Perhaps you've been stuck under a rock for the last nine months.
I don't know.
But I'd like to think that if you're reading this then you probably follow the Browns and this website regularly. I'm also willing to guess you check this site often, maybe even daily. I'd even venture to guess that some of you check for Browns news and updates, not just here but many places, hourly. It's just part of who we are, and we love our team - no matter what.
While none of this is breaking news, it's definitely a detailed breakdown of both the on the field and off the field additions to the Cleveland Browns. I will do my best to outline most of what we already know from our "off-season" (which I consider to start upon the arrival of Jimmy and Joe back in 2012) and then ask you to share your grades and your reasoning in the Dawgs By Nature Fan Poll and comment section after the jump.
1) Jimmy Haslam
Although I like the guy, the funny part about my grade on him is that it's true.
I say that because Jimmy Haslam has left the future of the Browns in the hands of an ongoing criminal investigation for rebate fraud at his family owned company, Pilot Flying J. If you haven't heard about this yet and you call yourself a Browns fan, then you're lying about the later and I say to you: "Go root for Buffalo!"
The way I see it, and I'm painting with broad strokes here, there are three scenarios that are likely to play out for Haslam and the Browns:
1) Haslam is indicted and found guilty, perhaps thrown in jail, and he loses the team. Not good Browns fans, not good at all. Commence reboot 17.0.
2) On Thursday, Forbes covered their take on Haslam and the Browns being a bigger concern than the Patriots for the NFL. This aligns with my 2nd potential outcome:
The cost of legal representation and lawsuits from former rebate partners and gas purchasers eventually strains Haslam's cash flow and revenues to the point where he has to sell the team OR an NFL decision forces Haslam to sell team / step down. Not that this is any indication of what's to come in Cleveland, but news was reported today that Haslam sold his baseball team, The Tennessee Smokies, back in the spring.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>16 trucking companies suing Pilot Flying J. Jimmy Haslam will have major problems if his attorneys post a Browns-like winning percentage.</p>— Guy Cipriano (@newsheraldguy) <a href="https://twitter.com/newsheraldguy/statuses/349364188512124928">June 25, 2013</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
3) Haslam maintains innocence and "escapes" the legal investigation; maintains financial ability to run the Browns; and the NFL says "play on" with perhaps just a suspension or fines. Mary Kay Cabot actually does a great job covering the distinctions between the Haslam situation and Eddie DeBartolo here.
Take your pick but for the sake of not beating a dead horse, I'll move on.
I believe Jimmy Haslam has assembled the best collaboration of talented front office staff and football personnel this franchise has seen since the return. Obviously that's from an optimist's point of view but then again I think we can all agree that the Browns really can't get much worse, right?
I hate the word, but it's been hard to argue against the "swag" that this man brings to the organization: Confident. Cool. Candid. Charismatic. Not to mention he was highly endorsed by many in NFL circles as a great new owner for the Browns and the NFL. But if the word Criminal gets tossed into that mix, everything changes.
If he and the Browns can keep the team and his ownership intact, I really think we have the recipe for a winning organization in place.
2) Joe Banner
Chief Executive Officer
The dude just looks like one of those little banker goblins from Harry Potter, right?
These "looks" may not have helped his initial public perception, nor did the "stories" from Philadelphia that followed him to Cleveland. One being that he was a power hungry dictator who wanted control of everything. Next was the media attacking him because he's a hardcore businessman and his matter-of-fact and straightforward answers were easily perceived the wrong way by members of the media and fans alike.
However, the truth isn't that he's a power hungry dictator nor is it true that he wants to run the draft. We've learned that the draft was and will be a consensus process where everyone will agree that they like one guy more than the next, and tie breakers won't be needed because if they are at a tie, they will find somebody else the majority can agree they like. In regards to the former, it's been well documented that Joe wanted a new challenge, and that spending 75% of his time managing people wasn't exactly what he wanted anymore. Andy Reid talks about some of his departing sentiments regarding Joe in the CBS Sports article covering Banner stepping down in 2012.
Here's another great story that depicts some insight into Joe Banner the man, both good and bad. It's an excellent read that I highly recommend.
Nope, Joe Banner's departure is all about one thing: Joe Banner's ambition.
Banner made that clear Thursday when he said he needed "something more intense and competitive and challenging" to tackle than what he's doing now -- and, by his own admission, what he's doing now is spending "75 percent of my time managing the people who report to me."
So he wants something more demanding, and while that seems hard for him to define, it's apparent it isn't here.
Also, the job that he's done amassing talent both on and off the field, as well as the overhaul in the front office, the new construction, new naming rights, $200 million going into stadium updates, talk of field turf, retractable roofs, new uniforms --- all those things are signs of changes that needed to happen to bring us up to par with other NFL franchises in terms of product at the stadium and on the field.
I will openly admit that I was a doubter at first. I didn't have any basis of knowledge about who he really was and so I "fell" for the stories about Banner wanting total control and wanting to make all the decisions for the team in the draft-room when he wasn't perceived to be experienced in that area. But as I watched his plan unfold, I was proven wrong and I'm happy to eat crow on that one.
In fact, I've come completely full circle in my confidence and belief in Joe Banner. There's really nothing not to like about what's he's done so far for this franchise. You can say what you want about his approach and his personality, you can even take a wait and see attitude, and that's fine, but Banner's logical, calculated, and focused approach has proven to earn him the results he's wanted in the past and I anticipate the same being true here in Cleveland. Having somebody with such a strong and clear vision, who also knows how to execute and implement smart business decisions / plans for a football organization, is invaluable. If you want a glimpse of his business model, Ryan Alton does a tremendous job breaking down The Banner Model here.
3. Alec Scheiner
New Browns President Alec Scheiner has been touted as one of the up and coming stars in professional sports and did wonders for the Cowboys and the fan experience in Dallas. These quotes below from an ESPN article back in December 2012 show the respect Haslam, Banner and Jerry Jones have for Alec:
In 2010, Scheiner made the Sports Business Journal's "Forty Under 40" list:
"Our objective is to build the Browns organization with the best people in their respective fields, and we believe the hiring of Alec is indicative of this goal," Banner said. "Alec brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in many facets with one of the most successful franchises in the NFL."
Dallas owner Jerry Jones, for one, will certainly miss Scheiner's efforts.
"Alec is a bright and talented executive who has provided our organization with quality service. He knows his way around the NFL and has fine leadership ability," Jones said. "He is a tireless taskmaster and will be a great addition to the Browns' front office.
"He is a rising star and an asset to our league."
Alec will be tasked with creating a fan experience at First Energy Stadium akin to that in Dallas and also deserves credit for being a key advocate for the use of analytics in decision making and analysis.
In a brief piece by Mary Kay Cabot, Scheiner discusses the Cleveland Browns Brand and his plans as new President:
"The brand is so iconic and there's so much history behind it and the fans clearly care about the team. We just have to harness it. We have to harness it everywhere. We have to harness it with our employees, we have to harness it with people in the community, everyone can be a Browns fan. Everyone in Northeast Ohio, everyone in Ohio can be a Browns fan. We just have to reach out to people and kind of prove our value on the field and off the field."
"Banner said Scheiner fit his criteria of searching for the "best of the best" at every position. "In my opinion, there's nobody better" at what he does, said Banner."
If all goes well and his schedule permits, Alec is one of the hopeful DBN Radio guests for this July and I'm still working to confirm his availability, so stay tuned.
4. Brent Stehlik
Executive Vice President - Chief Revenue Officer
It's nice to know your organization is concerned with how it handles its' revenues and pricing. Color me surprised to learn that Brent is the first to don this title and role for the Browns.
It's never a bad thing when a Lakewood native and Mount Union graduate, who "came up through the struggle", makes it back home with a sick job for the team he grew up loving. His early success in sports marketing and management is impressive. I am looking forward to seeing how well he and his team can turn profits into incentives for the fans to keep coming back for more.
Brent is the gentleman who has been kind enough to to respond to my invite to join DBN Radio in July. As I mentioned above, he is trying to get Alec to join us as well - so stay tuned!
Named to Sports Business Journal's 40 under 40 list:
Per ClevelandBrowns.com press release:
"Brent possesses an extensive background overseeing many elements of a sports franchise, including tickets, suites, sponsorships, concessions and stadium operations," Scheiner said. "His knowledge and success in all of these areas at each of his previous stops should be a huge benefit to our fans as we are committed to enhancing their in-stadium experience."
As Browns Executive Vice President – Chief Revenue Officer, Stehlik will oversee all aspects of revenue generation and client service. Prior to joining the Padres, Stehlik spent the 2009 season as the Director of Business Development with the Dallas Cowboys, as well as two years (2007-09) as the Vice President – Ticket Sales & Service with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has also held positions as the Chief Operating Officer of the Frisco RoughRiders (MiLB) (2003-07) and Director of Group Sales with the Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL) (1999-2003).
A native of Lakewood, Ohio, Stehlik is a 1999 graduate from the University of Mount Union with a Bachelor of Arts in sport business and a double minor in business administration and computer information systems. He and his wife, Molly, have a daughter, Sophie, and two sons, Boone and Griffin.
5. Rob Chudzinski
Another "local boy" re-united with his team and his city. Rob showed us a little bit of what he could do with an offense back in 2008 with Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow and Derek Anderson.
Still, a new head coach often has a difficult time, and that's before adding in the fact that he's coaching in Cleveland with a new offense, new defense -- new everything -- and playing in a division with the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals.
Chud aims to develop his young players and will adapt his scheme and play calling around that talent. He doesn't try to force a "square peg into a round hole". He has been touted as being one of the more creative, young offensive minds in the game and has experience coaching and leading an offense with a young QB as seen with Cam Newton in Carolina.
"He is tremendously innovative," Haslam said. "We are very bottom-line people. You look at results. The last two years, Rob was coordinator at Carolina and they scored 88 touchdowns. We scored 48."
"We think we have great young talent on offense and we thought it was exceptionally important to bring in an individual who can take advantage of, develop that young talent so that we can put the kind of points on the board that one, will win games and two, candidly, will be fun to watch."
Chud's level of respect around the league was clearly demonstrated to me through the caliber of coaches he was able to gather here under his leadership here in Cleveland. The fact they all wanted to join him in the monumental challenge of restoring the Browns to glory, also tells me that all these guys want to be here. Norv Turner and Ray Horton are the only names you have to hear before you begin to feel really comfortable with Chud as the leader of this team:
"His ability to attract coaches he wants was vital," Banner said.
On the flip side, you have to wonder about a man's level of respect around the league when the only offensive coordinator he's able to bring into the organization is Pat Shurmur.
6. Norv Turner
It's hard to look at this hire and not be absolutely thrilled. I'll steal a quote from Chud below:
"Norv has been one of the most respected offensive coaches in the NFL over the last 25-30 years, and he has had a tremendous amount of success at each one of his stops — as a position coach, coordinator and head coach," Chudzinski said. "I was able to learn a great deal in the time that I worked for him in San Diego, and I expect that having him as our offensive coordinator will make a big impact on that side of the ball."
Norv has been heavily credited for the turnaround of the 1991 Cowboys, winning back to back Super Bowls. He's been credited with producing great running backs, prolific passers and receivers along the way: Troy Aikman, Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, Emmit Smith, Michael Irvin, and Antonio Gates all flourished under Norv's vertical air coryell offense and play calling style.
Rufio took an in depth look at some signature air coryell offense plays that I highly recommend you reading if you haven't already here: 1 / 2
Norv's biggest struggle was never as an offensive coordinator, rather his biggest struggle was as a head coach. When left to focus only on the offense, that's when he was at his best. That being said, I fully expect Norv to live up to the hype and really take this offense, and Brandon Weeden, under his wing and drive this offense to a much higher level of performance and excitement than last year's antique show courtesy of Pat Shurmur. I think Weeden has the arm strength to open up a defense, it's just a matter of Norv teaching him the nuances of the game and get him up to speed reading and reacting to defenses, ultimately getting the ball out of his hand quicker and cleaning up his footwork. If he can do this, ( and I think he can ) we'll be competitive. If he can't do this, then we're in store for a long season and perhaps a new QB in next year's NFL Draft.
7. Mike Lombardi
General Manager / Player Personnel
This is the one particular hire I did not understand. I was furious and I didn't blame my brother for writing a scathing letter to his ticket rep.
Lombardi's past drafts and time here set up the reaction in Cleveland among the media and fans. But after further review, it is the right (and only) thing to do in giving him a second chance.
My gut tells me two things about this situation:
1) Either he just isn't that good at his job and never was - but Joe Banner's endorsement makes that hard for me to believe.
2) He's even more motivated (by his past failures in Cleveland) to prove himself and make right what happened before by getting it right this time.
I may be in the minority here, but I loved the draft and what we did this year. I was just as disappointed as every other fan from an entertainment stand point when I didn't hear a name called in the 4th and 5th rounds, but from a value standpoint, I get it. That being said, I am still in a wait and see mode with Lombardi, and that's why I have him graded out at a B.
Leading up to the draft, Mike Lombardi was kept on a short media leash. Certain media members had an axe to grind with him based on the past, and there were a few press conferences where questions and questioning got carried away. So, the Browns brass thought it best to proactively diffuse the situation.
We did get a glimpse on some of his post-draft thoughts about the players picked and the organizations approach. Lombardi urged us all to look through a larger lens and try to understand the process as a talent evaluator. I think this is a great set of interviews that Lombardi conducted shortly after the draft and I encourage you to listen if you haven't already. Lombardi tries to help fans understand the difference between fan perspective of building a team vs. the organizational philosophy about value and picking the right players.
A while ago, I had tried to find some deeper roots when it came to Lombardi. I wanted to know where his philosophies came from or at least where they evolved from and here in this NFL.com article and video, Lombardi breaks down and discusses the 6 draft philosophies that he learned from Bill Walsh.
Interestingly, one of these philosophies may affect expectations for this years rookies:
"The first year we will teach the players the system, the second year we will develop their skills within the system"
8. Ray Horton
For me, this grade is a "no brainer" because I love Ray Horton and think he is the exact type of defensive mind and coach that the Browns have been in need of for years:
Get after the QB.
Pressure, pressure, pressure.
Impose your will on the opponent and don't stop.
While a lot of time has passed since the quote below, Horton talks about the learning process that accompanies his complex system. It seems to take players, especially young players, a while to learn his system and all the details required in it:
"In fact he talks about the big learning curve from the system in Pittsburgh stating that "Very few rookies start".
This learning curve and process could be the only downside of the Ray Horton hire. I say this because Horton wanted to be a head coach, but instead he is our defensive coordinator. In fact, based on that article, he was really disappointed at not landing a head coaching job. That being said, I would speculate he could very well bolt in favor of a promotion in a few years when his contract is up, right at the time some of the youth are starting to really click in his system. Then perhaps he leaves and then we'd be left without our dynamic defensive coordinator.
It's a risk I'm MORE than willing to take.
And from Horton's point of view, why not bolt if the right opportunity arises? The guy seems to be respected by his players who play hard and well for their coach:
"Oh, no question, no question. I think my background and the way the players have performed for me speaks for itself. I’ve been to five Super Bowls and been on No. 1 defenses and guys out here responded to me very well. So if you’re asking me do I think I’m going to be a head coach this year, I’ll say yes."
That being said, we can't focus on the future, just the here and the now and I can't wait to see what he can do with our talented defense. Last season Darryl Washington was a monster on the inside and I think we can expect to see a lot of pressure coming from that direction again this year with the like of Bryant, Taylor, Jackson, and then add in our edge rushers causing havoc on the outside and this defense could make a big leap this year.
Horton will mix the fronts, the coverages, the blitzes, and the packages continuously to keep defenses and QB's guessing. Hopefully he can produce a powerhouse AFC North and playoff worthy defense that will mentally and physically beat down opponents, thus keeping the ball in our offenses hands - giving Norv Turner and Chud more opportunities to score points.
I highly recommend you read this excellent piece on Horton and his defense. . .and stay tuned here at Dawgs By Nature as Rufio and I are still working and collaborating to get a few in depth Horton pieces of our own up soon!
9. Ray Farmer
Assistant General Manager / Player Personnel
Ray was highly recruited for his size and strength shortly after "The Green Mile" . . .
OK, so maybe not. But Farmer came out of Kansas City as a highly touted player evaluator and adds experience and another set of talented eyes to the Browns scouting department... not to mention a man you don't want to upset or let down.
Take a look at the Chiefs' draft selections during his 7 year tenure as the Director of Pro Personnel. You see some very talented names on that list and I am just fine with him being in the mix. In fact, this is the guy that many fans wanted to be our General Manager, so the fact that he's here to add to the mix makes me feel very good about this hire.
It will be good to have somebody else working alongside Lombardi in an official capacity to ensure both individuals time and efforts are being used efficiently and effectively. I am not sure how this will work just yet, but they will certainly collaborate and share the burden of the personnel department:
"The three major pieces to breaking down a pro player - Age, Injury and Character. As guys get older, as guys get injured, if they're not good people you don't want them on your roster"
Below, starting @ 2:49 into the video, Ray Farmer talks about the character concerns and what goes into a decision of taking a player with concerns.
<iframe width="640" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/u3hqoaMFQcE?feature=player_detailpage" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
10. Sashi Brown, Fred Nance, Scott Turner, Mike Sullivan, Brad Roll, Daron Roberts, Jon Embree, Louie Cioffi, Brian Baker, Shane Steichen, Joe Cullen, and most recently the new scouts and Zak Gilbert:
The list of new leadership, coaches, and executives literally goes on and on and on. So yes, I lumped all these "lesser guys" together into one group.
Turnover is expected when your organization and your team is going through a complete overhaul - and this is nothing new for Browns fans. With that being said, all these guys earned C's because I don't know much about them and so they need to prove something to me.
I guess I could say that about any of the names mentioned so far, or below, because nothing has really taken place on the field yet, so everybody needs to show me something but the moves themselves have been mostly strong.
1) Paul Kruger
As you can see from the charts below, Kruger was a strong player last year, particularly vs the pass. He effected the passer often: amassing 15 sacks, 17 QB hit and 43 QB hurries. Kruger was one of the most sought after free agents on the market and in following the "Banner Model" the Browns aggressively pursued and signed him early.
Adding a player like Kruger, from a championship team, who can rush the passer and step in and start while Mingo learns is going to be very important not just for Mingo and our defense, but for Jabal Sheard as well. Kruger has a good motor and shows good burst of quickness and anticipation and is definitely a player defenses will have to account for. It's been a while since the Browns could rush the passer from either edge and landing Kruger will allow us to do just that.
Kruger will be counted on heavily and often to pressure the QB. Some fans will question his contributions and success as a pass rusher were because of the other defensive players on the Baltimore defense, and hey, that's fine because somebody is going to have to be blocking everyone on this defense. He's going to find a one on one match up and exploit it sooner than later.
Time will tell but I think he's going to be a stud.
2) Desmond Bryant
Defensive Tackle #92
Come on! This picture doesn't get less funny as time goes on.
It wasn't long ago that Desmond Bryant was arrested and this amazing mug shot was taken. And while the mug shot might not be his finest, and while it was taken a few weeks before the Browns signed him to a 5 year contract, he claims he's learned from his mistake and has moved on. Now, the Browns have taken some chances on guys with some slight character blemishes and that has been a cause for concern with some fans but this guy is an absolute beast and I am on record saying that barring injury, he might be the most dynamic and impactful free agent signing of the year.
Bryant will step in and be a starting DT in Horton's 3-4 defense and should do well to collapse the pocket and rush the passer from the inside and the outside, both the 5 and 7 techniques. He's very quick for a big man as well as stout vs the run, which fits right into Horton's "Big men who can run and little men that can hit" mantra.
If you haven't read it yet, Brendan Leister of DraftBrowns does another excellent job breaking down Bryant's play vs the run and pass last year in Oakland.
3) Quentin Groves
Many of us have heard of Groves not because of his solid play last year in Arizona, or because he's undoubtedly serving as a translator and aid in understanding Horton's defense, but because of his arrest for solicitation of a prostitute.
Groves may be getting overlooked because of the additions of Mingo, Kruger, and the talk about Jabaal Sheard really grasping the defense and his transition to OLB quickly, but Groves will definitely be a player competing and helping this defense's depth and impact in game. Although this isn't a measure of his performance on the field, Groves was ranked as one of the most undervalued performance based players on the Cardinals last year yet by the same token PFF also ranked him as a -2.6 in terms of Free Agent Edge Rushers.
It will be interesting to see how much of a role he can carve out this year but one thing is for sure, he will be playing and he will be counted on often as Horton mixes up packages. Groves played more and more as the season progressed last year and ended up starting the last 7 games however his performance seemed to level off with more snaps according to Pro Football Focus weekly ratings shown below.
4) Gary Barnidge
Tight End #82
We don't know too much about Barnidge. We're all hoping he can be somewhat of a surprise player but as reported here, he's probably not going to be that guy. What we do know is that Rob Chudzinski liked him enough in Carolina that he wanted to bring him to Cleveland. In fact he was the 4th Free Agent signed by the Browns this year, so while he was not anywhere near a "top target", he was wanted and he was a logical addition.
The question becomes, what was he wanted for? He seems like more of a special teams and back up tight end role player, but considering that Jordan Cameron is the only hold over TE who's actually contributed to the offense last year, fans and coaches alike will be looking for somebody else to emerge among the TE group.
According to his NFL.com combine page:
Recently Steve Doershuck commented on the TE situation in Cleveland via Twitter:
5) Davone Bess
Wide Receiver #15
If you've followed Dawgs By Nature, chances are you've seen my recent Film Room series covering Davone Bess. There are two parts that I recommend you read through, both are detailed and long, just like this article, but both do a good job creating visual excitement and understanding of what Bess will be expected to bring to the Browns:
Davone Bess is going to be the best acquisitions the team made on the offense side of the ball this off-season. He's able to find soft spots in the defense, run after the catch, has great hands, and will be a key player working out of the slot and although he doesn't have blazing speed, he'll be featured on the outside from time to time.
The additional, and veteran leadership of Bess should prove to be very valuable for younger players like Little, Benjamin and Gordon. Hopefully his professional approach and attention to detail will rub off on the other wide receiving core.
6) David Nelson
Wide Receiver #11
David Nelson had one hot girlfriend who he didn't mind handing his balls to.
But what he's also got is the size and hands that can make him one of the more valuable overall additions to the Browns, especially during a time where the organization isn't quite sure how Josh Gordon is going to behave moving forward. Nelson may just develop into a big, reliable target in the red zone or just in general. Think Joe Jurevicius.
Nelson is recovering from knee surgery and an injury that took place in week one of last season, in this interview from clevelandbrowns.com, he talks to reporters during mini-camp about coming back from the injury and what he expects for this season.
I expect Nelson to be ready to roll by the time the training camps starts and I expect to see him utilized in the red zone as a TE type, or in multiple receiver sets in an attempt to utilize his size advantage of defensive backs and his speed advantage over linebackers. He has tremendous hands and was just beginning to be counted on as "the man" in Buffalo before his injury and I anticipate that he'll make a comeback in Cleveland.
7) Chris Owens
Defensive Back #21
Shortly after signing Chris Owens, I discussed the player and some of his expectations. I think Owens is most likely going to be a solid slot corner, competing with Skrine and adding much needed depth to the overall position. However, I also feel he might be asked to play outside until Leon McFadden comes into his own and can emerge as a starter.
"You win positions in training camp. I think everybody knows that. So we don’t know who’s starting yet. I’m definitely going to compete my butt off, and we’ll see what happens come August."
As mentioned above, it takes a lot to "get" Ray Horton's system, and this would go for Owens as well, but he's not a rookie and knows the speed and the keys of the NFL game so I expect him to be every bit of the ""grimy little dude"" that Joe Haden quoted him to be:
"He has really good feet, mirror skills and cover skills," stated Chudzinski. "He was a guy that we wanted to bring in and put into the mix with our corners to get a chance to compete. In this league, you need corners and you need to have good corners. Chris has been doing a nice job out there."
8) Kellen Davis
Tight End #81
What's most interesting about Kellen Davis is that he seemed to be counted on a lot by Chicago. Although, he had his fair share of ups and drops. In fact take a look at the chart below detailing his passes by direction as well as his amount of drops he had last year which all came on passes over the middle:
I feel Davis could definitely serve a back up tight end role and most likely be called upon to be the blocking TE in run situations. But, if he can fix his drop issues, and if he can elevate his play, Davis could surprise us this year but ultimately I feel he will akin to Alex Smith's replacement.
9) Jason Campbell
Jason Campbell and Brian Hoye will both serve as back-ups to Brandon Weeden. The great news is that Jason has a big arm and has shown that he can play at a high level at times, when needed. He is also a pro, and is willing to work to compete for playing time hard, teach the younger players, but not intentionally throw balls in the dirt or pretend to have an injury when called to come into the game like Colt McCoy.
Brian Hoyer is just a feel good signing for the hometown, St. Ignatius, kid who couldn't be more thrilled to be in Cleveland and playing for his favorite team. I hope he continues to develop and when he gets his shot, plays well. At this point, he is our third string QB who is replacing Thad Lewis.
10) Dion Lewis
Running Back #28
I really don't know much about Lewis. I know he suffered from the emergence of Bryce Brown and being stuck behind Shady McCoy, but I don't think Lewis is more than a special team player with potential. He will need to separate himself from the rest of the group if he wants to make the final roster. He certainly will push the guys briefly discussed next.
11) Brandon Jackson
Running Back #29
Chris "Silent G" Ogbonnaya
Running Back # 25
These are both great re-signings, getting the Browns much needed depth and competition at the running back position. With Trent Richardson's health being a concern for some fans, it's nice to know that the Browns have been looking at adding quality talent behind him in the event he needs a rest. I found it interesting that the Browns re-signed "Silent G" before Jason Campbell, Chris Owens or Kellen Davis. Could be an indicator of what they expect from him.
I think bringing back Brandon Jackson, and hopefully keeping him healthy, again helps to add the competition that is needed to ensure we have the best back ups possible. He has sure hands and can catch well, and this is something he will undoubtedly need to showcase to help separate himself from the rest of the group. That and good blocking in pass pro.
12) Barkevious Mingo
- Love the Mingo pick. Loved him coming out of LSU and thought he was the most explosive and dynamic pass rushers in the draft. I think he's going to be every bit of the pass rusher that we hope and need him to be.
Defensive Back # 29
- Love the McFadden pick.I think he starts before the year is through and starts for quite a while in Cleveland. Kid can cover man to man and in zone, and was left "on an island" all the time in college in a conference that is known for airing it out. Here is his highlight film from 2012.
Below, McFadden talks about his chances of starting as well as some thoughts on Slaughter, Ward, Haden and others. You can also read about the interviews HERE.
<iframe width="640" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/qD5c-eGidYs?feature=player_detailpage" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Here, Mingo discusses how impressed he has been with McFadden:
<iframe width="640" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/mAqtwGUqpkc?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Free Safety #30
- I think the Browns took a calculated risk on Slaughter as he was supposedly a 3rd or 4th round value prior to his Achilles injury. I think he fits Horton's versatile defense very well. He was used all over at Notre Dame, slot cover, FS, SS, even linebacker. Safety should be one of the more fun position battles to watch this training camp.
- Here's a look at a few of his videos from 2012 vs Purdue and 2011 vs Florida State.
Recently Slaughter talked to members of the Browns media after he was cleared to practice:
"It’s definitely going to be competition," Slaughter said. "It’s going to be work. It’s not going to happen overnight. I’ll just continue to stay focused and stay on track, and I think there will be an opportunity.
"I think I bring intensity. I think I’ve got a passion for the game, a love for the game, and I just like winning. I have that winning mentality, so having that type of mentality is good for any type of football player."