The speculation, the rumors… the sounds of confusion are music to this team's ears.
MANGINI 1, MEDIA 0
While there's no shortage of griping about the new Browns head coach Eric Mangini, it was good to see that the coach sent out a press release straightening out incorrect reports which surfaced about QB Brady Quinn being sent to the Denver Broncos.
Why was this important? Mangini – who has been at the forefront of media witch hunts since he showed up in Cleveland - was open and HONEST about the trade scenario. Quinn was never offered in a deal for QB Jay Cutler, who was dealt to the Chicago Bears.
Fans of the Browns are going to learn over time that Mangini is going to conduct business in a manner which will create a stir for those fans and media accustomed to knowing nearly every move of the organization. If anything, Mangini's penchant for secrecy will create even more discussion and speculation about the team at every pass.
Now, onto the buzz surrounding the Browns................
Brady Quinn – yeah, him, the guy who was supposed to be on his way to Denver - is the QB of the Cleveland Browns. While the depth chart in Cleveland doesn't officially list him at top, this is what it is.
Granted, anything is possible with Mangini and General Manager George Kokinis wanting to put their stamp on an organization that has failed miserably for the better part of a decade. Unless something dramatic happens, i.e., a trade or the QB failing in camp sessions, Quinn will be under center for the club in the 2009 season.
If a team comes knocking for Quinn, the organization is going to remain open-minded and listen. This is not saying that the Browns actively seek to deal the QB, but they will look at every option. It's not complicated.
DESE OL' SMOKE AND MIRRORS ARE STILL GOOD FOR SUMPTHIN'
It's great to see that some people have finally gotten a dial tone on the clue phone and relayed info that was old a week ago: yeah, the Browns are interested in the top two quarterbacks.
That's causing a bit of a stir, isn't it? Interest in Stafford and Sanchez certainly created a buzz, with many believing everything noted they saw in the media. Too bad the reports were mostly off-base and didn't even warrant a response.
Yes, the interest is legitimate, but the value of creating the buzz about the two players and the Browns fifth-selection in the draft has been rewarding from a pure value perspective.
Due to the smoke and mirrors activity of the Browns organization this off-season, teams are wary of the Browns potentially taking a QB with this pick.
Well, they should be, as the process of evaluation within the Browns organization has not been completely played out.
THROWING THE BALL? WHO'S GONNA CATCH IT?!?
While the fog goes up around the quarterbacks, the receiver group is badly in need of quality talent, depth and experience.
Sure, we can sit back and reminisce of David Patten being productive back in the New England days.
Sit with me and think of the old days for a minute. Look at him beating those cornerbacks.
Ahhh, that was nice.
Back to reality… at least Patten brings experience, but this group needs a lot of help.
Of course, when people want to talk about receivers in Cleveland, it's all about Braylon. The rumors won't quiet down, and there's been more and more speculation in recent days.
Here's what's really happening:
2. The Browns shot down their first attempt of a second, fifth, and a player. Now the Giants know it is going to take a first, third and a player.
3. Yes, those are the terms. A first, third, and a player. That will get it done.
4. The Browns demanded WR Steve Smith before, but Smith may not be the deal-breaker if the Giants are willing to up the ante.
What has been coming out on the radio isn't right, but there are enough leaks in New York that they're stumbling around close to the mark. This one is very serious.
DRAFTING IN THE DARK
This is what the so-called experts in the field do. The annual college player crap-shoot is the most publicized, non-athletic function in an aggressive sport.
Sure, the names look like they might fit on a card handed up to podium at the number five spot. Ask most Browns fans their opinion as to the player the team should select and you'll get one of these names back.
In most cases in the recent past, the players associated with the Browns selection has been rather easy to determine.
This is a whole different year.
With this draft, the Browns as an organization has done a solid job in limiting the opportunities for other teams and the "experts" to hone in on their real desires. Many call the off-season sales job on the QB position a smokescreen. Others will claim this organization simply has no clue as to what it will do come April 25th.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Me, I'm in a place where I can listen to a lot of people.
Here is something for you to contemplate as you're listening to all the experts tell you what they think is going to happen.
All those names you read above? They're good names. But this organization doesn't stack the players the way draft evaluators stack them. Whether the team's process is better or worse, only time will tell. But it's different.
When I hear the name Michael Crabtree, believed to be the next best-thing at WR, I suddenly think of the explosive Jeremy Maclin.
It's not that Orakpo and Crabtree don't grade well, but rather the organization is seeing some things that intrigue them about some of the players that draft writers might consider to be stacked underneath their favorites.
Nobody outside of the team owner, the head coach and general manager know the direction the draft will take in Cleveland. I'm not going to tell you I do.
But there's a philosophy that will guide them, and you can figure out what it is right now, today.
Here's what the men now running the Cleveland Browns like. These are their guiding principles:
1. Physical football
2. Stop the run first and foremost
3. Generate pressure on the opposing QB
That's not complicated, either.
Both Mangini and Kokinis come from backgrounds that focus on a strong presence at the LB positions and where they want to have defensive linemen that are hard to move off the ball.
The organizations these men worked for ultimately provided their coaches with a shutdown CB and safeties who added a physical element and range to the game.
When looking at the players the organization has signed during the off-season, you will see players inked to deals to add knowledge and stability. They signed no world-beaters. They signed no long-term contracts.
Mangini and Kokinis want this team to be consistent and to grow a roster of high-caliber players using this draft as the initial opportunity.
On April 25th, if the Browns stay at #5, don't be surprised to hear an unexpected name announced with the fifth-pick in the draft
Unless LB Aaron Curry is there, this Browns organization could realistically pick a player who is a football junkie and not a favorite of the prognosticators.
At this point, the odds are they are going to do just that.