Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Cleveland Browns. [full archive here].
Season Recap - When new President Mike Holmgren was hired last offseason, he made a promise not to dismantle the organization. Rather, he retained the entire coaching staff and used 2010 as a year to analyze and begin planning for the future. The Browns didn’t improve in 2010 and finished the season 5-11. Eric Mangini and the coaching staff were shown the door, and Holmgren’s coaching philosophies began to take shape. New head coach, Pat Shurmur is from the West Coast offense coaching tree and spent 10 seasons under Andy Reid, who was once an assistant under Holmgren. Along with the new style of offense comes a switch back to a 4-3, which will be led by ex-Buffalo Bills head coach Dick Jauron. Shurmur’s first task will be developing second-year QB Colt McCoy and will spend this offseason surrounding him with capable talent.
1. Defensive End – As of now, there is no player to fill this position in the new 4-3 defense. Matt Roth could possibly be re-signed to anchor one of the spots, but he has spent most of his career as a 3-4 OLB and there is no guarantee he would want to play in the new defense. As many as nine defensive ends could go in the first round, so the Browns should be able to find someone to fill their needs. Robert Quinn and Da’Quan Bowers are the top prospects this year.
2. Defensive Tackle – Cleveland has a bit of work to do while transforming the defense and it starts up front. Shaun Rogers and Kenyon Coleman were released and besides Ahtyba Rubin the Browns have nobody. Tackles are extremely important because they create pressure up the middle and help make every other player’s job a whole lot easier. With the strength of the defensive line class in this year’s draft, Cleveland will have many opportunities to upgrade their front.
3. Wide Receiver - The offense has young stars Colt McCoy and Peyton Hillis, yet lacks a true number one receiver option. Mohamed Massaquoi, Joshua Cribbs, and Brian Robiskie are solid, but none are top talents. Holmgren needs to get McCoy a target this offseason. Sidney Rice, Santonio Holmes, James Jones, and Steve Breaston are some free agent options that could wind up in Cleveland.
4. Right Tackle – The Browns have the makings of a top offensive-line with C Alex Mack and LT Joe Thomas, but the right side is lacking. John St. Clair and Tony Pashos split time at Right Tackle, yet neither performed up to par. The Browns need to draft a young tackle to pair with Mack and Thomas as personal protectors for McCoy for the next 10 years.
5. Outside Linebacker – More pieces to be added to the 4-3 defense. Scott Fujita is the only capable outside linebacker on the roster and will turn 32 before the season. Holmgren needs to add much depth along with possibly two starters.