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Around the Pound (8/6): Phil Taylor Impressive, Matt Roth the Best FA, and More

If I had some fancy theme music to go along with Around the Pound, I would have played it subtly in the background to get you excited for its long-awaited return. With the offseason and lockout over, it's much easier to churn out posts that our football-related, so we actually have some more stories left over that I'd still like to touch on. Those will be highlighted in Around the Pound.

In today's edition of Around the Pound, we take a look at James Walker's visit to Browns camp, how a former member of our team is currently designated, "the best free agent on the market," how poorly the Browns were graded in free agency, and more.


Walker: Taylor and Braxton Showing Off

Perhaps this is a good sign: James Walker of ESPN called the Browns' Friday session, "the best practice Cleveland had this week." He also said it was "crisp with a lot of contact." One of his observations involved first-round pick Phil Taylor. For someone who visits other AFC North camps too, it's good to hear Walker's perspective -- his praise might have more merit than others:

Friday marked the first full-contact activity for rookie defensive tackle Phil Taylor. He had a great practice and usually got the better of Browns guard Shawn Lauvao in team drills. Taylor is hard to move and also showed the ability to get up field. It's early, but Taylor looks the part.

Could we also be in the beginning stages of a sudden battle at right tackle between a veteran and a surprising youngster?

Backup offensive tackle Branndon Braxton is showing flashes. He has good size and gets good leverage and position in pass protection. Braxton is pushing veteran Tony Pashos, the projected starter, through the first week of camp.

This is the second time I've seen Braxton praised already. Usually we hear about the backup offensive linemen playing like crap, but that's not the case with far. I plan on writing a, "top 5 position battles" column soon, and it looks like the right tackle position just got added to the list.

Matt Roth is the Best Free Agent Available

Former Browns linebacker Matt Roth is being deemed the best free agent currently available. He wasn't a fit in Cleveland with the switch to the 4-3 defense, but he's drawing interest from several teams. is reporting that the Cardinals and Saints and Broncos are among the teams showing interest in Roth right now, and with the ability for players who sign free agent contracts to now practice, you can expect Roth to move quickly now that teams are in on him. Whoever signs him will be getting a player who can help immediately and turn a weakness into a position that's covered enough. In Denver, he would be particularly valuable on a defense seeking to reinvent itself.

Why are the Broncos and Cardinals interested in all of our former players? If he goes to New Orleans, he would re-unite with defensive tackle Shaun Rogers.

ESPN Insider: Browns Ranked Worst in AFC in Post-Lockout Moves

Remember, this doesn't include the draft, just post-lockout moves:

Cleveland Browns

Key additions: John Greco, Brandon Jackson, Usama Young
Key losses: Eric Wright, Abram Elam

Analysis: I commend the trade for Greco. He is a good guard who rarely gets recognized, and he should do well as the starting right guard. But adding Greco isn't going to instantly make Cleveland into a winner. I like the reliability in the passing game that Jackson provides both as a receiver and in protection. But where is the flash? Where are the difference-makers? Where is the pass rush going to come from? This is a team that seems to value quantity over high quality with personnel decisions, but overall, the Browns are lacking star power and difference-makers. This free-agency period didn't help that situation. It amazes me that they haven't done more.

Grade: D

This was also written by Matt Williamson, the same guy who has trashed the Browns several times during the offseason and ranked them 32nd in the league. I can't argue the ranking too much, although I almost feel like an "incomplete" ranking would be a little more sufficient since the team chose to be inactive.

Joe Thomas Talks About Staying in Cleveland, Defends Team's Moves

"Not to say we’re never going to go after a free agent. But organizations are put together that have great championship runs by drafting smart and re-signing your young guys. Pittsburgh does it. That’s a lot of the reason they’re successful, because you draft guys that fit your system, you train ‘em and then when they get to be free agents, you re-sign ‘em and you don’t try to overextend for free agents that maybe don’t fit. So I think that’s a great plan and I’m excited that we have a plan."

Off-Beat Notes

  • Everyone seemed to get excited to see Anne Hathaway's Catwoman outfit for the upcoming movie, "The Dark Knight Returns." I'm having a tough time projecting how successful the movie will be in the box office. The first one had the benefit of Heath Ledger passing away (it drew more people to the Joker character), but this next one is the final installment in Nolan's so-far outstanding work.
  • Not sure if anyone is watching Big Brother 13 this season. I enjoyed seeing the veteran players return, but it's too bad the best one had to leave the game without even being voted out.
  • There are several television pilots I'm interested in this year, which is a big step up from last year, when absolutely nothing drew my interest. I want to see Person of Interest, Terra Nova, and Alcatraz. Alcatraz is the one I'm most interested -- compelling science fiction concept, with a cast that I'm already drawn to from previous work. I'm also still searching for my LOST replacement, so that helps.
  • Last night's Indians game? Imagine raising both of your arms in the air to stretch and then having someone unsuspectingly punching you in the stomach.
  • Heading off to the Family Fun Day at the stadium soon. Go Browns!!! Most important, let's hope for everyone to stay healthy.