Straight-Up Line-Up Comparison: Part 2

John Taylor continues to examine the roster, this time looking at the defense and special teams...



2005: Orpheus Roye

2006: Orpheus Roye

Is it time to start referring to Roye as one of the most underrated Browns of all time?

Through all of the tumult of numerous regime and coaching changes, all the veteran has done is make plays on a consistent basis and given 100% effort on every single play nearly every single game, having only missed a total of five games in his six years with the club.

If he were playing in a major media market, or in a winning organization, he would have at least a couple of Pro Bowls to pump up his resume'.

At 33 years of age, Roye is coming off arguably the best of his eleven seasons in the NFL and shows no signs of slowing down at any point in the near future.  The addition of Washington should only help extend Roye's streak of productivity and, coupled with a winning season, could get him the national recognition he deserves.

EDGE: 2006 Roye


2005: Jason Fisk

2006: Ted Washington


Do I even need an explanation here?

EDGE: Washington


2005: Alvin McKinley

2006: Alvin McKinley

Yes, he led the team in sacks last year (tied at five with Chaun Thompson), but it is still somewhat of a surprise that McKinley remains the starter at this position.  Then again, Rome didn't build their 3-4 defensive line in a day, so it's not completely unexpected.

What's somewhat frightening is the glaring lack of quality depth behind him.

Optimally, the Browns would like to add another starting DE and allow McKinley to provide that quality depth by swinging between both end positions and spelling Roye on occasion without a tremendous drop-off.

Look for that to be a primary area of focus next off-season.

EDGE: Push


2005: Matt Stewart

2006: Kamerion Wimbley

Much like Heiden, Stewart is a solid, dependable veteran.

However, much like Winslow, Wimbley has shown flashes during his first pre-season of being a game-changer and a playmaker on passing downs.

Wimbley, still adapting from college DE to NFL LB, must work on pass coverage and his play against run, which is why it's likely that Russell will begin the season as the starter.

Even given Wimbley's weaknesses, the Florida State product will see his playing time increase as the season progresses and will eventually overtake Stewart as the SSOLB on most downs.

So, since this is my article and I have the power, I choose to go with Wimbley as the starter from the get-go and give the advantage to the rookie.

EDGE: Wimbley


2005: Ben Taylor

2006: D'Qwell Jackson

While we may miss those precocious little moments of Taylor riding shotgun on a runner's back ten yards down the field, his departure signaled an immediate upgrade irrespective of who was brought in to replace him.

And that's all the analysis you get.


Davis, Chaun Thompson, doesn't matter.  Two words.



EDGE: Jackson


2005: Andra Davis

2006: Andra Davis

There are many players who will benefit from the presence of Ted Washington, but no one more so than Davis.

One of the knocks on Davis has been his inability to shed blocks consistently.  With Washington on board—or is it the Browns onboard Washington?—Davis should be freed somewhat and allowed to make plays without fending off first and second levels of blockers.

While some are predicting a Pro Bowl season for Davis, that would seem to be too big of a leap for the fifth-year LB to make in one season.  At the very least, though, he should be able to make tremendous strides in his game and set himself up as a lynchpin in the Browns defense for years to come.

EDGE: 2006 Davis


2005: Chaun Thompson

2006: Willie McGinest

Provided McGinest stays healthy and has fully recovered from off-season elbow surgery, this is an upgrade along the lines of Washington over Fisk.

The Browns aren't getting the sack machine from the latter part of last century and the early part of the new one; what they are getting, however, is an experienced veteran who knows the 3-4 defense like I know beer and can impart that wisdom on players like Wimbley.

Additionally, if last season's post-season is any indication, he's not running on fumes and still has at least a little left in the tank.

EDGE: McGinest


2005: Gary Baxter

2006: Gary Baxter

This will come down to one simple question: can Baxter stay healthy and play in 16 games?

If so, it will be an upgrade simply due to the fact that a.) he will be on the field for more than five games as he is a quality corner, and, b.) it will prevent the pabulum that represents the depth at the corner position from ever seeing any meaningful minutes.

If not, Lord help us all and this position becomes skews heavily in favor of '05 Baxter.

EDGE: 2006 Baxter


2005: Daylon McCutcheon

2006: Leigh Bodden

McCutcheon and Bodden entered Training Camp 2006 in a virtual dead-heat for the starting position opposite Baxter.  An injury early on in camp took out any drama in the competition, although it was likely to end just the way it did with Bodden supplanting McCutcheon.

Bodden grew by leaps and bounds after replacing Baxter in the starting lineup last season.  He is bigger and more physical than McCutcheon, thus allowing him to take on the bigger WRs that used to eat McCutcheon for lunch and dinner and have enough left over for a midnight snack.

The talk of Andra Davis having a Pro Bowl year may be superfluous, but the whispers around Bodden and Honolulu are not.

Provided Baxter is healthy, McCutcheon will able to assume the position that best suits him at this point in his career: nickel corner.

EDGE: Bodden


2005: Brian Russell

2006: Brian Russell

The veteran DB will more than likely begin the season on the sidelines as he recovers from surgery to remove a burst bursa sac in his elbow. He is, though, expected to return in time for the second game of the season against the Bengals.

However, should the injury linger and Jones—who will take over for Russell if he's unable to go—and Pool—who will take over for Jones at SS—progress during whatever time he may miss, Russell could find himself losing his starting job and looking for time coming off the bench.

The Browns ultimate goal would be for both Jones and Pool to grab starting jobs, which would give them veteran depth as insurance should anything befall the two former second-round draft picks.



2005: Chris Crocker

2006: Sean Jones

The Browns traded Crocker to the Falcons early on in the off-season in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick, which the club turned around and used on guard Isaac Sowells.

Only time will tell if they gave up on Crocker too soon, but the early indications are that Jones is beginning to live up to his second-round draft status.

Jones outlasted Brodney Pool in a camp-long competition, and will start the season as the starter.  However, Crennel feels like he "has three starters at the position", so the safety positions could involve a rotation of Jones, Pool and Russell throughout the course of the season.

EDGE: Crocker



2005: Kyle Richardson

2006: Dave Zastudil

He is no Kyle Richardson, which, in this case, is a good thing.

A definite upgrade, but he still needs to work on knocking balls dead inside the 20.

EDGE: Zastudil


2005: Phil Dawson

2006: Phil Dawson

Good old solid, steady Phil. He's been consistent for the better of seven years, so there's no reason to expect the 31-year-old Texas alum to go into sudden and precipitous slide at this point in his career.

Here's a quick fact that shows exactly why I'm picking the 2005 version of Phil Dawson over the 2006 model, though: In the last two even-numbered years, he has seen his field goal percentage go down from the previous season.

(He has.  Look it up.  See that science I'm droppin'.)

Since this is 2006, I'm going with the younger Dawson.

EDGE: 2005 Dawson


2005: Ryan Pontbriand

2006: Ryan Pontbriand

As long as he doesn't screw up a snap, does it really matter?

(I still can't get my hands around the fact that Butchum used a fifth-round draft pick on a one-dimensional player whose one dimension is long-snapping.  And he was one of his better selections.)

EDGE: Push


2005: Dennis Northcutt

2006: Dennis Northcutt

If a good portion of penalties on special teams were eliminated, we'd give the edge to the current ‘Cutt version.

However, after viewing the pre-season games, it looks like they're not.

EDGE: Push


2005: Josh Cribbs

2006: Josh Cribbs

One year of experience plus his natural athletic ability equals an improvement on his finishing eighth in the AFC in kick return average.

It's a simple formula, really.

EDGE: 2006 Cribbs

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