Guessing what the Browns’ moves mean… so far

These are tea leaves These are tea leaves

These are allegedly tea leaves

Even without a ton of movement in free agency, I think we’ve seen and heard enough to start at least making some educated guesses about what the Browns are thinking and doing. Please save me the cheap jokes about them doing “nothing” in the comments.

Defensive line – Regardless of what you think about Frostee Rucker or Juqua Parker, their signings say a few things. First of all, the Browns probably won’t spend one of their high draft picks on a defensive end. It seemed like even the best defensive linemen in the draft were reaches at #4 anyway, so this is good news. The Browns have Sheard, Taylor, Rubin, Rucker, Parker and holdovers like Marcus Benard, Scott Paxson, Brian Sanford, Brian Schaefering, Emmanuel Stephens and Jayme Mitchell. Hold on there, Jayme Mitchell.

Will Burge from ESPN Cleveland reported on the first day of free agency that Mitchell’s people were trying to contact the Browns, presumably to figure out his future. My guess is they were trying to secure his release. Regardless, the Browns will probably draft a defensive end somewhere in the draft, but it won’t be all that high, considering their signings.

Defensive backs – The Browns did well to re-sign Dimitri Patterson. He played better than many of us expected last year and at 28-years old should still have some gas in the tank. I surmised yesterday that this might give some insight into the potential for Morris Claiborne being the selection at #4. I assumed that the Browns were telegraphing that they don’t want to move Sheldon Brown out of his natural cornerback position in the final year of his deal. Then Mike Adams signed with the Broncos and I started re-thinking it.

I’ve decided that the Browns have pretty good flexibility in the defensive backfield. If Morris Claiborne is the most impactful player available at #4 the Browns can take him and shift some pieces around. In the back of my mind though, I can’t help but think the Browns are pretty high on their young guys like Buster Skrine and yes, even 7th rounder Eric Hagg from Nebraska and maybe even James Dockery who was undrafted from Oregon State. Getting guys like that to produce in backup roles and on special teams is what takes a franchise to the next level. (See Harrison, James – Undrafted 2002)

Quarterbacks – The Browns did in fact make an impressive offer for Robert Griffin III if you choose to believe what Mike Holmgren intimated this week. Regardless if you believe it 100% there is little doubt that the Browns jumped at the chance to put Griffin ahead of Colt McCoy on the depth chart. There is also little doubt that the Browns have not jumped at the chance to put Matt Flynn ahead of Colt McCoy on the Browns’ depth chart. I’m not sure if that is for salary cap reasons or whether the team just isn’t buying the talent level, but it is seeming more and more likely that the Browns will just try to put some premier weapons around Colt McCoy this year and keep looking for a quarterback of the future.

Tom Heckert has spoken highly of some of the draft prospects at the position like Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden, but it just doesn’t seem like this is going to be the year for the Browns to draft a QB in the first round. The 4th pick is too high for Tannehill and he’ll most likely be gone by the time #22 comes along. #22 seems to be too high for the Browns to take Brandon Weeden. Unless Weeden falls to the Browns in the second round or the team trades up with the #22, I just don’t see it.

Handicapping the #4 pick – Justin Blackmon – I don’t think Justin Blackmon is A.J. Green level. He might not quite be Julio Jones level either, but he still would be a great addition to the Browns roster and won’t be a reach for them at #4. The market is also pushing the Browns in that direction with the gaudy price tags being assigned to guys like Pierre Garcon, Eddie Royal and Josh Morgan. These signings just scream of Donte’ Stallworth for the Browns a few years ago.

Meanwhile, cross-reference these huge salaries with what pricetag Peyton Hillis got, and that’s why I think the Browns will spend one of their first two draft picks on a receiver and quite possibly the #4 assuming Blackmon doesn’t go to the Vikings at #3.

Of course this is all just speculation and trying to piece things together. There is a lot of mis-direction this time of year and we never know for sure. That being said, one of my Twitter followers said something really brilliant and funny the other day that I hadn’t heard before. Paraphrasing about the Browns, “These guys tell us everything. We just need to listen to the right stuff.”

  • stin4u

    I know what conference Tech is in, thanks though. If by not doing much you mean ‘in the way of running a traditional offense’ you are correct, but you have to remember also, that in order for that offense to be efficient he needed to be on the field run blocking. That wouldn’t be his primary focus in our offense but the fact that he comes with experience already is a plus to me. There is no doubt he is a much more raw prospect, hence the risk, but  I like what I have seen out of him. Blackmon just never wowed me with the amount of hype he accumulated.

  • stin4u

    Yes, it’s an upgrade but I doubt they view it as mission complete.

  • stin4u

    As an aside, you clearly watch a lot of college football, who do you like if they draft an RB?

  • TitusPullo94

     Don’t bag on Julio Jones, now. He’s helping Atlanta revolutionize offense in the NFL.

    The Falcons don’t think field goals, they don’t think touchdowns, they think safeties, baby!

  • mgbode

    i just don’t think they’ll be nearly as desperate.

  • cmm13

    I can’t wait for them to draft Tannehill with the 4 just to read your ‘splosion comment.  😉

  • cmm13

    I can imagine a backfield of Haden, Claiborne and Ward.

    Sheldon “fall down” Brown I could without.

  • cmm13

    I wouldn’t forget the fact that they have Jackson returning this year either.

    They may very well run with a 3rd round draft pick or scrap heap FA, Jackson and Hardesty.

  • Bobby

     I just mentioned that because I thought you were comparing Hill with Blackmon based on conferences… but were you trying to compare Blackmon and Jones?

  • oribiasi

    You’re looking forward to drafting him at 4 just to hear what I have to say?  Sheesh…that’s a tall order for me.

    Besides, I want my team to win; I don’t want them to make (another) dumb decision just so I can get hot about it.

  • Bobby

    I havent been able to look at a ton in particular. Honestly though, I think RBs are a dime a dozen. If they get in the right system for them then its money. I mean Arian Foster is a prime example… Does he break out in Cleveland like he did in Houston?

  • stin4u

    Yeah it was a pseudo comparison I guess. I am just saying it’s really hard to make comparisons cross conference in college especially with the SEC and it’s level of defensive play. I get that the ACC doesn’t approach that level, so in that respect you are totally correct to say it is more of a level playing field between Blackmon and Hill.

  • Garry_Owen

    “your nuts”


    Perfect example of why contractions matter, friends. 

  • stin4u

    I agree. I’d love for them to use a pick in the second round or later to address that spot. Also, as someone else mentioned above, for the pick you would spend on Richardson, I don’t think you are getting a no-doubt stud.  In the end I trust Heckert but my eyes make me think he’s not worth that early selection.

  • Acrossthefield11

     Trading from 4 to 14 for a lousy mid-2nd and 4th rounder makes no sense.  The incremental value between 4 and 14 is huge.  I’d expect two 2nd rounders and a 3rd rounder for that swap.  Maybe more…

  • stin4u

    hahahahaha how did I miss this first time through? Nice catch, Garry.

  • saggy

    FWIW i talked to someone who would know, and he thinks Minnesota is set on Claiborne.  Boo.

    But, since it’s draft season, take that with a grain of whatever.

  • Wheel

    You’re happy we didn’t sign a free agent WR?  So does that mean you are happy with Browns receiver corps?  What other teams paid for Laurent/Garcon/Meacham is the price of doing business.  Signing a free agent WR would have given us options to address other areas of need through the draft.  

  • Humboldt

     Bisphenol A

  • Hetz

    In that case, why not take Kalil?

  • Big Z

    REALLY enjoyed the article. I like the back-to-back receivers analysis, he did it in 2009 in Philly (Maclin + Jackson), only he had them backwards. Jackson has been far better than Maclin. 

    I have a strong feeling he’ll wait until the 2nd round to nab a receiver.

  • Mhogg777

    Manning is going to Denver. It’s a done deal. Tebow will be out. How about the Browns? It would be a nice addition. The 49ers are losing Smith to the Dolphins. So they need a quarterback. I think Cleveland should offer Tebow a contract.

  • Holtgary

    The Browns would love to see Blackmon go #3, they wouldn’t have to even think about trading down (which is what they WILL do) they could take the player who might actually be WORTH the 4th pick…OL Kalil
    If you think he’s gonna be there at #4…put your money where your mouth is. After Kalil there are about 8 or 10 players of ‘about’ the same ‘value.’
    Just hope they don’t trade down too far…