...of course I did not get back in time to post, that indeed I took the Penguins tonight. Oh well, those of you that hate my guts can take pleasure that if the Caps come back and win, I lose another NHL par.
QB Jake Delhomme, QB Seneca Wallace, FB Peyton Hillis, WR Bobby Engram, TE Ben Watson, TE Alex Smith, OT Tony Pashos, DE/OLB Chris Gocong, ILB Scott Fujita, CB Sheldon Brown, K Shaun Suisham.
CB Joe Haden, S T.J. Ward, RB Montario Hardesty, QB Colt McCoy, G Shawn Lauvao, S Larry Asante, WR Carlton Mitchell, DE/DT Clifton Geathers.
QB Brady Quinn, QB Derek Anderson, RB Jamal Lewis, WR Donte' Stallworth, WR Mike Furrey, OT Ryan Tucker, G Rex Hadnot, C Hank Fraley, DE/DT Corey Williams, DE/OLB Kamerion Wimbley, DE/OLB Alex Hall, S Brodney Pool.
2010 Cleveland Browns Offense:
It's a shame, but the Browns lack any sort of plan - unless they intentionally downgraded most of their offensive positions this spring to perhaps make the NFL more challenging for themselves. It's half humorous, half confusing (and for Browns fans, half depressing); in his first offseason as Cleveland's decision-maker, Mike Holmgren orchestrated a series of bizarre, head-scratching moves.
Starting at the quarterback position, Holmgren barely inherited anything. Brady Quinn's deep accuracy was so anemic that all of his long throws sailed out of bounds. But Quinn was at least young and somewhat promising. Derek Anderson, meanwhile, couldn't throw a seashell into an ocean, but still threw 29 touchdowns in 2007.
Holmgren jettisoned Quinn and Anderson, and brought in the dynamic duo of Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme. Wallace is a career backup - nothing more - and Delhomme is coming off one of the worst seasons any quarterback has ever endured. Delhomme was a bona fide turnover machine, committing 18 interceptions (to just eight touchdowns) and six fumbles in 11 games. Delhomme also maintained a 55.5 completion percentage and 6.3 YPA - numbers that would make Ken Dorsey proud.
More optimistic Browns fans may cite that Delhomme had "just one bad season." More accurately, Delhomme had just one truly horrific season. He didn't exactly thrive in 2008, when he posted a 15-12 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 59.4 completion percentage - and that's not including his disastrous performance against the Cardinals in the playoffs. The problem wasn't just some slump; his arm strength has all but vanished since he had Tommy John surgery two years ago. Meanwhile, Colt McCoy, selected in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, is just a long-term project with Kyle Orton-type upside.
Delhomme had to force the issue last year in Carolina because no one aside from Steve Smith could get open. With that in mind, it's almost scary to imagine what Delhomme could be capable in Cleveland. The Browns don't have anything close to resembling a No. 1 wideout. Their top receiver, Mohamed Massaquoi, caught 34 passes for 624 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie in 2009. Joshua Cribbs, a gimmicky player, is sadly the No. 2 option unless second-year Brian Robiskie can step up. At tight end, Ben Watson and Evan Moore will compete for targets. Moore showed some flashes toward the end of last season, but the lethargic Watson, one of Holmgren's downgrades, could steal snaps and hinder Moore's growth.
A third downgrade was made at running back. Jerome Harrison had an amazing three-game stretch to close out the 2009 campaign, compiling 561 rushing yards and five touchdowns on a 5.3 average despite having nothing at quarterback to keep opposing defenses from stacking the line of scrimmage. This, however, wasn't enough for Holmgren, who felt the need to spend a second-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft on Montario Hardesty.
Eric Mangini has reportedly been very impressed with Hardesty's intelligence. That's great and everything, but is Hardesty a better runner than Harrison? That's very doubtful considering how brilliant Harrison looked in those three contests. Unless Hardesty proves himself as an instant stud, why use such a high selection to downgrade a position? It just doesn't make any sense. If Holmgren really wanted a power back, he could have waited until Round 5 for Anthony Dixon.
As far as the offensive line is concerned, the Browns are well off in some areas. Left tackle Joe Thomas is one of the top players at his position in the NFL. Center Alex Mack had a brilliant rookie campaign in 2009.
However, that's where the positives end. Left guard Eric Steinbach was terrible last year, and has been seeing some second-team action in minicamp. Pork Chop Womack isn't a poor lineman, but isn't very effective either. Newly acquired right tackle Tony Pashos simply should not be starting. This would be another downgrade, but the Browns had nothing here in 2009.
2010 Cleveland Browns Defense:
If only Cleveland's offense was projected to be as good as its defense. It's hard to believe, but the Browns shockingly might have a chance to possess a top-15 stop unit in 2010.
Cleveland is really strong up front. Shaun Rogers' broken leg in late November was actually a blessing in disguise because the coaching staff was able to see how effective Athyba Rubin was as a replacement. Rubin proved to be a really stout run defender in his five starts. He's penciled in at nose tackle, pushing Rogers out to end across from Robaire Smith, another run-plugger. Opposing teams are going to find it really difficult to get anything on the ground versus Cleveland.
The Browns surprisingly had 40 sacks in 2009, but didn't get most of them until late. Matt Roth and Marcus Benard really came on during the final few weeks of the season; they combined for 5.5 sacks from Week 14 on. Without much else at rush linebacker, Roth and Benard will have to pick up where they left off if Cleveland is to win some games in 2010.
Lots of pressure can only help an already decent secondary. Cornerback Eric Wright, one of the more underrated players in the NFL, will have the luxury of starting across from No. 7 overall pick Joe Haden. If Haden isn't ready for the NFL, the Browns can simply insert stud corner Sheldon Brown, who might just be the top nickel in the league this year.
The safety positions aren't nearly as strong. Second-round rookie T.J. Ward, considered widely to be a reach, is the favorite to start at free safety because he doesn't have any competition. Strong safety Abram Elam, a marginal player, may struggle to hold off fifth-round rookie Larry Asante for the starting gig. Elam certainly didn't do himself any favors by skipping most of minicamp.
Speaking of which, inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson was threatening to miss mandatory minicamp as well prior to being scared into signing his 1-year tender. Jackson is a good player, but didn't warrant any interest for his second-round tender because he's coming off a torn chest. The Browns lack a second banana for Jackson; Scott Fujita, David Bowens and Kaluka Maiava are all underwhelming options as starters.
2010 Cleveland Browns Schedule and Intangibles:
The Dawg Pound is just not an intimidating place to play. Since their expansion year in 1999, the Browns are a dreadful 31-57 as hosts (4-12 the past two seasons).
Joshua Cribbs is the best return man in the business. He had four special-teams score last year, giving him eight the past three seasons. The Browns didn't allow a score.
Phil Dawson continued to kick well, nailing 17-of-19 attempts in 2009 (he missed five games), including 5-of-6 from 40-49. Dawson has been worse than 82.8 percent only once since 2002.
Dave Zastudil was not a "disastudil," as Chris Berman would say. On the contrary, he had a 44.7 average with more than half of his punts (25-of-49) inside the 20. Unfortunately, Zastudil missed half the season with a knee injury that required surgery.
Amazingly, the Browns have a shot to begin the year 2-0, as they play the Buccaneers and Chiefs. After that? Well, they may never win again. Check out Cleveland's next seven games: at Ravens, vs. Bengals, vs. Falcons, at Steelers, at Saints, vs. Patriots, vs. Jets.
2010 Cleveland Browns Analysis: The Browns are going to play tough defense and run the ball as much as possible. This strategy would work in the 1990s, but in the wake of the no-contact rules, the NFL has become a passing league. Aside from perhaps Buffalo, Cleveland has the worst quarterback situation of all 32 teams, which will make it difficult for them to win more than five games this season.
The reason the Browns haven't made the playoffs since 2002 is because they keep passing on franchise quarterbacks. In 2004, they didn't take Ben Roethlisberger, opting for Kellen Winslow even though an old Jeff Garcia was their starter. A year later, they passed on Aaron Rodgers for Braylon Edwards even though their signal-caller was Trent Dilfer. This past April, they could have obtained Jimmy Clausen, but selected a fifth-round safety prospect instead, assuring themselves of an entire season with Jake Delhomme.
It's painful to be a Browns fan because the team just doesn't learn from its mistakes. Fortunately, it'll have another chance this upcoming April with Andrew Luck, Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett all potentially available.
I have to say I'm pretty disappointed. Mike Holmgren has been in this league for a long time, and having won a Super Bowl and appeared in the game thrice, he knows what it takes to go to the playoffs on a consistent basis.
Based on this draft, however, the Browns won't be getting anywhere near a postseason berth anytime soon.
The Joe Haden selection was great, but it was all downhill from there. T.J. Ward was a fifth-round prospect that Holmgren drafted in Round 2. Montario Hardesty, while having potential, wasn't a need in the slightest. The quarterback position was not addressed until the third round, when Holmgren took the spread-shotgun guy (Colt McCoy) despite passing on the West Coast pro-ready strong-armed quarterback (Jimmy Clausen).
I liked some of Cleveland's late-round picks, and I'm not going to forget that Sheldon Brown and Chris Gocong were acquired for some of them. However, the fact remains that this franchise is currently heading nowhere. To win consistently in the NFL, you need a franchise quarterback. Holmgren had Brett Favre in Green Bay and Matt Hasselbeck in Seattle. I don't know why he's suddenly ignoring the position.
Overall 2010 NFL Draft Grade given on 4/26/10: C-
2010 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
7. Joe Haden, CB, Florida
With Eric Berry off the board, this was a no-brainer. Joe Haden is the top cornerback prospect in the 2010 NFL Draft. Sheldon Brown will likely be moved to free safety. (Pick Grade: A)
38. T.J. Ward, SS, Oregon
The Browns have nothing at quarterback, yet they pass on two prospects for a projected mid-round safety? This fills a need, but wow. I'm very disappointed in Mike Holmgren. (Pick Grade: Millen)
59. Montario Hardesty, RB, Tennessee
"We have no quarterback. We have a good running back. Let's take a running back!" I like Montario Hardesty as a prospect, but what in the world are the Browns doing? (Pick Grade: D)
85. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
I don't like Colt McCoy as a prospect. I could be wrong, but I think he's a mini-Kyle Orton. Having said that, he's a great value toward the bottom of Round 3. He's a natural fit for Cleveland's West Coast offense, but why then did the Browns pass on him twice on Day 2? That's the huge question. (Pick Grade: A)
92. Shawn Lauvao, G, Arizona State
The Browns had to find a guard. A slight reach, but it's the bottom of the third round; Mike Holmgren just had this guy rated highly on his board. (Pick Grade: B)
160. Larry Asante, S, Nebraska
A Round 3-4 safety prospect, Larry Asante is a much better value here than T.J. Ward was atop Round 2. (Pick Grade: A)
177. Carlton Mitchell, WR, South Florida
This is a good value, as Carlton Mitchell was a Round 3-5 prospect. He's raw but very physically gifted. The Browns need playmakers and they potentially got one. (Pick Grade: A)
186. Clifton Geathers, DE/DT, South Carolina
Brother of Bengal Robert Geathers, Clifton is a perfect fit as a 3-4 end. The Browns needed depth here and the value is very good. (Pick Grade: A)
Key Undrafted Free Agents:
Charles Young, DE/OLB, Hampton
It was pretty obvious that things wouldn't go well when the Browns essentially traded the No. 5 pick to the Jets for nothing. Instead of landing Mark Sanchez, Cleveland acquired Alex Mack and a bunch of scrubs. So, it was no surprise that the Browns began the year 1-11. However, they deserve credit for finishing the season with four consecutive victories. Now, in addition to losing out on Sanchez, they won't have the chance to obtain Jimmy Clausen or Sam Bradford! Terrific. With this cunning strategy, you have to wonder how Cleveland hasn't made the playoffs since 2002.
Patriots sign C Eric Ghiaciuc
Browns sign WR Bobby Engram
Browns cut K Shaun Suisham
Browns waive C Eric Ghiaciuc
Browns re-sign ILB D'Qwell Jackson
Browns re-sign RB Jerome Harrison
Browns re-sign DE/OLB Matt Roth
Browns re-sign SS Abram Elam
Browns re-sign FB Lawrence Vickers
Redskins sign WR Mike Furrey
Browns sign K Shaun Suisham
Browns waive K Leigh Tiffin
Browns sign K Leigh Tiffin
Browns re-sign TE Alex Smith
Browns sign C Eric Ghiaciuc
Browns acquire CB Sheldon Brown, DE/OLB Chris Gocong from Eagles for DE Alex Hall, 2010 4th-, 5th-rounders
Cardinals sign QB Derek Anderson
Browns re-sign LB Blake Costanzo
Broncos acquire QB Brady Quinn from Browns for FB Peyton Hillis, 2011 6th-rounder and 2012 late-rounder
Raiders acquire DE Kamerion Wimbley from Browns for 2010 3rd-rounder
Rams sign C Hank Fraley
Browns sign QB Jake Delhomme
Browns re-sign ILB Jason Trusnik
Browns cut TE Steve Heiden
Browns sign TE Ben Watson
Cardinals sign G Rex Hadnot
Jets sign FS Brodney Pool
Browns cut QB Derek Anderson
Browns acquire QB Seneca Wallace from Seahawks for conditional 2011 pick
Browns sign ILB Scott Fujita
Browns sign OT Tony Pashos
Browns announce retirement of OT Ryan Tucker
Lions acquire DT Corey Williams and 2010 7th-rounder from Browns for 2010 5th-rounder
Browns cut C Hank Fraley
Browns cut RB Jamal Lewis
Ravens sign WR Donte' Stallworth
Browns cut WR Donte' Stallworth
Quarterback: It's really a shame that the Browns won their way out of the Jimmy Clausen and Sam Bradford sweepstakes. They may attempt to trade for Donovan McNabb, but I'm not sure he would be willing to re-sign with Cleveland. Most likely, Mike Holmgren will have to acquire Matt Hasselbeck and draft a young quarterback in Rounds 2-3 (Tony Pike, Colt McCoy, etc.) Traded for Seneca Wallace; signed Jake Delhomme; drafted Colt McCoy
Free Safety: Brodney Pool is a talented player, but he already has four concussions in his career. The Cleveland Plain Dealer suggested recently that his playing days might be over. There will be plenty of safety talent in the second and third rounds of the 2010 NFL Draft. Traded for Sheldon Brown
Cornerback: Eric Wright is a solid corner, but the Browns have nothing across from him. They can't go another season rotating between Brandon McDonald and Mike Adams. Joe Haden is a major option at No. 7 overall. Drafted Joe Haden
No. 1 Wide Receiver: Brady Quinn was terrible last year and his deep accuracy is downright depressing, but it's not like he had anything to work with either. It might not be a bad idea to spend a Round 2-5 pick this April on a wideout.
Inside Linebacker: The Browns need someone to go along with D'Qwell Jackson in the middle of their defense. The 2010 season could also be Jackson's final year in Cleveland. There will be some options in Rounds 3-4 this April. Signed Scott Fujita
Rush Linebacker: Kamerion Wimbley began the year strong, but fizzled out, recording just 1.5 sacks in his final eight games. Matt Roth played well in December, but someone must be added to push Wimbley. Traded for Chris Gocong
Strong Safety: As you can see, Cleveland's secondary is a major issue. Abram Elam isn't very good, but with so many needs, the Browns will likely roll with him again in 2010. Drafted T.J. Ward and Larry Asante
Right Tackle: John St. Clair has allowed 15.5 sacks the past two seasons from the right tackle position. Taking someone like Sam Young or Ciron Black in the middle rounds of the 2010 NFL Draft could work. Signed Tony Pashos
Slot Receiver: More than one wideout is needed to optimize Cleveland's pedestrian offense.
Return Specialist: It goes without saying that this will be a big need if the Browns can't come to terms with Joshua Cribbs.
Running Back Depth: It might not be a bad idea to add depth behind Jerome Harrison. Cleveland still doesn't know what it has in James Davis. A late-round pick could be used here. Traded for Peyton Hillis; drafted Montario Hardesty
2010 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Scott Fujita, ILB, Saints. Age: 31. Signed with Browns (3 years, $14 million; $8 million guaranteed)
A marginal strongside linebacker who thrives against the run but struggles in coverage. Can be upgraded.
Jake Delhomme, QB, Panthers. Age: 35. Signed with Browns (2 years)
Jake Delhomme plays like, well, a guy who's trying to throw games to appease his son's kidnappers. Delhomme has a lot of experience and will be a solid backup somewhere. He can't be a starter anymore.
Ben Watson, TE, Patriots. Age: 29. Signed with Browns (3 years, $12 million; $6.3 million guaranteed)
Ben Watson caught 29 passes for 404 yards and five touchdowns in his contract year. Time for the Patriots to move on.
Tony Pashos, OT, 49ers. Age: 30. Signed with Browns (3 years, $10.3 million)
Can't be a starter anymore, but has experience and should serve as a solid backup.
Eric Ghiaciuc, C, Browns. Age: 29. -- Signed with Patriots
Alex Smith, TE, Eagles. Age: 28. -- Signed with Browns (1 year)
Cleveland Browns Free Agents:
Salary Cap (As of Feb. 15): No cap.
D'Qwell Jackson (RFA), ILB, Browns. Age: 26. Re-signed with Browns (1 year, $1.7 million)
The Browns really missed D'Qwell Jackson last year; he played in only six games because of a chest injury. He's slightly overrated, but still a very good player.
Jerome Harrison (RFA), RB, Browns. Age: 27. Re-signed with Browns (1 year, $1.7 million)
You have to wonder why Eric Mangini didn't use Jerome Harrison earlier in the year. In his final three games, Harrison rushed for 561 yards and five touchdowns despite running behind an offensive line that needs major help on the right side. Harrison is also a solid pass-catcher.
Brodney Pool (RFA), FS, Browns. Age: 26. Signed with Jets (1 year, $1.3 million)
Brodney Pool is a very talented free safety who is great in coverage. He would be ranked higher, but he has suffered four concussions in his career. One more could finish him off as an NFL player.
Matt Roth (RFA), DE/OLB, Browns. Age: 27. Re-signed with Browns (1 year, $1.8 million)
Where did this come from? Matt Roth was thoughtlessly waived by the Dolphins in November. He signed with the Browns and went on to accumulate four sacks in his final six contests. Roth was already good against the run, so his ability to get to the quarterback was a huge spark for Cleveland's four-game winning streak at the end of the year.
Shaun Suisham, K, Browns. Age: 29.
Shaun Suisham had a career year in 2009, knocking in 19-of-22 field goals. However, he's just 3-of-8 from 50-plus in his career.
Derek Anderson, QB, Browns. Age: 27. Signed with Cardinals (2 years, $7.25 million; $3.2 million guaranteed)
And to think, the Browns could have traded Derek Anderson for a first-round pick two years ago... Anyway, Anderson has tremendous upside because he has nice size, experience and very good arm strength. He's also just 27 years old. Unfortunately, his work ethic and accuracy are huge negatives. Still, he could perform well with a decent supporting cast; he proved that in 2007.
Rex Hadnot, G, Browns. Age: 28. Signed with Cardinals (3 years, $9 million)
A sound run-blocker, Rex Hadnot helped Jerome Harrison finish the year on a strong note.
Lawrence Vickers (RFA), FB, Browns. Age: 27. Re-signed with Browns (1 year, $1.7 million)
Did a good job leading the way to Jerome Harrison's dynamic finish this season.
Jason Trusnik (RFA), ILB, Browns. Age: 26. Re-signed with Browns: 1 year, $1.6 million
Jason Trusnik played well at multiple linebacker positions for the Browns, but he'd be better as a reserve.
Divisional Rival History: Baltimore Ravens: The old Browns have beaten the new Browns in the past four matchups. Cincinnati Bengals: Carson Palmer is 8-2 lifetime against the Browns. No surprise there given the difference in talent at the quarterback position. Pittsburgh Steelers: Pittsburgh had won 18 of 19 against the Browns before that infamous Thursday night game in December. Browns 13, Steelers 6.
Features to be Posted This Offseason:
2010 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)