Sizing Up the AFC North: Cleveland Browns

For years, Zac Jackson saw the Browns go through various iterations looking for success. Here's how he sizes up the team's latest changes, with a link to his views on the Browns rivals in the AFC North.

KEY ADDITIONS: QB Jake Delhomme, OT Tony Pashos, CB Sheldon Brown, TE Ben Watson, LB Scott Fujita, LB Chris Gocong, QB Seneca Wallace and TE Alex Smith came via either free agency or trade. The Browns used the seventh overall pick of the draft on CB Joe Haden and added what they hope will be quality depth and talent in the following rounds; safeties T.J. Ward and Larry Asante and RB Montario Hardesty seem to be the most likely to make immediate impacts. It starts as a redshirt year for third-round QB Colt McCoy.

PERSONNEL LOSSES: QB Derek Anderson (released - Cardinals), QB Brady Quinn (traded to Broncos), LB Kamerion Wimbley (traded to Raiders), DE Corey Williams (traded to Lions), OG Rex Hadnot (free agent- Cardinals), S Brodney Pool (not tendered - Jets), OL Hank Fraley (released - signed with Rams), TE Steve Heiden (released). The Browns are hoping NT Shaun Rogers won't be lost for any significant amount of time after his April 1 arrest.

MONEY MOVE: Well, they gave a bunch of money to Delhomme. And they gave him the keys. He has lots of NFL experience, a pretty good offensive line in front of him...and lots to prove. And not much in the way of proven pass-catchers. If he can be a steady guy in a run-driven offense, it will prove to be a good signing. If he throws the ball to the other team like he's done the last two years, Eric Mangini will be hearing the "Colt" calls.

WHERE THEY'RE BETTER: Considering two of their divisional rivals' biggest moves were adding receivers, adding Brown and Haden to the cornerback position makes sense. Assuming Pashos plays well at right tackle he's a significant upgrade, and Watson and Smith are at least experienced guys in the remaking of what was the league's worst tight end corps a year ago. Cutting ties with Anderson and Quinn was good for the organization (and both players), and Joshua Cribbs getting his new contract will probably prove to be good for chemistry and limiting distractions.

Cribbs is the poster child for what might be the league's best overall special teams unit, and the added size and experience on the defensive side of the ball -- not to mention a year in the system -- indicate that Mangini and coordinator Rob Ryan think the defense might be ready for a big leap. They're certainly more experienced at linebacker, but it remains to be seen how many long-term answers they have at the linebacker position with D'Qwell Jackson set to play on a one-year tender, Gocong lacking proven production, Fujita at age 31 and Eric Barton, at 32 and coming off neck surgery.

Maybe 2010 will be used for finding long-term answers at multiple positions, but Browns fans should hope those don't come at the expense of Mangini's job. The Browns have made upgrades and should be better in their second year under this staff, but they still seem to be significantly behind the rest of the division. If Cribbs can't score more than five times in the return game (never say never with that guy), it's hard to imagine the Browns scoring enough points to win more games than they lose this fall.

Get Zac's take on the rest of the AFC North at CLICK HERE!

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