--Consistent, methodical and intelligent -- three words that could not better describe the direction and type of players this organization has brought to the roster.
--When looking back at the players the team signed in free agency, you could gain a perspective of what the thought process of the organization was going to be, at least in the short-term. Much has been said about Eric Mangini and George Kokinis bringing in former Jets players, but is it really that hard to contemplate the motives behind the moves? They were looking for several key attributes: Experience in the system, consistency in the approach and versatility to adapt to areas of need. Most of the off-season signings were geared in this direction.
--Knock the draft all you would like. When sitting down and evaluating the roster today compared to where it was when Mangini and Kokinis were hired, I see an entirely different caliber of depth and experience; it's the improvement of depth which may benefit this team the most heading into training camp.
--I have a difficult time understanding how people can be upset about the Browns' draft, and the big trade with the Jets in particular. Granted, the Browns failed to land a glamorous pick in the first round, but they did significantly upgrade an area of need with the selection of center Alex Mack. As I viewed tape throughout the off-season, the play of the Browns' interior offensive line was poor; Mack is technically sound and physically strong to combat defensive lineman who had their way with center Hank Fraley and right guard Rex Hadnot a season ago.
--DE Kenyon Coleman will start for this team, unless something unfortunate occurs. Coleman is experienced, plays the DE spot in the 3-4 as it is intended to be played, and is a team player. If anything, the defense will improve against the run on the weak-side and the OLB will have an easier task in front of him as. The scheme dictates that Coleman will stand up and rotate an offensive linemen, allowing the OLB to be more mobile.
--Many were upset that starting safety Sean Jones bolted in free agency. May fans where under the impression that Jones was a must-have within this defense, and could not understand why the team would not push to re-sign the player. The truth is, however, that Jones had been simply a step slow in pass coverage, his skills were questionable and was an asset in the run defense only when he wanted to be. In adding Abram Elam, the Browns have a more athletic safety who can cover ground and is not a step slow. Elam will support the run. While not as physical as Jones, Elam will more than make up for his lesser physicality in desire and preparation.
--Yes, Brett Ratliff was a player the Browns wanted. Why? Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll see Ratliff as a developing player that can fill a backup role for the team heading into the 2009 season. There's something about the acquisition of the quarterback in the big deal with the Jets that intrigues me.
--Selecting two WRs in the second round came as a surprise -- and I cannot make enough positive comments on the two players selected.
WR Brian Robiskie is going to make an impact for the Browns in his rookie campaign. Robiskie knows how to run routes and is disciplined. The rookie knows how to use his body and his hands are solid -- he will be no less than the #3 WR for the Browns in 2009, and possibly more.
WR Mohamed Massaquoi is still developing and can be explosive after the reception at the next level. What makes him more interesting is that the WR is not afraid of crossing the middle and his hands are greatly improved after a year dedicated to the weight room to strengthen his upper-body.
After a season of watching Braylon Edwards dropping passes, Donte Stallworth galloping aimlessly on game day -- while Syndric Steptoe and Steve Sanders were unprepared bodies on the field -- I can't help but acknowledge not only the qualities these two new WRs provide, but the professionalism and preparation each is known for.
--Sure, the Browns may not have landed the best known pass rushers in the draft -- but nobody's stats or motor compares to DE/OLB David Veikune. While everyone was locked on the likes of Brian Orakpo and Aaron Maybin, the Browns (as well as the Patriots, Dolphins and Panthers) were looking at Veikune in the second round of the draft. Veikune may be the real deal or he may be a bust, but I highly doubt we are going to see a player work harder.
Looking at this roster, I see quality and depth along the defensive line if Robaire Smith and Corey Williams return from injury. I am more satisfied with the state of the defensive backfield, though some work needs to be done and a player or two must emerge in this crowded area. The wide receiver corps appear much better, and I like the improvement of starting and reserve quality along the offensive line. I still have reservations about the running game, as well as QB spot.
And, how much better would this team look if a CB and pass rushing OLB were to emerge?
This may be a 12-4 team -- but I certainly do not see a 4-12 team.
Remember, this isn't New England, but some of the moves made last weekend are very much the "Patriot Way".
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