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So the Browns have worked on the offensive side of the ball in the first three rounds going with RB Trent Richardson #3, QB Brandon Weeden #22, OT Mitchell Schwartz #37. The one concern here is the lack of a WR. It was reported that if he was available the Browns would have taken Kendall Wright at #22 but the Titans took him at #20. So who is Weeden going to target this year with his highly touted accuracy? Josh Cribbs and Greg Little are the starters at this point. Evan Moore and Jordan Cameron could be used as a double tight end combo similar to what the Patriots did in 2011. But who might be available in the 4th round and beyond to add more talent to the wide out corp?
Searching the remaining players it looks like there are a few wide receivers that might be drafted by the Browns. Joe Adams, WR out of Arkansas, Chris Givens, WR out of Wake Forest and Orson Charles, TE out of Georgia are some of the highest ranked receivers left on the board. Another player of interest is Bobby Massie, OT out of Mississippi who could add needed strength to a week offensive line. With Schwartz already shored up at right tackle Massie could be moved to Guard or much needed depth to an offensive line that was decimated by injury last season.
At the end of the day if Heckert decides to go with more depth on defense as he did with John Hughes, DT out of Cincinnati with the 87th pick I would be ok with it. He is the expert getting paid millions to make these decisions and we still have 2013 to continue building the offense as it is my belief they will dedicate two years to the offense as they did with the defense. Lets face it, the defense they built isn’t all that bad. Lets just hope the moves the Browns have made so far in the 2012 NFL Draft put some points on the board.
Well the 2012 NFL Draft is but hours away and I wanted to throw out my final thoughts on what I as a fan and a realist would like to see the Browns do with this years draft.
First off no quarterbacks in the first two round please. I know it is tempting but the Browns should add some offensive weapons before trying to get a conductor make the 5th grade band sound like a Philharmonic Orchestra. If we grab a guy like Kirk Cousins in a later round to add depth and competition that wouldn’t be a bad move. Lets start with the #4 pick.
First it was RGIII now Trent Richardson. If we waited another month it would be another talented man as the “must grab” player. The “can’t miss” or “sure thing”. Lets go with the odds of history. The odds say more players drafted in the first two rounds start over players drafted in rounds 3 to 7. Look at the Browns draft history since 1999 and Tom Heckert’s draft history with the Eagles and you will see this is true. With so many holes on offense and visible proof that the team is improving in terms of wins it makes sense to turn that one starter at #4 into two starters by trading down in the first round, picking up a second round pick this year and possibly adding a first rounder in 2013. This is precisely why I was against trading up for RG(cubed) in the first place. Those extra picks will be running backs, wide receivers, linemen and in 2013 if it proves that Colt McCoy does not have what it takes possibly another quarterback.
As much speculation as there is out there on a trade, the Eagles were last weeks theory and the Bills and Jets are this weeks, I want to throw out my top 10 picks and what the Browns may do with #22 and #37 picks.
1 – Andrew Luck QB – Indianapolis Colts
2 – Robert Griffin III QB – Washington Redskins
3 – Matt Kalil OT – Minnesota Vikings
4 – Justin Blackmon WR – St. Louis Rams via trade with Cleveland Browns
5 – Trent Richardson RB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6 – Morris Claiborne CB- Cleveland Browns (While I know this may not be a popular pick you have to look at the big picture here. The Browns can fill one more hole in the defense which is near completion with Claiborne on the other side of Joe Haden. They would also likely get the #33 or #39 pick from St. Louis to make this trade. This could be another potential starter on the offensive side of the ball. At the end of the day if they stayed at #4 and grabbed Trent Richardson I would not be upset with that move.)
7 – Mark Barron S – Jacksonville Jaguars
8 – Ryan Tannehill QB- Miami Dolphins
9 – Quinton Coples DE- Carolina Panthers
10 – Fletcher Cox DT – Buffalo Bills
With the #22 picks I would love to see the Browns target Riley Reiff even if they have to move up a few spots to get him. If he is not available the best available lineman would be my go to in this spot.
With the #37 pick in the second round I would like to see the Browns target a WR. Alshon Jeffery would be a nice grab here to compliment Greg Little.
With all the holes on the offensive side of the ball and the lack of movement in free agency there is only one thing I am really hoping for in this years draft. STARTERS! I think if the Browns miss in the later rounds, 3 through 7, that is what will really hurt them this year. The Browns have to hit on one or two players that make an impact this year to be able to add wins this season. It is going to take two years to put the offense together but with 13 picks in this years draft they need to make a huge leap with the players they choose!
(Check back throughout the draft for thoughts on what choices the Browns make.)
A month ago I was hopeful the Browns would add a veteran presence to the wide out corp, or should I say lack of one. My top choice would have been Pierre Garcon who learned under Peyton Manning and still put up great numbers in 2011 when Peyton did not play. Robert Meachem would have been a nice addition. Drew Brees surely was a good influence on him in New Orleans. Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, DeSean Jackson and Marques Colston were other huge names at the position that would possibly be available. At the end of the day none of them signed with Cleveland. Whether it was for a lack of trying or the refusal to pay out huge contracts the Browns sat idle and are now left with few choices, if they are even still shopping.
In 2011 A.J. Green was picked #4 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals and received a 4 year, $19.6 million contract. Julio Jones was then picked #6 overall and ended up with a 4 year, $16.2 million contract. Why is this relevant? The Browns have the #4 and #22 picks in the 2012 draft and chances are a receiver will be taken with one of those picks or somewhere in between if they trade down. If you compare that to what it cost for a free agent you can see the Browns are saving their resources to build the team as efficiently as possible.
Pierre Garcon signed this off season with the Redskins for 5 years, $42.5 million. For that money you could have A.J. Green and Julio Jones both on your team! Which would you rather have? Pierre Garcon or A.J. Green and Julio Jones? Robert Meachem was a little less extreme at 4 years, $25.90 million but you are still paying him an extra year if not more worth of salary for similar talent.Then you get into players like Vincent Jackson who signed with the Buccaneers for five-year, $55.5 million and you can see the price tag these players hold. So I get it, although disappointing, the Browns are playing it coy while adding pieces for Colt. They have time for redemption in the upcoming draft. But who might they still add in free agency? The pickings are slim.
Danny Amendola – RFA – St. Louis Rams
This is an interesting situation. If the Browns wanted to sign Danny they would have to give up a 2nd round draft pick for the rights. Talks now are that the Rams and Browns may be trading partners in the upcoming draft for the Rams to move up to #4 from #6 so they could draft Justin Blackmon. If they give up Amendola to move up, as many figure the Browns would get a 2nd round pick for the move, the Browns get a wide receiver and still are able to target Trent Richardson or Maurice Claiborne. Interesting situation here.
Mike Wallace – RFA – Pittsburgh Steelers
Mike Wallace would be fun to have on the Browns but the cost is way to high for the Browns front office to make a move. He would cost the first round pick which would be the 4th overall choice in the draft and demand a huge contract. Neither seem to be on the list of things Holmgren and Heckert are willing to do at this point.
Legedu Naanee – UFA – Carolina Panthers
Legedu would not be the caliber player to fill the void at the #1 spot in the wideout corp but still a knowledgeable veteran that could help the team for the right price. Still not a viable long term solution, which is what you would think the Browns are looking for.
Roscoe Parrish – UFA – Buffalo Bills
A second round pick in 2005, Roscoe has yet to develop into the caliber player you might want as even a #2 but the Browns are desperate at the position. Parrish is also coming off a season ending injury endured in week 2 of the 2011 season. He could come cheap with a chip on his shoulder trying to prove himself. It wouldn’t be the worst signing.
Jerome Simpson – UFA – Cincinnati Bengals
Jerome would be a nice addition to the Browns when you look at his stats from 2011. 50 receptions, 725 yards and 4 touchdowns playing behind A.J. Green. Not too bad. But wait, what is that? Oh ya, he is a drug dealer. I forgot about the two and a half pounds of marijuana he got caught being mailed to him and the other six pounds worth of sweet ganja they found in his house. As one might expect, the Browns would have to be high to sign this guy.
Plaxico Burress – UFA – NY Jets
Plaxico Burress once shot himself in the leg and that is exactly what the Browns would be doing to themselves if they wasted any money on this wasted talent.
Roy Williams – UFA – Chicago Bears
The bears liked Williams so much they went out and traded for Brandon Marshall. Something tells me that between Roy’s age, his lack of production and the huge amount of money he has gotten in the past he might just sit this year out and enjoy life for a while. Oh and don’t forget, he was the guy who sent a $76,000 engagement ring along with a taped proposal to his then girlfriend, Brooke Daniels, the 2009 Miss Texas USA, in the mail then tried suing her to get it back. The ring, not the tape. Not the sharpest tool in the shed, the Browns can do better.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh – UFA – Oakland Raiders
If Carson Palmer and the Raiders don’t want to sign him why should anyone else? Housh hasn’t been the same since his 2007 campaign with the Bengals when he put up 1143 yards and 12 touchdowns. It has been downhill from there through three teams other than the Bengals. The Browns shouldn’t make themselves the fourth.
Braylon Edwards – Released – San Fransisco 49ers
Ahh our old friend Braylon. How have you been? Injury plagued, unproductive and rich? Just they way you were when we last saw you in Cleveland. I know LeBron and his buddies are no longer running the town to pick on you but I don’t think you will find it a very welcome atmosphere. Below are the quotes about Cleveland from Braylon and his mother after he was traded to the Jets.
“There’s nothing going on in Cleveland,” Edwards told the Times. “There’s no real estate. There’s no social life, no social networking. All the people who have something going on leave Cleveland. So Cleveland has nothing, and I came in there with a New York-type of essence. So what? That was the attitude I came in with. Like, this is who I am. They didn’t like the flash.”
His mother, Malesa Plater, told the paper: “He came from a team that was always looking for a savior to a team that knows how to win. No one would understand what he’s been through unless you’ve been drowning.”
Ya, drowning in hundred dollar bills!
The Browns have paid this guy enough money and neither side would probably talk contract anyways. In the end Braylon did send 79 Cleveland area youth to college through a promise made in 2007 through his ADVANCE 100 Program. Good work Braylon, you spent some of your wealth trying to maintain your image and Cleveland knows more than any city that is what dicks do. Guess you and LeBron have more in common than you thought.
Welcome Frostee Rucker, defensive end and sole representative of the free agency class of 2012. The Browns front office has said it time and time again that they will be building through the draft but fans were hopeful of a little excitement during this off season. Lets face it, the off season has been the most exciting part of the year since 1999, sans a quick playoff appearance in 2002 that gave the Steelers the chance to beat the Browns three times in a season instead of two for a change. The excitement never came.
There was plenty of media hype however. Local newspaper and radio demanded RG(cubed) for weeks. However the Browns were unable to top the ridiculous bounty set by the Redskins to trade up for him. Building through the draft would be pretty tough without a first round pick the next three years. Then the media thought Matt Flynn would be the guy. The Browns didn’t bite. I guess they saw that movie, “Kolb and Cassel, the Matt Flynn Story”.
I was one of many who thought it would be logical to bring in a veteran wide receiver to help out one of the worst wideout corps in the NFL. The Browns have not yet made a move. I get it, you want to maximize your assets and spending $8.5 million a year on Garcon or $5 million a year on Meachum probably isn’t the way to do that. Julio Jones was picked 6th overall in 2011 and signed for around $4 million a year and the 4th pick, A.J. Green signed for about $5 million a year. I would have to say both of those guys would be better than Meachum. So if the Browns do use their #4 pick on Justin Blackmon they would be saving money and getting a better receiver.
So patience is the name of the game at this point. The Browns are determined to build through the draft so the fans will have to wait until April 26th to see who some of the future Browns starters will be. But be warned Browns fans. It will take more than the 2012 NFL Draft to put the offense together the way it needs to be in order to be competitive in this league, let alone the AFC North. It took two years of drafting to build up the defensive side of the ball and they could still add pieces in 2012. I can see a move at #4 for Maurice Claiborne to put the finishing touches on the defensive side of the ball. This would allow Sheldon Brown to move over to Safety and leave the addition of another linebacker as one of the only missing pieces on defense.
Another piece of this puzzle to recognize is the lack of starters coming beyond the first two rounds. Andre Davis and Lawrence Vickers are the two players that come to mind since 1999 that had significant starting roles and were drafted past the 2nd round. However, I am one to recognize that the current regime and masterminds can not be compared to past decision makers so to be fair, Colt McCoy has been a starter for the Browns and was drafted in the 3rd round. For the Eagles Heckert drafted Brent Celek in 2007 in the 5th round and Chris Gocong in 2006 in the 3rd round, both starters in the NFL. If history continues then the most the Browns can look forward too in 2012 is adding three starters if they use their first three picks on offense. The hope being that there is enough talent added to truly assess Colt McCoy in 2012 so an honest decision can be made in 2013 on the quarterback situation.
Additional picks could be added if the Browns choose to trade down from the #4 pick to say, #6 with the Rams and pick up an additional 2nd round pick this year. That would boost the number of potential starters up to four with Maurice Claiborne possibly still being available for the Browns to pick. If the Buccaneers take Claiborne then Trent Richardson would fill a need at running back. The possibilities are endless but one question remains. How good can we expect the Browns to be in 2012 after the draft?
I can not begin to emphasize the low expectations I have for the Browns in terms of wins and losses in 2012. My hopes are towards building a long term solution rather than a .500 record in 2012. I think the Browns will be successful in 2012 if they can add enough pieces to properly assess Colt McCoy’s ability to a quarterback in the NFL and beat the Steelers at least once! 2013 will be a different story and I believe the end of the road for Mike Holmgren if a winning record is not produced. If they need to start over at quarterback by drafting Matt Barkley, Landry Jones or whoever else is hyped as the next franchise quarterback available in the draft I think the future could be rougher than anyone can imagine. This years draft will start the building of the offense, but the pressure is on for the Browns front office to make a big stride forward in 2012. 7-9 would be a great start and completely blow my mine but it might take a 3rd or 4th rounder to step up and make a difference this year. Lets put it this way, if the Browns are high enough in the draft in 2013 to grab Matt Barkley it is going to be a treacherous off season listening to sports talk radio in Cleveland!
Quote of the day by Tom Heckert. “We’re not going to go crazy in free agency. We’re not going to do it,” Browns general manager Tom Heckert told Cleveland reporters last week. “You look throughout history. I know Green Bay didn’t sign one free agent when they won two years ago. I don’t think the Giants signed anybody, or at least anybody you’ve ever heard of, as a free agent. You don’t win football games by signing a bunch of free agents. You just don’t.”
Read it, think about it and understand this is how the Browns have and will continue to rebuild this team! It is the mantra they introduced in 2010 and they have stuck with it. Don’t fall victim to the ESPN AFC North Blog, Clevelands 92.3 The Fan or the Plain Dealers Mary Kay Cabot pretending anything else will happen while they make up fantasy moves the Browns will never make. If you are disappointed look back to the 2006 season where we signed a rash of free agents including LeCharles Bentley and Willie McGinest. The Browns went 4-12 that season and LeCharles Bentley’s career was during the offseason before he saw one snap as a Browns player. Or go back to 2008 when all the buzz was about picking up Corey Williams, Shaun Rogers and Donte Stallworth. How did that one work out? Well, Stallworth ended up killing a guy and the Browns only managed a 4-12 record.
If you still aren’t eased at the idea that the Browns will only be bringing in one or two low level guys to fill holes, if you can’t see the Super Bowl winning teams follow this doctrine to success and refuse to acknowledge the Browns own history with seasons after signing huge names to huge contracts, well then I am not sure what to say to you. In 2010, Tom and Mike’s first year running the Browns, they signed Scott Fujita and Tony Pashos to fill some holes. Just be prepared to see similar level players coming in from this free agency’s crop of players.
With RGIII most likely going to the Redskins, who acted like drug addicts selling whatever wasn’t nailed down in their mothers house to move up for the rights to draft him, many speculate other options for Browns at quarterback this off season. Will they draft the likes of Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden or even go for a late pick with Russell Wilson? Could they possibly sign Matt Flynn, Kyle Orton or Jason Campbell? And why didn’t they at least call Peyton Manning to let him know they would be interested? If you are one of the Browns fans hoping a new quarterback is going to come in and save the day I hate to break it to you but chances are we won’t be bringing in anyone new until 2013.
It all goes back to the lack of offensive talent the Browns currently have. The right side of the offensive line needs works. The receiving corp needs a veteran to lead and at least one more wideout working the field. By the time September rolls around there should be plenty of new faces with maybe Greg Little the lone remnant from the 2011 season. Lastly the running game needs to be figured out. Chances are Peyton Hillis will resign and with Brandon Jackson coming off injury the running game should be improved from 2011. This leaves Colt McCoy to lead at quarterback for one more year under a rebuilt offense to allow the front office the chance to truly assess his talent. Now I am not going to sit here and tell you Colt McCoy’s stats were similar to great quarterbacks like John Elway and Steve Young in their early years. I am not going to drone on about the lack of an offense in 2011, the amount of drive killing drops or the deficiencies of the offensive line after Eric Steinbach’s season ending injury and Tony Pashos’s inability to block due to a ruptured tendon (and possibly talent). I am going to tell you why it makes no sense to bring in a quarterback at this point in the rebuilding of the Browns in the 3rd year of the Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert regime.
Everyone from your average fan to the national media outlets were screaming from the mountain tops for RG(cubed) but from the perspective of the Browns it made absolutely no sense to trade up to get him. Actually, it wasn’t until February when I was actually being convinced that it might be ok to take him if he fell to the fourth spot instead of trading down to another team that wanted him. Trading up was never a plausible idea with the holes we have to fill and the knowledge that the current regime uses the draft to fill those holes. I never thought it was a good idea to go after this talented quarterback only to put him on a team with no offense. By the time we built up the offense to be functional, poor Robert would have had his confidence smashed or suffered enough injuries to render him ineffective moving forward. It’s all about timing and this year just wasn’t the time for RGIII and the Browns.
For months speculation surrounded the idea that Peyton Manning and the Colts would not be moving forward as Peyton would be aiming for Super Bowls at the end of his career and the Colts would be stripping and rebuilding their team. It was as if John Irsay new he had to let this amazing talent move on to better opportunities. Now why in the world would anyone think the Browns would be those greener pastures? A team in a similar rebuilding phase as the Colts? Magically tons of free agents would flock to the Browns and create some incredible chemistry over the course of one training camp leading Cleveland to the top of the AFC North? Come down from the clouds dreamers, Peyton Manning will join a team with a solid system and the high level of talent needed to get to the big game. The Browns are not that team in 2012.
As for free agent quarterbacks that are available, the only one that may have more talent than what we already have under contract is Matt Flynn. Flynn is a 7th round pick who backs up Aaron Rodgers. When he does get to play he walks behind a solid line that gives him plenty of time and throws to a wide array of wide receivers and tight end options. In short he is in a situation that is made for success and he succeeds. Much like Matt Cassell in New England when he took the team to a 10-5 record after Tom Brady was taken out for the season in game one. He then was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009 and led the team to a 4-11 record. Kevin Kolb is another example of a guy who showed some signs of success on a team that had all the pieces in Philadelphia but then was traded to Arizona in 2011. He started the season 1-6 before getting injured and missing all but one game the rest of the season. To his credit Arizona won that game so his record improved to 2-6. So for those Browns fans and media pundits that believe Matt Flynn is the answer keep believing what you want.
Now that leaves talented quarterbacks left in the draft like Weeden and Tannehill. Is their chance at succeeding in the NFL that much better than Colt McCoy? I would rather the Browns focus on rebuilding the offense instead of trying to plug in quarterbacks that have no one to throw to and no one to block for them. Use the draft pick on a wide receiver or right tackle and build this offense up so that whoever does play quarterback can go into a situation that is built for success. Complete the team then bring in the leader of it and you will get much better results. A great example of why it isn’t a recipe to the playoffs to have an amazing quarterback is the Panthers. Cam Newton played amazing in 2011. He made the Pro Bowl. He accounted for 35 touchdowns passing and rushing. His team ended up winning six games. Why? Because his defense was trash and he was not playing on a completed team. Sure the Panthers have a great quarterback but they won’t get to the playoffs until they take the time to rebuild their defense. Bet Von Millers 64 tackles and 11.5 sacks could have helped win some games in Carolina in 2011.
Free agency is less than a day away and the Draft is fast approaching. Maybe the Browns bring in a new quarterback or two for competitions sake and maybe they don’t but in 2012 quarterback isn’t the position that will change much. The other components to the offense need to be put into place before the Browns even know what they have at quarterback let alone knowing what they need to bring in. I trust Heckert will continue to take the daily beating by fans and media outlets alike for not doing what they want him to do, while he builds the Browns with the same theory of using the draft other successful teams such as the Patriots and Steelers have used. Good luck to the Panther and Redskin fans who have such fun exciting quarterbacks to watch. Maybe one day it will translate into playoff and Super Bowl appearances but without the rest of the football team I highly doubt it.