Recap and Draft Preview

Free Agency Recap and Draft Preview

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.

Group One:

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.

Group Two:

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.

Group Three:

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).

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Posted by on March 31, 2019 in Free Agency, NFL Draft, Offseason, Players

 

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Here Come the Moves!

Here Come the Moves!

Browns are Active in Free Agency

In an eventful Friday evening, the Cleveland Browns made a trio of trades to bring in some talented veteran football players.  Granted, these cannot be made official until the league year begins next Wednesday – but many fans of the organization appear to be excited.  I completely understand this line of thinking for two reasons:  the Browns are getting guys under contract (not simply castoffs) who are still young enough to be productive for many years, and they are the franchise being aggressive and acquiring talent as opposed to letting their own free agents walk.  Let’s look at the three moves.

Jarvis Landry – Wide Receiver

What has been the knock on the Cleveland Browns for the last handful of seasons (if not longer)?  The have been ranked at the bottom or close to that, in terms of the wide receivers’ output.  Trading only a fourth and a seventh round draft selection for a productive veteran appears to be a shrewd move, but going the veteran wide receiver route has underwhelmed in the past.  I believe Landry has a better head on his shoulders than Dwayne Bowe and Kenny Britt – so I think the Browns were the winner in this trade.  That said, upon hearing the news I was excited but noted that he needs someone good to throw to him.

Tyrod Taylor – Quarterback

Not much longer after the Landry deal was announced, the Browns gave up their third round draft selection to acquire a playoff signal caller from last season.  In a bit of a surprising move, the team has their bridge quarterback – and in that a guy who has one of the lowest turnover rates at that position over the past two seasons.  This was a huge detriment to the 2017 offense, who frequently gave the ball to the other team (especially in the red zone).  Personally, I am ok with this move – Taylor is not my favorite option as a veteran signal caller but the team could do a lot worse than him.  The only concern is that Taylor might be a different style of player than the guy they draft.  This begs the question, will there be issues with the rookie’s development?

Demarious Randall – Cornerback

The final move of the day left the Browns with a new starting cornerback in exchange for DeShone Kizer and swapping positions in the fourth and fifth round selections.  I hate to see the team give up so quickly on Kizer, but I have to believe John Dorsey knows what he’s doing.  They have already upgraded at that position and will fortify it furthermore in the draft.  Back to the trade – Randall should be familiar to Browns’ fans as he blanketed Josh Gordon last season.  He’s not a lockdown cornerback but at the very least he fills the void left by Joe Haden (who was released last season).  I expect another secondary member to be added to the franchise, but it will be interesting when (in what round of the draft) and whether it’s a safety or cornerback.  I am in full support of this move and hope Randall is a cornerstone of Gregg William’s defense for years to come.

Conclusion:  The Browns got better by a handful of transactions.  I know they have nowhere to go but up from last year, but if this is any indication of John Dorsey – I expect a solid draft.  Next week could further this excitement or be anti-climactic, but this was still a great start for the 2018 Cleveland Browns.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2018 in Free Agency, NFL Draft, NFL Season, Players

 

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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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On the the Next Phase: QB Talk

On the the Next Phase: QB Talk

Time to Move on

The Cleveland Browns need a franchise quarterback on their roster (I understand that this is a grossly obvious statement).  Having said that, there is no inconceivable reason as to why they should pick up an underachieving free agent signal caller.  Sashi Brown and company must focus on the draft instead of finding a guy who will not do anything of substance on the field.  Let’s review what I’m referring to.

Jimmy Garrappolo Situation

It appears that a trade scenario is dead – rumors of the Browns offering a reasonable pair of second round draft picks and being
turned away was all I needed to hear.  Giving up any more than that is insane and an awful decision for the Browns to surrender top choices for such a big question mark.  For that reason, the Browns (and more importantly the media) should look for answers in other directions.

Colin Kaepernick and Baggage

First, there is the kneeling during the national anthem last season – and the response that many NFL fans have given the quarterback.  However, the reason why I do not want Colin on this team is that he is not a viable professional quarterback.  Colin’s better days are behind him, and he appeared to be a quarterback on a team that caught lightning in a bottle.  The 49ers ran a zone read offense and were the benefactors of others not having a tremendous amount of film on the quarterback.  The same cannot be said in 2017 – thus the Browns must stay away.

Noise about Geno

Fortunately, Geno Smith is not signing a contact to come here and play football.  Like Kaepernick, Smith cannot play the position in the NFL and therefore will not be needed in Berea, Ohio.  I understand reporters want to write stories about what they are hearing – but picking up a known failure in the league is just a silly decision.

Draft and Two Routes

That leaves us with the 2017 NFL Draft – the Browns can go one of two ways.  The first is to secure a quarterback in the first or second round (and tab them as their franchise quarterback), or they could choose a guy in the middle rounds to develop into a viable option down the road.  For the first option, I am going back and forth between Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson.  Via the developmental route – Davis Webb and Patrick Mahomes are two athletes who I would feel comfortable with.  I hope Sashi and company know the correct path and select the right guy.

Conclusion:  I am done hearing about the Cleveland Browns scouring the free agency market for guys to come in and be members of this team. Frankly, that market has dried up and the backup in New England is not
coming here.

The franchise’s fortunes should be clearer the weekend of April 27th through the 29th.  I cannot tell you who the front office will choose – but the best signal caller would be ideal.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2017 in Free Agency, NFL Draft

 

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Two Rookies and Two Different Opinions

Two Rookies and Two Different Opinions

A Tale of Two Quarterbacks

I find it rather fascinating that two young men in the identical situation have two completely mindsets – at least to what the media
and fans are privy to.  Nonetheless, a pair of athletes chose to speak about their draft potential and where they want to play in the National Football League.  Will this mean anything in the big picture?  Possibly not, especially if the Cleveland Browns do not select either candidate in the upcoming draft.  Let’s look into the differing attitudes.

First up:  Deshaun Watson

On the heels of Myles Garrett stating he wants Jerry Jones to trade up and draft him to become a member of the Dallas Cowboys, a former Clemson quarterback all but reiterated these sentiments.  Whether Garrett and Watson were joking or not, the slight of the franchise in northeast Ohio is obvious by those who support the orange and brown.  (This is not even including the Senior Bowl snub by the quarterback, after Hue Jackson contacted the athlete to participate in Mobile,
Alabama).

Watson said at an awards ceremony that the Cowboys should trade both Tony Romo and Dak Prescott to the Browns so he could become the next signal caller in Dallas.  Again, whether he was being honest or not, turning off a rabid fan base is not a wise move for a guy wanting to break into the league.  Personally, I do not think Watson will translate to an excellent quarterback in the NFL – he does not possess a tremendous deep ball and his overall ability in the pocket could use improvement.  Could that change with great coaching?  Sure, but I still have my doubts.

Second Option:  Patrick Mahomes II

Meanwhile, the former Texas Tech signal caller said he is doing everything he can to be the number one overall selection and would love to learn from head coach Hue Jackson.  I understand it is not realistic that this will occur, but that does not mean the Browns will refrain from taking Mahomes at all (perhaps in the second round).  I have my reservations about Mahomes as well, as spread quarterbacks in the NCAA historically do not translate to the next level.  The signal caller will have to learn how to understand a complicated play book, read defenses, look off wide outs and hit the second or third options (to name a few things).

Perhaps I am being a bit harsh on the guy, but the jump from the collegiate level to the professional game is a significant one.  I suppose I could be on board with drafting this guy – provided the Browns address the quarterback via another route (i.e. Jimmy Garappolo or another veteran).  His attitude is definitely refreshing and I hope he makes it in the NFL, regardless of where he is selected.

Conclusion:  In another slow period of the year, the quarterback position makes news in Cleveland, Ohio.  Two options are making their feelings known about being chosen by the Browns – one said he would rather not go there, while the other embraced it.  I would prefer Deshone Kizer or Mitch Trubisky at this point, but perhaps Patrick Mahomes could be an under the radar choice in April.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2017 in Free Agency, NFL Draft, Offseason, Players

 

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The Time to Pay is Now

The Time to Pay is Now

The Browns Have Money – They Must Use It (Wisely)

The Cleveland Browns have over $100 Million under the salary cap heading into the 2017 season.  It’s one thing to be frugal spenders in the NFL, but this is getting out of hand.  I understand going all “Dan Snyder” and focusing on attracting older veterans whose better days (in the league) are behind them is not the way to go.  However, the team must improve tremendously from last years debacle and one way to do this is to sign (or re-sign) some quality, younger veterans who can make an impact now.

Terrelle Pryor Free Agent

Yes, the wideout had just one solid season for the Cleveland Browns.  No, was not astronomical either.  However, Sashi Brown and the front office would be extremely wise to lock up a talent on the edge for two primary reasons.  One, the Browns desperately need a target on the field who can be a reliable option opposite Corey Coleman.  Should the team take Mike Williams or O.J. Howard – even better.  This receiving unit would be one of the better ones in the league.  Additionally, the Browns will more than likely be breaking in another guy under center next fall.  Who would you rather see him throwing to – a tall, athletic playmaker like Pryor or a roster devoid of a guy like that?

Quarterback Plan

There are basically two schools of thought regarding how the franchise will handle the position under center this offseason.  They can either draft their guy for the future in the first round or acquire a veteran signal caller and accompany him with a later round option.  I frankly don’t believe the team will select a quarterback with the twelfth overall selection in this year’s draft – so I feel they will go with the second route.  Now, what can they do?  Personally, I prefer a pocket passer (Jimmy Garoppolo) to a primary runner who can throw (Tyrod Taylor).  If the Browns hear a reasonable offer – no first round picks surrendered – they should pull the trigger on the Patriots’ quarterback, pick a Davis Webb or Patrick Mahomes in the middle rounds, and couple them with Cody Kessler on this roster.  This would be light years ahead of last season’s quarterback room.

Conclusion:  It’s time to see wins for the orange and brown; making smart signings is a way to accomplish this task.  Securing Terrelle Pryor, scooping up Jimmy Garoppolo, and acquiring a reliable defensive starter (likely in the secondary) would be an excellent start to the 2017 free agent period for the Cleveland Browns.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2017 in Free Agency, Offseason, Players

 

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Bob Griffin the Third – What to Make of This?

Bob Griffin the Third – What to Make of This?

I’m Just Fine with Robert Griffin III

There’s been much debate surrounding the acquisition of quarterback Robert Griffin III by the Cleveland Browns.  Was it a wise move, or will be another signal caller with a poor attitude?  I’m hoping for the former, but I’ll provide you with a few reasons why I support the team’s decision to scoop up the unrestricted free agent.

Reasonable Contract

Griffin inked a deal worth fifteen million dollars over two years.  In a time in the NFL where mediocre signal callers are making this amount in one year (i.e. Kirk Cousins) – this appears to be a cap-friendly, low risk deal by the orange and brown.  I understand the angst of letting in a guy who might feel he should be held in the highest regards for all the quarterbacks on the roster.  However, this was not the case in Washington last season (and I believe Griffin has grown from this experience).  Additionally, Hue Jackson is a no-nonsense coach that will not put up with selfish behavior.

Not Mutually Exclusive of Second Pick

The former number two pick in 2012 (ironically) should not affect what the Browns plan on doing with the number two pick in 2016.  Not only is the deal for a modest contract, the Browns have shown that they are still in search of their franchise quarterback.  Will Griffin be a day-one starter and resurrect his professional football career in Cleveland?  Or, will he start the 2016 campaign only to give way to a rookie in the middle of the season?  Those two scenarios will sort themselves out; however if the Browns only go with Griffin and another veteran or two – I fear that the quarterback position will not be substantially improved upon from the 2015 campaign.

Has Shown Ability

I understand it has been quite some time (just under four years), but at least Griffin has displayed success in the NFL.  Unlike his predecessor, he actually played the game and was victorious at it – en route to leading Washington to the playoffs.  Griffin’s injuries are well documented, but that is part of the reason why the Browns acquired the athlete at such a low cost.  If he can reclaim some of that magic from a few seasons ago, the guys in Berea might have made a brilliant move.

Conclusion:  Upon hearing about the rumors, I did not know what to think about Robert Griffin III and him coming to the Cleveland Browns. After reading the contract amount and years I feel much better about the team’s decision.  Can he fail?  Of course, but it’s not the end of the world if he does.  Add in the fact that the Browns’ brain trust is doing diligence at Jared Goff’s and Carson Wentz’s Pro Days – and the quarterback position might not be completely awful next year.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2016 in Free Agency, NFL Draft, Players

 

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