Kafka, expectations and the Cleveland Browns February 5, 2015 No Comments

There was once a young football fan from Cleveland. Year after year, this fan purchased gear and attended games. Despite seeing all other teams in the division achieve greatness (or in Cincinnati’s case, above-average-ness), she still rooted on her beloved Browns.

Time passed. The girl with a hopeful heart and a closet of orange and brown grew into a jaded woman of a certain age. Bitterness and cynicism pervaded her life, even in the off-seasons. Her friends had drifted out of her life. Her family implored her to give up her season tickets. She would not. Both her cardiologist and psychiatrist advised her to give up her team. But she refused.

The woman went into her neighborhood bar. “This team is impossible!” she muttered as the bartender served her up her usual. “Why can’t they just win?”

“Let me tell you a story,” the sympathetic bartender offered.

A man from the countryside comes up to the door of the Law, guarded by a doorkeeper, and asks for entry. The doorkeeper says he can’t let him in to the law right now. The man thinks about this, and then he asks if he’ll be able to go in later on.

‘That’s possible,’ says the doorkeeper, ‘but not now’.

The man waits and grows older. Any time he asks, the doorkeeper rebukes him. The man offers bribes to this doorkeeper, and the guard accepts each offer saying as he pockets the money ‘I’ll only accept this so that you don’t think there’s anything you’ve failed to do’. Still, the man is not allowed entry.

Over many years, the man tries time and again to get inside. In the first few years he curses his unhappy condition out loud, but later, as he becomes old, he just grumbles to himself. He becomes senile…

Finally his eyes grow dim, and he knows doesn’t have much longer to live. In the moment before he dies, he brings together all his experience from all this time into one question which he has still never put to the doorkeeper…

‘Everyone wants access to the law,’ says the man, ‘how come, over all these years, no-one but me has asked to be let in?’

The doorkeeper can see the man is near death. ‘Nobody else could have got in this way, as this entrance was meant only for you. Now I’ll close it forever’. As the door is slammed shut, the man expires.

After this story, a thoughtful expression passed over the woman’s aged face.  “I wish Roethlisberger would die.”

The bartender frowned. “You don’t get it…”

“Harbaugh, too. And that fuck-face, Flacco.”

“I give up.” The bartender retreated to rinse the glassware.


lucy-football

Alas…

The Browns are a zen koan.

There will be no peace for Browns fans until we release any hope for entering through that door; and even then, no guarantees.

Mocking the Draft for the AFC’s Underdogs April 27, 2014 4 Comments

This is my first ever attempt at an NFL mock draft (everybody’s doing it – it’s all the rage), and in my previous post I shared the why and how of it. It goes the full seven rounds but only for four teams – with no trades.

my 2014 mock draft

Without further ado…

 

Round 1

Round one will be most exciting for Cleveland, with two picks in the top 26. In this scenario, I have Jadeveon Clowney and Kahlil Mack coming off the board in the first two picks. (Note: The more I think about it, the more I feel that Atlanta may trade up to the #2 position in order to secure either Mack or an elite offensive lineman: Robinson or Matthews. It’s a slippery slope factoring that trade, because then I’d start justifying more later on. For simplicity’s sake, no trades in my four-team mock.)
  pick #3 Jacksonville Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M
  Manziel is a polarizing figure among draftniks, but it’s hard to deny the excitement he could bring to an organization in dire need of a quarterback. Arm talent, improvisation, athleticism and leadership are a few of the skills most recently sited for Johnny Football. With a porous offensive line, Manziel will certainly get that chance to use his feet and work off script.
  pick #4 Cleveland Greg Robinson OT Auburn
  With the Jaguars taking Manziel, the Browns are going BPA with an elite talent, shoring up the right side of their offensive line and setting up Kyle Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme. Robinson’s big presence should give RB Ben Tate a greater chance to succeed. I really have no idea if the Browns are in love with a specific QB this high; that would certainly change the tenor of the first round.
  pick #5 Oakland Jake Matthews OT Texas A&M
  More so than Cleveland, Oakland needs to bolster their front seven, and Matthews can certainly fill this role. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Raiders will draft a QB somewhere in their six picks, but with Matt Schaub added to the roster, the team shouldn’t burn their first selection on a signal caller.
  pick #9 Buffalo Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix FS Alabama
  At pick nine, both Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor are still available, and Buffalo would salivate over either of these safeties. I think they’ll go with the with the ball-hawking skills of Ha Ha to fill the void left by Jairus Byrd, securing this defense’s reputation as among the highest in the AFC.
  pick #26 Cleveland Blake Bortles QB Central Florida
  Only Manziel and Bridgewater (MIN) will be off the board at this point, and the Browns know they’ll have their pick of several very good prospects. With Brian Hoyer healthy, Bortles is not necessarily a guaranteed starter on opening day, though he looks the part of an AFC QB at 6-foot-5 and 232 pounds.
 

Round 2

Day two starts off with each of these four teams picking once in the first nine selections, and the Browns once again have an extra pick this day (round three, #83 from Pittsburgh). Plenty of starting talent is available throughout the day.
  pick #35 Cleveland Martavis Bryant WR Clemson
  Tall and fast, Bryant is a vertical threat and can help take coverage off of Josh Gordon.
  pick #36 Oakland Scott Crichton DE Oregon State
  pick #39 Jacksonville Dee Ford OLB/DE Auburn
  Both Crichton and Ford are known for upper body size and first step quickness, and they will each immediately contribute to their teams’ pass rush.
  pick #41 Buffalo Antonio Richardson OT Tennessee
  The right side of their offensive line is where the Richardson will slot in, giving second-year signal caller Manuel some additional security.
 

Round 3

  pick #67 Oakland Kelcy Quarles DT South Carolina
  An aggressive bull rusher who will contribute to the assault on AFCW quarterbacks.
  pick #70 Jacksonville Carlos Hyde RB Ohio State
  A strong runner who can go east-west through a busy LOS, Hyde should easily fill the void left by Maurice Jones-Drew’s departure.
  pick #71 Cleveland Jaylen Watkins CB Florida
  Watkins joins Joe Haden (CB1) and Buster Skrine (SCB) in a backfield that matches up against division rivals A.J. Green, Antonio Brown and Steve Smith.
  pick #73 Buffalo Troy Niklas TE Notre Dame
  An incredible blocker, Troy’s size also gives Manuel a big target in the passing game.
  pick #83 Cleveland Chris Borland ILB Wisconsin
  Perhaps the best ILB in the draft, Borland could help Donte Whitner with his quick reads.
 

Round 4

Day four includes eight picks for Jacksonville who will look to bolster their offensive line.
  pick #105 Jacksonville Jack Mewhort OT Ohio State
  pick #106 Cleveland Pierre Desir CB Lindenwood
  This small school gem is tall and has a knack for pulling the ball out of the air.
  pick #107 Oakland Tom Savage QB Pittsburgh
  pick #109 Buffalo Brett Smith QB Wyoming
  Both Oakland and Buffalo start trimming down the crop of remaining quarterbacks in the fourth round. Despite the fact that each team has a veteran starter, this is an uncertain and critical position for both teams.
  pick #114 Jacksonville Jon Halapio G Florida
  pick #127 Cleveland Brandon Coleman WR Rutgers
 

Round 5

  pick #144 Jacksonville Tyler Larsen C Utah State
  The Jaguars’ third straight selection aimed at improving their offensive line.
  pick #145 Cleveland Terrance West RB Towson
  pick #149 Buffalo Zach Fulton G Tennessee
  pick #150 Jacksonville Zach Kerr DT Deleware
  pick #159 Jacksonville Deion Belue CB Alabama
 

Round 6

  pick #179 Jacksonville Brock Vereen SS Minnesota
  pick #180 Cleveland Keith Wenning QB Ball State
  pick #205 Jacksonville T.J. Jones WR Notre Dame
 

Round 7

  pick #218 Cleveland Christian Bryant FS Ohio State
  pick #219 Oakland Jeff Janis WR Saginaw Valley
  pick #222 Jacksonville Marquis Spruill OLB Syracuse
  pick #224 Buffalo Chandler Jones WR San Jose State
  pick #235 Oakland Demetri Goodson CB Baylor
  pick #247 Oakland Ryan Groy G Wisconsin

Setting up My First Mock Draft: AFC Underdogs No Comments

With an additional two weeks before this year’s NFL Draft, it seems like everyone with a website or podcast has had time to get at least one mock draft out this season. As much as I’d love to follow suit, I truthfully have neither the resources nor the experience to go through all the teams as thoroughly as they deserve. Instead I’m going to focus on only four teams: Buffalo, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Oakland. (Another benefit: BUF, JAX & OAK will each play the Browns again this season.)

my 2014 mock draft

Yes, they are all AFC teams, and (with the exception of Jacksonville) they all finished last in their division in 2013. None won more than four games, except for Buffalo with six. If I were the slightest bit more ambitious, I would include Tampa Bay and St. Louis, rounding out the six teams who haven’t made the playoffs since at least the 2007 season. I could also make a case for adding Washington, Minnesota and (above all) Houston, as these three teams had fewer wins than Buffalo’s six last season. But for now, the four will do.

Before I dive in, let me briefly explain my methodology. I don’t study film (strike one!), nor have I seen many of these four teams’ games in recent years – except for the Browns (Woof Woof), and when the other three play against Cleveland. Also I know next to nothing about college ball or its players. I used DraftTek, an automated draft pick selector (strike two!) as a baseline for all 32 teams before cross checking all picks against sources I trust (see below) and modifying the calculator for needs, grabs and lockouts – heavily in the case of my four teams, moderately for the other 28.

On the more positive side, I do read a lot of other people’s mocks, and I pay attention to the ebb and flow on #DraftTwitter (at least I think this is a positive *chuckle*). I enjoy reviewing the bigger big boards out there, and I’ve dropped a couple coins on Dane Brugler’s Draft Guide and Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio.

In conducting my exercise on the next page, I wanted to accomplish three objectives: (one) to identify the needs of each of the four teams, (two) to get a general sense of overall draft trends for all teams in all rounds, and (three) to give reasonable guesses as to the type of players drafted in each of the seven rounds by these four teams. For purposes of this study, I assume no trades (though I can make a strong case for Atlanta buying the second pick from St.Louis). While I believe in going Best Player Available (BPA) over drafting to fill needs, it’s probably easier said than done. I base my BPA-ratings on a hodgepodge of online big boards as well as the resources I purchased.

I’m not expecting to get any of these picks correct, and no one should read too much into my “analysis”. It’s more a chance for me to cautiously dip my toe into the pool and test to see how ridiculously off-base I will be when the final picks come off the board in ten days. My biases creep in all-too easily; but in the end I try to remember that it’s only a game.

The needs and draft positions are below, and my mock is on the next page. Have at it.
:)


The Set-up

Needs

I freely admit that I’m not as familiar with the needs of other teams as I am with the Browns. Spending time on Pro Football Focus as well as a handful of other site (including the team sites themselves), I begin to get a picture of needs. For me, the first round of the draft are more about BPA, but I then quickly shift to focus more on needs.

  • Buffalo: OT, FS, TE, G, WR, QB, ILB
  • Cleveland: QB, WR, CB, OL, ILB, RB
  • Jacksonville: QB, G, T, DT, DE, FS, ILB, WR
  • Oakland:DE, DT, FS, CB, QB, G, OT, WR

Of these four teams, Buffalo looks to have the fewest holes to fill, but they also own the fewest picks: six (their sixth-round pick went to Tampa Bay). The biggest task I see is to replace Jairus Byrd at free safety. The recent acquisition of Mike Williams takes some pressure off the WR role, but another dynamic playmaker is still a need. Though they have second-year starter EJ Manuel, a developmental QB would be a welcome addition.

Cleveland has been busy this offseason, and it wasn’t limited to players. They’ve swapped out line backer and safety (T.J. Ward and D’Qwell Jackson have been replaced by Donte Whitner and Karlos Dansby), but still need to fill holes at CB and ILB. The Browns also added Ben Tate and Andrew Hawkins (slot receiver), but can use more offensive weapons. Quarterback is still a concern, and the offensive line could use help on the right side as well.

The Jaguars may have the most pressing need for QB, and as much as I’d love to have Johnny Manziel come to Cleveland, his new home may be in Jacksonville. The offensive line comes next, needing significant work, and there is weakness at the DE/DT positions on the left. An upgrades at FS and ILB would help, too.

The Raiders have their work cut out for them after so many one-year deals last year left the cupboards pretty bare. According to PFF, Oakland has the weakest lineup strength and the most unknowns in its current projected lineup. They earned some relief at QB by signing Matt Schaub, but it’s still a position of need. An adequate pass rush is lacking, and the offensive line seems porous as well. It’s a good thing that this year’s class of wide receivers is deep, as the Raiders may be able to pick one up late after filling other holes. Three of their seven picks are in the final round.

Draft Order

As reference, below is a table containing the 2014 NFL Draft Order for only the four teams (including picks they traded away). This order was last updated on April 22nd, after compensatory picks were awarded. None of the four teams had earned a compensatory draft pick.

ROUND ROUND PICK OVERALL TEAM NOTES
1 3 3 Jacksonville
1 4 4 Cleveland
1 5 5 Oakland
1 9 9 Buffalo
1 26 26 Cleveland from Indianapolis
2 3 35 Cleveland
2 4 36 Oakland
2 7 39 Jacksonville
2 9 41 Buffalo
3 3 67 Oakland
3 6 70 Jacksonville
3 7 71 Cleveland
3 9 73 Buffalo
3 19 83 Cleveland from Pittsburgh
4 5 105 Jacksonville
4 6 106 Cleveland
4 7 107 Oakland
4 9 109 Buffalo
4 14 114 Jacksonville from Baltimore
4 27 127 Cleveland from Indianapolis
5 4 144 Jacksonville
5 5 145 Cleveland
5 9 149 Buffalo
5 10 150 Jacksonville from Detroit
5 19 159 Jacksonville from Baltimore
6 3 179 Jacksonville
6 4 180 Cleveland
6 29 205 Jacksonville from San Francisco
7 3 218 Cleveland
7 4 219 Oakland
7 7 222 Jacksonville
7 9 224 Buffalo
7 20 235 Oakland from Arizona
7 32 247 Oakland from Seattle

resources for getting team needs:

  1. Draft Breakdown
  2. Pro Football Focus: projected lineups
  3. team sites

resources for getting big boards:

  1. Dane Brugler’s Draft Guide
  2. Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio
  3. various pages linked from twitter :|

NFL Draft Value Trade Chart April 23, 2014 No Comments

2009 Draft Trade Table prepared by the Minnesota Vikings [photo courtesy blogs.twincities.com]

2009 Draft Trade Table prepared by the Minnesota Vikings [photo courtesy blogs.twincities.com]


Ever wonder how NFL teams evaluate draft picks for trading? The following chart has historically represented trade values for draft picks, and it (or a reasonable variant) is used by general managers and coaches in the NFL as a starting point when making trades of draft picks.

It is meant to give a numerical representation of value each draft pick so that to trades can be compared. For example, if the team holding pick number eight in the first round (1400 pts) wants to “trade down”, a reasonable exchange could be made with a team holding pick 16 of round one and pick 28 of round two (1000 + 400 pts).

Remember that this chart is only a starting point for negotiations. If a team wants to move up from number 4 to number 1, for instance, it would cost them 1200 points according to this trade value chart. To do that, they may elect to trade their second round picks from this year (540 pts) plus some other compensation (perhaps a first round pick from next year) to make the move. The value of next year’s pick cannot be determined at the time of the trade, making trading as much an art as a science.

The original draft value chart devised by Jimmy Johnson in the early 90s while he was head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. The use of the chart hasn’t been without controversy, and many modern statisticians believe that early picks tend to be overvalued in Johnson’s original trade value chart. Accordingly, other teams (such as the San Francisco 49ers) employ a chart of their own.

Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6 Round 7
pick value pick val pick val pick val pick val pick val pick val
1 3,000 33 580 65 265 97 112 129 43 161 27 193 14.2
2 2,600 34 560 66 260 98 108 130 42 162 26.6 194 13.8
3 2,200 35 550 67 255 99 104 131 41 163 26.2 195 13.4
4 1,800 36 540 68 250 100 100 132 40 164 25.8 196 13
5 1,700 37 530 69 245 101 96 133 39.5 165 25.4 197 12.6
6 1,600 38 520 70 240 102 92 134 39 166 25 198 12.2
7 1,500 39 510 71 235 103 88 135 38.5 167 24.6 199 11.8
8 1,400 40 500 72 230 104 86 136 38 168 24.2 200 11.4
9 1,350 41 490 73 225 105 84 137 37.5 169 23.8 201 11
10 1,300 42 480 74 220 106 82 138 37 170 23.4 202 10.6
11 1,250 43 470 75 215 107 80 139 36.5 171 23 203 10.2
12 1,200 44 460 76 210 108 78 140 36 172 22.6 204 9.8
13 1,150 45 450 77 205 109 76 141 35.5 173 22.2 205 9.4
14 1,100 46 440 78 200 110 74 142 35 174 21.8 206 9
15 1,050 47 430 79 195 111 72 143 34.5 175 21.4 207 8.6
16 1,000 48 420 80 190 112 70 144 34 176 21 208 8.2
17 950 49 410 81 185 113 68 145 33.5 177 20.6 209 7.8
18 900 50 400 82 180 114 66 146 33 178 20.2 210 7.4
19 875 51 390 83 175 115 64 147 32.6 179 19.8 211 7
20 850 52 380 84 170 116 62 148 32.2 180 19.4 212 6.6
21 800 53 370 85 165 117 60 149 31.8 181 19 213 6.2
22 780 54 360 86 160 118 58 150 31.4 182 18.6 214 5.8
23 760 55 350 87 155 119 56 151 31 183 18.2 215 5.4
24 740 56 340 88 150 120 54 152 30.6 184 17.8 216 5
25 720 57 330 89 145 121 52 153 30.2 185 17.4 217 4.6
26 700 58 320 90 140 122 50 154 29.8 186 17 218 4.2
27 680 59 310 91 136 123 49 155 29.4 187 16.6 219 3.8
28 660 60 300 92 132 124 48 156 29 188 16.2 220 3.4
29 640 61 292 93 128 125 47 157 28.6 189 15.8 221 3
30 620 62 284 94 124 126 46 158 28.2 190 15.4 222 2.6
31 600 63 276 95 120 127 45 159 27.8 191 15 223 2.3
32 590 64 270 96 116 128 44 160 27.4 192 14.6 224 2

Big Boards versus Mock Drafts No Comments

NFL Commish Pete Rozelle at the 1970 draft. [photo courtesy of businessinsider.com.au]

NFL Commish Pete Rozelle at the 1970 draft. [photo courtesy of businessinsider.com.au]

This is the time of the NFL’s year when everyone and his agent comes out with a mock draft. But what is a mock draft and how is it different form a big board? Both are used in valuing potential players and projecting where they may be selected in the NFL’s annual draft, and both are very subjective; yet there are big differences between the two.

Big Boards

Each of the 32 teams in the National Football League has what’s called a “big board”. This is, essentially, a ranking of hundreds of the best draft-eligible prospects compiled by each team’s collection of scouts, evaluating staff and coaches. Every prospect has been studied and profiled to some degree, and a value (1-10) has been assigned. The player’s rank is determined by their raw value.

In addition to their name and value, the player’s position and school is listed on the big board. Typically other information appears as well (eg. age, notes, etc.), but not too much as to clutter up the board. It’s also common to project in which round, if any, the prospect would likely get drafted.

A player’s value is determined by a number of factors, the primary source being film/tape of games played and notes of any scouts/personnel who watched the player perform. Other key data include measurables from the NFL Scouting Combine or individual Pro Days 1, interviews (by the players as well as by teammates and coaches of said player), and notes from team visits and workouts.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at his team's big board [photo courtesy theboysareback.wordpress.com]

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at his team’s big board [photo courtesy theboysareback.wordpress.com]

Values assigned around the time of the combine usually don’t fluctuate too much, despite what gets reported by the media.

Speaking of media, big boards are also created and communicated by leading prognosticators working for large media outlets, smaller specialized websites and even the league itself. The differences between these public rankings and the top-secret, ultra-private boards of each team are (a) the audience and (b) the scope. Many publicly available big boards don’t list many more than 200 or so prospects, while teams may calculate values and collect detailed profiles of over 1500 players. The depth of analysis could also be much deeper for the teams who each employ numerous scouts who work year-round on evaluating talent and building profiles.

Mock Drafts

Mock drafts differ from strict rankings in that they aim to predict which team selects a given player at specific turns in the draft process. To compose a mock draft, you begin by putting in order the teams’ respective drafting order. This starts with the reverse order relative to each team’s record in the previous year (i.e., the last place team gets positioned first), then takes into account any trades of picks that have occurred. Finally, the league awards 32 compensatory to teams “losing more or better compensatory free agents than [they have acquired] in the previous year” 2. These are awarded each year at the NFL annual meeting, traditionally held at the end of March.

The next step in a mock draft is to put yourself in each team’s shoes and make a selection for every turn. Although the order of players taken resembles the aggregate of 32 teams’ big boards, team needs play a large role in dictating selections. For example, a team may have no QB ranked higher than 20th overall, but they may need to fill that position urgently and be willing to “reach” in order to acquire that player sooner than the value dictates.

Some mocks go only a single round (32 selections) while others go deeper, potentially through all seven rounds, including the compensatory picks. While trades are somewhat common in the actual draft, they are difficult to reliably predict and usually omitted from mock drafts. If trades are used, one common guide is the draft trade value chart created by Jimmy Johnson in the 1990s.

While teams likely do their own countless iterations of mock drafts, trying to predict how their rivals will compete for players, the only mock drafts most of us ever see are those made by media analysts and armchair GMs. Some draftniks create multiple mocks beginning shortly after the Superbowl ends, adding revisions right up until the eve of the draft, moving prospects up or down based on new information (workouts, injuries), speculation or rumors – or anything in between.

1 – measurables include height, weight, hand size and wingspan; other outputs include times for the 40 yard dash, 3-cone drill, bench press reps, broad jump distance, etc.
2“NFL Announces 32 Compensatory Draft Choices to 15 Clubs,” National Football League press release, Monday, March 26, 2012.

State of the Browns – February 2014 February 24, 2014 No Comments

A Bit of History

In 2012, Jimmy Haslam bought the franchise from the Lerner family, and immediately hope began anew. With Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi in the front office and Rob Chudzinski as coach, the team looked different from top to bottom, though this was unfortunately a pattern too often seen since coming back. Chud, a local boy (Toledo) and former assistant coach (tight ends coach for their playoff-making 2004 season, offensive coordinator 2007-08), put up a good show but was ultimately not given the support to succeed. Mere hours after the close of their final 2013 game, the Browns fired Chudzinski, a shock by all accounts.

The 2013 season itself was a bit of a roller coaster ride. The preseason hype of Brandon Weeden didn’t endure, while fans got much excitement from a couple of up-and-coming pass catchers in Josh Gordon (WR) and Jordan Cameron (TE). Injuries in the offensive guard position hurt the run game as much as not having a premiere running back, and Trent Richardson (number three overall pick of the 2012 draft) became the butt of endless jokes since his surprising week-three trade to Indianapolis. The joy of seeing 3rd-string quarterback Brian Hoyer’s “rise” was quickly turned around when his season ended in the week-five Thursday night game against the Bills. Losing the final seven games brought a fitting end to the perennially hapless Browns.

Where This Leaves Us – February 2014

Quickly after the firing of Chud, Browns Twitter turned in more entertainment than anything Hard Knocks could hope to deliver. Weeks were spent speculating on coaches and why each big name scorned the team. Meanwhile, the Pro Bowl offered its own Browns drama with six players represented. Under the new format, our teammates were pitched against each other, and one play saw Gordon get flipped heels over head when struck low by safety TJ Ward.

The head-coaching search wrapped up in late January with Mike Pettine named to lead. He brought along Jim O’Neil as his defensive coordinator. Pettine and O’Neil had worked together at Buffalo in 2013 and for the Jets before that. Both men are featured in Nicholas Dawidoff’s “Collision Low Crossers”, a book chronicling the 2011 season of the NY Jets. A week later Kyle Shanahan was announced as the team’s offensive coordinator.

The drama with the staff wasn’t over yet, though; nope, far from it. On February 11th Haslam broke the news that Lombardi had been fired and Banner (stripped of his powers) would be with the team for only a couple more months. The reasons for this shakeup weren’t disclosed, but it’s been speculated that a rift growing between Lombardi and Banner didn’t sit well with the owner. Lombardi was generally unpopular with the fanbase (dating back to his earlier stint with the Modell-owned Browns), and Banner gave off a bad vibe with regard to player/staff relations. In my own opinion, neither man failed in his role in the past twelve months; in fact, I believe that the public moves they made were on balance good.

  • 2013 free agent acquisitions
    • Paul Kruger  (47 tackles, 9 hurries, 5 sacks)
    • Desmond Bryant – very good pickup
    • Brian Hoyer – looked good for a few games
    • Davone Bess – okay, he didn’t have a great season
  • 2013 draft – hard to evaluate rookies after only one season
    • Barkevious Mingo – 1st-round DE
    • Leon McFadden – 3rd-round CB
    • Jamoris Slaughter – 6th-round S
    • Armonty Bryant – 7th-round DE
    • Garrett Gilkey – 7th-round G
    • traded 3rd- and 4th-round picks for 2014 2nd- and 3rd-round picks
  • traded Trent Richardson (stats) to Indianapolis for 2014 1st-round pick (#26 overall)

One final bit of news that came up this month: at the 2014 Scouting Combine, it was let known that the Browns were in talks with Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers during the Cleveland coaching search. The full truth may never be revealed, but I suspect that Harbaugh wanted out of San Fran. I believe this reflects poorly on the 49ers organization and isn’t a Browns “story” at all.

So, looking forward to March and beyond…

  • We’ve got the concerns of tying up free agents Alex Mack (C) and  T.J Ward (S). Will we keep both, and will the franchise tag be used?
  • Beyond our own free agents, what positions will we try to fill from agency?
  • There’s also a movie starring Kevin Costner coming out on April 11th.
  • And, of course there’s the upcoming draft in May. But I’ll leave this speculation for my next post.

Here we go, Browns fans. Here we go. (Woof! Woof!)