April 24, 2014

The Ghosts of Cleveland’s Past

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There they stood in their white robes, their haunting ways bordering on persistent and obsessive. Just as Dickens wrote some hundred and fifty years ago, they were merely remnants of themselves—”now a thing with one arm, now with one leg.” Those who were cast aside, neglected, passed over or left for dead, they showed flashes from the days of yesteryear when times were happier and knees were considerably less creaky. They fought for inches, crossed goal lines, hurdled would-be tacklers, blanketed star receivers and hauled in interceptions. It was a collective stomp on what fleeting ounce of beating soul remained, all for the sake of repentance. They were the Ghosts of Cleveland Past.

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Final Mock Draft from Mel Kiper says CB Dee Milliner to Cleveland

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. released his final mock draft today, and with the sixth pick he gives the Browns CB Dee Milliner-

“The Browns are really desperate for another corner to play opposite Joe Haden. If they get Milliner, that’s a solid No. 2 option, also allowing them to move Buster Skrine inside to cover the slot, a position where he’s far better. The need for a pass-rusher could certainly have them engaging in some debate here, but Milliner provides assurances. There’s been talk that the Browns could move in either direction on the board, so plenty to wait for on that front as well. And yes, I do believe a QB such as Geno Smith could be in play here.”

Kiper has mocked Milliner, Bjoern Werner, Chance Warmack and Geno Smith all to the Browns in various versions of his mock draft. The top spots on both Kiper and Todd McShay’s board changed today from Luke Joeckel to Eric Fisher.

With rumors flying that the Raiders, Jaguars and Eagles could all be interested in trading out of the top 4 picks, this draft is wide open.

[Related: WFNY Roundtable- draft predictions]

 

WFNY Roundtable: Browns draft predictions for the 1st round

Per an annual tradition, WaitingForNextYear presents its annual NFL Draft predictions. We hope you enjoy our takes and we look forward to watching — for better and for worse — tonight with you at the Map Room.

WFNY_roundtable

1) It’s Draft Day. In your prediction, what will the Cleveland Browns end up doing in the first round?

Jacob: After all the talk and all the rumors, I think the Browns stay put and pick at an area of great need: Cornerback. I’ll share my thoughts on Alabama CB Dee Milliner later. But I think he’s a perfectly fine pick at No. 6 and the Browns will stick there.

Kirk: The Browns will trade down into the 11-13 range, gaining a second round pick, and select quarterback EJ Manuel. We all know that Weeden isn’t Banner or Lombardi’s guy, and I forsee the Browns taking a QB, even if it’s not what I would do with the pick at all. The Browns seldom make me happy on draft day, and I expect that tradition to continue.

TD: I think all the talk is a total smoke screen. They desperately need a CB and I think like the fact that Dee Milliner’s medical history is an issue all of a sudden. I believe they want the Lions to pass on him and would snap him up at 6 in a heartbeat.

Scott: The Browns will be forced to wait until the final minute or so of their clock in hopes that a team is willing to trade up to the sixth slot. I’m presently erring on the side of this happening, allowing them to trade down to the 11th spot (everyone believes San Diego wants to move); the 12th (Miami) and 13th (Now the Jets thanks to their trade of Revis) are also in play. If this happens, I expect them to take Tyler Eifert or Alabama OG Chance Warmack. If they’re stuck at six, it’s a crapshoot between Milliner and a linebacker—my guess is Barkevious Mingo.

Craig: West Virginia QB Geno Smith. They’re slow playing it. I just wanted someone in this questionnaire to say Geno’s name. [Read more...]

NFL News: Dee Milliner claims he won’t miss training camp

A storyline that seems to have appeared almost out of nowhere in the last week or so was questions surrounding the health of one of the top corners in the 2013 NFL draft, Dee Milliner. It seems that a story like this comes out every year, and it’s always a bit suspect to try and figure out where it came from and what agenda it might be serving to potentially push a pick down the board a bit. According to a report by Clark Judge at CBS, Milliner is telling anyone who will listen that he’s fine.

“I’m doing great, and I didn’t miss any time with the injuries,” he said. “All of them are minor. I don’t even how all this got started, but I’m not really worried about it. Whatever teams takes a chance and picks me, I’ll go out there play for them and play on. (What teams should know is that) I’ve been fine, I had minor surgeries and I missed no games.”

We don’t know if Milliner is truly the top corner on the Cleveland Browns’ official draft board, but we do know with a high level of certainty that corner has to be up there in terms of draft need. We also know that if they happen to pick as high as number six without trading down, Dee Milliner could and should seemingly be a potential candidate for the team to pick there. As Clark Judge points out, Milliner is a popular match for the Cleveland Browns in mock drafts all over the Internet.

So we’ll see if the injury news or subsequent rebuttals have any impact on the Browns’ draft thinking tomorrow. When our own TD wrote about it, it was a consideration that represented a 30% swing in likelihood that he thought the Browns would consider Milliner.

We have heard his stock had been dropping over the past week, but these injuries could potentially add to his slide. NFL teams however, have had access to this information for a while now. The Browns still need a corner desperately and Milliner is still the best on the board.

If asked for a percentage of whether the Browns will take Milliner at six, I originally gave it 65% chance. After these latest injury reports, I would lower it to 35%.

 

[Related: The Browns and the First Round: Dee Milliner]

The Diff: Cleveland Browns mock draft analysis

For my entire archive of The Diff at WFNY, check out this tag. Again, last week’s topic covered baseball attendance in April and sellout streaks. Now, it’s NFL Draft talk time.

The Diff

Yesterday, I wrote a teaser for a mock draft database that I was compiling. At the time, I had a sample of 50 mock drafts from around the Internet. Many were awful, as some of you dutifully pointed out in the WFNY comments.

So now, I’ve cleaned things up quite a bit and expanded my mock draft list. There are now 60 mock drafts in my database. And today, as a special treat for you, I’ll share a link to the spreadsheet and provide some analysis on what it all means for your Cleveland Browns on Thursday.

Click here to view WFNY’s Mock Draft Database in a locked Google spreadsheet. [Read more...]

Brendan Leister from DraftBrowns.com with some pre-draft knowledge – WFNY Podcast – 2013-04-23

WFNY Podcast LogoBrendan Leister has been working his tail off since December getting all the draft info together that you can possibly handle at DraftBrowns.com – He shares a little bit with us.

  • Kenny Vaccaro from Texas

  • Tyler Eifert and whether the Browns could take him

  • Dion Jordan and just how good he can be

  • Barkevious Mingo and whether he’ll be a better pass rusher than Jordan

  • Bust potential in the top ten Sharrif Floyd

  • Value later in this draft?

  • Tight end, safety and corners

  • Offensive skill positions and what the Browns might do

  • Andy Dalton and quarterback purgatory

  • Dee Milliner and the injury situation

  • Honey Badger and where you would consider taking him?

Check out this episode [Read more...]

WFNY Stats & Info: NFL mock draft database teaser

Tomorrow, in my weekly WFNY Wednesday post called The Diff, I’ll be sharing a detailed analysis of 50 NFL mock drafts and dozens more big boards.

For today, as a special “WFNY Stats & Info” sneak peek of tomorrow’s post, I bring you inside the WFNY email chain for two early items I shared with the group this morning.

Milliner emerging as mock draft favorite at No. 6

Among these 50 mock drafts from around the Internet, Alabama CB Dee Milliner is picked in the top five in just eight of them (16%). Among the other 42 mock drafts, he’s picked by the Cleveland Browns at No. 6 in 28 (66.7%).

Obviously, for clarity, there are so many factors at play when mock drafts include trades. Thus, those mocks have been ignored for this early analysis. But for now, let it be known that Milliner is emerging as the clear favorite if the Browns actually do stay at No. 6 — so study up.

After Milliner, there are five other players — BYU DE Ezekiel Ansah, Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert, Oregon OLB Dion Jordan, Utah DT Star Lotulelei and LSU DE Barkevious Mingo — that were picked by the Browns in 3-5 of the mock drafts.

Mock draft confusion with the Eagles at No. 4

While the first three picks in the NFL Draft have shown a relatively consensus pattern per these 50 mocks, there’s no favorite at all for the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 4.

Lotulelei was picked the most times (13) overall, but both Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher (35%) and Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel (33%) were picked more frequently when available.

Overall, there are five players with picked-available rates between 24-35% at the No. 4 slot for Philadelphia. That’s by far the most tightly contested among the top seven. And if folks recall, Milliner was an early favorite here as well.

[Related: Hooray! NFL Network and ESPN agree not to tip draft picks via Twitter]

Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal talks about being a beat writer and the Browns draft – WFNY Podcast – 2013-04-23

WFNY Podcast LogoNate Ulrich’s first appearance on the podcast was a good one. We talk about what it’s like to be a beat writer, and also some more specifics about what to expect from the Browns on Thursday.

  • Covering the Browns and how it’s been over the last four years

  • Jimmy Haslam’s approval at the ownership group

  • Pilot Flying J scandal

  • The layers of management in Berea

  • Fan negativity and paranoia and distancing yourself from it in the professional capacity

  • Solving pass rush or corner first?

  • Trading down

  • Rob Chudzinski and the read option

  • What does Nate have in his provisions for the marathon draft weekend beat?

Check out this episode

The Browns and the First Round: Dee Milliner

DeeMillinerWe are less than a week from the NFL Draft, also known as the most important day of the year for your Cleveland Browns. With (another) new regime taking over the reigns and new schemes in place on both sides of the ball, it is crucial that Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi, Ray Farmer, Rob Chudzinski and the crew nail these three days. It all starts Thursday night with the primetime First Round. 

The Browns currently hold the sixth pick. Will they go with a defensive back? Could they turn to a pass rusher? Would they possible fortify the offensive line? Could they shock everyone and take an additional offensive weapon? Or maybe, just maybe, would they trade the pick to a team that wants to move up and snag one of those top offensive tackles?

From now until Thursday’s first round, a different member of the WFNY staff will take their look at one player in particular and tell you why the Browns, should they choose to, would go in this direction.  [Read more...]

NFL Draft Rumor: Dee Milliner may not be ready for training camp

Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner may not be ready for training camp as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery heading into Thursday night’s NFL Draft.

“We haven’t been able to do the rehab like I want to because I’ve been going to different teams,” Milliner said of the process. “But once the draft is over, I’ll be able to start to rehab it and try to get back on track.”

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King followed up this report by saying that some teams are beginning to be concerned about the star defensive back’s health given that he would require a substantial investment due to his assumed  top-10 placement in the draft.

During his time in Cleveland, Milliner stated that he feels he and the Browns’ Joe Haden would form the best cornerback tandem in the NFL. One of the many subjects of ESPN’s Sports Science video series, Milliner tested off of the charts, recording one of the best overall scores in the history of the study.

The Browns, owners of the sixth-overall pick in the draft are said to be considering Milliner as they continue to have a need at the cornerback spot. Not having a second-round pick at this time, North Carolina State’s David Amerson (6-1,205 lbs) and Mississippi State’s Darius Slay (6-0, 195 lbs.) are allegedly considerations if the Browns wait until the middle rounds to address this need.

[Related: NFL Draft: Jacob and Kirk Tackle Browns’ 1st-Round Strategy]

(Source: Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News)

NFL Draft: Jacob and Kirk Tackle Browns’ 1st-Round Strategy

With the NFL Draft coming up on Thursday night, two of your Weekend Warriors, Jacob and Kirk, thought it would be a good idea to get the juices flowing and talk about what the Browns could potentially do at #6 (or wherever else they may land in the first round). Who will be wearing that lovely orange and brown cap pictured to the right come Thursday evening? We do hope you enjoy, and let the discussion begin in the comments section!Browns Hat

Jacob:  On Thursday night, being as realistic as possible, what do you think the Browns should do with the No. 6 pick?

Kirk:  If I’m in that war room, I’m drawing on the dry erase board in big letters…. TRADE DOWN! If someone wants one of the three offensive tackles and they’re still on the board at 6, take the deal. I like, but I don’t love, a lot of the guys that will ultimately be the pick at #6.

Jacob:  To a certain extent, yeah, that has to be the M.O. for the front office from the start of Thursday night. This draft, for all its eccentricities, doesn’t have a sure-fire guy that is a clear-cut no-brainer for this roster’s future. There’s a whole lot of ways they could go. Moving up is not one of them. Thus, there’s flexibility at No. 6 for many different possible solutions.
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The impact of free agency on the Browns’ draft strategy

DeeMillinerStop me if you’ve heard this one- which came first, the chicken or the egg? When it comes to the Browns and the 2013 NFL Draft, the question might apply.

When the Browns made wholesale coaching changes, it appeared that a certain draft strategy would be in place. Ray Horton’s defense would require several pieces. An outside linebacker/edge rusher seemed the highest priority. A number of candidates emerged. At pick number six the Browns would certainly be in line to have their choice of pass rushers that are projected to go somewhere in the top ten, meaning nobody would accuse the Browns of reaching for a need.

And then, free agency began.

The Browns were aggressive early on in securing their front 7. They pursued arguably the biggest free agent of the year in LB Paul Kruger and got him. Desmond Bryant added depth to the front line and Quentin Groves brought experience in Ray Horton’s defense.

For a while, it seemed as though the Browns had addressed the need for pass rushers, and were actively seeking to replace Sheldon Brown with a quality free agent CB. It was then that I felt like the Browns were putting themselves in a perfect position to actually take the best player available with that 6th pick. [Read more...]

Dee Milliner: Joe Haden and I could form the best cornerback tandem in NFL

I really think we can. Not to be cocky or anything, but I think we’d be two really dynamic players who could go out and do great things for this defense. Oh man, that would be awesome. I think we’d make a great combo and we’d accomplish some great things together. [...] I study the top cornerbacks in the league to see what techniques I can put into my arsenal. I’ve watched film of guys like Champ Bailey, Darrelle Revis, Patrick Peterson and Joe. Joe has great fundamentals and he’s definitely going to be one of the great DBs in the game. I really enjoyed meeting him. I definitely think we’d be a playoff contender.

— NFL Draft hopeful Dee Milliner, in a phone interview which was transcribed by Mary Kay Cabot, when asked if he could form the best cornerback tandem in the league if the Browns select him on April 25. With the sixth-overall pick and a weakness in the defensive backfield, the Browns are forcasted by many to be looking at the Alabama product. In a recent edition of ESPN’s Sports Science, Milliner received one of the highest grades in the history of the study.

[Related: WFNY NFL Draft Day Contest]

NFL News: Matt Barkley, Ziggy Ansah and Dee Milliner to visit Cleveland

With the NFL Draft less than three weeks away, the Cleveland Browns are slated to play host to several top-tier players over the coming days.

While Monday will be largely focused on the Indians and their Opening Day festivities, the Nate Ulrich of The Akron Beacon-Journal reports that the Browns will be hosting BYU defensive end Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long for pre-draft workouts. Southern California’s Matt Barkley tweeted early Monday that he will be paying visit to Cleveland before he heads to Buffalo later in the week, two teams that have “quarterback” listed perennially as a draft-day need. Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Alabama defensive back Dee Milliner will arrive in Cleveland late Monday night for a workout on Tuesday. Arizona quarterback Matt Scott is reportedly set to visit Cleveland on Wednesday.

Quarterbacks who have already vistited Cleveland are West Virginia’s Geno Smith, Florida State’s EJ Manuel and Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper presently lists Ansah as the second-player to be taken in the draft, closely followed by Floyd (third), Smith (fourth), Milliner (fifth), Long (30th) and Barkley (31st). Scouts Inc.’s Todd McShay has the Browns selecting Ansah with the sixth-overall selection.

The Browns, owners of the sixth pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, are said to be looking largely at Milliner or a variety of pass-rushing outside linebackers with their first pick. Not owning a pick in the second round due to the selection of Josh Gordon in last year’s supplemental draft, it is widely speculated that the team would entertain trading down to acquire additional picks if it meant still acquiring a potential target later in the first round.

The Draft is scheduled to kick of on Thursday, April 25, concluding that Saturday.

[Related: Fair shots at the end of the Colt McCoy era in Cleveland]

WFNY Podcast – 2013-04-01 – Dennis Manoloff talks charities, Weeden and NFL draft

WFNY Podcast LogoDennis Manoloff agreed to join me for about 15 minutes to talk sports. I always appreciate the D-Man’s take on things and with a radio voice like his, it’s a crime that he doesn’t have a regular slot on the local shows. Anyway, enjoy.

  • Outside the Lines report on athlete charities being shams
  • The right ways to do charity
  • Brandon Weeden vs. Jason Campbell and heading into year two
  • What the Browns should think about with the 6th pick
  • Trading down and the benefits
  • Dee Milliner and Dion Jordan
  • Projecting corners vs. other positions
  • Free safeties and the blending of the definition of safety

Check out this episode

Listen at Stitcher

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Mock NFL Draft: ESPN’s McShay changes Browns’ target to Dee Milliner

Jumping ship after months of having the Cleveland Browns pegged with a pass-rusher, ESPN’s NFL Draft expert Todd McShay says that the Orange and Brown will now land cornerback Dee Milliner with the sixth-overall pick this spring.

Per McShay:

Analysis: I wasn’t as high as some others on Browns QB Brandon Weeden during last year’s draft process, but even I believe he deserves at least one year to prove what he can do under new offensive coordinator Norv Turner, whose system should play to Weeden’s strength as a big-armed passer who can drive the ball downfield. That leaves cornerback as a top need area, and Milliner is a no-brainer if he’s available. His instincts, recognition skills and discipline are impressive, and he’s reliable in run support. Milliner would be an excellent complement to current Browns starter Joe Haden.

Ignoring that giant first sentence that is just a way to say “no” to West Virginia’s Geno Smith, this would provide the Browns with one of the draft’s highest-rated prospects (Millner is No. 2 on Kiper’s Big Board) with the sixth pick in the draft. Consider that it not only addresses a need, but does so via a 6-foot-1-inch play maker with top-flight speed who would provide the Browns with a pair of high-profile backs to help bolster their pass-rush even more.

McShay, as well as colleague Mel Kiper Jr., had the Browns selecting the edge-rushing Dion Jordan in his most recent mock draft, but the class’ top pass rusher has seen his name skyrocket to the No. 2 spot which belongs to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Others who presently have Millner to the Browns in their respective mock drafts include Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks, and NFL.com’s Charlie Casserly and Daniel Jeremiah.

[Related: Fun with Numbers: New Browns Edition]

NFL Draft: CB Dee Milliner could drop out of top five according to report

Peter King of Sports Illustrated writes today that the top CB in the draft, Alabama’s Dee Milliner could be available when the Browns are on the clock at number six, which most experts thought was highly unlikely a month ago-

“I think with the first round of the draft one month from tonight, I am hearing doubts on Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner (could drop out of the top five), hopes about West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith (the Jags are interested, preliminarily, at No. 2), no holes on Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel (still the odds-on favorite to go No. 1 overall) and one very big workout and interview extravaganza coming on Wednesday: Matt Barkley, the USC quarterback, will throw in earnest for the first time in front of NFL scouts since injuring his shoulder in November.”

Cornerback is a position of need for the Browns after allowing just under 4000 yards passing last season, and not resigning veteran CB Sheldon Brown. The team recently signed Chris Owens from Atlanta, who was primarily a nickel corner for the Falcons.

Scout’s Inc. currently has Milliner listed as the fourth best player in the draft, with a draft score of 95. The next cornerback (Desmond Trufant) is listed at number 22.

[Related: Trent Richardson named in lawsuit]

2013 NFL Draft: Weak draft? Fits for Browns at No. 6

Bjoern WernerThe NFL Combine is well underway this weekend. We’ve already had our usual pair of incredibly impressive speedsters (West Virginia’s Tavon Austin and Texas’ Marquise Goodwin) and plenty of updates from the Cleveland media.

But as all of these measurements and assessments take place, it begs the question: What is going on with this draft class? I’ve been monitoring draft boards for a monthly update at WFNY for a while now: November, December and January. It might just be or it might just be these sites, but there seems to be a whole heck of a lot of back-and-forth movement among the top 15 picks or so.

The Cleveland Browns own the No. 6 pick. They have a new owner, new front office and new stadium deal heading into 2013. Yet for now, there has been no consensus emerging over possible favorites for their selection. Is this yet another sign of a weak draft class with no can’t-miss prospects? [Read more...]

2013 NFL Draft: Jarvis Jones’ value falling, so what?

Jarvis JonesThe Super Bowl matchup is set. But for the Browns, despite the meaningless Pro Bowl next week, the next truly meaningful event on the schedule is April’s NFL Draft.

Of course, there will be the combine and several other related activities until the three-day draft begins on Thursday, April 25, but let’s just go for the imagery of this magical, franchise-defining moment in the middle of spring for the Browns and their new front office/coaching staff.

Each of the last two months around this time, I started out WFNY’s draft coverage by looking at the Big Board for the NFL Draft. First, I professed my love for a certain underclassman turnover-machine from Georgia, and then, I squared off against my friend Jordan in the debate over picking a guard or a defensive playmaker.

So let’s take another updated look today at the aggregate Big Board. [Read more...]

Browns NFL Draft Needs: Guard or Defensive Playmaker?

To keep up the flow of roundtable conversations this week, I bring to you a discussion I’ve had with long-time friend and occasional writer Jordan Marks, who blogs for Dawg Pound Daily. We tackle the major NFL Draft needs of the Browns and a number of prospects that could be a good fit. Let’s hear your take in the comments.

Jacob: Copied below is a lil spreadsheet of some NFL draft big boards — I picked eight different ones. You’ll see the top 19 guys; the clear players that separated themselves from the rest of the pack.

Position breakdown: 1 QB; 1 WR; 5 O-linemen; 2 LB; 2 CB; 4 DT; 4 DE

[Read more...]