With free agency right around the corner, theOBR has once again enlisted the thoughts of a close friend of theOBR and current NFL front office executive to discuss the Cleveland Browns.
If you know the history, our guy goes unnamed – his thoughts on this Browns team do not go unnoticed.
With that, here we go…………..
Q: If you were making the call in the draft for the Browns, who would you select at number-six for this team?
A: When you are selecting in the top-ten or so, you are in need of top-end personnel and not necessarily the best player available. Being that high up in the pecking order, generally there is a player or two at most positions that stand out over the rest.
Going back to the 3-4, the Browns lack a pass rusher. Without a pass rusher in that defense, you're in serious trouble. The same can be said, without viable defensive backs, you're in trouble.
Unless you can land one in the draft, I am looking at Jarvis Jones (Georgia) and Dion Jordan (Oregon) – if they are on the board. I like each player a bit better than options such as Barkevious Mingo (LSU) and Ezekiel Ansah (BYU).
Jones is the most explosive pass rushing OLB in this draft and the most NFL-ready at this moment. You can select him, plug him in and he is going to get to the QB and as importantly, he will cause disruption in the backfield.
Jordan is a tremendous athlete that may be the most gifted of the pass rushing OLB's available. The young man plays the game as fast as anyone we have seen in quite some time and does everything well. Whether it's getting into the backfield or locking on a receiver in coverage, Jordan is a very good talent and could be a star in this league, in time.
I'd say Jones would provide the greater impact, immediately.
Q: You mention pass rushing talent in the draft for the Browns, how does free agency shape up for a team such as the Browns to fill the void of a pass rushing OLB?
A: There is really a varying degree of available or potentially available talent at the spot. It comes down to a veteran like Shawn Phillips (San Diego), who can still get the job done, but you have to be cautious as he is now 32-years old and on the downside of his fine career.
Paul Kruger (Baltimore) is definitely an option and possibly the top-rated pass rushing OLB in free agency. He came into his own last season after being a back-up and situational player for the Ravens during his first three seasons in the league.
A player of potential is Victor Butler (Dallas). When he played, he made noise. With an Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware ahead of you on the depth chart, you don't have anything to be ashamed of – only great examples of how to play the position and learn.
Kruger would likely be the most consistent presence long-term, while Butler could be a high ceiling guy, but if he doesn't pan out, you've blown cap dollars and as importantly, time.
Q: Anthony Spencer (Dallas) ?
A: Excellent pass rusher, plays the run reasonably well. The issue here is he will be tagged and no team is going to pay the price (two first round draft picks) to secure him from Dallas.
Now, whispers are the Cowboys are open to discussing a trade for the pass rusher and they are attempting to retain Butler.
Q: Many see the Browns as an improving team. Being said, what are the key positions or positions of need on the defensive side of the ball for this team to take the next step, becoming competitive in the AFC North?
A: First and foremost the Browns need continuity. There is no team, no successful organization that has been a winner with the amount of constant turnover as the Browns.
Identify the needs, draft smart and stay the course. It can be difficult, but there is really no quick way to build a winning type team and maintain that. Free agency is a tool to get you over the hump or to add stability to a group needing leadership or experience.
It's been my experience, draft football players to play within the scheme, develop them and attempt to retain those players by the time they are eligible to become free agents.
The Browns need help at LB, inside and out, as well as in the defensive backfield. (Joe) Haden and (T.J.) Ward are very good players, but you see a hole at the other CB and S spots.
Ray Horton (defensive coordinator) will have that defense flying to the ball. His arrival will put the Browns on a plane like the rest of the division in the sense of style of play, attitude and temperament.
Q: Noting the CB and S positions, is there a CB and S that stand out in the draft and free agency that could legitimately and immediately fill the void for the Browns?
A: Personally, I would go after S Dashon Goldson and not look back. Team him with Ward, Haden and another CB and you have the making of a very good defensive backfield. Along with pressure coming from the front-seven, the Browns defense under Horton could be very formidable.
As for a CB, in the draft we have Dee Milliner and Desmond Trufant as the top-two rated CB's in the draft.
In free agency, we hear the Browns are interested in Keenan Lewis (Pittsburgh) and Cary Williams (Baltimore). Both players have developed and come into their own the past year or so with Lewis being a slightly better fit for them due to his physicality.
Personally, I would take a look at Brent Grimes (Atlanta), he has all the tools you look for in a CB. The Falcons are working hard to retain him and we hear he'd like to remain there.
Q: Aqib Talib (New England) ?
A: Excellent cover CB, can get physical with a receiver and plays with attitude. On the field he is very good, but some are wary of him off the field.
** Next will be a look at the Browns offense and potential fits in free agency and the draft**