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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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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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