Thursday, February 7, 2013
Cleveland's offseason priorities
By Tim Kavanagh
To some observers, the task for the Cleveland Browns this offseason would seem to revolve around their offense, which had considerable struggles considering they invested two first-round picks on skill position players in the 2012 draft. Nevertheless, at least one scribe is of the opinion that they should focus on the other side of the ball, at least if they're going to do all that new DC Ray Horton has indicated.
"To blitz as much as Horton prefers will make another top cover cornerback a high priority, perhaps the No. 1 priority," Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal writes. "But that's just one of several holes the Browns must fill and questions they must answer. They also must find a starting free safety, several linebackers and a Pro Bowl-caliber pass rusher. They must decide if third-year defensive end Jabaal Sheard can play outside linebacker, if linebacker Chris Gocong, who ruptured his Achilles Aug. 4, can be counted on and figure out what to do with massive defensive tackle Phil Taylor."
Both Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay had the Browns addressing the pass-rush at No. 6 overall in their mock drafts released Thursday; Kiper went with FSU's Bjoern Werner while McShay shipped them LSU's Barkevious Mingo:
Mel Kiper, Jr.Kiper Mock V2.0
" The Browns regressed on defense in 2012, and the pass rush was a culprit. This was, by every standard, a bottom-10 unit, and they simply need to add talent. If they want the best player available at this spot, and a guy who fills a void, it might be Werner by the time we get to April. In fact, by then he could be expected to go higher. A late arrival to football, he has a high ceiling, but already has a decent portfolio of pass-rush skills. What's great about Werner isn't just the explosiveness as a pass-rusher, it's also his awareness. He keeps his eyes up and disrupts passing lanes. He's a good fit for the Browns."
Todd McShayMcShay Mock V2.0
"New defensive coordinator Ray Horton will run a versatile scheme that likely will employ a base 3-4 front, and while the Browns have good depth along the defensive front they need more talented edge rushers. Mingo fits the bill. He is raw, but is the fastest, most athletic edge rusher in the class and could be part as a disruptive perimeter duo with Jabaal Sheard."