Prepare to hear the names Bjoern Werner, Jarvis Jones and Damontre Moore quite a bit inn connection to the Browns leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft. All are excellent pass rushers, and regardless of the type of defense the Browns end up running, they’ll probably be targeting this position as one of their priorities heading into the draft and free agency.
In early mock draft, we saw Moore’s name in connection with Cleveland at #6, but now he seems to be rising as Mel Kiper has him going #2 to the Jaguars. Meanwhile, Kiper now has Werner going to the Browns:
I’ve heard Werner compared to J.J. Watt, and while he’s not nearly at Watt’s somewhat extraordinary level, and doesn’t yet have the size to work primarily inside at this point, in terms of his great awareness as a pass-rusher, there might be something to it. Not only does Werner provide immediate impact as a pass-rusher, like Watt, he defends the pass with his eyes and gets his hands up, disrupts passing lanes and swats away throws. A late arrival to football, he has a high ceiling. He’s an ideal fit in Cleveland, a team that saw the defense regress in 2012.
Adam Schefter is reporting on Twitter that Rob Chudzinski is targeting San Diego defensive coordinator Rob Pagano for the same position for the Browns.
I wasn’t thrilled to hear that Chud might want to move away from the 4-3 defense, just because Tom Heckert was drafting for the 4-3 for the past three years, and Jabaal Sheard in particular wouldn’t be a great fir for the 3-4. But Chud clarified his approach in his press conference, emphasizing that he wants an attacking defense and that he believes in scheming around his personnel. He also stressed that the defensive coordinator would make the call and that he could see the Browns running both schemes along with a hybrid scheme that incorporates principles from both.
Pagano ran a 3-4 in San Diego, but here’s a good article where Pagano discusses both schemes along with the hybrid model.
“It’s funny because I got the same types of questions when I took the [job] in San Diego,” John Pagano said. “They said I was a 3-4 guy, but I’ve coached in a 4-3 and a 3-4. We do multiple fronts and we have multiple looks. Baltimore was a 4-3 and a 3-4. They play those different types of hybrid defenses that really are game-changing types of defenses. Whatever your personnel suits you, you’re going to be in certain types of fronts and certain types of coverages whether it’s a 3-4 or a 4-3.
“The biggest difference between a 4-3 and a 3-4 is that you have a lot more linebackers in a 3-4 and you have a little bit bigger linebackers who can standup and come off the edge, which are just like 4-3 defensive ends. When you go to a sub package or a nickel package look, our outside linebackers here in San Diego are defensive ends. They are used to standing up and playing with their hands down. I would suggest multiple looks and multiple fronts.
This quote illustrates the biggest change we’ll see in Cleveland whether Pagano gets the job or not. Chud seems much more open to scheming the defense each week depending on the opponent. Hopefully we won’t see the radical risk-taking of the Rob Ryan years, but we’ll probably see something very different from the vanilla defense run by Dick Jauron which emphasized execution and discipline.
Apart from Sheard, the Browns have very flexible defensive linemen, with Ahtyba Rubin and Fred Taylor being prime candidates for the nose tackle position. Taylor could easily be a dominant defensive end as well in the 3-4, while John Hughes could be another nose tackle candidate. Billy Winn could be a defensive end.
“This is what Chud said to us and frankly this was consistent with all the interviews we did,” Banner said. “Every offensive coach we interviewed we ask them, ‘What is the most difficult thing to play against?’ And the answer in all of those cases was these hybrid 4-3, 3-4, which made it more difficult to know what you were going to be against on any given play.
“So I think it’s clear to say that’s the way the league is headed. We happen to be lucky to think we have a significant number of players that can fit into either a 4-3 or 3-4 and then leave the coordinator the option of being one of these hybrids or committing to either direction.”
This makes some sense, but the more you scheme, the more you increase the chance that your defense will make mistakes. We saw a ton of that with the Rob Ryan/Eric Mangini defenses. They could find ways to stop Tom Brady one weak, and then give up huge plays to mediocre teams as well.
Chud knows the NFL, however, and I’m comfortable with him making these decisions with the front office. This also highlights why I didn’t want Chip Kelly. The NFL has become so complex, and we’re getting an expert in what schemes are out there vs a guy who would have a huge learning curve.
It was interesting watching Twitter over the past several days, as many Browns fans started freaking out immediately when the Browns didn’t make an immediate signing. Some in the media fanned the flames of stupidity, with Tony Rizzo going on an epic rant, which is typical for Rizz – all emotion, zero analysis.
The Browns are not going to build this team by emulating Daniel Snyder and other buffoons who think you can buy a championship through free agency. The smart teams like Pittsburgh, New England and Green Bay rarely make a splash in March by breaking the bank for free agents. They do the opposite – they release their guys when they become too expensive.
The Browns did make a move, signing Bengals defensive end Frostee Rucker.
6. So who is Frostee Rucker, the defensive end signed by the Browns? He is consider a very solid player against the run. For what it’s worth, Profootballfocus.com rated Rucker the No. 13 defender among ends in a 4-3 defense against the run. He played 43 percent of the snaps for the Bengals last season — 259 runs, 213 passes. He had four sacks, two quarterback hits and five quarterback pressures. He wasn’t flagged for a penalty. So his specialty is against the run.
7. Signing him to a 5-year, $21 million deal ($8 million guaranteed) means the Browns believe Rucker is capable of playing most of the snaps at right end. He will replace Jayme Mitchell, who was handed the right end spot and couldn’t keep it. He had only 1.5 sacks and seemed invisible by the final month of the season.
This is not a sexy signing, but it’s the kind of thing smart teams do in free agency – plug holes and add depth. The Browns defense was much better last year, but they we still atrocious against the run. We all love hearing about pass rushers, but adding a defensive end that plays the run well is very important to this team.
Perhaps the Browns won’t draft a pass rusher high now in the draft, but I suspect Heckert has his eyes on some players he’d like to add, so we may see Rucker sharing time with more of a pass rush specialist who comes in on passing downs while Rucker anchors the right end position.
The Cleveland Browns hosted Penn State defensive lineman Jared Odrick for a workout yesterday. Odrick is reportedly flying up the draft charts, and some Browns fans and commentators are worried that the Browns might take him with the 7th pick. Naturally, many of them are bringing up the Courtney Brown disaster.
I have no idea whether the Browns would draft him that high, but we need to keep several things in mind regarding the Courtney Brown comparisons. First, the men are not the same guy just because they went to the same school. That should be obvious, but logic escapes many fans when thinking about their team. Also, they are different types of players. Both are defensive linemen, but Browns was projected as a defensive end in a 4-3 defense where he would be counted on to get to the quarterback. Odrick would be a defensive end in the current 3-4 defense run by the Browns, and his responsibilities would be different. So, throw out all the Courtney Brown and Penn State references when considering whether the Browns would be making a good pick with this guy.