Seven Key Roles the Browns Have Filled to Inch Closer to Making a Super Bowl

I would give Joe Thomas every award ever invented if I could. - USA TODAY Sports

When the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers two weeks ago, the road to Super Bowl in 2014 began. Sometimes, it's not all about having just the most physically dominant team in the league -- you need players with the brains, technical skills, or just someone who knows how to keep the mood light in the locker room. As part of a promotion by Hyundai, we will take a look at seven unique roles an NFL team should have, and which members of the Cleveland Browns fit those roles best.

  • Enforcer: S T.J. Ward - If there is one player on the Browns' defense you do not want to go over the middle against, it is the team's best safety in T.J. Ward. Ward was having a solid season defensively before missing the final two games of the year to injury, but he at least got to lay in to a couple of offensive players. He also forced two fumbles in the Browns' win over the Steelers earlier this year. When Ray Horton was hired as defensive coordinator, he singled out Ward as a player who could run well and hit hard.
  • Brain: C Alex Mack - If this were purely about academics, I would have gone with fullback Owen Marecic. Unfortunately, the guy has looked lost too many times during live action over the past two years, and he's not going to be the guy who makes the difference in a Super Bowl. Mack, on the other hand, will. I'll take Haloti Ngata's word for Mack's smarts during the game; mid-way through last season, Ngata was quoted as saying, "He’s a great center, real physical and real smart."
  • Technician: LT Joe Thomas - No matter how hard pass rushers try, Joe Thomas will pancake them to the ground every single time...because he can. Thomas is the best left tackle in the game, and if the Browns start winning games, Thomas will neutralize defenses in the playoffs who rely on getting to the quarterback.
  • Loose cannon: DT Phil Taylor - There's no doubt that the Browns' defense got a little more of an edge once Phil Taylor returned from injury last season. That was certainly evident in the season finale against the Steelers, where Pittsburgh fans were furious at what Taylor for blindsiding one of their offensive lineman (and yet, they ignored multiple offenses by their own players). Taylor seems to know how to teeter the line between getting under the opposing team's skin, while not getting into too much trouble.
  • Motivator: RB Trent Richardson - As a rookie, Trent Richardson took it upon himself to become a leader in the locker room. Even though he didn't look 100 percent most of the season, the fact that he played through broken ribs for such a long stretch allowed him to earn the respect of his teammates -- you can bet they'll be motivated knowing that Richardson is willing to put his body at risk for the sake of the team. It's a sharp contrast from what our previous running back, Peyton Hillis, was willing to do.
  • Prankster: CB Joe Haden - It's too bad that Carlton Mitchell isn't on the team anymore, otherwise I would have given this to him. I'm not real sure who on the Browns is a prankster, but Joe Haden is hip to the concept of showing up at many other Cleveland events, starring in commercials, and acting confident on defense whenever he defends a pass.
  • Muscle: WR Greg Little - Even when Greg Little was struggle to catch the ball, I never doubted his effort -- he would never stop blocking his man until the whistle blew, even if he was well away from the play. Little turned into a more complete player the second half of the year when he started to catch the ball too. If the Browns make the playoffs, outside blocking from Little will go a long way toward allowing Cleveland to have a solid running game.

These roles are quite vague, so post in the comments section which players you would assign to these roles. I chose not to pick any players who are scheduled to be free agents. You are free to include members of the coaching staff or front office in the roles, if you so desire.

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