July 31, 2014

Feeling good about Browns prospects at tight end

Earlier, I predicted that the Browns are probably overrating their running backs. It concerns me because much like they did with wide receivers the year before, the Browns seem like they could be betting on question marks. Well, when it comes to tight ends, I am really encouraged by the prospects of the Browns getting some breakout performances at the position this year.

The Browns brought back Alex Smith who is mostly known as a blocker when he isn’t the punchline for “which Browns tight end received a goal line hand off that resulted in a fumble?” I agree with the move because Smith is a pretty important piece for the team in terms of depth and blocking. Still, I think Smith’s utilization last year was the result of not trusting the right side of the offensive line and needing an extra blocker. I am hoping that the Browns can shore up the right side this year (finally) to allow some of the more offensive-geared tight ends on the field.

Obviously if Ben Watson can continue to play, that means him to an extent. Watson is 31 and has battled concussions the last couple years, so hope is the key word. I’m talking more about Evan Moore and Jordan Cameron. Moore was considered a disappointment in-season most of last year. Even that isn’t stating it right though because most of the disappointment seemed to be aimed at coach Pat Shurmur for not utilizing a guy who got a contract extension from the team during training camp. Moore had some decent multi-catch games, but he also had three games where he didn’t catch a single ball. Not exactly what you expect from a guy who signed a three-year deal for roughly $8.5 million.

But that’s in the past. The Browns have a year in the offense under their collective belts. They still have the remainder of the off-season to shore up the right side of the offensive line to enable the Browns to use the pass-catchers more. That obviously means Evan Moore, but I am also still expecting things from Jordan Cameron.

Cameron was the 102nd pick in the draft for the Browns in the 4th round. To have expectations of a fourth rounder isn’t maybe the wisest thing in the world, but Cameron showed a level of athletic ability on the field during training camp and a little bit at the end of last season that leads me to believe he could still become a serious mismatch against linebackers in the NFL. Granted it was only training camp, but Cameron’s leaping ability at the goal line at 6 foot 5 inches tall should make him a valuable asset all by itself.

I won’t pretend that the Browns have Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez lining up to catch passes from Tom Brady, but there is little doubt in my mind that this could and should be considered a position of strength for the Browns this season. It represents a real opportunity for giving defenses matchup problems. That’s not something the Browns have had a lot of recently.

Now, it’s up to Brad Childress and Pat Shurmur to find a way to allow those guys to give opposing defenses fits.

  • TheRobot57

    Would you put it past the Browns to draft a guy like Coby Fleener in the 2nd if he’s there at 37? He’s more skilled as a receiver than Cameron and bigger. He has receiver speed as well with a 4.45 40. I don’t think it’s a real “need” position but we really need playmakers and the guy would probably be the best TE on the roster.

  • Mark

    “Now, it’s up to Brad Childress and Pat Shurmur to find a way to allow those guys to give opposing defenses fits.”

    It’s this line that is my biggest concern. The coaching staff showed very little ability to put together a creative offensive game plan. Yes, I realize a lack of play makers had a big influence on this but Shurmur showed little to give me confidence that he and his staff could use the parts they did have to their advantage. I always felt they were covering up weakness instead of exploiting areas of strength. Maybe more than wins and losses, this coaching staff has to show me they can fix this problem. If we aren’t building toward something, well, Shurmur won’t make it beyond this season.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Please not another TE they already have four which is one to many.  Fleener will be a stud but unless they traded a couple it makes no sense especially at #37.

  • TheRobot57

    If they take TR at 4, Wright at 22, then I think it could shake out that way. One of these Tackles was bound to slide and Adams has basically taken that torch. I think the Browns are set to trade some later picks to get into the first couple rounds no matter what. They should be able to get another 2nd rounder, why not take a stud TE who can be a Vernon Davis style piece and gamble on getting Adams later?

  • http://twitter.com/oribiasi oribiasi

    You nailed it in Cameron, Craig.  He is a physical beast, a really tall TE that can block (I hope to God he can block) and he would be tough to cover for a LB.  If we can get him rolling it’d be nice.

  • Harv 21

    me, too.  And I want to see crispness to the offense early on, as early as pre-season. Even if they have playmakers and aggressive game plans, if they struggle with quickly getting the plays in, having the right personnel on the field and managing the game clock it means Shurmur is over his head. He’s got a year under his belt and is surrounded with experienced NFL assistants. Huge year for him.

  • BenRM

    What this team really needs is a tight end with a good motor who can contribute on special teams. 

  • BisonDeleSightings

    I don’t think he’ll be there at #37.  The NFL has Gronkitis, so I think someone like the Packers, Giants, or Colts will take him in the late 1st/early 2nd.

  • mgbode

    alex smith got run over on short yardage plays too often for me to refer to him as a blocking TE anymore.  I think I’m going to use “waste of a roster spot” or perhaps “training camp fodder” for now.

    please, please let Cameron be able to block & catch.  it’d be awfully nice since I am not sure how much we can trust Watson given his concussions.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I think they have a stud TE in Evan Moore they just don’t know how to use him.  No idea why Cameron was drafted for me that was a wasted pick.  Even if Watson doesn’t return to form you’d still have Alex Smith.  Way to many TEs.

    I like Richardson @ 4 I’m not a big Wright fan tho and I’m certainly not an Adams proponent.  To many issues for an OT.

  • TheRobot57

    Giants may go LB, it’s more of a need for them. Packers also have needs on defense. He definitely has a good shot of being there.

  • cmm13

    Oh good, you’re here…hold on to your hat because here it comes:

    “but he also had three games where he didn’t catch a single ball….But that’s in the past.”

    Not to me it isn’t.  I am still the most puzzled on the absolute horrible use of Moore’s excellent receiving skills on a team desperate for good receivers.

    The only thing more perplexing than his under use was Shurmur’s explanation for it.

    His quote was something to the tune of “if he is in there; the defense knows we are throwing to him”…..wow.

    This is an item I would love to see revisited from Heckert’s perspective not Shurmurs.

    Someone needed to ask Tom how he felt about him signing a core player to a sizeable contract and then see him not being used to help the team win.

  • dwhit110

    “To have expectations of a fourth rounder isn’t maybe the wisest thing in the world”

    We made two 4th round selections in 2011. We’ll make two more this year (if we don’t trade the pics). For the “build through the draft, only leverage free agency as necessary” philosophy to work, we must hit on more of our 3rd and 4th round selections than we miss. 

    Not saying that Heckert has/hasn’t done this (Marecic, Lauvao, and McCoy have certainly started games). What I am saying is we have to expect (demand?) this. For the “build through the draft” philosophy to work the majority of our 4th round selections MUST pan out. Expect it. 

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    I believe Holmgren and Heckert’s opinions on it were displayed when they said that they would hire a coordinator / when they did hire Childress. Just like I think Heckert admitted a mistake when he cut Brian Robiskie in the middle of the season. Sometimes they don’t have to say things out loud when their actions say it for them.

  • Garry_Owen

    Only if he’s smart and has good football sense.

  • mgbode

    how many teams have the majority of their 4th round picks pan out?  I guess it depends on where you put the panning out line.

  • dwhit110

    That a fair point that the distinction could be subjective. Additionally though, I’d argue that other teams have made a philosophical choice to build their team through free agency more than the Browns have. If we’re going to shy away from free agency, we have to draft better, later than maybe other teams will have to.

  • cmm13

    Yes and no.

    The plan was to hire an offensive coordinator prior to the mishandling of Moore; they just did not get it done before the season started.  Presumably because they were waiting on Childress’s health issues to be resolved.

    So yes It adds to the reason for their needing to be an offensive coordinator; but it still doesnt address the fact that Tom signed a core player to an extension, Shurmur did not know how to use the best hands on his team and then gave a horrible explanation as to why he was unable to use him.

    Couple that with the fact that Pat is still calling the plays means he still has the keys to letting Moore in the game.

  • Mansoor Khan

    At the very least, Alex Smith secured the Seahawks win we got last year when he goaded Red Bryant into a foul that let us run out the clock. 

  • Ritz

    I was about to say the exact same thing about that sentence, glad I read down the comments first. That worries me too – a lot.

  • Ritz

    I hope I am wrong about Chilly… But in admitting a mistake they could be making another.

  • Mark

    And doesn’t mind long bus rides.

  • mgbode

    ah, forgot about that. fair point.  taunting/goading can be a valuable skill.

  • mgbode

    I have pointed to the Steelers, Bengals and Ravens (as they are our main rivals).  None of them are utilizing FA much.  In fact, most teams do not get any significant amount of starters through FA.

    SF is one of the very few recent examples as last year they went out and got Rogers and Whitner to help their secondary (also helped by Goldson making a huge leap).

    I agree that we have to draft better than we had under previous regimes, but that would be regardless of if we grabbed free agents or not.   We have to draft on par (at least) with Baltimore and Pitt to have a chance at competing with them (and they have been 2 of the best – especially Balt in the draft)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MBICMMXZIEDY6AZTJOVFKIJNQQ hollyw

    te orson charles is fast,strong benching as much as linemen in 30+ and is a heck of a blocker…i like some of our tightends but would be nice to add this kid to the mix as well

  • Warburton MacKinnon

    Marecic, started because they didn’t resign Vickers,which proved to be a mistake. With the injury to Stienbach and uncertainty along the O-line compounded the problem, considering it doesn’t seem Marecic can catch or block.

  • Jim Brown

     When
    Mike Holmgren claims that Colt McCoy is his guy, I believe him as much
    as people believed John Elway when he stated, matter of factly, that Tim
    Tebow was his guy and he was going to stick with him…lol.   Colt
    McCoy is what the Cleveland Browns are stuck with, until the Browns
    management is able to get an NFL caliber quarterback for their team. 
    What do you get when you put the best NFL line and the best receiving
    corps together with Colt McCoy, that’s easy…a losing NFL football
    team.  It’s not rocket science, and no matter what spin Mike Holmgren
    puts on it, when he tells himself the truth, he knows that currently the
    Cleveland Browns don’t have a single NFL caliber quarterback on their
    team and he knows it.

    To give you a perspective here, Tim Tebow is a 5 times better NFL caliber quarterback than any quarterback currently on the Cleveland Browns roster!!!!  That fact is pretty sad when you sit down and think about it, and it clearly shows how bad the Cleveland management has done the past several years! 

  • Jim Brown

     When
    Mike Holmgren claims that Colt McCoy is his guy, I believe him as much
    as people believed John Elway when he stated, matter of factly, that Tim
    Tebow was his guy and he was going to stick with him…lol.   Colt
    McCoy is what the Cleveland Browns are stuck with, until the Browns
    management is able to get an NFL caliber quarterback for their team. 
    What do you get when you put the best NFL line and the best receiving
    corps together with Colt McCoy, that’s easy…a losing NFL football
    team.  It’s not rocket science, and no matter what spin Mike Holmgren
    puts on it, when he tells himself the truth, he knows that currently the
    Cleveland Browns don’t have a single NFL caliber quarterback on their
    team and he knows it.

    To give you a perspective here, Tim Tebow is a 5 times better NFL caliber quarterback than any quarterback currently on the Cleveland Browns roster!!!!  That fact is pretty sad when you sit down and think about it, and it clearly shows how bad the Cleveland management has done the past several years!