James Walker of ESPN spent this past week at Cleveland Browns training camp. He has been to other teams' camps in the past, and before the season starts, he will have completed week-long trips to all of the teams in the AFC North. He posted an overall review of his time in Cleveland, touching on three hot issues:
1. Is QB Colt McCoy the long-term solution?
2. Can rookies make an immediate impact?
3. Is RB Peyton Hillis a one-hit wonder?
Then, Walker went into some more general observations. One of them had to do with the overall lack of speed on the team:
The Browns are a slow football team. Cleveland has decent size but definitely not enough blazers and game-changing athletes. I thought the Browns would be more aggressive in free agency to close the talent gap with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. But that wasn't the case. Keep an eye on team speed during the regular season. I think it will be an issue.
It's no secret that the Browns have been regarded as a slow football team in the past, and I don't think that is going to improve anytime soon. What the Browns do have in their favor is that they have players with size who can catch the ball quite well, and with the West Coast Offense, that could compensate for the lack of burners.
RB Peyton Hillis is 6'2", 250 lbs.
WR Greg Little is 6'2", 220 lbs.
WR Carlton Mitchell is 6'3", 215 lbs.
TE Ben Watson is 6'3", 255 lbs.
TE Jordan Cameron is 6'5", 245 lbs.
TE Evan Moore is 6'6", 250 lbs.
I'm not sure if there have been many teams that have regularly (and successfully) attempted a personnel grouping such as the one above. If you're going against guys who can use their body for leverage to make a catch on cornerbacks, or have enough speed (coupled with solid catching ability) to beat linebackers, does that give you the chance to do something surprising in this league?