Q: Due to all the speculation, fans of the team appear to be less informed about the actions of the team in comparison to past years. Generally, the fans and media had an idea as to what the team was going to do on draft day; now all there appears to be is nothing more than speculation and hope. What happened?
LA: The organization is doing a much better job -- or, should I say, they have been more proactive -- in assuring those working for the Cleveland Browns football organization are not spewing out loads of information to the media and through the media.
Granted, some in the media are getting tidbits of information from informed people and those persons are being careful as to how such information is revealed. This organization does monitor the flow of information for various reasons, primary among them a belief that doing so gives them a competitive advantage.
Q: One day we hear the name Brian Orakpo as the top candidate for the Browns with the fifth pick in the draft. A couple days later, we hear about a wide receiver. Then we hear that a quarterback is the leading candidate. How can reporters be so random about what they write?
LA: I tend to believe that some people -- those reporting or the reader -- may get a little confused or clouded in the message or reports that are out there. If there was a little clarification where they are offering speculation and commentary, it would generally help readers. I do agree though, we are seeing far more pieces in the media driven by personal belief and bias than at any time in recent memory.
As for the players or positions you mentioned, all have to be considered possibilities. Presently, I am not in the position to report or state with certainty what the Browns are going to do with their first round draft selection. I do have some insight as to their thoughts about some of the players believed to be within their grasp in the first round and later rounds.
Q: If you had to choose one player from a grouping of Brian Orakpo, Aaron Curry, Mark Sanchez and Michael Crabtree as fitting in and filling a role in Cleveland, who would it be? Also, what is the probability of seeing any of these players in a Browns uniform next season?
LA: Hands down, I select OLB Aaron Curry. Curry can play inside or outside, is a sure tackler, removes a weakness from the defense and is versatile enough to play more than one specific role. Curry is not a perfect player, but he is definitely a three-down player and -- when viewing him on tape -- doesn't display an overall weakness in games which could be exposed on a consistent basis at the next level.
Q: Due to the lack of a pass rush, does it appear logical for the Browns to select a player like Orakpo or is there another player the team could look toward to help the pass rush and defense in general in the draft?
Orakpo is the name most associated with the Browns due to their need, but players such as Ayers or Jackson are bigger bodies with solid skill sets to potentially play roles in helping create pass rush opportunities off the edge, as well as working within the defensive line structure.
Brown, Barwin, Sintim and English are definite OLB types, and all display solid burst and quickness, with Brown being potentially as explosive as any of the aforementioned players.
The wild-card here is defensive lineman B.J. Raji. Look at the construction of the New England defenses while Browns head coach Eric Mangini was there. The Patriots place a premium on defensive linemen and Mangini is believed to be of the same mindset.
Q: Defensive lineman B.J. Raji is a talented player that looks to have fallen off radar due to issues in his past and a rumored failed drug test while in college. Do the Browns look at him favorably and could they consider him in the first round of the draft?
LA: Raji has the ability to be a high-end player at the professional level and has suffered somewhat due to some past issues, which included a failed test while at BC prior to the 2008 season, I believe.
From what I have been told, the Browns rate Raji highly and he is under consideration with the fifth-overall selection in the draft.
Raji has the skill-set and temperment to play inside or at end in the Browns defensive scheme -- with the ability to apply pressure from either position, which is enticing to the Browns.
Q: Do you believe there is any truth to the speculation that the Browns and New York Giants are working toward a deal for Braylon Edwards? If so, what would you expect the Browns to get in return for him and what would the team then do at the wide receiver position?
LA: Yes, I believe there is ongoing dialogue between the Browns and Giants, and the signs point to the WR being dealt on or before the draft. I'm just not too certain the Giants want to cough up the numerous picks the Browns want.
Most of the talk and speculation revolves around the Browns wanting no less than first and third round draft selections, plus a player from New York (or any other team) for Edwards.
If the Browns indeed trade their #1 WR, there is a large void at the position, as the depth with Edwards on the roster is already questionable at best. If they deal Edwards, the Browns would have to get a serviceable WR in return and may be forced to look toward the early portion of the draft to secure the services of another top talent.
The game is tough enough without a legitimate threat outside; the Browns offense in the 2009 season would be a sitting duck -- every defense in the league would simply stack the box and challenge the Browns to beat them through the air. You need WRs in order to be competitive.
LA: I am of the impression the Browns think a bit more highly of Anderson than many fans. As for Quinn, the Browns have been open to listening to all the options, although this does not necessarily mean the team is looking to trade Quinn.
In the end, I anticipate one of the QB's will be dealt.
Q: Rumor has it that the Browns have standing offers on the table for Braylon Edwards and Brady Quinn. If I read correctly, each was for a first round draft selection. Do you believe this to be true and if so, is that compensation worth dealing each player for?
LA: I am of the impression that there is substance to the speculation regarding Edwards. I am somewhat skeptical as to the speculation surrounding Quinn -- though I do know there has been no less than one team that his expressed interest.
For Edwards, I believe the Browns would look to the deal the Lions and Cowboys completed for WR Roy Williams last year, a deal which brought a first-, third- and sixth-round pick for the player, with a seventh-round selection being sent back to Detroit. This may be a point of interest, but in the end I anticipate, if a deal is done, it will be done for less overall, say a first and a third -- at most.
On Quinn, if there is a team which has legitimately offered a first-round selection for the QB, it may depend on where in the first round the selection is and if the selection fall in a range where the organization could recoup a player of significant interest to either replace Quinn or upgrade another area of the roster.
Q: Looking at this team in its current state, what do you like heading into the 2009 season?
LA: The schedule!
Also, I've stated on numerous occasions I believe the subtraction of most from the organization -- from the front office to the coaching staff to the player roster -- would be an upgrade. I sincerely believe this.
I look at the moves made in free agency and simply see players brought in to fill roles, and to provide some stability and consistency to the positions in question. There is plenty of work to do for this team to fill out out the roster as safety, center and outside linebacker spots remain a concern.
I anxiously await the team getting on the practice fields this spring and summer to gain a much better perspective as to what the team has done and needs to accomplish prior to the season.