Levine: The Same Mold

Les notes that the Browns new additions show a number of similar characteristics...


At first glance, it appears that Browns GM Phil Savage and Coach Romeo Crennel have added free agents to the roster who seem to all fit in the same mold.  Other than Trent Dilfer, whose injuries are well chronicled, and punter Kyle Richardson, whose arm injury shouldn't keep him from doing what he does best, the Browns have added several veteran players, who not only are talented, but they either stay away from injuries, or play through tremendous pain.   That group includes nine-year veteran offensive linemen Joe Andruzzi and six year man Cosey Coleman, as well as defensive players Jason Fisk, Gary Baxter and Matt Stewart.  I have been told my someone who would know that Andruzzi has played through injuries that would have been season-ending injuries for a majority of NFL linemen.

To my knowledge, not one of the additions has had any serious trouble off the field.  Crennel, of course, publicly has stated that character is important.  Savage has stated it, too, although some of the choices that were made in Baltimore turned out to have some problems, although their character did not come into question at the time they were acquired.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating.  Not only have the Browns been a failure, except for 2002, since returning in 1999, but they haven't been a very likeable team.  This includes the style of play, both offensively and defensively, as well as from a personality standpoint.  Time will tell how well the team performs this year, but it appears to be a little more fan friendly at this point in time.  And that is even before the draft takes place, when the Browns have a huge chance to make significant improvements.

With the draft coming up in the next few weeks, it appears that the needs of the team have changed, at least in the first round.  I think that the focus of what is needed will remain pretty much the same in the middle rounds, but Savage and his staff might be looking at something different in the first round, assuming they don't trade that pick down to stock up on more picks.  When Savage took over control of the front office, I don't think that he thought his first pick would be a skilled position player, but it might be now.  I would be surprised if he took a quarterback with the first pick, but I wouldn't be surprised if RB Cadillac Anderson, or wide receivers Braylon Edwards or Mike Williams turned out to be the top choice.  Those are luxury picks that they couldn't even think about, until they addressed several of their needs in free agency.

I think that Browns fans are looking forward to this draft with more anticipation than any draft since the first year back in 1999.  It is easy to look back and see the failures of all of the first round picks since '99 (not including Kellen Winslow, Jr.), but what is overlooked is the lack of success of players taken from the second round on down.  Phil Savage would never say this publicly, and hindsight is always 20-20, but I get the feeling that the Baltimore drafting team had some pretty good laughs when some of the Browns picks were made.  Linebacker Chaun Thompson, a second round pick is a perfect example.  While Savage and Crennel might think Thompson can help the Browns this year, both men have said the politically correct things about the linebacker.  If you read between the lines of what has been said at press conferences, I get the idea they might think Thompson would have been a nice pick on day two of the draft, rather than round two.

I don't think that the Browns are done as far as picking up more veteran players is concerned.  June 1 is the next date to watch for.  I think it is remarkable that some of the early signees jumped on board without knowing who else was going to be added to a struggling roster from last year.  I was surprised that Andruzzi decided to come here, not knowing what the QB or RB situations were going to be.  But it's almost like fraternity rush.  When more players could be added after June, Savage and Crennel will have much more to sell than they had in early February.


‘More Sports & Les Levine' can be seen M-F from 6-7pm and 11-midnight on Adelphia Channel 15.  E-mail msandll@aol.com or www.leslevine.com



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