We've reached that May lull in the NFL's offseason, but in Cleveland, some familiar Browns' topics resurfaced this week. Of particular note, quarterbacks and pass rushers.
1. It's Not (Any Month of the Year) Without Some Browns' Quarterback Talk
Although it may be challenging to convince some, most Browns' fans had accepted that Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell would enter this summer's training camp in a pseudo-competition for the starting QB job. As tepid as that sounds - at least given that both Weeden is the defacto incumbent and neither player can definitively grasp a long-term future with the organization - it seemed to represent the status quo over the next several weeks.
However, Arizona's release of Brian Hoyer could add another layer of something resembling intrigue. If only because Hoyer is a quarterback that has been previously endorsed by the Browns' clandestine general manager Mike Lombardi, speculation has already begun regarding a potential third entry in Berea's annual summer tradition. Or four if Thad Lewis' cleanup duty last January made you a believer.
2. So About Brian Hoyer
Speaking of Lewis, both he and Hoyer can claim the same number of NFL starts: one. Any romantic notions of Hoyer becoming a serious threat to win the Browns' starting job - again assuming he signs with Cleveland - are about as believable as Pat Shurmur returning to call plays. Hoyer was a good enough college player and has played in spots for New England over the past few years. However, it's telling that Lombardi's mentor, Bill Belichick, discarded Hoyer in favor of Ryan Mallett last season.
3. Good Thing the Browns Didn't Trade for This Guy
It wasn't even a month ago that pre-draft rumors were flying about the Browns' interest in Hoyer - who was then on the Cardinals' roster. At the time, speculation hinted at Hoyer carrying anywhere from a second round to fifth round trade worth. Given the already thin selection of available Browns' picks and the free agent signing of Campbell, such a move would have been either curious or backwards - depending on your level of excitement towards the new front office.
4. Enough About Backup Quarterbacks - Let's Talk Backup Linebackers
Certainly, Barkevious Mingo will play under a huge spotlight this summer and fall - simply because he represents such a huge portion of the Browns' 2013 draft. And while none of us know how Mingo's immense talents will translate to the NFL level, it's expected that the rookie will be put into the most ideal spots possible to make plays - primarily on passing downs. Yet, that Mingo will be the "centerpiece of the Browns' defense", which is a bit of a stretch at this point.
Mingo is without question an incredibly talented athlete and is perhaps the Browns' most intriguing first round draft choice in years. However, for anyone to raise the expectations so high on what will be a situational player - at least early in his career - is setting themselves up for disappointment.
5. The Other Side of Expectations
And while all eyes will be on Mingo - along with big money free agent Paul Kruger - it could be Jabaal Sheard who proves to be the breakout star of Ray Horton's first Browns' defense. With such activity occurring at linebacker, Sheard has become the forgotten man despite showing some solid pass rushing skills over the past two seasons. Sheard's production, at least number-wise, dropped in 2012. After a slow first few games, Sheard played a string of very productive games but didn't have many sacks to show for it.
Not helping Sheard last season was an aging group of defensive ends, including Frostee Rucker and Juqua Parker. Given that Sheard shouldn't see the kind of blocking attention he did last year - at least based on the presence of Mingo and Kruger - he may quickly exploit some one on one blocking matchups.
But then there's that run defense - which is a story for another time.