NFL Draft: The Cleveland Browns

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills     Have you ever opened your fridge, looked inside and realized it was empty? Sure, you got your condiments (Jamie Collins, Joe Haden and Joe Thomas), stale beer (Isiah Crowell) and one rotting piece of $16 million-dollar meat (Sorry Brock Osweiler). That’s what it’s like running the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are in a constant rebuilding phase. Just three years ago they were fighting to finish at .500 behind Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel. The Raiders nickname for their stadium, The Black Hole, could also be described as the Browns quarterback position. They have had 26 QBs since 1999 and whoever starts this year will be lucky 27. The next QB might also become a member of the 27-club considering the luck of the Browns. But this isn’t a hate piece on the Browns, in fact change is on the horizon. With the Cavaliers winning a championship last year and the Indians making it to the World Series, the luck of Cleveland has seemed to change. So without getting into further discussions of superstitions lets break down the Browns Draft.

In the first rou27nd, with the first pick, the Browns got a generational talent in Myles Garrett, DE out of Texas A&M. An obvious comparison to be made strictly based on the alma mater is Super Bowl MVP Von Miller. Garrett will provide much needed pass rush for the Browns which will be needed in a division where Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger reside. This pick allowed the Browns to have one good to great player at each level with Garrett, Collins and Haden. I’m a firm believer in having a player at each level that can impact the game.

With their next two picks the Browns added versatile safety out of Michigan, Jabril Peppers and tight end out of Miami David Njoku. Peppers is similar to Deone Bucannon linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals. Peppers has enough athleticism to play safety but he is likely to get taken advantage of when lining up with tight ends because of the size different. But Peppers won’t just affect the Browns on the defensive side of the ball, he can also impact the return game and might even get a couple of carries. I like this pick because at the very least the Browns improver their special teams. With Njoku the Browns added another weapon for their offense. Njoku will pair with last year’s first rounder, Corey Coleman, to help stretch the field. After drafting Njoku the Browns released Gary Barnidge, so the starting position is all for Njoku. One aspect of his game that Njoku needs to work on is his ability as a blocker. He needs to add strength over the offseason workouts, otherwise Njoku will be a solid pro.

Day two of the Draft saw the Browns select QB out of Notre Dame, Deshone Kizer and DT out of Charlotte, Larry Ogunjobi. Kizer is the next QB to try his hand in the Black Hole. Kizer has all the measurable to succeed in the NFL but it’s the mental aspect of his game that causes teams to worry. Kizer has the raw tools and a decent upside, if coach Hue Jackson can unlock his potential Kizer will be the starter come week one. As for Ogunjobi he will help the Browns with their run defense. He can get interior pressure and force QBs to move outside the pocket. He’s quick and strong, another solid pick for the Browns.

The day three picks went like this. CB-Houston, Howard Wilson, T-Florida State, Roderick Johnson, DT-Florida, Caleb Brantley, K-Arizona State, Zane Gonzalez and RB-NC State, Matthew Dayes. A head scratching pick was Brantley, right after the Browns drafted him they said they may release him because of off the field issues. It doesn’t make sense to draft a potential contributor to your team and then admit you may cut him. Draft someone who is going to be there for the long-term. Brantley is the worth the risk if his off field issues come back positive but it certainly is a gamble. With Wilson the Browns added cornerback depth and with the state of the league now, cornerback depth is huge. In general depth matters, as we see with the New England Patriots every year. Another big aspect of the NFL these days, is the kicking game. Gonzalez, a Lou Groza award winner, will help their kicking game. PATs make all the difference since they were moved back 15 yards. Looking at the two Super Bowl kickers last year Matt Bryant and Stephen Gostkowski were integral parts of their team. Offense defense and special teams are equal parts of a team.

The Browns did enough in this draft to show glimmers of hope. They might only win three or four games but improvement is improvement. This refrigerator is slowly getting stocked with fresh products. gfr

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AJ Ramon: The Prophet?

Last year the New England Patriots, led by Tom Brady won their fourth Super Bowl with a victory over the Seattle Seahawks. That prompted me to write this on February 2nd:

“What was going through Peyton Manning’s head as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hoisted his fourth Super Bowl trophy? Well nobody knows for sure, but if it were me it would make me want to come back for one last hurrah. Brady, who has been Manning’s career antagonist, can lay claim to the best QB of all-time with his win over the Seattle Seahawks this past Sunday.

More often than not, we as media members try to compare individual players so we can have a rivalry to dissect, and with Brady’s last win, there isn’t much of a debate anymore between who is the better QB now that Brady has ring number four. Manning and Brady are both generational talents that will be 1st ballot Hall of Famers but their careers will always be intertwined due to the games they have played over their respective careers. Manning will probably go down as the greatest regular season QB of all-time while Brady goes down as the most clutch QB of all-time. The question as always has been, do you want MVPs? Or Lombardi Trophies? If MVPs was your answer then take Manning, if Lombardi’s was your answer take Brady. It was always the debate but now that Brady is the sole leader in post-season wins, touchdowns and has three Super Bowl MVP’s there aren’t many stats you could throw out that would change anybody’s mind about who the better QB is.

As Brady led his team to four scores, all passing TD’s someone asked me why Manning couldn’t do that last year. There was no sufficient answer on my part, aside from “He’s just better I guess.” We all seen Manning struggle against Seattle’s defense last year as the Broncos only scored eight points. Brady had 14 by halftime.

Even though the Seahawks lost the game, a hidden loser in all of this was Manning himself. Brady beat the Seahawks, including a fantastic game-winning drive against the most feared-secondary in the league while Manning could only muster up eight points. The win all but secured Brady as the best QB of his generation with Manning coming in second. I say all of this, because as a Broncos fan, I want to see Manning comeback. I want a fire to be lit in his soul. I want him to win the Super Bowl for Denver as long as he is healthy enough to do this. I want to see one more Manning/Brady matchup. If this was Manning’s last year, thank you for the memories, but if it isn’t, I hope to see Manning keep the rivalry alive with a Super Bowl win next year.”

Now obviously with the Broncos victory in Super Bowl 50 I can say I am a genius. We seen Manning make the comeback. We seen the Broncos win the Super Bowl. We watched one more Manning-Brady match-up. The sentiment remains the same a year later, if this is Manning’s last rodeo, thank you for the memories and now, the Super Bowl ring.

Link to article: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1TvEJHmZ9EhXpNP4R6bHgbkg7uaakiVVbEV-EDnxo2_0/pub

Super Bowl 50

Super Bowl 50. Wow. Who would have thought 50 years ago that they would be seeing Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos going up against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. The answer is Nostradamus or some other psychic that decided to remain anonymous. That’s besides the point, I can’t predict the future but what I can do is either 1. Win you a lot of money or 2. Lose you a lot of money. I’ll leave that up for you to decide. With that being said lets breakdown the game.

Denver Broncos vs. Carolina Panthers (-6)

If you are new to gambling, the (-6) means Carolina is favored by six points. This means that in order for you to win your bet, the Panthers must win by seven or more. They can’t win by six because if it is six, then the bet becomes a push and nobody wins but nobody loses. OK now that’s out of the way let me breakdown the game.

The Denver Broncos arguably have the best edge rushers in the game. This is important in containing the read-option but that is where it comes down to Newton doing great things. The newly crowned league MVP, looks to cap off a magical season with a Super Bowl victory while the Sheriff, Manning, looks to cap off one of the best careers we’ve ever seen with a Super Bowl victory a la John Elway.

So this game comes down to defense, Carolina led by their rangy linebackers and Denver led by their pass rush and lock down secondary. Denver will look to establish the run game as always in hopes to take some pressure off of Manning. If the run game isn’t there expect a bunch of out routes and crossing routes so Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis don’t have a huge effect on the game.

Carolina will also try to do the same by establishing the run. Carolina has a great rushing offense and have one of the top three tight ends in the game with Greg Olsen. Not to mention the wild card Ted Ginn Jr. and the Panthers have a high-variance offense. There’s a reason they have averaged 40 points per game in the playoffs. SuperCam is SuperCam. He makes magic happen.

The Pick: All bias aside, this game will be close. I expect Denver to cover the (+6) and even win the game outright. I think this Denver team is battle tested and the Panthers haven’t faced a defense this good all year. (Seattle Fans look pissed off). One of two things are going to happen. Either Denver wins a close one or Carolina wins in a blowout. I choose the latter. Denver 23-21. This one’s for Pat.