>\n\nWorst to First: 7. Cleveland Browns \n\n\n\n

Worst to First: 7. Cleveland Browns

Written by Ben Morgan on 04/04/2010

I should preface this article by stating up front that I'm a Steelers fan. As such ragging on the Browns should be fun and it should come easy. But the thing is, for a rivalry to remain heated both teams need to be successful. So I want to see a better Browns as much as the next guy. Since the man who shall remain nameless shunted the original Browns to the city that shall remain nameless though, that's just not happened. It's looking more and more like 2007 was a blip. Which is a shame. The addition of Mike Holmgren may represent the most important appointment in the history of the new Browns. It's tough to argue Holmgren's pedigree, at this point quite how personnel decisions will be made between President Holmgren, GM Heckert and Coach Mangini is probably open to speculation, but let's key on Holmgren here. Holmgren's helped build challengers (and winners) in Green Bay and Seattle. The Cleveland Browns may represent his greatest challenge yet. And then some. The Browns have not been afraid to make tough decisions already. Cutting ties with pretty much all the previous administrations early picks and dumping the QBs he inherited. Strong moves, brave moves. It all points to a season Browns fans are going to want to forget in 2010. It seems that The Browns have been having rebuilding seasons every season for years now. Without much to show for it either. Rebuilding doesn't really begin to explain what Holmgren's done. The offseason so far has been a demollition job. It could take years to rebuild this franchise. But there's at least some hope in the moustachioed one. Let's work over the roster and see what's left.  
2010 Free Agent Losses 2010 Free Agent Additions
 Derek Anderson QB (Cardinals, UFA-cut), Hank Fraley C (Rams, UFA-cut), Rex Hadnot OG (Cardinals, UFA), Brodney Pool S (Jets, RFA), Ryan Tucker OG (Retired), Donte' Stallworth WR (Ravens, UFA-cut), Brady Quinn QB (Broncos, trade), Kamerion Wimbley OLB (Raiders, trade), Alex Hall OLB (Eagles, trade), Corey Williams DE (Lions, trade)  Jake Delhomme QB (Panthers, UFA-cut), Scott Fujita OLB (Saints, UFA), Tony Pashos OT (49ers, UFA), Benjamin Watson TE (Patriots, UFA), Antonio Bryant WR (Buccaneers, UFA), Seneca Wallace QB (Seahawks, trade), Peyton Hillis RB (Broncos, trade), Chris Gocong OLB (Eagles, trade), Sheldon Brown CB (Eagles, trade)
2010 Unsigned Free Agents 2011 Potential Free Agents
 Abram Elam S (RFA), Mike Furrey WR (UFA), Michael Gaines TE (UFA), Jerome Harrison RB (RFA), Steve Heiden TE (UFA-cut), D'Qwell Jackson ILB (RFA), Jamal Lewis RB (UFA-cut), Hank Poteat S (UFA), Matt Roth OLB (RFA), Lawrence Vickers FB (RFA)  Titus Adams DL (XRFA), Marcus Benard OLB (XRFA), Blake Costanzo LB (RFA), Phil Dawson K (UFA), Reggie Hodges P (UFA), Chris Jennings RB (XRFA), Gerard Lawson DB (RFA), Brandon McDonald CB (UFA), C.J. Mosley DL (UFA), Robaire Smith DL (UFA), Nick Sorenson DB (UFA), Chansi Stuckey WR (UFA), Jason Trusnick LB (UFA), Seneca Wallace QB (UFA), Eric Wright CB (RFA), Floyd Womack OT (UFA), Dave Zastudil P (UFA)
Quarterbacks Major Need
 Having cut Derek Anderson (classy parting shot by the way Derek...) and traded Brady Quinn for some training balls and a 6 pack, the Browns QB situation is a mess of the highest order. Not that it was great before those moves either. 2010's iffy options at QB are Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace. Not exactly awe inspiring. Delhomme has been a legitimate starter in the NFL and even had a couple of top notch years chucking the ball to Steve Smith down there in Carolina. But he's now 34 and coming off a pretty awful year. Long term answer he definitely is not. He may not be the short term answer either. Wallace has been pretty accurate but he lacks NFL QB size and never really gives you that confidence you want in a signal caller. He should be a decent backup though. I think it should be a pretty good bet the Browns will be looking for a franchise QB in this draft. They may need to trade up to get Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen, but they could have the ammunition to do it as well after trading Kamerion Wimbley. To me it looks like Delhomme and Wallace are more the type to hold down the fort while they groom one of Clausen or Bradford. This would represent a huge shift in thinking for a franchise who's thrown more than 1 top tier QB to the Dawgs on opening day. Could Holmgren actually turn this ship around?? Guys like Colt McCoy or Tim Tebow may be an option in round 2 for them if they can't swing a trade up in round 1. If the Rams pick up a QB #1 overall, that means the Browns are likely to have to vault the Redskins to get their QB. That may be a heavy price to pay.
Runningbacks Minimal Need

Jerome Harrison had a massive end to the season, much like Jamaal Charles, and the similarities don't end there. Like Charles, Harrison probably needs that guy to take some of the load over the course of a whole season. The Chiefs got themselves some of Thomas Jones. The Browns are fortunate enough to have gotten Peyton Hillis along with that bag of balls and the 6 pack for Brady Quinn. Smart move. Between Hillis and the returning sophomore, James Davis, Cleveland should be pretty set at RB for 2010, and beyond. Hillis is a tough runner and James Davis showed some ability in preseason last year before going on IR. The Browns like to run and all 3 of those guys should get their carries. Throw some carries in for Josh Cribbs too... pretty dynamic, and if they can get the blocking right it's only going to help the passing game by sucking a safety down to the line of scrimmage.

Wide Receivers Minimal Need
While a cursory glance over the Browns WR corps is likely to bring a response of Who? Who? And who? I'm thinking the Browns aren't going to be looking for much in the way of WR help this year. The main reason being they invested a couple of picks in them last year. WRs usually take a while to develop but Mohammed Massaquoi was a quick learner, though 34 catches doesn't sound much (it isn't), but you have to factor in poor QB play and the inconsistency you expect from rookies. Brian Robiskie should expand on a pretty meagre 2009 as well. Josh Cribbs would probably be better utilised in the slot than starting  but he may have to earn his (much deserved) big pay day on the outside if Robiskie's development is still slow. Add in the useful Chansi Stuckey and it's not bad, provided of course those 2 sophomores can step it up. Yeah sure it's a position they could improve on via free agency or by grabbing the #1 WR in the draft at the 7th pick, but they have other holes to fill and made a significant investment in 2 guys last year at the position. Gotta give them some time to develop.
Tight Ends Minimal Need
Clearly the Browns lack anyone with the receiving talent of Kellen Winslow but they do have Robert Royal and Ben Watson on board. They're both pretty handy NFL TEs. This is a nice class for TEs. That may factor into the thinking here. With a few picks in round 3 and at least one talented TE likely to be still on the board there, well there are much worse picks they could make than grabbing a Dennis Pitta or a long term prospect like Jimmy Graham.
Offensive Line Major Need
Any team with Joe Thomas has one position on the OL they don't have to worry about. Yay for the Browns. In addition this unit which has really struggled at times, boasts some serious talent. Eric Steinbach is one of the better Guards in the league. Alex Mack also started to justify his lofty (for a Center) draft position last year. He, along with Steinbach and Thomas should be fixtures for some time to come. Along the right side wasn't such a happy story for the Browns last year, particularly not for RT Jon St Clair. The Browns have already moved to fix that by splashing the cash on the 49ers often under-rated RT Tony Pashos. Jerome Harrison's going to like running behind him. That's a big upgrade, but Pashos is going to be facing some fearsome pass rushes in the AFC North. A lot better than he's had to face in the NFC West anyway. You figure this Browns team is going to be relying heavily on the ground game though. That's Pashos' strong suit and he should be a very nice signing. Interestingly they've held onto Jon St Clair, he's good depth but a little pricey for just that role. Pork Chop Womack's still around too. I figure for the moment at least, Womack is probably the starting RG. Rex Hadnot moved onto pastures new and he may be missed. He was quality depth who played pretty well when he was healthy. With Pashos, Womack and St Clair able to play RT depth there should not be a problem. However, Womack is a free agent next year, he'll also be 32 by then. St Clair will be 33. The only guy I really see as being a good backup is former Patriot Billy Yates who has started a few games in Foxboro. So yeah, depth could be a real question on the interior, and longer term, at the tackle positions. So, whilst this is a current position of strength (relatively at least) for the Browns, it could go South pretty quickly in 2011. Depth could definitely stand to improved on for this year but they could be in need of a starter at RG by 2011. With 5 picks in the first 3 rounds of this draft, using 1 on the Interior of the OL would be an extremely smart move. I'm going to list this as a Major need, not so much for 2010 but mostly because OL is not a position you want to chuck rookies into unless you have to. Age and future free agency losses mean they could use an earlyish pick on a kid this year who backs up but becomes a starter next year (or this if called upon because of injuries). I'd love to talk about the possiblity of the Browns being able to pick up Mike Iupati in round 2 but I they'd realistically need to package some of their other picks to move back up into round 1 to get him now. Same goes for a guy like Anthony Davis who I reckon is the sort who short term could be a great Guard but long term could be the RT in Cleveland. But you never know. Every year some Tackle prospect falls out of round 1 because of fears they may only ever play RT. Could be Davis this year, if it was, I think it'd be a great fit. 

Defensive Tackles Minor Need
I'm sure no-one expected Shaun Rogers to still be living in the Cleve after the way he kicked off his career with his new coach. But he's still here. In addition to that the Browns instead traded Corey Williams to Detroit. Yeah it's been a real busy offseason in Cleveland. The thinking here goes move Rogers to 3-4 DE and insert promising Ahtyba Rubin in at NT. It's fairly sound thinking. It's not like Rogers is a bad NT, he's such a supreme talent that he could look useful pretty much anywhere on a Defensive Line, but he has abilities that are somewhat wasted at NT. Rubin may be a better run defender anyway. If they do plan to use Rogers as a DE (and that's what it seems), there is no depth under Rubin at all. Were Rubin to get hurt presumably they'd shift Rogers to NT, thereby diminishing 2 positions. I can't call this much more than a Minimal need but a later round pick on a NT prospect for depth might be nice.
Defensive Ends Minimal Need
Shunting Shaun Rogers from NT to DE clearly gives a sudden and dramatic improvement to the DE corps. With Robaire Smith and Kenyon Coleman sluggin it out for the other DE slot it's a nice mixture with some depth as well. C.J. Mosley has some experience from last year having been forced into action due to the chronic DL injury problems the Browns suffered last year. It is notable that Mosley is the only Brows DE under 30. I'm not sure this is the draft to address that, any draft pick is going to be hard pushed to make the opening day roster unless the Browns trade some other player away! But age is something that has to be addressed at some point, to my mind the Browns really need to add 1 guy somewhere on the DL in the draft, I think they could do with adding some youth to DE and another body at NT but realistically there probably isn't the roster space for all of them to make the roster. The fact that Shaun Rogers may be facing a suspension in the near future could tip the balance towards a NT. Mostly what this Defensive Line needs more than anything else is just a healthy year. There's a lot of talent here but it needs to play 16 games. If they can do that, the LBs behind can make some plays.
Linebackers No Need
Despite having given up Kamerion Wimbley there's a big crowd of guys who could chip in at OLB for the Browns. Matt Roth will presumably start on one side, who plays the other is a pretty cloudy situation. David Veikune, Chris Gocong, Marcus Benard... Trusnick or perhaps even Scott Fujita, could be rushing on the edge. Inside D'Qwell Jackson is a talent. With Fujita on board (and I figure he'll be inside in the 3-4) plus David Bowens, this a pretty strong looking group all in all. Certainly on potential anyway. A lot of these guys have question marks amongst them, mostly to do with production. Many of them will need to step up their games but there's not really much need to add anyone in the draft here IMO.
Cornerbacks Minor Need
Trading for Sheldon Brown has answered one major question in the defensive backfield. There are others. Brandon McDonald's days may be numbered and I think (though I'm not sure) Eric Wright could end up an unrestricted free agent in 2011 if a new CBA is signed. That has to be a consideration, and I'm sure they'd like to get him sewn up long term way before that happens. Wright is a talented CB and he's still remarkably only 24. McDonald meanwhile was benched last year, he may be best suited to playing the nickel, he certainly struggled when needed to start. In addition to those guys Coye Francies was something of a steal (on talent alone) in the 6th round last year. He could develop. In addition Mike Adams has played some CB as well, he was the guy Mangini turned to when he benched McDonald in fact. Adams is currently pencilled in as the starter at Free Safety so were the Browns to, say select Eric Berry at #7 Adams could complete a group of CBs with some depth and promise. Promise is all good of course but another option could be Joe Haden and slot Sheldon Brown in at FS as well. So it's not like CB won't be on their shopping list somewhere, because, for all the promise these guys have (they are remember a very young group on the whole), they have a lot of question marks too.
Safeties Major Need
The Browns love Abe Elam. Well more to the point Mangini loves him. And it's not hard to see why. He excels in run support but he's not really a factor in coverage. And the lack of a real Free Safety on the roster means the Browns CBs don't get the deep cover they would like (and need in some cases). That's got to put Eric Berry right near the top of the Browns shopping list with that #7 pick. They need a guy who can cover at Safety in a bad way and yeah if Berry makes it that far, he's going to be hard to pass on. If they can get a guy somehow or other who can cover deep and make plays, it could instantly upgrade their entire defensive backfield. This is a Major Need.
Specialists No Need
In Dave Zastudil and Phil Dawson the Browns have 2 consistent performers at this level. Both are free agents in 12 months but that's not likely to be something the Browns consider when drafting this year. Maybe next.
Return Game No Need
Josh Cribbs got paid. Unless they want to turn him into Devin Hester II and shift him full time to offense he helps the Browns maintain one of the most dynamic return games in the league.
Dream Day One

1.7 Eric Berry S Tennessee
2.38 Anthony Davis OT Rutgers
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Last Edited: 03/24/2010

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