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Tag Archives: quarterbacks

What’s New with the Browns?

What’s New with the Browns?

Calm Before the Storm: Cleveland Browns Before the Draft

It’s April, and that means the NFL Draft is just only a few weeks away. It appears that the league is always generating news for all twelve months. That said; let’s see what is currently going down regarding the Cleveland Browns. First, the team said goodbye to a native son, a prevailing thought should be kept in mind by the front office, and the 2016 year kicks off.

Out with the Old

The analytics machine reared its ugly head last week, as veteran Donte Whitner was the latest casualty from the Browns’ roster. The safety played well in spurts in his first campaign with the club, but had his issues in 2015 (and is not getting any younger). Like Karlos Dansby and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu before him, I wish the athlete nothing but the best – as long as he’s not facing the Browns. It will be interesting to figure out how this could potentially shake up the team’s draft plans. Jalen Ramsey is a tremendous talent, but the Browns need a quarterback before they should worry about the safety position.

Reaching for those QBs

It’s extremely obvious that teams typically overvalue quarterbacks (and rightly so on some occasions), therefore teams not needing a signal caller are in line to be the beneficiaries. I have a good feeling that if the Browns take Goff or Wentz with the second overall selection, they will be able to scoop up a valuable athlete that was previously given a first round grade. I am partial to a wide out being taken by the team at the thirty-second position. However, the opening of a need at safety must be considered as well. I know the team needs to improve their offensive line following a pair of departures last month. However, analytics would likely say that this position group could be acquired in the middle rounds of the draft.

Pre-Draft Workouts

Despite the team not practicing plays and running routes, etc., the Browns gathered together and began their strength training for the 2016 campaign. Hopefully the new strength coaches can be improvements upon their predecessors – as the rash of injuries in 2015 was mind numbing. Some camaraderie would also be welcomed; even if the team does not have one of the most talented locker rooms, solidifying a close knit group would be an advantage during the season (especially the tough times).

Conclusion: The news and notes continue to roll out for the Cleveland Browns. The turnover of the 2015 roster continues and the older veterans are on the chopping block. I have faith in this front office, but they must get the right guys to succeed the departed players. The Browns finally got together as a team for the upcoming season; while the Xs and Os will not be a talking point – I’m pulling for this being the start of a vastly improved unit from a year ago.

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Which Browns QBs Have Best Lived Up to the Hype?

You’ve seen the jersey by now. There have been so many different Browns under center that you’ve hopefully forgotten a few of them. The Browns’ passing game is taken as seriously as Tyler Perry at the Oscars.

Yet, the question begs to be answered: Which Browns quarterbacks have best lived up to the hype? We have seen first-round picks and journeyman veterans, local kids and NFL nomads. Each has come with his own set of expectations. Virtually none have lived up to them. But these things exist on a spectrum, and it is up to us to figure out exactly where they lie. So I put out a feeler to Browns fan Condoleeza Rice, and she assembled a crack staff of diplomats, advisers and statisticians to come up with the answer:

Browns QB Chart

This was a truly terrifying exercise. It’s common knowledge that Browns quarterbacks have performed only slightly better than VHS sales since 1999, but studying the names and statistics really drives the point home. Did you know that Bruce Gradkowski’s QB rating was 2.8 in Cleveland? Had you forgotten that Doug Pederson started eight games in 2000 when Tim Couch got hurt? Do you realize that one could make a strong argument for Couch being the best Browns quarterback of the century?

It’s stunning to look at the names and remember believing in some of these guys. Brady Quinn’s tumble down the draft board was hilarious—until we took him, then he was a godsend. Colt McCoy won 45 games and completed 70% of his tosses in college! Jake Delhomme’s veteran savvy! Charlie Frye’s moxie! Brandon Weeden’s…age?

The point is: The Browns’ recent QB history is absolutely as bad as you think it is, and maybe even worse. The psychic camels from the World Cup could do a better job of finding snap-takers. And despite the likes of Trent Dilfer winning a Super Bowl, one axiom holds true in the NFL: You need a quarterback—maybe not an “elite” one, but one who won’t snap defeat from the jaws of victory twice a season. One who can consistently be better than awful. Maybe even one capable of winning a game by himself. The Browns haven’t found that guy, and they had 20 chances through last season. Tonight, we’ll get a closer look at number 21.

No pressure, Johnny.

 

[Can’t name ’em all? Use the handy key and relive the misery! QBs are listed chronologically.]

 Browns QB Chart Key

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2014 in Offseason, Players

 

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So who’s the guy at the fourth selection?

So who’s the guy at the fourth selection?

Final call at #4 – Who are the Browns going to take?

Enough of this speculation, the time has finally come to make my official prediction regarding who the Cleveland Browns will choose with the fourth overall selection of the 2014 NFL Draft.  Clearly, they can go a myriad of directions but they need a impactful playmaker who can excel over a long period of time.

Again, the ideal scenario is that the franchise secures their signal caller at number four and can worry about other positions for years to come.  However, I’m buying into (which could turn out to be erroneous) the hype that the Browns will wait to take their quarterback.  Therefore, that reduces my options to just two players.

On the offensive side of the football, wide receiver has become the second most important position – after the quarterback.  Despite featuring one of the best in the league (at this spot) in Josh Gordon, the team could still use another guy in the huddle to put fear in their opponent.  That guy is Sammy Watkins; the dynamic standout from Clemson.  He is not as tall as Gordon (just under six-feet, one-inch), but his skill set – which features break-away speed – is very complementary.

Defensively, terrorizing quarterbacks is the name of the game.  Some have argued that Jadeveon Clowney may not be the best pass rusher available in this draft – that distinction lies with Khalil Mack.  He has tremendous measurables (six-feet, three-inches and 248 pounds) while flashing brilliance last season.  Would the team take a guy in the same position as they did in 2013?  Is passing on Mack a wise idea?  The defender’s presence could really help transform this franchise.

I understand the receiving crop is very deep, but my gut feeling is that the Browns will take Sammy Watkins with the fourth overall selection.  The thought of him, Gordon, Andrew Hawkins, Ben Tate, and Jordan Cameron makes me smile.  This might be the most talented offense the Cleveland Browns have had since probably the 1980s.  Obviously, they have to still have to put it together on the field – but I would be willing to roll the dice with these athletes.

Conclusion:  The two additional weeks of draft chatter has been mind-numbing, and I am thankful it is coming to an end.  I may not be correct in my prediction, but getting Watkins would be great for this organization.  However, trading down or choosing a quarterback early would not surprise me in the least.  The offense has sputtered greatly for a long period of time; Watkins could make life easier for Hoyer and any other quarterbacks on this roster

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2014 in NFL Draft, Players

 

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Senior Bowl 2014: Offensive Players to Watch

Players to Watch for – 2014 Senior Bowl:  Offense

Once again, the Senior Bowl is almost upon us.  A week of practice and a contest on Saturday,  January 25th, gives NFL scouts and talent evaluators an opportunity to talk to players and see how they perform against some of the best athletes exiting the NCAA.  The next two upcoming blogs will mention a few guys the Cleveland Browns should take an in-depth look at.  Up first is the offense; the side of the ball that will need to see more personnel upgrades before the first contest in September.  I left off fullbacks, as this team will likely not draft one and they do not have an expanded role in this offense.

Quarterbacks:  Tajh Boyd (Clemson), Derek Carr (Fresno State), David Fales (San Jose State), and Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois).

– Analysis:  There’s no doubt that the Browns will draft a signal caller early in the upcoming draft.  However, I believe it will be an underclassman with their fourth selection.  That likely eliminates Boyd and Carr from the draft board of the Browns, as the former could go in the second or third round and the latter could be a late first round pick.  Nonetheless, I still hope the team looks at these guys.  Do not be surprised if the franchise drafts another signal caller later (fifth to seventh round) and choose to develop him down the road.  This is where Fales and Garoppolo can come into play; I was impressed with both this year – it will be interesting to see if this continues in Alabama.

Running Backs:  James White (Wisconsin), Marion Grice (Arizona State), and Antonio Andrews (Western Kentucky).

– Analysis:  Judging by the futility of the running attack last season, the Browns will be in the market to complement Dion Lewis.  They do not value this position too greatly, so if the front office uses anything earlier than a third rounder – it would be a shock.  The three guys are all smaller, quicker athletes who can be productive.  I could see the Browns utilizing either one of their third or fourth round selections on a guy who “takes pressure” off the 2014 quarterback.  White has played against the best competition, while Grice is coming off an injury.  Could Andrews be a sleeper, as he is coming from a small university?  This is where homework can come in handy when the draft rolls around.

Wide Receivers:  Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt), Jared Abbrederis (Wisconsin), Kevin Norwood (Alabama), Mike Davis (Texas), and Shaquelle Evans (UCLA).

– Analysis:  At the wide receiver position, there’s Josh Gordon and then a bunch of guys for the Cleveland Browns.  The team will probably cut ties with a few athletes and will need to replace them with bona-fide options.  I believe the team will either use the twenty-sixth selection or their second round pick on a wide receiver.  From this group, and assuming a few guys like Allen Robinson and Marquise Lee are off the board, I would love to see the team pick up Matthews.  He has been excellent playing against the best conference in the country.  Abbrederis has definitely been underrated this season and abused early-round draft prospect Bradley Roby earlier this season – I would spend a middle-round pick on him.  The other three are likely complementary pieces, which can still be upgrades over Greg Little and Davone Bess.  If their play and attitudes in Mobile stand out, the Browns might pick one in the later rounds.

Tight Ends:  C.J. Fiedorowicz (Iowa), Arthur Lynch (Georgia), and Jacob Pedersen (Wisconsin).

– Analysis:  The emergence of Jordan Cameron last year may deemphasize the need to improve the tight end position via the NFL Draft.  I would be surprised if the front office decides to use even a middle round selection on this position, but all bets are off on the later rounds.  I could see one of these three guys replacing either Gary Barnidge or MarQueis Gray next season – depending on the type of offense the next coach wants.  Along those lines, the scouting department would identify which of these three stand out (if any) and should he be available on the third day of the draft, pick him as a supplement to Cameron.

Offensive Line:  Centers – Tyler Larsen (Utah State) and Travis Swanson (Arkansas).  Guards – Cyril Richardson (Baylor) and Gabe Jackson (Mississippi State).  Tackles – Jack Mewhort (Ohio State), Zack Martin (Notre Dame), and Morgan Moses (Virginia).

– Analysis:  This part of the Cleveland Browns’ roster is the most difficult to predict for a few reasons.  Will the team re-sign center Alex Mack?  Would Mitchell Schwartz move inside and play guard?  The Browns can do anything in May, including picking one to three offensive linemen – and in all three positions.  Richardson has been dubbed as one of the best pro prospects and could be taken by the Browns with their second choice (if that’s their direction).  I like both Martin and Mewhort as options to replace Schwartz on the right side, but the front office may not agree.  Of the centers, both are viable options that could go between rounds two and four; perhaps they can be day one starters if drafted by this front office.

Conclusion:  There are multiple guys that must get a further evaluation this week in Mobile.  Having two picks in the first, third, and fourth rounds give the team a lot of flexibility.  Making smart decisions begins at the Senior Bowl; not all of these guys will be evaluated as highly as their counterparts (who were not invited), but as general manager Michael Lombardi knows – it’s all about value in the NFL Draft.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2014 in NFL Draft, Players

 

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