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.
Peter King talks about the Browns in his recent column about the NFL Draft:
2. The Browns are the pivot point of the first round at No. 4. You have the big quarterbacks going 1-2, and then Minnesota is praying it can stir up interest at No. 3. Not going to happen, according to the teams I’ve talked to, because there isn’t enough love for another of these five prospects — tackle Matt Kalil, running back Trent Richardson, cornerback Morris Claiborne, wideout Justin Blackmon or quarterback Ryan Tannehill to move up to three. Or four.
If the Vikings stay where they are, it’s most likely they go for the long-term protector of second-year QB Christian Ponder instead of a desperately needed cover man like Claiborne. Then, Cleveland. I heard different things over the weekend from people I trust. GM Tom Heckert loves Blackmon and that would be his pick; president Mike Holmgren is still trying to decide with finality if Tannehill is the franchise quarterback worth taking here. The safest pick? Richardson, at a need position, even though receiver is a bigger need.
The Browns are obviously keeping all their options open and I suspect that they haven’t finalized their decision. Everything King said makes sense, but any or all of it could be misinformation floated by the Browns in order to influence other teams in the draft so the Browns can get the trade they want or the player they want at #4. If they want Richardson, for example, they might be worried about Tampa Bay trading up to #3 with the Vikings to get him.
Barring a trade, I still prefer Trent Richardson at #4, then hopefully the best wide receiver at #22 and then Brandon Weeden at #37. As King notes, everything may hinge on how Mike Holmgren feels about the quarterbacks. I’m not pulling for the Browns to get Ryan Tannehill, but if Holmgren thinks he can be a franchise quarterback, then they have to consider taking him.
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.
Oakland Raiders QB Jason Campbell (8) is tackled by Cleveland Browns Chris Gocong (51) and Scott Fujita (99) in a play that resulted in Campbell breaking his collarbone at the Coliseum in Oakland, California on October 16, 2011. The Raiders defeated the Browns 24-17. UPI/Terry Schmitt
After six games, the Browns are 3-3 and have the #4 ranked defense in the NFL based on yards allowed per game. The defense is ranked 9th if you look at points allowed per game.
Given all the moaning and groaning we’re hearing from the fans, this stat might be a surprise. We’ll how the entire season plays out, particularly as the schedule gets tougher, but the Browns are seeing the payoff from drafting for defense. Tom Heckert has found excellent players in the draft, with Joe Haden, T.J. Ward, Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard leading the way. The Browns are better this year on defense, and much younger as well.
Colt McCoy and the offense gets all the attention, but the defense is important as well. So far, it looks like the Browns are building a defense that can be a force for years to come.
Anquan Boldin brings in a 27-yard touchdown pass over Cleveland Browns’ defensive back Eric Wright during the 4th quarter at at M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on September 26, 2010. Boldin scored three touchdowns in the Ravens 24-17 victory over the Browns. UPI/Kevin Dietsch
Is this a big loss? I doubt it. The photo above tells the story – Eric Wright had a terrible season last year. Tom Heckert and the Browns wanted to keep him but he took less money to go to Detroit. This tells me he needed a change of scenery, so the Browns are probably better off without him, even though the kid had some talent.
Yesterday’s loss was naturally disappointing, but hearing guys like Tony Grossi say that these are the “same old Browns” is just ridiculous.
First, it’s one game against a team that has Super Bowl talent. They got beat by the best running back in the NFL, and they held him in check in the first half. The Vikings made good adjustments and with the Browns offense folding in the second half the defense was put in a tough spot.
Next, the defense is completely new. The Browns got great pressure and they got four sacks. The vanilla defense from the Crennel years is gone. Kamerion Wimbley looks like a real player again, and Shaun Rogers was also a stud again. Also, we saw the cornerbacks playing the receivers very tightly. I thought I was looking at Dixon and Minnifield from the 1980′s. That was very refreshing.
The offense was a problem, and Brady Quinn looked terrible. We can’t draw too many conclusions after just one game, particularly against a tough Vikings defense. That said, he needs to bounce back and start looking like a pro quarterback very quickly. Hopefully he’ll get better with time, but if he doesn’t make real progress by week 4, they need to take a look at Anderson.
It was, however, refreshing to see them run the no-huddle offense. They also introduced a Wildcat formation with Josh Cribbs, though they made a mistake running it twice in the red zone, particularly on the one yard line. Why couldn’t they run a QB sneak with Quinn?
Things change dramatically from week to week on the NFL. The Browns have a new regime and a new starting quarterback, so drawing the Vikings in week one was a tough one. Next week they have the Broncos, we were lucky to beat the lowly Bengals yesterday, so the Browns have a chance to show what they can do next week.
This was the message sent by the new regime to Shaun Smith, but apparently he didn’t listen. After dogging it during practice on Friday, the Browns released Shaun Smith today.
We’re definitely seeing something new with the Eric Mangini regime, and even skeptics like Tony Grossi are noticing a big difference with the new regime. Romeo Crennel’s camp was a pleasure cruise next to the tough, disciplined camp run by Mangini.
Also, Mangini doesn’t take shit from players, so it’s no surprise that they let Smith go. He was always known more for his mouth than his performance.
Listen to how Mangini talks about another lineman, and you get the idea of what kinds of players he likes, and why guys like Smith won’t last long.
With Smith gone, second-year lineman Ahtyba Rubin, the Browns’ sixth-round pick in 2008 out of Iowa State, will most likely see more action behind Rogers and in the line rotation.
“I really like Rubin,” said Mangini. “Rubin is just a consistent guy. He comes in, works like crazy, is stout against the run, and has really improved his hand placement. I like all the things I’ve seen from him.”
None of us will know whether Mangini’s approach will lead to success on the field until we see this team in action, but the renewed emphasis on discipline and execution sure sounds nice after the Crennel fiasco. At the very least, we might finally have a team that we can respect, as opposed to the comedy of errors we’ve witnessed for years.
In the long run, if Mangini puts together a hard-nosed, disciplined team, the fans will give them time to grow into a contender.