Q: By all indications, the Browns 2012 draft was one which numerous experts questioned due to some of the strange selections made by Tom Heckert. How did you view the draft and was someone instructing Heckert to select certain players when the Browns were on the clock?
LA: I can sit here and question selections, but I can also see logic behind certain selections as well. This isn't to say I believe the draft was excellent and the Browns can do no wrong.
I won't argue with the selection of RB Trent Richardson. I believe barring injury or chaos in Cleveland, Richardson is going to be a fine NFL RB.
Now, I can say the selection of QB Brandon Weeden at #22 could have been made later, if listening to the rumor mill.
Personally, I believe the Browns needed a QB with the physical skills to get the ball down the field and outside the hash-marks. I didn't see this being viable with Coly McCoy under center. Watching his film from Texas and Cleveland, I did not see the young QB as being that guy.
I won't take anything away from the young man, he played under duress often, but it was those times when he had opportunities and just couldn't pull the trigger that concerned me most.
The Browns third round selection, defensive tackle John Hughes is a relative unknown to most. The Browns looking to fortify the interior run defense sought quality and depth.
Hughes is a physical player, the stats show he played well against the run at the University of Cincinnati and he is the type of tackle that fits into Dick Jauron's defensive scheme.
Do I think the Browns could have waited to get Hughes? No, the Bears and Saints were all over him and he was going to be selected not far from where the Browns selected him.
Much of the same could be said about the fourth round selection, WR Travis Benjamin from the University of Miami, Florida. The Browns had significant insight on Benjamin, as the association between present and past staff in Cleveland had the opportunity to work closely with the speedy WR.
Could have the Browns gotten away with selecting Benjamin later in the draft? Quite possibly, but seeking speed, quickness and simply an explosive quality, the Browns went with their need pick.
The draft is all hindsight and teams make the same types of moves the Browns did in the 2012 draft, with the Browns track record under general manager Tom Heckert as improving.
Heckert makes the call on personnel and the draft. Mike Holmgren has the ability to strongly suggest the team select a specific player or area of need to select from, but from all indications this did not occur.
Q: With all the fanfare and high expectations for rookie QB Brandon Weeden, can we realistically anticipate him stepping on the playing field and being the type of QB most fans believe this team requires? Also, was Colt McCoy really just a scapegoat to get the team through a season so they could select a new starter? It appears from the outside that McCoy wasn't nearly the problem most believe him to be.
LA: Let's do this in reverse order. If Colt McCoy would have displayed the ability to lead the offense in the manner which head coach Pat Shurmur expected, Brandon Weeden would likely not be a topic of discussion.
Being said, McCoy had to work behind an offensive line with two raw players at the guard positions and a liability at RT throughout the season. Being under duress will at some point alter the way which a QB functions and I do believe McCoy was not functioning to his capabilities at times during the 2011 season.
I would also note, McCoy was far too hesitant in getting the ball out of the pocket, he was unexpectedly inaccurate and did not display the ability to get the ball downfield – some of his doing, some due to the scheme and player error.
Personally, I don't believe McCoy has the arm strength to attack a defense in the manner which this organization seeks. When you look around the NFL, it is a QB driven league and you won't find too many success stories coming from the type of QB McCoy is, unfortunately.
Onto Weeden, let's remember we are talking about a rookie with an advanced maturity level and physical structure due to his age.
Like most rookies, especially QB's, Weeden will have his struggles. Fortunately though, Weeden has done well in the camp setting in not making the same mistakes, misreads and missed progressions that we see plenty of in the pro game.
I do believe due to Weeden's mentality, a gunslinger type with the arm to backup that type of play, the rookie can make the Browns receiving corps look better and perform at a higher level than a season ago.
I anticipate Weeden will struggle with his consistency and the Browns offense will face similar struggles against a tough schedule ahead.
Q: The Browns announced that Sheldon Brown was going to remain as a cornerback, despite young and emerging talent that could beat him out. Why not move Brown to safety and get a player like Dimitri Patterson or Buster Skrine playing opposite of Joe Haden? If anything, the Browns defense would be improved with getting the best players on the field.
LA: I sense we are going to see a time when CB Sheldon Brown cannot effectively play the CB position and a move to free safety may be suited best for his abilities.
Brown did not have a bad season in 2011, despite the calls for his removal, which I frankly don't understand.
The Browns like Patterson as the third or nickel CB, who can step in and start for Brown, or a Joe Haden. Presently, the Browns will go to camp with that in mind and see what develops.
If Brown struggles, I sense the Browns would give him a little time to see if he could turn it around before making a strong statement move such as demoting or moving him.
The Browns are high on CB Buster Skrine, as well as CB James Dockery and believe they can improve their technique, understanding and skill-set in practice, readying them for increased game activity.
Also, moving Brown would at the expense of a developing player. The Browns like second year FS Eric Hagg and believe he could develop into a good player at the position. At the present, Hagg and veteran Usama Young will battle for the starting SS spot along-side FS T. J.Ward.
Q: I think it was a great strategic idea for the Browns to sign Josh Cooper to be a familiar go-to type player for Brandon Weeden, especially in his rookie year. With his signing, do you believe he has a chance to stick with the team and do you anticipate him being a productive player?
LA: The Browns actually caught onto Cooper when scouting Weeden. All Cooper did was get open and make catch after catch and the Browns were interested and anxiously watched the later rounds of the draft transpire.
The expectation was he would go undrafted and the Browns had Weeden recruiting Cooper to come to Cleveland, which obviously he did.
Once in Cleveland, the Browns coaching staff got a look at the young wide-out and are impressed with his quickness, attention to detail and ability to absorb the offense.
Initially I was rather indifferent on Cooper, as the Browns WR spots are in flux and the team, I believe hadn't done enough to improve the ever-important position.
Now, I am thinking Cooper has a legitimate shot to make this team, or at the very least find his way onto the practice squad. Weeden and Cooper can one another look good and this Browns offense needs to find ways to get the ball into the hands of the receivers.
But, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let's see what transpires once the hitting starts in training camp.
Q: I'm skeptical that newly acquired wide receiver Josh Gordon can come in and have a positive impact on the team. He didn't play last year, was suspended at least two times at Baylor and didn't look to have impressive statistics when he did play. What do the Browns see that the common fan like me does not? And, what was the basis for the Browns wasting a second round pick next year on a guy that isn't likely to contribute?
LA: The Browns became fully aware of the talents of Josh Gordon when scouting DT Phil Taylor at Baylor over a year ago. Gordon displayed excellent speed and quickness, and an ability to go after the ball in flight.
In Gordon you will see a long armed type receiver that tracks the ball well, but needs work on his route running due to the limited exposure of running precise routes in college.
What makes Gordon enticing is his speed and length. When an opportunity presents itself to secure a talent with the potential of Gordon, a team in need such as the Browns has to take a look for themselves.
Gordon isn't going to waltz into training camp and put on a show. His skill-set is evident in watching him, but he needs refined and only time and coaching will enable his tools to flourish.
I speculated prior to the supplemental draft the Browns would be interested in the second-third round area due to his upside and immediate asset of speed and quickness.
With the strong-armed Brandon Weeden at QB, I can envision the Browns utilizing the speed and quickness of Gordon earlier than most would expect to stretch the field.
Again, Gordon is a rookie that hasn't played in over a year, but has had the opportunity to practice at the collegiate level with Utah. While the anticipation will be great to see the young man come in and produce immediately, he's going to need some time to get up to speed at the pro-level.