Browns

Adonis Thomas catches on with Browns

The Cleveland Browns already added one rookie running back, and now they have another. Undrafted free agent Adonis Thomas impressed enough during his tryout to earn a contract and an invitation to training camp. The Browns cut running back Armond Smith to make room.

Thomas still has an uphill battle to make the final roster, competing with Montario Hardesty, Brandon Jackson and Chris Ogbonnaya, but he may have the skill set the Browns are looking for in their third-string running back.

While it didn’t come as a huge surprise when Thomas went undrafted, he was a personal favorite of mine and earned a late 3rd-round grade. He’s lacks the elite speed of a typical third-down back, but otherwise has the skill set teams look for to fill that hole. He’s an elite receiver out of the backfield and a tough runner for his size.

A broken arm caused him to miss time in 2011, which could have led to his fall in the draft. But before the injury, Thomas played a key role in Toledo’s near upset of Ohio State.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Browns Leave a comment

Travis Benjamin will compete for starting job with Browns

Many felt the Cleveland Browns reached to fill their need for a receiver when they selected Travis Benjamin with the 100th overall selection, but the Browns coaching staff has liked what they’ve seen from Benjamin so far.

Pat Shurmur stated that Benjamin will have an opportunity to compete for a starting job, likely challenging Mohamed Massaquoi and Josh Cribbs for the job opposite Greg Little.

Expecting Benjamin to start may be overly optimistic, but what he does bring to the table is pure speed. Benjamin is the only legitimate deep threat on the Browns current roster, and could be used in a similar role to the one the Ravens used for rookie Torrey Smith in 2011. The combination of Benjamin and Brandon Weeden should allow the Browns to take more shots down the field than in previous seasons.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Browns Leave a comment

Draft Grades: Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns hit a home run with their first selection… and it was all downhill from there. The Browns entered the draft with 13 picks – an opportunity to completely change the direction of this floundering franchise – but whiffed in such a way that it could cost Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert their jobs in the not-so-distant future.

Even taking into consideration the somewhat questionable trade, Trent Richardson was a great selection at No 3. The Browns needed to land a can’t-miss prospect in the top 10, and Richardson was arguably the best on the board. He will be a star from day one.

If the Browns were looking to change the face of the franchise, the accomplished that by selecting Brandon Weeden. But it feels like a lateral move to me. Regardless of your opinion of Weeden, the Browns are going nowhere fast. Even if all goes as planned, they won’t be serious contenders until 2014, when Weeden will be 31 years old. I could understand a more established team gambling on Weeden, but the selection simply does not make sense for a franchise with a steep uphill climb just to enter the playoff discussion.

Mitchell Schwartz was a reach in the early 2nd round. At best, he’ll be an average starting right tackle, and that’s not worth the 37th overall selection. He’s essentially a younger Tony Pashos, who the Browns recently released.

John Hughes may have been the reach of the draft. The Browns have two above average starting defensive tackles, and plan to use Frostee Rucker as the three-technique in passing situations. So where does Hughes fit in? It’s hard to do worse than a reach that doesn’t even fill a need.

Travis Benjamin is a track star masquerading as a football player. He could have value as a return specialist, but the Browns already have Josh Cribbs, who is backed up by the more-than-capable Buster Skrine. At best, Benjamin develops into a decent 4th option who can stretch the field, but he was not worth the 100th overall selection.

James-Michael Johnson adds some much-needed depth at the linebacker position. He will likely back up D’Qwell Jackson, but could play any of the three spots in Cleveland’s 4-3 defense.

Ryan Miller adds some depth at guard and could push Shaun Lauvao or Jason Pinkston for playing time, both of whom are coming off disappointing seasons. Lauvao led all guards in sacks allowed and penalties in 2011.

Emmanuel Acho will compete for the backup weak-side linebacker job, and could actually see some playing time early due to Scott Fujita’s suspension.

Billy Winn was arguably the Browns best selection other than Richardson. I gave him a fringe 3rd/4th-round grade and had him rated significantly higher than John Hughes.

Tevin Wade will compete with Buster Skrine for the 4th cornerback job. Like Skrine, he’s undersized and his upside is limited to playing the nickel corner role.

Brad Smelley blocked for Richardson at Alabama, and the Browns reportedly called Richardson about him before making the selection. It’s not a bad decision, but the Browns drafted Owen Marecic in the 4th round last year and parted with Lawrence Vickers to make room for him. What does that say about their evaluation process if they’re willing to give up on Marecic after one year?

I fail to see how this draft class changed Cleveland’s direction in any meaningful way. They have a power running game and a rookie quarterback… is that any different than two years when their offense featured Peyton Hillis and Colt McCoy, who, at the time, was viewed as a promising young quarterback? This draft class, coupled with the strong drafts of their division rivals, cemented the Browns place in the AFC North cellar.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Browns, Draft Grades - 2012 Leave a comment
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