In this week's edition of "The Sunday Five" we take a look at more of the results from our training camp preview polls, covering the defensive line and offensive line. I also add a few notes about the addition of wide receiver Josh Gordon to the Cleveland Browns.
Last week, the first preview we did involved the starters on the defensive line. The first question was, "What type of season will Jabaal Sheard have in his sophomore year?" 56% of voters felt that he would either have the same type of season as last year, or be slightly improved. 37% of voters believed he would be lights out or "one of the best in the league." Only a mere 6% of voters thought he would fall into a sophomore slump. I think Sheard's has the energy to be a lights out player, but that can only take him so far. The fact that he won't have Phil Taylor playing next to him could force him to see more double teams this year. Then again, the addition of Frostee Rucker and Juqua Parker to the other side of the line could help him out. When you cancel those two elements out, I would fall into the crowd that thinks he'll be slightly improved this year. We don't need Sheard to be elite to contend -- we just need the rest of the players on defense to play at a high level too.
In part two of our defensive line preview, I asked the following question: "Who do you think will start in place of Phil Taylor?" The candidates were veterans Scott Paxson and Brian Schaefering, and rookies John Hughes and Billy Winn. The leading vote-getter was Winn (40%), followed by Paxson (24%), Hughes (20%), and Schaefering (14%). Even though Winn is currently favored among fans, the fact that everyone received a decent amount of votes tells you just how murky the position is without Taylor. Winn was the team's lower draft pick among the two rookies taken, and obviously has less experience than Paxson and Schaefering. My vote currently goes to Paxson, but neither Paxson or Schaefering are ideal long-term candidates. That's why it would be ideal if Hughes or Winn show something unique in camp that pushes them into the starting lineup.
In part three of our defensive line preview, I asked the following question: "Will Auston English make the 53-man roster?" 70% of the voters said "no" because of how crowded the line is, while 30% of voters think he'll beat out someone like Marcus Benard. I don't think there's room on the roster for him, but he can be stashed on the practice squad.
In part one of our offensive line preview, I asked the following question: "If you had to replace someone on the offensive line, who would it be?" An astounding 90% of the votes went to Shawn Lauvao, but honestly, it was poorly chosen poll on my part. It is fairly obvious that left tackle, center, and right tackle won't be replaced, and the coaches liked what Jason Pinkston did at left guard last year. To the casual reader, the number of votes Lauvao received make it look like we're begging for the guy to be replaced. In reality, he seems like a capable guard on what could be one of the league's stronger offensive lines.
In part two of our offensive line preview, I randomly asked the following question: "Looking at the Browns' depth on the offensive line, is there still a need to bring Eric Steinbach back?" 64% of the voters said "no" because they'd rather let the team focus on developing the youngsters. 34% of the voters said "yes" to bringing Steinbach back. Of those who said "yes," 61% thought it should be as depth or as a mentor, while 39% thought it should be as a starter at left or right guard. Unless it accepts the minimum veteran salary, I wouldn't bring him back at this point.
Lastly, in part three of our offensive line preview, I asked the following question about the young/no-name linemen: "If the Browns decide to carry an extra lineman on the 53-man roster, who should it be?" The results were as follows: OG Matt Cleveland (24%), OT Jake Anderson (20%), OT Dominic Alford (15%), OT J.B. Shugarts (14%), OG Jarrod Shaw (10%), C Garth Gerhart (10%), and OG Stanley Daniels (4%). No luck for Daniels, who has the most experience. I wonder if Cleveland got the most votes because of his last name. My pick is Alford.
Two weeks ago, I don't know if anyone here had ever heard of Baylor wide receiver Josh Gordon, and the thought of him being on the Browns' roster for the 2012 season certainly didn't cross anyone's mind. Fast forward to today, when Gordon is a member of the Browns and we're hearing a lot of praise about the kid. Cleveland spent a second-round pick, so they lost their second-round pick in 2013.
Insiders around the league reported that no other team submitted a second-round bid for Gordon. It was also reported that while many teams scouted him, Cleveland was the only team Gordon met with. If Gordon did indeed have first-round potential in 2013, why wouldn't another team take a high flier on him, or at the very least spend more time interviewing him? Who knows. For now, let's chalk it up to "their loss, not ours."
Could Cleveland have used a third-rounder for Gordon instead? Perhaps. Tom Heckert any company didn't want to risk it, though. Even though they owned the second spot in each round, there was still one team ahead of them (Buffalo) that could have spent a third rounder and been awarded Gordon. Spending a second-round pick was the only sure-thing for Heckert and company, and now they've done everything they possibly could have to revamp this offense via the draft. Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson, Mitchell Schwartz, and Josh Gordon. I know all-rookie teams are no guarantee to come in and "light things up," but how is that group going to make this team worse than last year? I see a group with a lot of potential and one that will take a lot of teams by surprise early on in the season.