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Cleveland Browns team needs

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Cleveland Browns team needs
By: Raymond Wank

Cleveland Browns 2005 Record: 6-10 / Head Coach: Romeo Crennel
Salary cap: Estimated $28-30 million under cap with new CBA

Offense: (Ranked 26th in total offense, 23rd Pass / 25th Run)

Offensive Line
Bottom line. There isn’t a player on the Browns current offensive line that should be there in two years. C Jeff Faine has improved, he also has stayed injured. There is no reason to believe if the Browns build around Faine, a former 1st round pick, he will be there at the end of a NFL season lengthened by a trip to the playoffs. Veteran guards Joe Andruzzi and Cosey Coleman were upgrades in 2005, now those upgrades need upgraded. Andruzzi is also injury prone and definitely not the lineman he was with New England. Right tackle Ryan Tucker is a warrior, but a beaten one. His body no longer can give what his heart demands. UFA left tackle LJ Shelton played well enough in 2005 to earn a respectable contract offer from the Browns. Shelton is an average NFL left tackle. The organization is also hopefull current Browns RT Joe Dunn, first offensive lineman taken in the NFLEL Draft, and LT Nat Dorsey will eventually take at least one of the tackle positions.

Free Agency: LaCharles Bentley C , Tonui Fonoti OG, Jordan Black OT

Draft: Winston Justice OT, Max Jean-Gilles OG, Daryn Colledge OT, Davin George OG

Wide Receiver
Will Braylan Edwards be ready or not for 2006? The Browns are hopeful he will be ready to go by week 1. There belief must be strong as they have all but cut ties with UFA WR Antonio Bryant. Bryant broke the 1000 yard mark in 2005, but was often criticized for his untimely drops. With Bryant out of the picture it leaves the Browns very thin at the position. Dennis Northcutt isn’t more than a third down receiver and young talent Josh Cribbs needs more time to develop. The Browns must add a veteran receiver of quality in Free Agency as well as add some younger depth through the draft. Another major factor to the success of the Browns passing game will be the health of TE Kellen Winslow. Once thought to be able to play some sets at WR before his injury, the Browns would be fortunate to get him back to play his drafted position at close to the same level as they thought they were drafting.

Free Agency: David Givens, Joe Jurevicius, Darnerien McCants

Draft: Santonio Holmes,Chad Jackson, Martin Nance, Devin Hester

Running Back
The Browns now have in Rueben Droughns a legitimate running threat to battle in the AFC North. Now they have to get him some help. Time has certainly run its course on RB Lee Suggs. He cannot be thought of as anything more than an often injured prospect that cannot be relied upon. Former 1st round pick William Green provides depth at the position, but nothing else. He has however turned himself into a special team’s asset and that alone will earn him a roster spot. If a change up back to Droughns is needed, this is certainly the year to acquire one. Several top free agents as well as draft prospects could fill this need nicely.

Free Agency: Michael Bennett, Chester Taylor, Maurice Morris

Draft: Lendale White, DeAngelo Williams, Laurence Maroney

Defense: Needs based on 3-4 Defense (Ranked 16th in total Defense, 4th pass / 30th run)

Defensive Line
The Browns defense ranked 30th against the run in 2005 and the main reason can be attributed to the nose tackle position. NT Jason Fisk was quite frankly abused all season long. His inability to win one on one battles at the point of attack or to draw the double teams that are essential to a 3-4 defensive line put immense pressure on an already suspect linebacking corp. This position is the teams top overall need. Veteran defensive end Orpheus Roye was given a long term deal this off-season. Royes attitude and non stop motor have made him the Browns most consistent performer. Roye and teammates Alvin Mckinley and Ethan Kelley(also resigned this off-season) unfortunately though could only muster a meek effort in the pass rush department. The Browns ranked dead last in sacks(23) and quarterback pressures in 2005. The Browns inability to stop the run or put pressure on opposing quarterbacks will result in a complete overhaul of the position this off-season.

Free Agency: Ma’ake Kemoeatu, Anthony Weaver, Grady Jackson, Trevor Pryce

Draft: Haloti Ngata, Steve Fifita, LeKevin Smith, Jason Hatcher(sleeper from Grambling 6-6 290)

Many feel middle linebacker Andre Davis (89 tackles / 2 sacks) played well enough in 2005 to earn a trip to the pro-bowl. Imagine how well he could play if he didn’t have to ‘scrape” his own nose tackle to get to the ball carrier. With his contract extended this season Davis will again anchor a linebacking core that is in need of playmakers. The experiment to move DE Kenard Lang to the outside linebacker position produced less than desired results. Chaun Thompson( 4th year / West Texas A&M) continues to show amazing physical skills, but has yet to elevate his game to impact status. Veteran Matt Stewart and ILB Ben Taylor were continuously overmatched by larger, more powerful runningbacks. The Browns desperately need a 3-4 OLB who can line up down in passing situations and put pressure on the quarterback. They also must find another ILB who can hold the point of attack and not be driven backwards while making tackles.

Free Agency: Will Witherspoon, Julian Peterson, Bart Scott, Akin Ayodele

Draft: Manny Lawson, Bobby Carpenter, Kamerion Wimbley, Ernie Simms

Without question the Browns secondary in 2005 can be considered a team strength. The defense ranked 4th overall against the pass while ranked dead last in sacks. That combination of stats would lead one to believe there was some serious coverage going on. Young cornerback Leigh Bodden elevated his game to the next level and was rewarded with a long term deal. It is conceivable that Bodden could win one of the starting CB positions this season. That would leave veterans Gary Baxter(injured most of 2005) and Daylon McCuthcheon to battle it out for the other starting spot as well as the nickel corner position. This in fact may be in the best interests of the Browns. Having two veterans competing for the same position often brings both players best games out. The Browns need one of these two to step up huge this season, look for Baxter to be given the first shot. The safety position as well is full of young talent. Former second round picks Sean Jones(Georgia) and Brodney Pool(Oklahoma)both showed signs of why the organization is so high on them. Veterans Cris Crocker and Brian Russell add quality depth to the position, as does rookie Antonio Perkins who also stood out at times on special teams.

Free Agency: Ahmed Plummer, Will Allen, Ike Taylor

Draft: Danniel Manning, Donte Whitner, Cedric Griffin

Special Teams: The Browns kicking game needs help. Kicker Phil Dawsons inability to put the ball deep on kickoffs has hurt the Browns consistently. There punting game is no better. Punter Kyle Richardson is inconsistent and at times has killed the Browns in the battle of field position. K Jeff Chandler was signed this off-season to presumably be a kickoff specialist. Fully expect the Browns to sign a punter in free agency or to draft one come April.

Free Agency: Dave Zastudil, Jason Baker, Matt Bryant

Draft: Steve Weatherford, Ryan Plackemeier, Pat Williams

Discuss the Browns team needs in our Cleveland Browns Forum.

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