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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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South Roster – Senior Bowl Analysis

South Roster – Senior Bowl Analysis

Senior Bowl – Scouting Reports – South Squad

Once again, we delve deeper into several athletes who stood out as well as some who had issues during practice week of the 2015 Senior Bowl. Hopefully Ray Farmer can dissect these performances and determine who can fit on this roster and when best to acquire these athletes. Let’s continue with the process of analyzing former collegiate athletes for the South roster.

South Roster Stock Up:

Clive Walford – TE – University of Miami – Is he the successor to Jordan Cameron? The smooth route runner flashed some exceptional moves during his escape of coverage during one-on-one drills. Size and quickness are two tremendous traits that a tight end must possess. I look forward to seeing how the Browns would want to utilize him (i.e. blocking).

Kevin White – CB – Texas Christian University – He might not be the tallest guy on the field (usually the case for cornerbacks) – but the former collegiate had closing speed and physicality that NFL coaches salivate over. The defensive backfield could be a crowded area of the team – but who knows what the Browns’ front office is thinking.

Shaq Mason – OG – Georgia Tech – It was refreshing to see the interior lineman fight off defenders all the way through the whistle. He is a bit shorter (just over six-feet, one inch) than some of his counterparts – but could be a valuable selection if he slides in the draft. Perhaps the Browns are that team, one in need of a reliable guard.

Tyler Lockett – WR – Kansas State University – Another smaller receiving threat, the nephew of former returner Aaron Lockett impressed many onlookers. In addition to potentially returning kicks at the next level, he escaped bump coverage during red zone drills. Could he be the replacement for Travis Benjamin? That’s a possibility, provided the Browns want to go in that direction.

South Roster Stock Down:

Nick Marshall – CB – Auburn University – This might be low-hanging fruit, as the collegiate quarterback is making the tough transition to the defensive side of the ball. He had his issues with footwork and staying with wide outs down the field. Frankly, the Browns are close to set in their secondary – I hope they do not invest too much (or at all) in the project.

Blake Sims – QB – University of Alabama – He is not expected to go extremely high during the 2015 draft, however Sims did not help his chances of improving upon this during the week (via mishandling snaps and missing targets). The signal caller never displayed anything, which could cause him to stand out from his fellow quarterbacks; the Browns need to look for other signal callers this offseason.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa – DE – UCLA – I’ll concede his athleticism and speed, but at the Senior Bowl that was used to his disadvantage. Offensive linemen were able to drive him up the field on occasions; many suspect that professionals will do the same. Odighizuwa also displayed inconsistency in his performance – this could be a red flag for a general manager seeking an every-down pass rusher. The Browns are in the market for an edge rusher, but they should look elsewhere.

Austin Shepherd – OT – University of Alabama – The tackle lost a few times during one-on-one drills, and it was evident to see he still has room to grow. Perhaps Shepherd could be developed into a reliable professional down the road, but at this point he does not appear to be a starter. The Browns could still use a flyer on the guy, but it would have to be at the end of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Conclusion: Once again, if a guy looks great in Mobile – that does not guarantee any type of future success. The opposite is also true, but this week was the first time that NFL teams could watch the incoming rookie class in the NFL going against top competition. Taking notes, formulating an impression, and looking for trends in future events (NFL Combine and Pro Days) are three things that all scouts should do – let’s hope those working in Berea are head and shoulders above other franchises.

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2015 in NFL Draft, Players

 

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