Just how much rides on Brandon Weeden's success with the Browns?
This is part two of our weekly mailbag session at Dawgs By Nature. Part 1 can be found here.
In part two of our mailbag session, the topics include media access for DBN, whether I'll be attending training camp this year, how Brandon Weeden's level of play can help or hurt the team, how teams in the division will fare, if the team can unload one of their tight ends for a receiver, and more.
Want your question answered in next week's DBN Mailbag session? Send your Browns, NFL, or other topical question to Chris at email@example.com by Friday, July 13, 2012.
Andrew: "Hey Chris, considering the access that SB Nation itself has had this off-season, such as with Trent Richardson, do you see a situation where either SB Nation or DBN itself will have more direct media access to the team? Also, how do you plan on covering training camp this year?"
Chris: "SB Nation has had a good relationship with the NFL and were privileged to have pretty exclusive coverage of the Rookie Premiere last month, which is how they scored the interview with Richardson, Weeden, and others. It's possible that we could have more direct media access to the team, hypothetically. Other football sites on SB Nation have some form of credentials for their teams, while other football sites have been denied credentials.
I am in the category of people who have not attempted to apply for credentials. While it is intriguing on one hand, I like being able to step back as a fan, without having to worry about offending players or coaches, and attempt to analyze things. SB Nation, on the other hand, is growing constantly, so maybe the national brand will continue to grow their direct media access, which in turn can be passed down to us for content.
Regarding training camp, I would love to get out to Berea often, but right now there are too many variables I need to consider to commit to anything. It could honestly range from me to attending zero sessions, to maybe as many sessions as I attended last year (~5)."
nomorewhodey: "I personally love the Weeden pick, and the draft as a whole. My concern is building through the draft -- if you miss on a player or two, it slows the process down. With Weeden's age, we can't afford to build on a couple drafts because by that time Weeden will be in his mid-30's. Your take?"
Chris: Weeden's body has not taken the beating that most quarterbacks at age 28 would have taken by now, so I'm not too concerned about his age. In an ideal world, he could play until he is 38, and ten years of a solid quarterback would be better than this team has had with all of their two- to three-year castoffs at the position. Missing on a player or two can definitely slow the process down, which is why Cleveland has already been fighting an uphill battle for years. Tom Heckert seems to have hit on a lot of core pieces already, though. If Weeden ends up being a "hit," the misses in the future drafts won't be as crucial. If Weeden is good, this team will get back into contention, setting off a chain of attracting more free agents.
Josh: "Do you agree that the season rides on Weeden? It seems like we have a top-12 defense, top-5 secondary, solid defensive line top-10, likely top-10 offensive line, likely top-5 running backs, average receivers and average linebackers, and then there is Weeden, our only unknown variable. Weeden is going to have a solid running game and protection, which is going to be a trickle down benefit to he and the receivers. Is it fair to say that if Weeden is a top-15 quarterback, then we will be in the top half of NFL teams?"
Chris: "I think you are being a bit generous with several of your rankings. Our secondary was statistically good last year, but I think a top-5 secondary needs to create more turnovers. We need our defensive line to get out of the bottom of the barrel, especially against the run, before we even think about them being in the top-10. Plus, the injury to Phil Taylor is a setback. Our offensive line is good, and while we hope our running game will be nice this year, top-5 is very optimistic. With the rankings you have, it sounds like we could plug in any quarterback and watch them succeed, which isn't the case. Weeden isn't the only unknown variable -- we won't know about the interior of the defensive line, one of the safety positions, whether the receivers are legit, whether Shurmur is competent, etc. If Weeden is a top-15 quarterback in his rookie season, Cleveland probably would be in the top half of NFL teams, though."
Chris: "I shouldn't comment. I've been hoping for the collapse of the Steelers for a long time, and even though they continue to age on defense, they just tried rebuilding their offensive line and could very well hit on some defensive picks next year. The Bengals are tough for me to gauge, as I still have some questions about Andy Dalton. The division should be pretty open between all of last year's playoff teams, and it'll get even more interesting if Cleveland flips the switch to contend."
mr2trill: "Is there any chance we could ship an expendable tight end and a draft pick for at least a dependable 3rd down possession wide receiver like Joe Jurevicius was in 2007? H&H are doing this the right way. Be patient fans. We've already waited since 1964. Go Browns and keep up the great work Chris."
Chris: "I would say the chances of this happening are nil. If a team already has a dependable third-down receiver, why would they trade him to us? Presumably, in your question, it would be to acquire an expendable tight end from Cleveland. The team is not going to trade Ben Watson, who is the team's only veteran receiver really. They aren't going to trade Jordan Cameron, because he's their investment who is supposed to make an impact. I guess you could make a case that Evan Moore is expendable, but the price on him would probably be a seventh-round draft pick at best. The same goes for Alex Smith, a guy teams would rather wait to see get cut and then make a play to sign him. The Browns will be content in seeing if Jordan Norwood, Travis Benjamin, Josh Cribbs, or Josh Cooper work out in that role."
Parker: "I was wondering if you had done any research in the supplemental draft as a way to pick up a much needed WR."
Chris: "I don't think Cleveland will draft anybody in the supplemental draft, as Heckert covets his picks too much. I will, however, try to do a brief preview post/live thread for the supplemental draft in a few days."