Browns 411

SAVAGE DOES WELL IN HIS SECOND DRAFT

So how did the Browns really do in the NFL Draft this year? To know for sure, the draftees will have to be given at least three years to fully gauge their abilities, so the answers may not come as soon as everyone might like. But since we live in an instant gratification world and need our answers yesterday, I’ll give you my answer right now, with a little twist. I think GM Phil Savage, his scouts, and head coach Romeo Crennel had a very solid draft and off-season. If I were to put a letter grade on it I would give them an “A”. They improved their team in many ways via the draft this year. They filled needs in the draft by taking three linebackers in the first four picks. They added a wide receiver to help with the lack of depth due to the Braylon Edwards injury. A third down, scat back was added on offense and they bolstered the O-line and the D-line as well. Here’s the twist and the reason why I give them an “A” grade. These additions in the draft, along with their free agent acquisitions, filled many needs and brought in QUALITY, EXPERIENCED, and IMPACT players that should provide immediate, positive results in this “what have you done for me lately” society. That will play well with Browns fans everywhere.

MONEY TALK$

Sources tell The Roadman that if the NFL’s salary cap had not been increased from a reported $94.5 million before the new collective bargaining agreement to around $102 million after the new CBA, there’s a good chance the Browns would not have been able to sign center LeCharles Bentley, who I believe was the best pick up of the off-season in the entire NFL. Reportedly his average salary is about $6 million a year.

WHY DRIVING A BENTLEY WAS SO IMPORTANT TO CLEVELAND

By landing Bentley in free agency, it gave GM Phil Savage the confidence to trade with the enemy. Savage felt he could allow friend, former boss, and current archrival , Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome, to take Oregon’s run-stuffing defensive tackle Haloti Ngata because Savage feels that Bentley will be able to handle Ngata when they face each other twice a year. Savage knew that Newsome, or should I say Ray Lewis, wanted Ngata and blew enough smoke during the time leading up to the draft that the Ravens thought the Browns would take the player that they coveted most. So give credit to Savage for fooling Newsome and getting a sixth round draft pick out of his former boss. But by doing so, it will test Savage’s talent evaluation skills against Newsome’s. The performance of Ngata and the Browns’ top pick, Kamerion Wimbley, will be watched closely over the years and whoever turns out to be the better NFL player will be a reflection on which GM made the better pick.

KALIMBA OR KAMERION?

The Browns, 30th out of 32 teams in the NFL in sacks last year with only 23, had their eye on free agent defensive end/outside linebacker Kalimba Edwards. This was due to the fact that head coach Romeo Crennel felt in order to run his 3-4 defense successfully, he needed a pass-rusher first and foremost. So Savage went hard after Edwards. In fact, the GM felt confident after Edward’s visit to Cleveland that the Browns would land their man. However, Edwards never put his name on the dotted line for the Browns and instead re-upped with the Detroit Lions. As soon as that happened Phil Savage turned his attention in the draft from a run-stopper in Ngata to a pass-rusher in Wimbley. That’s why the Browns valued Wimbley more than Ngata on their board.

WHY NOT KUDLA?

Did the Browns have an interest in Ohio State DE/OLB Mike Kudla? Yes, but only as an undrafted rookie free agent. So why didn’t they sign him? Because the Pittsburgh Steelers offered Kudla two important things. First, a two-year deal if he makes the team as an undrafted free agent. Secondly and probably most important, a better chance of making the team. The Browns signed LB Willie McGinest as a free agent and then went out and drafted three linebackers in the draft. The Steelers did not draft one defensive end or linebacker in the draft. This was the main reason why Kudla, a Medina native and a diehard Browns fan, selected the archrival Steelers over Cleveland. His dad emailed me and told me that Mike feels his chances of making the team and fulfilling his dream of playing the NFL are better in Pittsburgh because of the numbers game. Kudla joins fellow OSU teammate Santonio Holmes in the steel city as the Steelers traded up seven spots to the 25th pick in the first round to select Holmes to replace the departed Antwaan Randle El at wide receiver.

ADDITION BY SUBTRACTION!

The recent trade of Trent Dilfer, when you really look at it, should not come as a shock to any of us. Dilfer was brought here to be a bridge at quarterback. His job was solely to get the Browns from 2005 to either 2006, 2007 or as soon as they found their quarterback of the future. When you take that into account, along with the fact that Dilfer didn’t see eye-to-eye with offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon, Charlie Frye went 2-3 as a starter for the Browns, and Dilfer wasn’t getting any younger, this was a no-brainer. It takes the pressure off head coach Romeo Crennel as far as the quarterback battle goes. Frye is now the number one guy and will get the necessary reps he needs in mini camps, passing camp, training camp and exhibition games to become a better quarterback and leader of the offense.

The Browns received a conditional draft pick from San Francisco in the 2007 draft along with QB Ken Dorsey. The former Miami Hurricane will serve as Frye’s backup at the moment unless the Browns go out and sign a free agent signal caller. The best of that bunch right now is probably Kerry Collins. Another guy to keep an eye on is former St. Ignatius QB Dave Ragone, who has played the role of backup QB to Houston’s David Carr since being drafted out of Louisville a few years ago.

NEXT WEEK

A look back at LeBron James and the Cavaliers’ thrilling playoff series win over the Witnesses of Washington and how they’re doing against the Pistons. Also, why LeBron finished second to Steve Nash in the NBA’s Most Valuable Player voting this year.

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates.