As the Cleveland Browns get set to begin training camp on July 31, let's take a look at the top five position battles that Eric Mangini and company will have to settle.
Top 5 Training Camp Position Battles for Cleveland Browns
|#1 - RB||#2 - RT||#3 - RG||#4 - No. 2 ILB||#5 - No. 2 WR|
Notes: By virtue of the Cleveland Browns drafting Hardesty in the second round and the rave reviews he received in minicamp, he has a chance to seize the starting running back role.
After Harrison's tremendous finish to last season though, and the years that he's had to endure on the bench, I think it's only fair to have him be the starter.
Both backs are expected to "share time," but you can't tell me that whoever has that "starter" label won't be featured more at crunch time.
Projection: Harrison, not because of experience, but because of last season's effort.
Notes: Few, if any, Browns fans would like to see St. Clair return to a starting role. He was torn apart last season at times (four sacks in one game given up to Denver's Elvis Dumervil) and gave the right side of the line its "weak" reputation.
Coming over from the 49ers, Pashos is the favorite to win the job. However, he missed most of last season with a shoulder injury, so he'll need to prove that he's ready to compete.
Depending on how guard plays out, Floyd Womack is an outside candidate at tackle.
Projection: Pashos, because he's a better run blocker and will allow Delhomme to sleep easier.
Notes: "Pork Chop" (Womack) did a fair job anchoring the right guard position last year. He still probably teeters around the average to below average mark for an NFL lineman and would be better suited as a versatile backup.
Luavao is this year's young offensive lineman with hopes to crack the starting lineup. Taken in the third round, he will push Womack for the starting role.
Similar to the tackle situation, there's an off-chance that Pashos could play guard with Womack at tackle.
Projection: Womack, but Luavao will start at some point this season.
Notes: With Scott Fujita expected to start at one LB spot, the other spot is up for grabs.
On one hand, you have D'Qwell Jackson, who has been known to rack up the tackles but fails to make plays that stand out (i.e. few tackles, one career forced fumble).
Bowens, on the other hand, was the team's best linebacker last season and took on the leadership role of the unit pretty well.
We might see Jackson play on running downs with Bowens coming in on passing downs.
Projection: Jackson, but it's a copout because Bowens will be forced to start at outside linebacker.
Notes: Robiskie received positive reviews for just about everything he did in minicamps this year. While that may earn the respect of the coaches, I don't think Mangini is the type of coach who will start someone just for the sake of starting them.
Stuckey has more experience. He struggled a bit in his transition from the Jets to the Browns last season, but he might excel with an August camp under his belt.
Projection: Robiskie, but only if he continues his good work from minicamp. If he turns the coaches off like last year, Stuckey can easily slip ahead of him.
Safety: T.J. Ward vs. Mike Adams vs. Larry Asante; didn't make the list because I imagine Ward is a lock to start with Adams being needed in a utility role.
For the positions above, remember that the outcomes of the battles will weigh heavily on picking players on the Cleveland Browns for fantasy football, particularly at running back and wide receiver. At wide receiver, you really don't want a No. 3 receiver on the Browns (probably Stuckey) over the starting receiver (Robiskie). Heck, you probably don't want even want Robiskie, but that's beside the point.
If you're interested in a CBSSports.com Fantasy Football Commissioner League and you register through this link, you can receive a huge discount of 50% off for a total of $89.99. If you are running an office pool and want to split the cost between 12 teams, that means it would only be about $7.49 per person. Considering the features and flexibility that CBSSports.com offers in terms of flexibility, it's well worth it for serious fantasy football players.
CBSSports.com is an SB Nation partner and paying sponsor of the SB Nation football communities. This post is one of a series of sponsor endorsed posts related to the CBSSports.com Fantasy Football Commissioner League.