Thursday, September 6, 2007

Browns Roster Thoughts

Phil Dawson (K), Dave Zastudil (P), Ryan Pontbriand (LS)

No surprises here with Zastudil and Pontbriand two of the best at their craft. Zastudil could be a perennial Pro Bowler if the Browns could win some games. Everyone loves to whine about Phil Dawson but he is the franchise leader in FG accuracy, in the top 1/4 of the league in FG accuracy since 1999 and hasn't cost the Browns many games with crucial misses. If that starts happening then you can start whining.


Mike Adams, Gary Baxter, Sean Jones, Brodney Pool

Jones needs to take it to the next level after a breakout season in 2006. Pool needs to step up with the departure of Brian Russell. The Browns may have prematurely taken Baxter of off the PUP List as he isn't ready to play and they may be wasting a roster spot. I hope he makes it back but an extra 6 weeks would have helped him. Interesting was the release of 2006 draft pick Justin Hamilton who looked good in spot action last year but awful in camp this year.


Leigh Bodden, Daven Holly, Brandon McDonald, Jereme Perry, Eric Wright, Kenny Wright

Bodden and Eric Wright look to be a formidable tandem. Daven Holly won the nickel back job in camp. It will be interesting to see who plays in the dime as neither Kenny Wright, McDonald nor Perry looked great in pre-season. In fact they looked pretty bad and the fact that Perry made the squad was a big surprise. The Browns just may be keeping a safety net with the past history of injuries at the position.


Andra Davis, Kris Griffin, D'Qwell Jackson, Willie McGinest, David McMillan, Antwaan Peek, Matt Stewart (IR), Chaun Thompson, Mason Unck (IR), Leon Williams, Kamerion Wimbley

A more than solid group all around. Wimbley and Peek looked like "mayhem and chaos" at OLB in the pre-season as the injury to Willie McGinest turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Davis and Jackson will man the middle at ILB but Leon Williams has looked good in spot duty. How they rotate the ILBs will be an interesting storyline. Chaun Thompson seemed to thrive in the jack-of-all-trades role he had last year and has been trust into that role again. McMillan is a pre-season all-American who hasn't done much and I can't seem to figure out how or why Griffin made the team. Stewart and Unck are out for the season but that will impact special teams minimally.


Simon Fraser, Ethan Kelley, Orpheus Roye, Robaire Smith, Shaun Smith, Ted Washington

It will be interesting to see how they rotate Big Ted and Shaun Smith at the nose. Big Ted is big but not much of anything else. Kelley has potential but has yet to fulfil it. End wise, Roye had a bad year last year and it getting up there in age. Robaire Smith was one of the Browns big free agent signings but didn't do much in the pre-season. Fraser is good in a rotation but lacks the skills to start. Shaun Smith should also see some time at end. The weakest unit on the team.


LeCharles Bentley (PUP), Kelly Butler, Nat Dorsey, Hank Fraley, Lennie Friedman, Seth McKinney, Kevin Shaffer, Isaac Sowells, Eric Steinbach, Joe Thomas, Ryan Tucker

The most improved unit on the team. With a line of Thomas, Steinbach, Fraley, McKinney and Tucker the Browns actually have a legit O-Line for the first time since 1995. The problem is with Steinbach being hurt in camp and Tucker suspended for 4 games it will be a while before they are together as a unit. Butler is a capable back up at tackle but Dorsey is awful. I don't know why he is on this roster at the expense of a younger guy they can develop. Lennie Friedman is a solid guard and we didn't even notice Steinbach was out during the pre-season. Kevin Shaffer, the Human Parking Cone (HPC) as dubbed by my pal Robbie, is serviceable at best but is by far the least athletic lineman the Browns have. They like Sowells and are grooming him to eventually take over at RG. I hope LeCharles makes it back but my gut says he won't be back until 2008. Fat Hank held down the fort quite at C nicely last season.


Darnell Dinkins, Steve Heiden, Kellen Winslow

If The Soldier is healthy, he may become one of the best TEs in football, even with his below average blocking. Who knew micro-fracture surgery was so simple... we hope. Heiden has been the Browns most consistent player since he arrived in 2001. He would start on most other teams. He will get tons of PT with Winslow's injury history. Dinkins is a big blocker but not much else. I thought they'd keep Ryan Krause, too, as he has been in the offensive system for 3 years but so be it... CUT!


Tim Carter, Josh Cribbs, Braylon Edwards, Joe Jurevicius, Travis Wilson

More questions at this position than any other. At least Josh Cribbs saved a roster spot by winning the PR job in camp. Has Edwards matured and can he produce to justify where he was drafted? Will they throw a pass to Joe before Week 6? Can Travis Wilson actually catch a pass? How will they use Josh Cribbs in offensive sets? Who is Tim Carter? Why was Norberg on the "I Luv U"? Why would Vincent Ludwig be involved in a plot to assassinate the Queen? And most importantly... Where the hell was I?


Charles Ali, Jerome Harrison, Jamal Lewis, Lawrence Vickers, Jason Wright

Lewis looks primed for a bounce back season, whether or not he has one will be seen. Wright and Harrison are both shifty out of the back field but are not your traditional back-up RBs. Vickers takes over at FB in a more traditional role and has some pass catching skills. Ali is the only undrafted rookie to make the squad and in what facet he contributes will be curious. Not a lot of depth here.


Derek Anderson, Charlie Frye, Brady Quinn

The million dollar question. Who can lead this team? Anderson and Frye looked putrid in pre-season while Quinn shined. Eventually, Brady Quinn will be QB1. Week 1, it will be Charlie Frye. Will Anderson or Quinn be #2 on Opening Weekend is another question. It's actually simple. If the Browns win under Frye, he will continue to play. If they falter, we may see Quinn sooner than later. The wild card is Anderson. If Frye does falter, will Romeo go to Quinn or will Anderson be used as a stop gap? That may be why they kept Anderson over Ken Dorsey. That and the fact that the odds of someone claiming Ken Dorsey are slim. But don't be surprised if Dorsey returns in Frye or Anderson falters... or is traded.


Chris Barclay (RB), Jonny Harline (TE), Cliff Louis (OT), Tim Mixon (DB), Chase Pittman (DE), Melila Purcell (DE), Steve Sanders (WR), Syndric Steptoe (WR)

Pittman, Purcell and Steptoe are all 2007 draft picks. We'll see Steptoe if Cribbs can't handle returning punts. Pittman and Purcell don't really fit into a 3-4 based on their college programs but Pittman looked good in camp. Barclay was the camp darling but lacks the size to make a huge impact. We may see Sanders if Carter, Cribbs and Wilson can't lock down the 3rd receiver spot.

More talent than they have had recently but still lacking the depth and impact players of the rest of the AFC North. We'll see how they gel together and if they can put up more of a fight in 2007. The schedule is brutal but there needs to be extreme improvement to establish a foundation to build upon. I see 5-8 wins in the 2007 season depending on how the team gels with a new offense and whether or not Romeo Crennel is actually in control of this team. Regardless, I see the shadow of a man with a mustache and a prominent chin lurking in the distance...

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