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Going Into 2010: Cleveland’s Running Game Breakdown

Published: January 4, 2010

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The 2009 season has officially come to a close for the Cleveland Browns. After a weak start and going 1-11, Cleveland finished the regular season at 5-11, an improvement on 2008.

A lot of injuries left a lot of questions going into the next season, but one thing that isn’t a question anymore is the talent of Jerome Harrison. So where does that leave the running game for 2010?

1. Jerome Harrison

Seventy-seven carries over the course of three seasons, had been the extent of his NFL career under Romeo Crennel. The fans were restless and up in arms yelling to get the ball to Harrison more, and had hoped that Crennel’s dismissal would mean more carries. In Eric Mangini’s first season however, it appeared that he again would be overlooked.

Then it happened, James Davis went on injured reserve, then Jamal Lewis went on injured reserve. And what occurred, low and behold, was the emergence of Jerome Harrison, finally.

This season Harrison ended up picking up 194 carries for 862 yards. Garnering a 4.4 yard per carry average. With that average, a mere 33 more touches would have earned him his first ever thousand yard season. Sadly enough, in seven of those games, he received less than 10 carries, and three games he didn’t even play in.

You really have to ask the question, oh my, what could have been huh?

Assuming next year he stays the same caliber, and believe me that he’ll only get better; if he gets even just 20 touches a game with that 4.4 average, he’ll wind up with 1408 yards.

Through all the concerns that he was too small and too fragile to be a featured back in the NFL, Jerome Harrison has answered that call defiantly to close out the 2009-2010 season.

2. James Davis

At Clemson, he came back for his senior season after being rated a second round draft pick, and suffered behind a recently NFL departed offensive line. Of course, splitting carries with CJ Spiller didn’t help his cause, and he went unnoticed in the NFL draft until the sixth round.

That changed when he was drafted to Cleveland however, where he dazzled with his speed and cuts in training camp, and big things were once again anticipated for him.

All the promise, all the hope, all the excitement, blown away with one post-practice drill and a trip to Cleveland’s overloaded injured reserve list.

Prior to that, Davis carried the ball 24 times for 186 yards in the preseason, and was expected to share time with Lewis while developing this season. Unfortunately, that shoulder injury put an end to all of that, leaving simply more questions about the state of the rushing game.

3. Chris Jennings

A nice surprise from the CFL and practice squad, Jennings had an average season as the short yardage back behind Harrison. While he has been sufficient in a fill-in role, I wouldn’t expect him to be on the active roster next year.

Jennings put up 220 yards on 63 carries, and posted a mediocre 3.5 yards. It may be worthwhile keeping him around, but a demotion to the practice squad appears to be in his future. At 24 years old, he still has a lot of room to develop.

4. Free Agency

Free agency this year could bring another running back to Cleveland. Mike Holmgren doesn’t look down on signing higher-profile free agents, like Mangini does, which may be a good or bad thing. So with that bit of knowledge, three running backs jump out on the 2010 UFA list.

-LenDale White, 25, Tennessee: With Chris Johnson further establishing himself as an elite running back in the NFL, White becomes expendable, and will probably test the market as a featured back.

-Mike Bell, 27, New Orleans: Bell has a great comeback season this year replacing the role of Duece McAllister, but with Pierre Thomas to re-sign this offseason also, it’s possible Bell won’t be back next year as a Saint. Testing the waters of free agency could see him land as a starter somewhere else.
-Chester Taylor, 30, Minnesota: The only reason Taylor is a backup is that he has the misfortune, or fortune depending how you look at it, of being on a team with Adrian Peterson. Taylor still has a few good years left in his legs and could be great in any team’s backfield rotation.

5. Draft

In the first official mock draft with the finalized top ten draft order, Todd McShay now predicts CB Joe Haden to make his way to the shores of Lake Erie with the number seven overall pick.

Getting Joe Haden’s abilities opposite of Eric Wright would become arguably the most shut-down corner combination in football, especially given their tendencies for interceptions. In Ryan’s 46 defense, man to man cornerback coverage is vital, assuming Holmgren doesn’t turn it to a 4-3.

With Harrison’s emergence, there really is no true reason to take a running back with the first or second round pick this year. There are way too many other priorities this year to gamble on a running back that early, the secondary and offensive line need too much help.

In the later rounds though, it doesn’t seem out of the question.

-Toby Gerhart, Stanford: Expected to go in the second to third round by draft experts, if Gerhart falls to the third round he would be a steal for any team. Gerhart has great power, toughness, and intelligence.

-Montario Hardesty, Tennessee: Also projected to be a third round pick, Hardesty has great speed, power, and his spin move is unrivaled. If Gerhart isn’t available, Hardesty is the best mid-round option.

Either option would seal the running game for Cleveland in 2010.

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The Uphill Battle Of Cleveland’s Newest Tight End Evan Moore

Published: December 27, 2009

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Not a year goes by where countless college players with pro football aspirations, find themselves undrafted.

Many wind up in training camps around the league as Unrestricted Free Agents, some wind up on preseason rosters, and some even make the active gameday roster.

Others go to the Canadian Football League, some go to developmental leagues, and some give up their dreams, seemingly disappearing off the face of the Earth.

Every once in a while though, a player slips through the cracks of the draft and makes a splash into the NFL. Star players like Kurt Warner, Adam Vinatieri, Jeff Saturday, Pat Williams, James Harrison, and Antonio Gates.

Even active Cleveland Browns cornerstones like Josh Cribbs, Phil Dawson, and Hank Fraley were passed up seven times by all 32 franchises.

Which leads me to Cleveland’s recently acquired tight end, Evan Moore, a recent practice squad addition that showed up big against the San Diego Chargers.

What many people don’t realize is not only was that his first ever NFL game, but it was also his first game ever as a tight end. All throughout college, Moore was a wide receiver, and made the transition only upon arriving in the National Football League.

Evan Moore, comes to Cleveland out of Stanford University, where he quickly became a favorite target of Buffalo Bills quarterback, Trent Edwards.

While at Stanford, “E-Mo” put up solid numbers, registering 103 receptions for 1555 receiving yards, and 12 TD catches in his career. His accomplishments earned him awards including First Team Pac-10 All-Academic, Honorable Mention All-Pac-10, and District 8 Academic All-American.

Still not enough, Moore fell down the draft boards and went undrafted, like many others.

Not to be discouraged, Moore signed on as a UFA with the New Orleans Saints. Unfortunately the Saints were well stocked at the position with Mark Campbell and Jeremy Shockey, and Moore found himself waived back into the free agent pool.

As the 2008 season began, he found himself on the practice squad of the Green Bay Packers, where he finally had a chance to prove himself. As luck would have it though, disaster struck and he injured his knee, forcing him onto the Injured Reserve for the season.

On Sept. 7, Moore was given a settlement and release from the Packers. Back into free agency where he sat for two months, until injuries to Browns’ tight ends Robert Royal and Steve Heiden, forced Eric Mangini to sign up every free agent at the position he could find.

Among Greg Estandia and Michael Gaines, was unknown Evan Moore, who was signed to the practice squad where he spent the next month.

After being activated Dec. 5, in his first ever NFL game against San Diego, Moore hauled in six catches for 80 yards. Making every head in Cleveland collectively look up and take notice.

In the three games he has played for Cleveland, he has nine grabs for 121 yards, not bad for a rookie in a new offense and position.

Moore is a hard-working, tough player, with outstanding character given to him from his religious background. His blocking skills are above average, his routes are clean, and his hands are steady.

In my opinion, Evan Moore will be a great weapon, and the best friend of whoever the next starting quarterback in Cleveland is.

If you don’t believe me, ask fellow UFA Josh Cribbs.

“Moore came out of the woodwork and he’s going to be good for us,” said Cribbs. “He’s going to be one of those guys that has incredible talent. On scout team, he was unbelievable, just killing our first-team defense. We had to make him active and look what he did out there today.”

Spoken by the man himself. Welcome to Cleveland Evan.

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The Sudden Popularity of Tony Pike in Cleveland

Published: December 24, 2009

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The sudden popularity of Tony Pike has him shooting up Cleveland fans’ mock drafts faster than a Josh Cribbs kickoff return.

With a particularly weak quarterback class this coming offseason—and the unwillingness of most Browns fans to want to spend yet another first round pick on a quarterback—has left most people turning towards Cincinnati Bearcat Tony Pike.

However, besides the name and a few highlights, what do you know of Pike?

There’s no denying his intelligence: He has a keen football IQ that has helped lead him all season in Cincinatti’s spread offense. He’s has great character, and his leadership skills on the field are more than adequate. He has a clean spiral and doesn’t force the ball into bad situations.

On the other hand, he lacks the agility to avoid a pass rush. Something in Cleveland that has bad news written all over it, especially given his lack of bulk to go with his 6-foot-6 frame.

He has extremely weak arm strength that is only slightly better than the passer currently starting in brown and orange already. His deep passes float seemingly forever—a nightmare in the NFL.

Unless Cleveland moves to a West Coast offense next year under Mike Holmgren, the Browns may very well have a less agile Brady Quinn on their hands again. There’s a reason Pike isn’t projected til the third round, even after leading the Bearcats to the Sugar Bowl this season.

Before throwing your support behind a less experienced “upgrade,” I implore you to do your research and know what you’re asking for.

Tony Pike’s numbers look good this season, but there’s more to numbers when projecting a successful transition to the NFL. If college numbers were what counted, Brady Quinn would be starting in the Pro Bowl this season.

If Pike does fall to the third round, he might be worth taking the chance on, given that there are three picks in the round, but be forewarned most scouts are projecting him as simply a solid backup.

Given his skill-set, I for one, will not be surprised.

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Would The Hiring of Holmgren Mean The Firing Of Mangini?

Published: December 16, 2009

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What does it mean for Cleveland’s coaching staff if Mike Holmgren takes over the reins?

According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, his hiring would not bode well for Eric Mangini’s future. Although based on the team’s improved attitude and apparent buying into his system, you have to wonder how off base Mortensen may actually be. The last four games, the Browns have shown steady improvement in all areas. Holmgren is a smart football mind and knows that a consistent tenured head coach is important in an organization.

So would replacing Eric Mangini and throwing aside the groundwork he’s already done be the smartest decision?

Let’s take a look at the potential 2011 head coaching candidates:

Former head coaches: Mike Shanahan, Bill Cowher, Brian Billick, Jim Haslett, Jim Fassel, Marty Schottenheimer.

Likely minority candidates: Leslie Frazier (Vikings Defensive Coordinator), Mike Zimmer (Cincinnati Defensive Coordinator), Todd Bowles (Dolphins Assistant Head Coach), Gregg Williams (Saints Defensive Coordinator)

-Shanahan is likely to be a GM with the Redskins/Bills
-Cowher would demand WAY too much money for simply a head coach
-Billick has expressed interest in a 2011 return
-Haslett currently coaches in the UFL
-Fassell currently coaches in the UFL
-Schottenheimer is likely to be a GM instead of a head coach
-Frazier is a wildcard, but the hot pick to be a head coach in 2011
-Zimmer is a wildcard as well, but given the Bengals defensive turnaround, could also be a head coach candidate in 2011
-Bowles is a potential head coaching candidate but likely won’t be 2011
-Williams was highly recruited by Sean Payton who took a paycut to hire him, unlikely to become a head coach in 2011

If I had to guess I would say Frazier or Zimmer, although none of the head coaching candidates have ties to Holmgren.

Holmgren is good friends with Parcells however and Zimmer worked under Bill for four seasons.

Head Coach: Mike Zimmer

What kind of staff may be employed? Typically the head coach will pick his coordinators, but a czar in charge of the team in Holmgren’s case, would fall on him.

For defensive coordinator there are three likely options. Stick with Rob Ryan, which is unlikely. Or go to his former assistants in ex-Bills head coach Dick Jauron or Ray Rhodes. The most qualified would clearly be Dick Jauron in this case.

Defensive Coordinator: Dick Jauron

The current offensive coordinator is Brian Daboll, whom clearly has done nothing to show that he will stay with the team in 2011 if Eric Mangini is replaced. This leaves two options. Marty Mornhinweg and Sherman Lewis. Morhinweg worked one year as an offensive assistant for Mike Holmgren, but has currently found a comfortable home in Philadelphia. Sherman Lewis came out of retirement to call plays for a struggling Washington team this year, formerly working under Holmgren in Green Bay. 

Offensive Coordinator: Sherman Lewis

The idea of replacing Brad Seely seems almost blasphemous, as he has created one of the best Special Teams I’ve seen in years. If he is replaced, Bruce DeHaven worked a year under Mike Holmgren in Seattle and had a solid stint. My guess would say Seely stays on though.

Special Teams Coordinator: Brad Seely

Who knows honestly where the Browns will be next season, but regardless the new czar will definitely shake things up in Cleveland.

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Derek Anderson: Should He Be Traded to Oakland?

Published: December 16, 2009

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With the lack of development of JaMarcus Russell, head coach Tom Cable inserted former Browns quarterback Bruce Gradkowski into the starting lineup. Gradkowski went 2-2 as a starter, tossing six touchdowns and one interception, while knocking off the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers.

In last week’s game versus Washington, Gradkowski injured both knees and missed the second half in the Raiders 34-13 loss. JaMarcus Russell was put back in the lineup and threw for an underwhelming 74 yards and throwing yet another interception.

This week against Denver, it appears that Tom Cable is once again going to the former Cleveland quarterback well. Recently announcing that Charlie Frye will get the nod this week.

Last time Frye started a game was 2008, going 12-23, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. It appears that even Charlie Frye is a better quarterback than the most heralded, expensive flop in Raider history, JaMarcus Russell.

In a new rumor this week, started by me, Cleveland backup quarterback Derek Anderson may soon be traded to the Oakland Raiders for draft picks. With the Cleveland Browns in a rebuild and a deep draft on it’s way, adding another third or fourth round pick would round it out with an even dozen selections.

Unloading Derek Anderson also frees up cap space for the Cleveland Browns, puts a strong-armed, veteran quarterback on a team of speedy wide receivers in Oakland, and ironically Anderson again replaces career backup Charlie Frye.

It also puts Derek approximately nine hours away from his hometown crowd, and back in warm weather, where he excelled in college. Perhaps this is exactly what all parties involved need to finally find success.

JaMarcus Russell –  51.9% completion percentage, 17 TD’s, 22 INT’s, 65.0 QB rating
Charlie Frye – 62% completion percentage, 16 TD’s, 25 INT’s, 70.4 QB rating
Bruce Gradkowski – 53.3% completion percentage, 15 TD’s, 16 INT’s, 65.9 QB rating
Derek Anderson – 52.9% completion percentage, 45 TD’s, 44 INT’s, 69.6 QB rating

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Ten Steps To Rebuilding The Browns: It Starts With Quinn

Published: November 27, 2009

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Welcome to Cleveland football, another season, another failed rebuilding attempt.

Not all has been a waste however, bright spots have formed with the development of Mohamed Massaquoi and Kaluka Maiava, the compiling of eleven draft picks, the addition of Jason Trusnik and Chansi Stuckey, and the unloading of Braylon Edwards.

At over the halfway point in the season, the talks of next season have already started. Soon it will be the hiring of a Head of Football Operations, a team assessment, and then the 2010 draft.

In the draft, Cleveland has wasted far too many first round picks on quarterbacks. Let’s face it, odds are good they are never going to find the next Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. Honestly, it’s entirely possible there never will be one again.

With college offenses being built so strongly now on the spread design, predicting which quarterbacks will find success in the NFL is like finding a needle in a haystack.

As much as I’m hesitant to say it, building around Quinn is the only way to do it. He’s a game manager and limits his turnovers.

Whether or not he ever becomes an elite passer remains to be seen, but he could be built around in the same way as QB’s like Kyle Orton, Chad Pennington, Joe Flacco, etc.

1. Bring in Mike Holmgren for GM and Head of Football Operations.
Along with being a great football mind, Holmgren is a well known quarterback groomer. Helping develop passers like Joe Montana, Steve Young, Brett Favre, and Matt Hasselbeck. Having him as a leader could bring along Quinn’s development more than anything.

2. Bring in Charlie Weis for offensive coordinator.
Weis knows how to get the best out of Quinn and more importantly is a proven offensive coordinator. Weis not only coached Brady at Notre Dame, but spend four successful seasons with Tom Brady in New England as the coordinator there. Getting Quinn comfortable and giving him the people to help him find success is vital to finding life in Cleveland’s offense.

3. Release Derek Anderson to end the controversy.

By popular opinion and terrible performances this year, Derek Anderson has effectively taken himself out of the running for franchise quarterback. To end the controversy finally, Derek Anderson must be released or traded at the end of the season.

4. Bring in a veteran quarterback mentor.
Bringing in a veteran to mentor Quinn is another important step, a great fit that knows Mangini’s system would be Chad Pennington. He’s a free agent at the end of the year and coming off shoulder surgery won’t garner much excitement around the league, making him a knowledgeable and suitable backup.

5. Tighten up the defense with S Eric Berry in the first round.

By my estimates Cleveland should be looking at the No. 3 to No. 5 pick in the draft this year, with likely wins pending over Kansas City and Oakland. Allowing this first round pick to be used on defense, instead of yet another quarterback as predicted by most mock draft boards, is huge in the rebuilding process. A shut down safety like Eric Berry of Tennessee, or defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska, would help immensely.

6. Draft Golden Tate in the second round.

Golden Tate of Notre Dame, is supposed to go high in the in the early second round. He’s familiar with Charlie Weis’ system and draws comparisons to Steve Smith and Hines Ward by scouts. Lining up Tate across from Massaquoi could potentially be a combination to rival Fitzgerald-Boldin someday.

7. Draft a power running back in the third round of the 2010 draft.
Getting a run game started takes a lot of pressure off a young quarterback and struggling offense. While it’s a big need, James Davis has untapped potential and will be back in uniform next season, so the need isn’t as great as a first rounder, a third will do. In the third round, there are a handful of solid backs scheduled to still be available. Johnathon Dwyer, Montario Hardesty, Toby Gerhart, and Evan Royster. Although with as good as Gerhart’s been this year, it’s unlikely he’ll still be around.

8. Trade a 2011 fifth round pick to Miami for TE Anthony Fasano.

Quinn’s former tight end at Notre Dame with reliable hands. Fasano plays for Miami but hasn’t been very productive in their Wildcat offense, it’s entirely possible they would give him up for next to nothing. While not putting up the best numbers in Miami, a return to an offense led by Charlie Weis and run by Brady Quinn, could instantly restore his value.

9. Draft TE Anthony McCoy of USC in the 2010 fifth round.
Although having Fasano would be nice, having a second tight end like Anthony McCoy would be great. Mangini typically employs a two tight end scheme, and having two blocking, pass catching tight ends would be nothing but good news for the offense.

10. Tighten up the offensive line with RT Ciron Black (LSU) in the third, and RG John Jerry (Ole Miss) in the fourth.
Finally it brings us to the problem of the offensive line, Ciron Black and John Jerry are big boys who’ve made their career on some of the best lines in college football. Locking down the right side of the line would put the last piece of the puzzle in order. A line of Thomas, Steinbach, Mack, Jerry, and Black would be one anybody could be proud of.

Always up for your opinions, what do you think Cleveland needs to do to get back to respectability?

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Getting to Know Your 2010 NFL Draft Sleepers

Published: November 14, 2009

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At just over halfway through the NFL season, I no longer feel bad already thinking ahead to next year. With a deep draft this year and so many college teams, I took the liberty of highlighting some of the sleeper picks this year.

Sleeper picks for those of you who don’t know, are low risk-high return picks often trading the immediate impact player for lower round potential. 

QB Todd Reesing, Kansas

Potentially a very poor man’s Drew Brees. Reesing was in talks for the Heisman after a hot start this season, but has fallen practically off draft boards after a shaky 3 weeks of playing through a groin injury and terrible offensive line.

He has a strong arm, great mobility, and makes minimal mistakes.
Projected Round: 7-FA

RB Toby Gerhart, Stanford

Running back with great hands and a ton of power when breaking tackles. He would be a great power back or possibly even a tight end at the next level, think a faster Jason Witten. If he falls to the third round, he would be very hard to pass up.
Projected Round: 2-4

WR Chris McGaha, Arizona State

Doesn’t have the size to be an elite receiver in the league but has flawless hands and runs sharp routes. Has the speed to gain separation and would be a solid possession receiver in the NFL.
Projected Round: 3-4

WR Taylor Price, Ohio

Great speed, consistent hands, and at 6’1, 212 pounds, a good build for an NFL receiver. Price has put up decent numbers so far, could be a surprise No. 2 receiver in the league. Coming from a smaller school, would make a great late round value.
Projected Round: 5-6

WR Stephen Williams, Toledo

Lacks explosive speed to succeed as a WR in the NFL, he runs great, clean routes and puts up big numbers, could be a better fit as a tight end with his 6’5 height.
Projected Round: 7-FA

TE Anthony McCoy, USC

McCoy’s a great athlete, and with measurables of 6’5 and 255 lbs, he could shoot up the draft boards by the end of the season. Think Tony Gonzalez, he could be a young quarterback’s best friend.
Projected Round: 4-5

KR Brandon James, Florida

With the contract talks still pending with Josh Cribbs, it wouldn’t be a bad idea drafting a late round kick returner. James has lightning-quick speed and excels on punt returns. Could also be used much like Cribbs in Wildcat formations and slant passes.
Projected Round: 6-7

RT Kyle Collaway, Iowa

A very solid tackle, has good height and size. Durable and a great run blocker, aside from a DUI charge, very few downsides to think about when drafting him.
Projected Round: 3-4

OT Chris Scott, Tennessee

A massive tackle, Scott is versatile and could be alternated at any position on the line. Above average pass blocking, and solid on the run, could move up the boards depending on the Volunteers’ success this year.
Projected Round: 3-4

OG Louis Vasquez, Texas Tech

Freakishly strong for an offensive lineman, Vasquez blew away the competition at the ’09 combine putting up 39 reps. Outstanding pass blocking skills. Scheduled to be the 7th guard off the board, he could slip deep in the draft.
Projected Round: 4-5

DE/LB Carl Ihenacho, San Jose State

Ihenacho always seems to be in the backfield, making life rough for running backs, posting 18.5 tackles for a loss last season and getting to the quarterback seven times. Would move to OLB in a 3-4 scheme. Great value pick.
Projected Round: 7-FA

NT Boo Robinson, Wake Forest

Robinson is a monstrous nose tackle compiling six tackles for a loss last year and give sacks. A much more athletic run stopper than the likes of Shaun Rogers and Albert Haynesworth, and about 30 pounds lighter. If he drops to the third, you would be a fool to pass on him regardless of need.
Projected Round: 2-3

DT Jared Odrick, Penn State

Great size for a defensive tackle, put up solid numbers last season and qualified for the All Big Ten First Team.

At 6’5, 308 he would be a good fit in a 3-4 scheme, expect someone in the cold weather, hard nose AFC North to make a play for him.
Projected Round: 3-4


ILB Pat Angerer, Iowa

A member of the All Big Ten Second Team, Angerer put up impressive numbers last season and has had a solid year this year as well.

Angerer excels at stopping the run. With this years success of the Iowa football team, Angerer may be pushed up to the 3-4 rounds.
Projected Round: 4-5


CB Alterraun Verner, UCLA

Verner has an amazing nose for the ball, breaking up 18 passes last year and recording 73 tackles and 2 interceptions. Verner is my sleeper pick this year, he’s about as shutdown a corner you’ll find this draft aside from Joe Haden, great value pick.
Projected Round: 4-5

SS Bo McNally, Stanford

Lacks the speed to be an elite safety in the NFL, McNally still puts up impressive numbers and has a knack for keeping the play in front of him. McNally would be a steal if he falls to the sixth round.
Projected Round: 5-6

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New League Gives Ex-Browns a Second Chance

Published: November 6, 2009

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Former Cleveland Browns players are getting a second shot in the spotlight, thanks to the newly formed United Football League.

The UFL boasts real, traditional, 11-on-11 football in NFL quality stadiums. In it’s first season it has four teams, based out of New York, California, Florida, and Las Vegas.

Versus and HDNet have picked up a few of the games, and the league plans on adding more teams next season.

Anybody who follows the Cleveland Browns closely may recognize a few of the names participating in the league. Most notably, Charles Ali spent 2008 with Cleveland, Leon Williams was a fourth round pick in 2006, and Noah Herron who spent the recent preseason here, head up the New York Sentinels, but a few other names may surprise you to see again.

The next Sentinels game will be on Versus, November 12th, at 7:00 p.m.

New York Sentinels, ex-Browns:
Charles Ali (FB – 2009 preseason), Leon Williams (LB – 2006 draft pick), Noah Herron (RB – 2009 preseason), Steve Sanders (WR – 2008 active roster), Tra Battle (S – 2009 preseason), Chris Barclay (RB – 2007 preseason)

California Redwoods, ex-Browns:
Parker Douglass (K – 2009 training camp)

Florida Tuskers, ex-Browns:
Keith Heinrich (TE – 2003 to 2005)

Las Vegas Locomotives, ex-Browns:
Branndon Braxton (OT – 2009 practice squad), Josh Mallard (DE – 2003)

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Who Fleeced Who? A Closer Look at The Controversy

Published: October 10, 2009

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The popular opinion seems to be the Browns have been fleeced by Tampa Bay and New York, but a closer look reveals who really may be doing the fleecing. In actuality, Cleveland severed ties with two players who haven’t contributed since 2007 and plagued the locker room with their distractions and inconsistency. In the meantime gathering a 2008 second round, 2009 third round, and two 2009 fifth rounders. As well as if Edwards pulls another 2007 season together and does well, Cleveland’s third round pick will even become a second.

With the emerging talent this season in college football, the 2010 draft is getting deeper by the day. Thanks to a possible change in the rookie pay scale, underclassmen are being scared into coming out sooner, and the talent pool is growing immensely. Previously, the draft boards were starved for quarterbacks with only Sam Bradford(OU), Colt McCoy(TX), and Tim Tebow(FL) finding their way into the first round.

Now however it’s become stacked. Jimmy Clausen(ND), Jake Locker(WSH), Tony Pike(CIN), Jevan Snead(Ole Miss), and Zac Robinson(OSU) are all expected to break into the first three rounds as well, with Jimmy Clausen rumored to be the new number one overall favorite.

Everyone knows the top prospects in the first round this year, the quarterbacks previously stated, Eric Berry, Taylor Mays, Carlos Dunlap, Russell Okung, Ndamukong Suh, the list goes on and on. But with a coach that clearly doesn’t intend to draft in the top 20, where does this leave Cleveland? Besides taking whoever the Jets don’t want at the end of the year, Mangini will definitely trade down and stockpile more draft picks. As I said earlier, there is a lot of value in a deeper draft this year.

According to mock drafts and general draft consensus, the second round may feature players of a first round caliber, featuring DE Sergio Kindle(TX) and ILB Brandon Spikes(FL) both dropping down the boards. Joining them will be DE Everson Griffen(USC), WR Arrelious Benn(IL), OLB Ricky Sapp(Clem), RB Jonathan Dwyer(GA), OT Ciron Black(LSU), and OT Sam Young(ND) to name a few.

Passing on Spikes or Kindle would be hard to do, since both would be tremendous value, but Kindle is more of a 4-3 sized DE and would likely become an OLB in the Browns system, and the Browns seemingly are set at ILB. Expect the Browns to gain another second round pick from trading down in the first, and grab DE Griffen of USC and OT Black of LSU.

In the third round is where the Browns have the opportunity to run the draft, currently sitting on two third round picks with enough late round picks to trade up, likely resulting in three third round selections in the value round.

Nobody talented are available in the third round though right? In the case of 2010, that would be dead wrong. Cleveland could very well find starters in this round. Needing to address RB, QB, DE, and WR still, projected to be available are QB’s Tony Pike(CIN) and Zac Robinson(OSU), RB DeMarco Murray(OU), WR’s Golden Tate(ND) and Marty Gilyard(CIN), and DE’s Brandon Lang(Troy) and Tyson Alualu(Cal).

Since Cleveland would then have three picks, expect them to cash in on QB Tony Pike and the chemistry of his number one target WR Marty Gilyard, alongside the pickup of DE Brandon Lang to bookend newly acquired DE Everson Griffen. I would be very comfortable having a 2011 line of Griffen, Rogers, Lang.

In the fourth round, RB Charles Scott out of LSU should be available early to replace aging Jamal Lewis. Scott would be great value to the Cleveland system, which would then feature Harrison, Scott, and Davis next year.

For anyone already counting out Cleveland and saying they were fleeced by New York and Tampa Bay via trades, Mangini’s draft intelligence could very well put an AFC North contender on the field by 2011. What did Winslow and Edwards lead the Browns to last season? 4-12. Obviously, they weren’t contributing as much as outsiders seem to think.

Cleveland fans should be very excited about the rest of the season’s player developments, the draft, and off-season. The team is in the middle of a rebuild and makeover, but there is a lot of light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s coming soon.

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Jets vs Browns Round Two: Who Won This Time?

Published: October 7, 2009

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Who benefits most from the trade between the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns? There’s no denying that Braylon Edwards is tremendously talented, but in the same case as Brady Quinn, talent only gets you so far in the NFL. Edwards had a fantastic 2007 season, but has been plagued by drops, a poor attitude, and has struggled to find consistent performances.

One thing Cleveland will miss, not his drive-killing dropped passes, but rather the double-team he still commanded. For this reason, Derek Anderson and the revolving door of Quarterbacks will be hurt the most by Braylon’s departure. Since the opposing safety won’t have to guard Edwards, it will leave him free to patrol for interceptions. Cleveland will now look to Mohammed Massaquoi to step up as he did last week, for the remainder of the season. As well as second round draft pick, Brian Robiskie.

For New York, much like during the 2009 draft, they received a great talent, for essentially very little. Now, like Sanchez, it will take time to determine if he’s their future answer.

Edwards gives Sanchez a big target if he can consistently catch the ball, but more importantly, he will command the double-team and take pressure off of receivers Clowney and Cotchery. Edwards thrives in a winning environment, and the Jets are competitive, so if he can stay out of trouble in the big city, expect him to return to 2007 form.

On the other side, the Jets give up a No.3 slot receiver in Chansi Stuckey. Stuckey is good for 4-6 catches a game, and should fall into the No. 3 spot, while Brian Robiskie continues to develop. Also, Brad Seely gets another weapon on an already impressive special teams squad, with linebacker Jason Trusnik. Trusnik is an Ohio native in his third season, and should be an immediate contributor on kickoffs. In addition to those two pickups, a third round pick and fifth round pick, bring Cleveland up to eleven selections in the NFL draft. (1,2,3,3,4,5,5,5,6,6,7).

Both teams should benefit from the deal, but for the Browns, Derek Anderson and newly emerging rookie Mohammed Massaquoi will feel it most. Without the drops, the drives should be able to sustain longer, but expect Anderson’s interception rate to go up without the safety helping out in coverage of Edwards.

Presumably as the new No. 1 receiver, it’s unknown if Massaquoi will be able to replicate his week four performance when the pressure is stepped up on him now.

(Thanks to Malcolm Mathers for the draft pick correction)

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