Sunday, September 11, 2016

Cleveland Browns Preview

The Cleveland Browns are expected by most observers to be the worst team in football and even have a few that think that they won't win a game.
I picked last years record correctly at 3-13 and it could be argued that the Browns roster might be worse than that...
The Browns have signed Robert Griffin to start at quarterback and I was fine with the signing,especially considering that the team was rumored to have been interested in Colin Kaepernick at the time.
Imagine the circus that the Browns would have right now had the team traded a pick for all that he brings on and off the field!
Griffin is far from a sure thing,but all things considered,why now?
The odds of Griffin finishing the season are long,so the Browns have resisted the temptation to deal Josh McCown and figure that the Browns will play McCown sooner or later.
Cody Kessler was drafted in the third round and didn't exactly inspire confidence in pre-season.
Cleveland signed Kevin Hogan to the practice squad and I think there is a good chance that he appears on the roster some time during the season.

Hue Jackson expects 1,000 yards from Isaiah Crowell and he is capable,if not spectacular.
If the Browns have any chance of exceeding expectations,he needs to hit that number.
Duke Johnson should be the pass catcher out of the backfield and will get his share of carries as well.
Georger Atkinson III was added from Oakland off waivers after a tremendous pre-season and might get some chances to carry the ball
Malcolm Johnson is on the team as the only fullback.

Cleveland kept all four rookie receivers from the draft and will start first rounder Corey Coleman with Terrelle Pryor.
Coleman is expected to be the deep threat and if Josh Gordon returns after his four game suspension,this bunch could be quite talented.
The other three rookie pass catchers will need to be productive because the odds are that the the least of the bunch will go when Gordon returns.
I like Rashad Higgins the most,but Ricardo Louis has the physical tools and Jordan Payton has great hands.
The three rookies and slot receiver Andrew Hawkins round out a group with questions,but plenty of talent..

Gary Barnidge comes off a career year at tight end after being primarily thought of as a blocker previous to 2015.
We'll see if he can approach those numbers again,but I think he is capable of doing so.
Rookie Seth DeValve was drafted as the receiving tight end and Randall Telfer is the backup blocking tight end..

Joe Thomas returns as the best tackle in football on the left side.
Entering his tenth year,Thomas might not be around to see the fruits of another rebuilding project,but on this team is the gold standard.
Joel Bitonio is solid beside Thomas at left guard as is veteran John Greco at right guard,but there are massive questions about 2015 first rounder Cameron Erving at center and former Jaguar Austin Pasztor at right tackle.
Pasztor will be pushed by draftee Shon Coleman eventually,but Erving will have to sink or swim as the snapper as the main backup for him is Greco.
Veteran Alvin Bailey and rookie Spencer Drango round out the unit as the remaining depth....

On defense,there may be even more questions than on offense,if you can believe that.
The defensive line looks to me to have potential to be the best unit.if you have to pick one.
2015 first rounder Danny Shelton starts at nose tackle and 2015 third rounder Xavier Cooper starts at defensive end.
Veteran John Hughes will start at the final starting spot at end for some veteran stability.
Cleveland will need both 2015 picks to produce to continue to start as 2016 third rounder Carl Nassib looked excellent in exhibition play.
Nassib might be the pass rusher the Browns have been looking for since the Modell years and Stephen Paea was signed as a free agent.
Paea had a great 2014 with the Bears before disappointing as a Redskin as a big money free agent last year,so he could be motivated for a bounceback season.
I liked what I saw of former Ashland Eagle Jamie Meder last season and waiver wire addition Tyrone Holmes was a player that I liked coming out of Montana in the 2016 draft.

The linebackers too are going young with rookies starting at both outside positions.
Second rounder Emmanuel Ogbah is yet another college end that the Browns are trying to make an standup linebacker.
Cleveland seems to try this every year and it rarely works out well.
Ogbah has the physical tools to pull it off,but we'll see.
Ryan loves Wisconsin's Joe Schobert,who was picked in round four and winning the job shows a strong motor in starting on the outside.
DeMario Davis was one of the few signed by the Browns as a free agent from the Jets and looks to be a "D'Qwell Jackson" type that is a better fantasy player than affects the game on the field.
Christian Kirksey is a strong tackler that fills the final starting role inside.
Backups include 2015 second rounder Nate Orchard,who might be turned loose as a pass rusher,veteran special teamer Tank Carder,former 49er Corey Lemonier and two more rookies in Scooby Wright and Dominque Alexander.

The secondary looks weak to me.
Joe Haden was oft injured and oft beaten in his worst season as a pro last season.
If Haden is healthy,he'll be a Pro Bowl level corner.
Former Dolphin Jamar Taylor was acquired from the Dolphins at the draft and beat out veteran Tramon Williams to start at the other corner.
Taylor was considered a disappointment in Miami,but is young enough (25) to still have lots of football remaining and is talented enough to stick around.
The aforementioned Williams is the main backup at corner and will serve as the nickel corner as well.
Former Seahawk Marcus Burley and two more rookies made the team as depth in Tracy Howard and Briean Boddy-Cahoun.
Two more new starters at safety with 2015 draftee Ibraheim Campbell at one spot and former special team star Jordan Poyer at the other.
Rookie Derrick Kindred and well-traveled Don Jones will be the backups.

Former Buccaneer Patrick Murray won the kicking spot over last season's kicker in Travis Coons and former Bronco Britton Colquitt replaces Andy Lee at punter after Lee was traded to Carolina.
Duke Johnson and George Atkinson will return kickoffs with Corey Coleman and Tramon Williams splitting punt duties.
I would rather not see Coleman returning punts-too much chance for injury...

Now the big question-The Browns record.
They are young,unproven and not deep.
I see a few winnable games,but most seem to be on the road.
Today vs the Eagles,at Miami and Tennessee and the home games vs the Jets and Chargers look like the most likely spots.
Let's go 2-14 and the number one or two pick in the 2017 draft.....

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