Von Miller visiting Bills, Broncos, Browns

Von Miller‘s stock has been on the rise throughout the offseason and it appears as though he’s headed towards a spot in the top five or six picks.

Miller has reportedly already scheduled workouts with the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns – who own three of the first six picks in April’s draft.

The fact that Miller could go in the top five isn’t a surprise, but it is interesting that he’s drawing interest from nearly everyone at the top of the draft.

A fourth team in the top six, the Arizona Cardinals, may actually be the team most likely to draft Miller. They’re desperate for youth at linebacker and Miller would be a perfect fit in their 3-4 scheme. In my latest mock draft I have Miller going 5th overall to Arizona.

Update: Miller worked out for the Cardinals on March 15

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bills, Broncos, Browns, Cardinals Comments Off

Andy Dalton generating interest from teams

With a large class of potential 1st-round quarterbacks the middle-tier guys haven’t received much media attention. One under-the-radar guy that is starting to generate some buzz, however, is Andy Dalton (my 4th-rated quarterback).

According to various reports, Dalton has either already met with or is scheduled to visit the Bears, Bengals, Browns, Chiefs, Patriots and Vikings.

Dalton could wind up starting for someone in 2011

I have Newton rated ahead of potential 1st-round picks Cam Newton and Jake Locker, mainly because I believe he is the most NFL-ready quarterback in this year’s draft class. He isn’t the flashiest player with the strongest arm but he is a solid pocket passer with above-average athleticism.

The reason for all the interest in Dalton is the fact that he fills a variety of needs for different teams.

Teams like the Bears and Patriots are looking for a quality backup quarterback, and Dalton can fill that role immediately. He may not end up ever starting for those franchises, but he can provide some insurance behind Tom Brady and Jay Cutler.

Others may look to him as a short-term starter. The Vikings, for example, may miss out on the opportunity to land a top-tier quarterback in the 1st round. However, if Dalton is on the board in the 2nd or 3rd round, they could select him and plan on making him the starter for 2011. Given the uncertainty surrounded free agency, this would be a safe way to ensure that they have someone other than Joe Webb at quarterback if they’re unable to address that need in free agency. In that scenario Dalton may only start for season, but he would be a cheap one-year starter who would then become a valuable backup once the new franchise quarterback is brought in.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Bears, Browns, Chiefs, Patriots, Vikings Comments Off

Draft Needs: Cleveland Browns

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. Read more

Posted on by Matt Peterson in Browns, Draft Needs - 2011 Comments Off

Browns are going to draft a quarterback

Mike Holmgren has faith in Colt McCoy. He’s made that very clear.

However, he also plans to draft a quarterback.

That admission shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering that both Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace are free agents. However, Holmgren also stated that he plans to meet with all of the top quarterbacks, which he indicated probably includes Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton.

It will be interesting to see what Holmgren means when he says he will meet with all of the top quarterbacks. He said he will “bring them in, do our work and see what happens.”

Does that mean he plans to use some of his private workouts on guys like Gabbert and Newton?

If so, it’s a questionable decision and has to make you wonder how committed he is to McCoy. If they’re set to move forward with McCoy, it makes no sense to draft a quarterback in the 1st or 2nd round. So why waste a draft visit on quarterbacks that will be long gone by the time its worth considering a signal caller.

One would think it would be wise to focus on more realistic 1st-round options, and perhaps some mid-round quarterbacks such as Pat DevlinAndy Dalton and Ricky Stanzi.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Browns Comments Off

A.J. Green to the Browns? Not so fast…

Browns fans want A.J. Green. And after two years of Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie, I don’t blame them.

There’s no denying the fact that the Browns need a wide receiver, and as a result many mock drafts currently have them selecting Green with the 6th overall selection.

I can’t say that Green isn’t a possibility for the Browns, but it’s less likely than you may think.

For starters, I think there is a very strong possibility that Green is off the board by No. 6. The Panthers, Bills and Bengals could all realistically take Green before the Browns even get a shot at him. [I currently have him going to Cincinnati.]

The real reason, however, that I don’t see Green winding up in Cleveland is that the Browns simply have far greater needs elsewhere. Everyone wants their team to get a shiny new toy to play with on offense, and Green certainly fits that description, but receivers don’t turn franchises around. Just ask Calvin Johnson and Lions or Andre Johnson and the Texans. Arguably the game’s two best receivers have a combined zero playoff appearances.

In order to rebuild the Browns, president Mike Holmgren and GM Tom Heckert (it’s actually Heckert who controls most of the draft day decisions, although Holmgren has the power to overrule) first must fix the defense.

The hiring of Dick Jauron as defensive coordinator means the Browns are transitioning back to a 4-3 scheme. That alone means they need to focus on defense in the draft, but on top of that they recently cut ties with two of their most productive linemen, Shaun Rogers and Kenyon Coleman. Additionally, Robaire Smith, Matt Roth and Brian Schaefering are set to become free agents.

If the season started today, the Browns would probably be forced to start Derreck Robinson and Marcus Benard at defensive end with Ahtyba Rubin and Travis Ivey at tackle. Yikes.

If this were a normal year, the Browns could attempt to address the defensive line in March and early April by bringing in some veteran free agents. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear as though that will be an option. As a result, the Browns may be forced to fill that void in the draft.

Fortunately for the Browns, this is the year you want to need a defensive lineman. Between Da’Quan Bowers, Nick Fairley, Marcell Dareus, Robert Quinn, Cameron Jordan or J.J. Watt, someone is sure to impress Cleveland’s staff and I strongly suspect someone from that group will wind up wearing the orange and brown in 2011.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, Browns 4 Comments

A quick “what if Luck stays in school” mock draft

It seems like every day a new reporter finds “sources” to tell him that Andrew Luck is leaning toward staying in school. I’m inclined to call “BS” on anyone who says Luck is leaning towards staying at Stanford, especially since it sounds as though Jim Harbaugh is as good as gone. But I’ll humor those who think he’s staying for a moment and throw together a quick mock draft based on the scenario that he stays. Here’s the top 10 of the “what if Luck stays” mock draft…

1. Panthers – Da’Quan Bowers – DE – Clemson
The Panthers don’t need a quarterback, so they won’t take one unless Luck is there. Their pass rush was abysmal this season, and they missed Julius Peppers even more than anyone could have anticipated. Bowers is coming off a monster year and should be an instant-impact pass rusher at the next level.

2. Broncos – Patrick Peterson – CB – LSU
With Josh McDaniels gone, the Broncos may be ready to give up on Tim Tebow after just three games. However, I don’t think they’ll reach for someone like Newton or Mallett with the second pick. The safe bet is to take Peterson, the best available player. Champ Bailiey may not return, and even if he does he’s on the downswing of his career.

3. Bengals – A.J. Green – WR – Georgia
One of the biggest decisions any team has to make this offseason is the Bengals’ looming decision about Carson Palmer. They could cut him loose and draft a new franchise quarterback here. I don’t think they’re willing to give up yet, however. A.J. Green is an elite talent and could be the young receiver Palmer needs to get the offense back on track.

4. Bills – Ryan Mallett – QB – Arkansas
The Bills need a quarterback to build around and should be able to get one in this year’s draft. But who will it be? Mallett, Locker and Newton are all worth considering. It’s pure speculation at this point, but I think Chan Gailey and Buddy Nix will lean toward the strong-armed Mallett.

5. Cardinals – Prince Amukamara – CB – Nebraska
The Cardinals are another team in need of a quarterback, but I expect Ken Whisenhunt to push for them to bring in a veteran.  As a result, they’ll turn their attention to the defense in the draft, landing either Amukamara, Cameron Jordan or Nick Fairley here.

6. 49ers – Cam Newton – QB – Auburn
Until a GM and a coach are in place it’s tough to predict how the 49ers will handle the draft. But one thing is certain: they need a quarterback. If they need to make a decision between Newton and Locker, expect Newton to be their guy.

7. Cowboys – Cameron Jordan – DE – California
Jordan isn’t nearly the most well-known of the top 3-4 defensive ends, but I believe he is the best of the bunch. The Cowboys will be looking to improve the defense, making Jordan a strong possibility here.

8. Texans – Nick Fairley – DT – Auburn
The Texans need to address their secondary, but with Peterson and Amukamara off the board they must turn their attention to the defensive line. Fairley is an elite pass-rushing interior lineman who reminds me of Ndamukong Suh.

9. Lions – Robert Quinn – DE – North Carolina
The Lions offense is progressing, but the defense still has some holes. Kyle Vanden Bosch hasn’t worked out and the Lions will likely look to upgrade their pass rush this offseason. Quinn may be the best pass-rushing end available in this draft class.

10. Browns – Julio Jones – WR – Alabama
The Browns are now committed to Colt McCoy, but now they need to supply him with some weapons. Jones, Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd, Jon Baldwin and Torrey Smith could all be options depending on who leaves early for the draft.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2011 NFL Draft, 49ers, Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Cardinals, Cowboys, Lions, Panthers, Texans 1 Comment

Colt McCoy’s performance is bad news for Eric Mangini

The Browns have won two straight. Against the Saints and Patriots, no less. So obviously Eric Mangini’s hot seat is cooling off, right?


Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy celebrates after a 34-14 win over the New England Patriots on November 07, 2010 in Cleveland. UPI / David Richard Photo via Newscom

Colt McCoy is Mike Holmgren's project

If the Browns had won two straight with Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace, that might be an accurate statement. But the fact that they’re winning with McCoy is bad news for Mangini.

Remember, McCoy is Mike Holmgren’s hand-picked quarterback. He went over the heads of both Mangini and GM Tom Heckert to select McCoy in the 3rd round even though he wasn’t the top rated prospect on their draft board.

Mangini’s dislike for McCoy continued into the preseason when kind words about the rookie were few and far between. And after he publicly dressed down McCoy on the field after a preseason loss, local reporters speculated that Mangini may wish to keep Brett Ratliff (Mangini’s hand-picked quarterback) as the 3rd-stringer instead of McCoy.

So you think Holmgren is going to let Mangini reap the benefits of McCoy’s rookie success? HA!

Holmgren loves nothing more than developing quarterbacks. He was Steve Young’s quarterbacks coach at BYU. He was then the quarterbacks coach for both Young and Joe Montana in San Francisco. Then as a head coach he helped develop Brett Favre and later Matt Hasselbeck. And what do all those guys have in common with McCoy? None were 1st-round picks.

And  now you think he’s going to let someone else coach his latest project?

Not a chance.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Browns 6 Comments

32 reasons why no one in the NFL should want Moss

Cardinals – Need a lot more than one aging receiver to fix their quarterback situation.

Falcons – Why mess up a good thing between Matt Ryan and Roddy White?

Ravens – No room with Boldin, Mason and Housh. Moss would pout, ruin chemistry.

Bills – Ryan Fitzpatrick has been pleasantly surprising. Don’t mess with a good thing.

Panthers – Think Moss will be a good soldier on a team competing for the No. 1 pick?

Bears – Lovie and Martz have their hands full already with Jay Cutler in the locker room.

Bengals – T.O.  and Moss in the same locker room? No thanks.

Browns – If Mangini can’t get along with Braylon Edwards, how would Moss fit in?

Cowboys – The last thing they need is another distraction.

Broncos – Do you really think McDaniels will get along with Moss better than Marshall?

Lions – Can you picture Moss accepting role as a No. 2 receiver on a 2-5 team?

Packers – Chemistry on offense seems to be great. Don’t mess it up.

Texans – See above.

Colts – Manning prefers his no-name receivers. And it works just fine for him.

Jaguars – Last place Jags aren’t going anywhere. Don’t waste the money.

Chiefs – Already hold a big lead in a weak division. Why mess with what’s working?

Dolphins – Marshall and Moss is too much ego for any coaching staff to handle.

Vikings – Been there. Done that.

Patriots – Been there. Done that.

Saints – Brees seems to be doing o.k. for himself without an elite receiver.

Giants – Can you picture Moss backing up Nicks and Smith?

Jets – I think they’ve learned their lesson with Braylon Edwards.

Raiders – Been there. Done that.

Eagles – Been there. Done that.

Steelers – After trading Holmes, adding Moss would be a step backwards.

Chargers – Vincent Jackson is back.

49ers – Can you picture Moss being happy in last place in the worst division?

Seahawks – The last thing Mike Williams needs right now is a bad influence.

Rams – Last thing this young, overachieving team needs is a bad influence like Moss.

Bucs – See above.

Titans – Kenny Britt has enough issues to overcome without Moss influencing him.

Redskins – McNabb and T.O. didn’t work. Why would it work with Moss?

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 49ers, Bears, Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Cowboys, Dolphins, Eagles, Falcons, Giants, Jaguars, Jets, Lions, Packers, Panthers, Patriots, Raiders, Rams, Ravens, Redskins, Saints, Seahawks, Steelers, Texans, Titans, Vikings 1 Comment

Did Mangini save his job on Sunday?

The Browns pulled out all the stops on Sunday, playing like it was the Super Bowl. In reality, they were just a 1-5 team playing the defending Super Bowl champs. So why the sudden change in the game plan?

Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini stands on the sidelines during the second half of their NFL game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Maryland September 26, 2010.  REUTERS/Joe Giza (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

What was the motivation behind Mangini and Co.'s sudden creativity?

Through the first six weeks the Browns played the most boring, nondescript, old-fashioned style of football you could play. They handed the ball off to Peyton Hillis who ran straight ahead. Then they lined up and did it again. And again.

Despite having playmakers like Josh Cribbs, Senaca Wallace and Jerome Harrison at their disposal, the Browns coaching staff played it safe for six straight weeks. That style of football kept them in every game, but it also resulted in five losses.

So I ask again, why the sudden change?

Maybe Eric Mangini feared for his job. Mike Holmgren hasn’t publicly questioned Mangini this season, but if they were going to make a change this would be the week to do it. The Browns are entering their bye week which is often a convenient time to make a coaching change.

Perhaps Mangini was feeling pressured – be it real or imagined – and decided to put it all on the line against the Saints. That’s the only logical explanation I have for how a team that wasn’t even creative to make Josh Cribbs a significant part of their offense suddenly turned to fake punts and halfback passes to pull off an upset of the Saints.

It’s just a theory, but there may be something to it.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Browns 2 Comments

Are the Browns making a mistake by starting Colt McCoy?

The only one in the Browns organization that wanted Colt McCoy was Mike Holmgren.

Tom Heckert and Eric Mangini reportedly wanted the Browns to stay true to their draft board which, even at the 85th pick, didn’t have McCoy at the top. But Holmgren pulled rank and drafted McCoy.

BEREA, OH - AUGUST 04: Colt McCoy  of the Cleveland Browns gets ready to throw a pass during training camp at the Cleveland Browns Training and Administrative Complex on August 4, 2010 in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Browns may end up regretting starting McCoy against the Steelers

Even after making the selection of McCoy, Holmgren admitted that the plan was for him to spend his rookie season on the bench. Now, due to injuries to Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace, McCoy is being thrust into a starting role.

Despite the injury situation, this seems like an ill-conceived plan by Holmgren, Heckert, Mangini or whoever is making the decision to throw a rookie into the fire against the Steelers. McCoy was a disappointment in the preseason and showed no signs of being ready to play in this league.

If he were the only option, that would be one thing, but the Browns recently signed Brett Ratliff who spent the entire 2009 season and the 2010 preseason in Cleveland. Mangini is a fan of Ratliff, who he also coached in New York, and is comfortable with him as a quarterback. So why not give the ball to Ratliff?

There are no expectations for the Browns in 2010, and certainly no expectations in this game in Pittsburgh with a 3rd-string quarterback at the helm. So why jeopardize McCoy’s confidence by throwing him to the wolves – or in this case, Dick LeBeau’s blitzing defense.

If McCoy plays well and leads the Browns to an upset, good for him. It would be a great story. But the odds are stacked against him. Realistically he has more to lose than to gain by playing against the Steelers. This is potentially just the next in a very long line of terrible decisions by one of the NFL’s worst franchises.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Browns 13 Comments