I hope that by the time the NFL draft comes, I will have managed to preview all thirty two teams. With that said we come to the second team in this preview series. The Cleveland Browns are a team that has not been good for a very long time. Gone are the halcyon days of Otto Graham and gone are the days of Bernie Kosar. This is a team that has had all of two winning seasons since 1990, including a three year stint in which no Browns football was played. The team had one winning season under Bill Belichick in his fourth season with the team in 1994. The second winning season came in 2007 under Romeo Crennel . This is a team that has had one playoff appearance in the last twenty five years and that was twenty years ago. The sad state of this team makes one want to root for them to see a once proud franchise return to relevance. With that said let’s take a look at what has happened for them in free agency so far.
The Browns had a choice resign T.J. Ward or go after Donte Whitner. The Browns felt that Whitner’s experience gave him the edge in coverage and so they signed Whitner. I think the Browns could have gone either way and that Ward’s youth might actually favor him, but he seems to be better against the run then the pass as his elevated tackles stats seem to indicate Ward had 112 combined tackles to Whitner’s 73. Troy Polamalu one the better coverage safeties in the league only had 69 combined tackles. In coverage however where the Browns clearly want to upgrade Whitner is clearly the better choice having 12 passes defensed to Ward’s 5.
Karlos Dansby is another great sign. There are two reason why. The first reason Dansby is a great sign is because he’s an experienced big time player. The second reason is Dansby has the experience to stabilize a young and thin linebacking corps that was led by Paul Kruger last season. Don’t get me wrong I think Kruger had a good season last year but Dansby has years of experience on him and that will make all the difference in the world.
Ben Tate replaces Willis McGahee as the starting running back in Cleveland. This is a good pickup for the Browns for a couple of reasons. Firstly Ben Tate has proved to be a very durable back spelling for Arian Foster in Houston, whereas McGahee is often injured and is not reliable. Secondly last year McGahee averaged 2.7 yards a carry Tate averaged 4.2 yards a carry. I don’t know about you but for me a 4.2 average trumps a 2.7 average every time.
The Browns have also added special teams specialist Isaiah Trufant from the New York Jets and wide receiver Andrew Hawkins from the Cincinnati Bengals both solid pickups as well.
On the other side of the ball the Browns look they are going to address their QB needs in the draft as they have released both Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell and look to for the moment be going with Brian Hoyer at least in the near future. Wheeden has since signed with the Dallas Cowboys.
Alex Mack while being slapped with a transition franchise tag is still looking for a way out of Cleveland, but is rumored not to be garnering any interest from any other teams. You can’t blame Cleveland for slapping the transition tag on him knowing he wants to walk, they want to get something for him leaving before they can’t get anything.