When the new regime of football minds evaluated the Browns 2012 season, there was a belief the team wasn't nearly as physical as they wanted to see and the defense wasn't as appeared.
Granted, the Browns defense was the strength of the team, especially in perception.
Film study showed the Browns defense while competitive, has holes in its foundation. A lack of quality and inexperience at defensive back leaves the secondary susceptible against the pass.
The lack of a consistent pass rush generated by the front-seven of the defense creates further issue for a defense lacking overall talent in the defensive backfield. The necessity to utilize defensive backs to generate pressure further exposed an already mediocre pass defense.
Improved speed and quickness across the linebacker positions, increased youth and athleticism at defensive tackle with leadership and experience at defensive end, the Browns defense in the 2012 defense was average and kept the team in games.
Much like the offensive side of the ball, the Browns defense lacked difference-makers and an ability to stop the opposition on third-down.
Youth and inexperience play into the equation of a season ago, but the less than aggressive philosophy schemed by the coaching staff was deemed insufficient.
New defensive coordinator Ray Horton believes in pressuring the offense with many different looks from his defense. While the base scheme will be the 3-4, his utilization of additional LB's and DB's changes the look of the defense significantly.
With this though process – theOBR has learned the following from those associated with the Browns and those of interest to the team………….Today we look at the pass rush / OLB type prospects.
And, the Browns do not have a player locked in as ‘their guy" at number-six at the time of this writing.
- LB Jaime Collins is on the radar of nearly every team looking for a 3-4 OLB or 4-3 LB. Collins displays excellent agility, quickness, change of direction and burst. Many evaluators, including the Browns envision Collins having the ability to pressure the QB, as well as displaying the athletic ability to drop into coverage. The Browns like this young man from Southern Mississippi.
- OLB Dion Jordan has the all-around skill-set which excites talent evaluators around the league. Jordan's speed, quickness and tremendous athletic ability cannot be denied. Quite possibly the purest overall OLB prospect in the draft due to his ability to play moving forward or dropping back into coverage with ease, Jordan plays the game "fast" and the league is only getting "faster". Limited in workouts due to a shoulder injury which requires surgery, the Browns have little to no concerns about his strength and weight.
- The Browns have not been as active on OLB Jarvis Jones as many portrait. The Browns, as some other teams have reservations about jones' overall physical strength and await his personal workout to gain an improved perspective, but on film Jones displays the explosive quality which the Browns seek. Some teams, including the Browns have been questioning whether Jones is a better 3-4 OLB or 4-3 OLB prospect. Jones' workout and additional medicals will be important for teams such as the Browns going forward.
- DE/OLB Ezekiel Ansah has been on the Browns radar for the last nine months. Ansah caught the eye of Browns while the team was scouting another player and the Browns had hoped Ansah wouldn't have shown as well as he did at the scouting combine. Ansah is raw; his limited experience could be an issue, he needs to learn how to use his hands, but Ansah's explosive 10-yard burst and shuttle, along with smooth transition to direction change and drops make this young man extremely intriguing.
- Barkevious Mingo, the pas rushing DE/OLB from LSU is a player some teams love and others teams believe isn't committed. There is no question Mingo possesses speed and quickness, but needs to add weight and overall strength. Mingo has trouble when engaged by similar or larger opponents, which falls to the weight and strength concerns.
- DE Bjoern Werner is physical at the point of attack, but undersized to be a 3-4 DE and hasn't shown the athletic smoothness to be a viable 3-4 OLB. Werner plays adequately moving forward and has flashed well against lesser talent, but has not displayed the ability to excel against comparable talent.
- If there is a player you love inside the sidelines, but really can't grasp off the playing field, it's LB Alec Ogletree. Ogletree is physically gifted, athletically significant can do everything and anything you'd like to see from an ILB or OLB on the playing field. But, Ogletree's off-field issues (failed drug test / DUI) have left teams wary of the talent. The Browns will be at Ogletree's pro-day workout.
- Damontre Moore, the DE/OLB from Texas A&M has gotten little play from the Browns, as the DE/OLB has not shown the ability to play in space, nor drop effectively. One word which may tell the Browns thoughts are "stiff", as Moore body lends no bend, which does not equate to a OLB in the 3-4.