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News About the Browns

News About the Browns

Latest Details Surrounding the Cleveland Browns

Instead of getting ready for the Super Bowl (like all other fifty-one times), the Browns are in the midst of their offseason.  We are already aware of the hiring of the new general manager, and a few members who have recently joined his staff.  However, the team recently added a guy to a role that has not been separate from the head coach (since Hue Jackson has been hired).  Meanwhile, a very important week just concluded for the front office – which included an opportunity to get a closer look at possible new members of the club.  Finally, a longtime veteran has been doing the rounds in the media; prompting the question – what does this mean?

A New Play Caller

Following his six seasons as offensive coordinator to a team east of the Browns (who wear black and yellow), Todd Haley’s contract was not renewed with that team.  Just a few days later, the Cleveland Browns spoke to him to fill the same role with the orange and brown.  Not a short while longer he accepted and for the first time since the Mike Pettine era, the Browns will have a head coach and an offensive coordinator who are two different people.  There have been multiple rumblings that Haley is a difficult guy to work with and can get under players and other coaches’ skin.  However, at this point I am not concerned about that; he seems like he knows what he is doing and that is good enough to feel that the Browns have made a solid hire.

Senior Bowl

The ever important week that occurs in Mobile, Alabama is wrapping up this evening following the playing of the Senior Bowl.  The headliners were (at least that is what local media told me) Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen; a pair of signal callers who can still easily fall or climb in draft boards during the coming months.  I hope that John Dorsey keeps an eye on a couple late round guys (where Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt were selected in prior years) – who can vastly improve the team.  Should they take a senior in the early rounds?  I would be okay with that, as long that the value is worth the investment.

Joe Thomas Hitting the Circuit

In case you haven’t heard, but Joe Thomas has been a popular member of the media over the past several weeks.  In addition to having his own podcast with Andrew Hawkins, he has been on multiple radio stations and television segments.  A local radio guy even got worked into a fit that Joe (a former athlete) could actually excel in another industry.  Personally, I think Joe is funny and knowledgable about multiple subjects beyond football.  I would prefer he continue his professional career with the Browns for a few more seasons but completely understand him continuing his career off the field.  Is (at least) one playoff game for Joe Thomas and the Browns too much to ask?

Conclusion:  The Browns secured a solid offensive mind to their coaching staff, and are doing their due diligence with the upcoming draft class.  I would like to say the arrow is pointing up for the franchise, but a tremendous amount of work still has to occur prior to any sort of success still occurring.  Up next is the NFL Scouting Combine, where underclassmen will join the seniors in preparing themselves for the upcoming draft.

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Cleveland Browns and the Senior Bowl

Cleveland Browns and the Senior Bowl

The 2017 Senior Bowl 

For the first time since 1993, the Cleveland Browns’ coaching staff is manning the sideline during the Senior Bowl. I hope this is to the advantage of the franchise, as more time up close and personal is an important thing prior to the NFL draft. I would like to think that Hue Jackson and company know what they are doing, but let’s take a deeper look.

Different Mentality

Several media members have been upset at the Cleveland Browns’ mentality as to how they are running Senior Bowl practices. Instead of the traditional “live” participation where it’s man against man each play – the coaches are instructing the guys on the correct techniques and working on individual drills. Granted, this is only going on for a week – but the Browns will find out which players will accept coaching and which want to do their own thing. I would like to believe that the Browns could potentially have an advantage here during the draft, where they find out a few extra details about potential draft selections.

Understand Positions

There is a stereotype that playmakers have usually come from collegiate Juniors (and redshirt Sophomores), thus the Senior Bowl is here to primarily display lineman and middle of the round selections. With a few exceptions, I subscribe to this thinking – the Browns will likely take a pair of non-Seniors in the first round. Therefore, they should utilize this time in Mobile to determine who makes sense in rounds three through six. 

Potential Options

Seeing as to what the Browns need, I would be content with several members of the Senior Bowl joining the team next fall. Ryan Switzer and Cooper Kupp have been impressive in practice, but I cannot see them as franchise wide receivers. Meanwhile, the quarterbacks appear to be prospects at this point; where they could possibly become respectable veterans at some point in their career.

Pass catchers have really jumped out to me. Outside of the aforementioned duo, O.J. Howard, Josh Reynolds, and Evan Engram each had their moments as well. I would more than welcome the Browns saddling up with these athletes in the second to fourth rounds. I understand Hue Jackson loves quarterbacks (and why not), so if he does not take a signal caller early in April’s draft – he could opt for a Josh Dobbs or Davis Webb later in the process.

Conclusion: The key about this week is to determine what to look for in athletes as well as translating this into the scouting combine and senior pro days. The Browns need tremendous athletes who are hungry for football and have a tremendous desire for the sport. I’m sick and tired of misses during the draft for one reason or another – it is finally time to get it right this April.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2017 in NFL Draft, Players

 

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2016 Cleveland Browns and Beyond

2016 Cleveland Browns and Beyond

What’s Next for The Cleveland Browns 

Tearing down the roster, implementing multiple rookies and younger veterans into the lineup, and witnessing injuries a-plenty.  That is the summation of the season that the Cleveland Browns season in 2016.  The team lost fifteen of its sixteen contests, but it can be argued that the Browns can be looking up beginning with this season.  Instead of another miserable, sad commentary about what went wrong – we look towards the future.

Senior Bowl

For the first time in fourteen years, the Cleveland Browns’ coaching staff will be leading one of the two Senior Bowl roster.  Several have scrutinized the franchise as they chose not to attend the event in Mobile (when an opportunity was present) – thus missing critical time that could have been spent with potential draft picks.  I hope coach Jackson and company make the most of their time, as their draft needs to be excellent for a change.  Coaching the Senior Bowl will likely be felt in the middle rounds of the draft, as many seniors are chosen draft weekend.  Meeting up close with these athletes can give the Browns an advantage that other teams will not have.

Coaching Changes?

It has been floated out in the media that there might be at least two changes to Hue Jackson’s coaching staff.  The first relates to defensive coordinator Ray Horton, who has been rumored to be replaced in the near future.  For the second time since 2013, I will continue to say this – Horton seems like a nice guy but cannot get the most out of his defense.  Frankly, I’m tired of seeing opposing tight ends run wild against the Browns’ defense, as well as witnessing opposing signal callers leading their offenses with ease.  Add to the fact that Horton was not Hue Jackson’s top candidate as defensive coordinator and a change makes sense.  I don’t expect the Browns’ to have a dominating defense in 2017, but a mediocre one would be a welcome sight.

Additionally, quarterbacks’ coach Pep Hamilton could be on the move as well.  The former Stanford assistant appears to want to join his ol’ buddy Jim Harbaugh and desert the orange and brown.  If that is indeed the case, I wish him all the best – but I cannot feel a sense of loss.  Hamilton, in my opinion, did not do a ton to improve the play of the quarterbacks on this team.  Jackson could replace the departed coach and an improvement would not be out of the question.

Conclusion:  This long offseason could have not come soon enough; I am over their terrible campaign and am already looking towards the future.  The front office must make the correct decisions in coaching hires, free agency, and obviously the draft.  I will put blind faith that the team will get it right (for the time being) – however that can change in the coming months.  One of these years I would like to actually write about the Browns participating in the playoffs (in January and possible February).

 

 

 

 
 

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News from the Senior Bowl – Cleveland Browns

News from the Senior Bowl – Cleveland Browns

Senior Bowl Notes

The annual Senior Bowl from Mobile Alabama just concluded last week, and like every season there are a few things to take away from the ever-important period.  There were several members who improved their draft stock, and others less than impressive on the practice field. However, in addition to the athletes participating – there has actually been some conversation regarding the Cleveland Browns.  Let’s look into both areas.

What to Make of Carson Wentz

The tall (six-foot, five inches) signal caller from North Dakota State was definitely the man on display in front of hundreds of NFL scouts. He is similar to Paxton Lynch in both stature as well as level of collegiate competition he has faced.  The latter is a reason why many feel he might be more of a project than Jared Goff (to which I agree).  I like what he can do as a quarterback, but would prefer the Browns go in another direction at quarterback (especially with their first round choice).

Braxton Miller at Wide Receiver

Another athlete who garnered a fair amount of praise was former quarterback (turned wide out) Braxton Miller.  In addition to playing his collegiate games in this state, many remember some shifty moves that accompany the playmaker.  I feel he would be a viable addition to a wide receiving corps, but like Wentz could take time to develop into his role in the NFL.  Even with the possibility of getting Josh Gordon back, I would prefer more of a dynamic, experienced, and large wide out who can intimidate defenses.  Miller would be a superb third receiving option, but I envision someone reaching for him in the
upcoming draft and hoping he will be their main attraction on the outside.

The Rise of Noah Spence

The former Ohio State defensive lineman has been dominating in drills during his time in Mobile.  However, the substance abuse issues (leading to his dismissal from Columbus) are enough reason for teams to bypass the phenomenal defender.  The Browns should be one of those organizations to not gloss over red flags; they simply don’t have to culture to overcome these characters.

A Reason to Believe?

For the first time in what seems like an eternity, the Cleveland Browns actually sent representatives to the Senior Bowl to watch and interact with the draft eligible players.  In addition to the many scouts, head coach Hue Jackson owner and Jimmy Haslam were busy delving into athletes as well as holding many interviews.  One could hope that they are doing it the right way; this is the opposite of what they have previously done and that did not work.

Conclusion:  This is an exciting time for almost every team in the NFL (at least the thirty not currently preparing for the Super Bowl). However, people must temper enthusiasm with these seniors – sure some look good now but the level of competition will increase significantly over the course of the next few months.  Optimistically, I am pulling for the Browns uncovering multiple late round gems in the draft. There’s a good chance that these guys could have been participating in the Senior Bowl festivities.

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2016 in Offseason, Players

 

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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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Quick Analysis – Senior Bowl – North

Quick Analysis – Senior Bowl – North

Senior Bowl – Scouting Reports – North Squad

It’s Scouting season! Once again, some of the best football players in the world come to convene in Mobile, Alabama. Certainly, some guys stood head and shoulders above their counterparts – while others faltered greatly. How much will these impressions influence general managers this April? It is relatively up to the personality of the NFL organizations as well as the men in charge of personnel decisions. However, a great first impression is not a bad thing – let’s see whom the orange and brown could key on and whom they might want to avoid.

North Roster Stock Up:

Jamison Crowder – WR – Duke University – The undersized wide out displayed his blazing speed in drills. He excelled in both during out routes as well as deeper tosses from signal callers. While Browns’ fans may groan at the thought of another short guy catching passes, he could be a solid option in the middle rounds of the draft.

Danny Shelton – DT – University of Washington – The large man on the defensive line showed how exceptional he could be at the next level.   Getting around offensive linemen either by blowing by them or sliding around them were two consistent results that occurred for the former Husky. Could he help the Browns defense? Most likely, but will they select him during the draft?

Laken Tomlinson – OG – Duke University – He more than held his own against his opponents during blocking drills. I was impressed to see him stand up defensive stalwarts on multiple occasions. The Browns would be wise to give him a look, as the interior of their line is in need of upgrading.

Donovan Smith – OT – Pennsylvania State University – He possesses all the tangibles required for an offensive lineman in the NFL. Smith performed the way that he should have during Senior Bowl week. Manhandling the opposition was the norm for the star. I wouldn’t mind the Browns giving this guy a hard look this spring.

North Roster Stock Down:

Jeff Luc – ILB – University of Cincinnati – The linebacker struggled consistently in coverage during one-on-one drills. While the position is rather set (for the Browns) with Chris Kirksey, Craig Robertson, and Karlos Dansby – they could always use another reliable guy back there. Luc will have to continue to impress scouts if he wants to get chosen during the earlier in the draft.

Bryce Petty – QB – Baylor University – I was underwhelmed by the play of the prolific quarterback. He struggled with his timing when tossing the ball to receivers, and did not accurately hit his spots during individual drills. Like many college quarterbacks, he will need time to transition to playing under center. I (obviously) wouldn’t write him off yet, but he’s got a great deal of room to grow.

Devin Smith – WR – Ohio State University – The national champion came to Mobile to prove he is more than a one-trick pony. Unfortunately, that did not come to fruition – as the speedster could not cause separation during shorter routes. I have my doubts that he can translate to the professional game, but the buckeye still has ample time to refine his game.

T.J. Clemmings – OT – University of Pittsburgh – The large athlete has tremendous strength and size, but was very up-and-down in his play in Mobile. Some times he was sufficient, while others his opponent made him look foolish. The Browns might want to look at a guy who can be a starting right tackle on day one, but if they want to wait to see if Clemmings slides – he could be in their future plans. 

Conclusion: Some of the athletes looked great this week, while others did not. Along those lines, some will be exceptional professionals and many won’t. Are the guys who stood out going to be bona-fide stars, while the disappointments will be busts? Of course not, but a good start here will keep the attention of scouts on these prospects. I’m hopeful the Browns can use this week to make informed (and more importantly correct) decisions draft weekend.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2015 in NFL Draft, Players

 

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Got a Warm and Fuzzy Feeling…Browns’ Scouting

Got a Warm and Fuzzy Feeling…Browns’ Scouting

First-Time Feeling Confident in Scouting

While there are changes (again) to be made to this coaching staff, for the first time in quite a while the general manager and his scouts remain intact for the Cleveland Browns.  Regardless of who is on the field, there are many men in charge to choose the best (former) collegiate athletes to bolster this roster.  There were several seasons where the team was partially represented or not at all during all-star weeks.  Fortunately that is not the case in 2015, and that makes me content with Ray Farmer’s plan of action.

East-West Shrine Game

The perceived “lesser of the two” contest between some of the better athletes occurs at St. Petersburg, Florida.  Typically, these guys are not drafted too high in April – but it would be wise for the Browns’ front office to still study this pool of guys.  The later rounds of the draft and free agent pickups are usually where these football players are selected.  Just looking at last season; Isaiah Crowell, Taylor Gabriel, and K’Waun Williams are three guys who the Browns scooped up following the draft.  All three were integral to the team’s success at different parts of the 2014 campaign; can Farmer make note of some under-the-radar guys and have them don orange and brown in the fall of 2015?

Senior Bowl

Mobile, Alabama is typically where most of the NFL travels to in late January.  Coaches, general managers, and television outlets (i.e. NFL Network) all converge to see which top college seniors can improve a professional franchise.  These athletes can be chosen anywhere in the draft, from the first round to a free agent acquisition.  A huge part of scouting centers on understanding the personality of a young athlete – specifically how he treats football.  Is the game a nine-to-five job where the guy is looking to collect checks?  The Browns’ roster has been saddled with those types of players over the
years.  Or, is football a passion and desire of the NFL prospect? Will the athlete study the sport (especially when few others are) and work hard to be the best in the world at his position?  Does he make good decisions, both on and off the field?  I do not want to see any more Johnny Manziel-type of players on this roster; a guy who emulates Russell Wilson would be a tremendous start.

The Browns’ Status

Ray Farmer and his scouts have now gone through an entire calendar year in their current roles with the team.  They should have a good feeling as to whom to look at and which guys should be avoided in the next few weeks.  Of course this is an inexact science, but I have faith that the general manager has the tools and resources to make sage decisions during draft weekend.  If the Browns allow him to “take the bull by the horns” and run this draft, Farmer should be able to secure solid athletes consistently.  One can debate the value of his two picks in the first round in 2014; however 2015 allows him two more shots to redeem himself (meanwhile Gilbert and Manziel still have time to improve).  All that said, I feel much better at this time than I have since 1999.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2015 in Offseason, Players

 

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