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Walker: Talking About the Browns in Weekend Mailbag

In his weekend mailbag, AFC North ESPN writer James Walker answered a couple of questions about the Cleveland Browns, including whether the offensive minicamps will pay off, what the team's draft strategy was, and more.

Tim from Erie, Pa., writes: How much do you think these "players only" minicamps will help the Cleveland Browns while they're still locked out?

Walker: It certainly doesn't hurt, Tim. I think it's a great idea for teams like Cleveland and Cincinnati within the division to get some kind of head start. Those teams need to hit the ground running in training camp, trying to learn new West Coast offenses. The Browns also have to learn a 4-3 defense. Timing and precision are very important in a West Coast system, and Browns quarterback Colt McCoy is trying to get it down.


David from New York writes: Why did the Browns go for so much defense in the draft?

Walker: David, the Browns have a lot of holes, but they needed several starters on defense, especially on the line. I thought filling the defensive end and defensive tackle positions was wise for the Browns, who are switching to a 4-3 this season. After that, the Browns looked to get quarterback Colt McCoy some help with receiver Greg Little, tight end Jordan Cameron and fullback Owen Marecic.


Andy from Canada writes: Here's one for your complaint department, James. Not only is it too early to label Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie busts, it's not even justified to say they've "struggled" the past two seasons like you and several others have. In two seasons these guys have had five quarterbacks throwing to them (rarely) in an Eric Mangini run-first and pass-to-the-tight-end-second offense.

Walker: That's a fair point, Andy, and something that Browns president Mike Holmgren is banking on. Holmgren admits last year's offense was archaic. In a pass-heavy NFL, it's hard to win games when you're running the ball and throwing to the same running back 70 percent of the time. I do not write off any player after one season, but two or three years gives you a pretty good idea how good a player is. So this is a big season for Massaquoi and Robiskie.


Ted from Hoboken, N.J., writes: Where does Scouts Inc. get their record projections for the mock 2012 draft? I challenge the notion that the Browns are worst for a number of reasons. But frankly, the main reason I challenge it is that the AFC North plays the AFC West and the NFC West this year. You couldn't ask for an easier draw than that. Those are the weakest divisions in both conferences.

Walker: I was surprised the Browns were projected to have the No. 1 overall pick in 2012, as well. But it's early, Ted. Free agency may change the perception. The Browns have holes, but I don't view them as the worst team in the NFL.