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Tag:Cleveland Browns
Posted on: April 28, 2011 11:24 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 1:10 am
 

Falcons better hope Julio Jones is a home run

Posted by Will Brinson

NEW YORK -- Last season, I predicted the Atlanta Falcons would win the Super Bowl.

Obviously I was wrong, but it wasn't that far off -- they were arguably the best regular season team in the NFL. Just not the most explosive.

The latter problem showed up when Green Bay bolted out to a big lead in the NFC Championship Game and Atlanta couldn't even come close to mustering a comeback because they lacked the necessary explosiveness to do any damage in the second half.

By adding Julio Jones, they changed that, dramatically, and even in Mike Mularky's sometimes slow offense, the Falcons could put up big numbers if Jones does what they expect.

He better, though, because Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith just paid a pretty penny for him: four -- count them, FOUR -- draft picks in the first four rounds of the 2011 and 2012 NFL Drafts.

Atlanta gave up their first-round pick for 2011 (27th overall), their second-round pick for 2011, their fourth-round pick for 2011, their first-round pick for 2012 and their fourth-round pick in 2012. Yes, that is a TON of picks for one player.

And, yes, you may slow-clap for Tom Heckert now, because he just picked up a ridiculous haul of picks for an organization -- the Browns -- that needs in any number of positions.
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Now, look, it may not matter, it could work out for both sides, and the Browns may end up with the last pick of the first round next year. But that's cool -- they'll appreciate having a pair of first-rounders and the Falcons will appreciate winning a Super Bowl. 

Of course, that's probably a stretch. But the Falcons do have to win the NFC South in 2011 if they want to justify this move. 

The Browns, on the other hand, can sit back and stockpile assets with which to help Colt McCoy and the organization later down the line, sitting on a pile of early picks over the next two years and no real guarantee of success in 2011. 

And maybe it's too early to try and criticize Dimitroff and Smith. After all, there's really nothing to justify doing so, as they've killed it thus far. But if something goes awry in 2011, there'll be some questions about this deal asked, particularly when Jones can only touch the ball but so many times a game.

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Posted on: April 28, 2011 6:17 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2011 6:23 pm
 

Hillis on Madden 12 cover: 'This is not about me'

Posted by Will Brinson

NEW YORK -- For years, the player chosen to be on the cover of the Madden video game was cP. Hilliselebrated for their individual accolades. And Peyton Hillis, the man chosen for the Madden 12 cover which was shot (see: right) during an EA Sports event in Time Square, succeeded in 2010, but he's giving it all to the fans when it comes to his selection this year.

"It's just a blessing," Hillis said. "I feel like people see what I do to my body and what I do on the field and they appreciate that and they respect that. And all I can do is hope I can give back to them, whether it's Cleveland or Arkansas or my fans back in Denver, how many ever that is.

"And it's just a blessing that I can actually be here and do this right now for them."

Hillis also understands that the city of Cleveland hasn't exactly had the best run when it comes to sports-related success recently, and that a city who got firmly behind it's newest star is reveling in the success.

"Well, it's huge," Hillis said. "They really haven't had a winner in a while, ever since they left to go to Baltimore. In my mind, this is not about myself, this is not about me, this is about what can I give back to the team and community and hopefully that's a winner."

Hillis did admit that he's not an insanely avid Madden player (he buys the game every year, but "just because I'm in the NFL and I love beating my brother at it," which, coincidentally is the same reason I buy it every year).

But, he also said he was cool with the way that Madden portrayed him ... except he thinks they made him too skinny.
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"The thing about it is the [low speed rating] doesn't really hurt me," Hillis said. "I ran a 4.5 in college -- that's adequate speed at best.

But I look at the game, I look skinny and I know I'm definitely not skinny. So I'd like to that to be changed, but other than that, I think it's pretty good."

Not the toughest life for Hillis, huh? But the dude deserves it -- he's got a superb attitude, he cares about the fans and remains humble despite the fact that the worst thing in his life right now is that the virtual reincarnation of himself is too skinny.

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Posted on: April 28, 2011 12:33 pm
Edited on: April 28, 2011 4:17 pm
 

Rumors of Pats trading up might be significant

Posted by Andy Benoit

There are multiple reports that the New England Patriots have talked with the Cleveland Browns about possibly trading up to the No. 6 overall pick. Given that these reports are coming out on Draft Day, it’s entirely possible that either the Patriots or Browns themselves are spreading the rumors (more likely the Browns, as they have a lot more to gain from the whispers).

Reporting rumors like these on Draft Day is almost fruitless given the plethora of false information out there and the fact that – HELLO – all this hoopla will be settled by the end of the night.

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But in the Patriots’ case, it’s interesting because of Robert Kraft’s role in the labor negotiations. The Patriots historically have avoided picks in the early part of the first round because they disdain the financial burden that comes with signing those players. But a rookie wage scale figures to be part of the next CBA, which would make early first-rounders more affordable.

Kraft is as dialed in as anyone on the labor situation. If his team is trading up the first round, that would be a strong indication that he truly believes a new CBA can be hammered out sometime this year. If the Patriots continue to avoid early first-round picks, perhaps that’s an indication that Kraft believes a CBA isn’t on the way until next year.

Given the drama that’s unfolded this week, it seems unimaginable that a new CBA will be reached anytime in 2011. But that’s just the momentum of the drama speaking. At some point, the owners will catch their breath and realize that in order to preserve their league, they’ll have to bargain with the NFLPA.

UPDATE 4:17 p.m. EST: ESPN's Chris Mortensen says the Patriots are looking to trade up to the Cowboys' spot at No. 9 and draft Cal's Cam Jordan.

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Posted on: April 27, 2011 9:11 am
Edited on: April 28, 2011 11:57 am
 

Ranking the NFL's 32 final draft decision makers

Posted by Andy Benoit

There are many ways a person could rank the top draft decision makers for each NFL team. Among those criteria: team history of success; number of first-rounders who have panned out; the number of late-round gems discovered; consistency of the players developed within the organization.

But without a scientific formula, sometimes the best rankings can derive from a standard eyeball/smell/gut test. Thus, here is a ranking of all 32 “final draft decision makers” in the NFL.

Lists like these tend to attract criticism and rebuttals. Have at it -- this is meant to be a discussion starter.

1. Bill Polian, ColtsB. Polian (US Presswire0
Sticks unwaverlingly to his formula: invest in a small handful of elite skill position players on offense and playmakers on defense, and then surround them with low cost youngsters who fit your scheme. In the 2000s he led the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl win and annual division titles. In the '90s he ushered in the most successful expansion franchise in NFL history (Carolina Panthers) and oversaw the four-time AFC Champion Buffalo Bills.

2. Kevin Colbert, Steelers
Doesn't get much attention because A) he rarely does interviews; B) the Steelers are often drafting late in the first round and C) he's almost always looking two or three years ahead when drafting players, which minimizes the hype of Pittsburgh's rookie class. These methods have brought in guys like LaMarr Woodley, Troy Polamalu, Lawrence Timmons, Mike Wallace and Maurkice Pouncey to name five.

3. Ted Thompson, Packers
It took major intestinal fortitude to pull the trigger on Aaron Rodgers when Brett Favre was still on the roster and many believed the 2005 Packers were in position to "win now." Virtually the entire Packers Super Bowl roster this past year was comprised of players who were drafted by the organization and in their prime. That's perfect planning paying off.

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4. Bill Belichick, Patriots
The best trader of picks the NFL has seen since Jimmy Johnson. Like an alchemist, he regularly turns one late first-round selection into two or three solid contributors who fit the Patriots' ever-changing system.

5. Mickey Loomis, Saints
Is batting about .750 with his high-round draft picks, and has managed to snag several small-school gems in middle to late rounds (See: Jahri Evans, Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, who was primarily a basketball player at Miami).

6. Ozzie Newsome, Ravens
Simply has a knack for connecting on stars. His latest include Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, Ray Rice and (maybe) Michael Oher and Joe Flacco. Because of good mid-round drafting, depth is generally a plus for this club. The only true black eye on Newsome’s resume is the Kyle Boller pick, for which Brian Billick shares equal blame.

7. A.J. Smith, Chargers
Supposedly not the most likeable guy in the room, but that's in part because he has a gift for ruthlessly getting the most out of his resources. Part of that is replacing players a year too soon rather than a year too late.

8. Andy Reid, Eagles
Aside from Green Bay, Philadelphia is the only NFC team that has consistently drafted for the future first and the present second. Because of that, the Eagles are able to stay afloat when they do miss on a high-round pick.

9. Mike Holmgren, Browns
Jury is still out in Cleveland, obviously. But a person's track record has to count for something, right? And Holmgren's is pretty good.

10. Mike Tannenbaum, Jets
Home runs (D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis -- who was a grand slam -- and possibly Mark Sanchez) outnumber strikeouts (Kellen Clemens, Vernon Gholston). Willing to be aggressive and trade up to get his guy. So far, it's worked well.

11. Jerry Reese, Giants
Has done a superb job building off the foundation that Ernie Accorsi put in place.

12. Thomas Dimitroff, FalconsT. Dimitroff (US Presswire)
Ex-New England front office executive instantly turned the rudderless post-Vick Falcons around by nailing the Matt Ryan pick. Has since retooled the offense with solid role players and upgraded the speed on defense.

13. Mark Dominik, Buccaneers
Made the bold commitment for the Bucs to get younger on both sides of the ball. Already, those young players have turned out a 10-6 record, putting the team a year or two ahead of schedule. The decision to draft Josh Freeman one day could lead to a Lombardi Trophy.

14. Marty Hurney, Panthers
For the most part, Panthers have been consistently competitive for 10 years despite the absence of a star quarterback. How? Solid offensive line (Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil were successful high draft picks), good running game (DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were two more successful high picks) and a staunch defense (Jon Beason has more than lived up to first-round billing).

15. Scott Pioli, Chiefs
Was an integral part of the Patriots dynasty and is showing a knack for finding players who fit the Chiefs’ scheme.

16. Billy Devaney, Rams
Has not been at the helm long; will soar up this list if his 2011 draft class turns out to be anything like his 2010 class.

17. Mike Shanahan, Redskins
A nod to experience more than anything. Shanahan The GM has never been as good as Shanahan The Coach. But Shanahan The GM has still been around the block a time or two and knows exactly what he wants. Having Bruce Allen handle some of the technical GM duties is helpful.

18. Ken Whisenhunt/Rod Graves, Cardinals
Only one player they've taken in the first three rounds has not contributed (Cody Brown). The rest all have been part of a club that has won postseason games two of the past three seasons.

19. Jerry Angelo, Bears
Seems to have a slightly better feel for the veteran market than the rookie market, but we're nitpicking. Has done a fine job finding players who fit Lovie Smith’s Cover 2 defense. Offensively, he’s building around Jay Cutler (for whom he traded significant picks to get).

20. Mike Reinfeldt, Titans
The assumption is he occasionally has to cater to the demands of Bud Adams, which could be a challenging wrinkle to his job. Overall, has constructed a deep roster and seen a few gambles pay off (notably Chris Johnson in 2007).M. Reinfeldt (US Presswire)

21. Rick Spielman, Vikings
Too many busts early in his tenure, though some of that was beyond Minnesota's control (Kenechi Udeze's health issues, Erasmus James' injuries). While forcing a few picks into the lineup, the Vikings also have gotten their money's worth from top picks Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice and Adrian Peterson (considered a risk because of injury problems at Oklahoma).

22. Jerry Jones, Cowboys
Yes, the Cowboys have a talented group. But a bulk of that talent was acquired when Bill Parcells was around.

23. Martin Mayhew, Lions
Still waiting to see what becomes of the major investments on offense (outlook appears good but still not certain).

24. Jeff Ireland, Dolphins
Brand new in his role as top decision maker. It wouldn't be fair to judge him based on what his former boss (Parcells) did.

25. Gene Smith, Jaguars
In two years has shown willingness to rebuild in bunches by using back-to-back draft picks on the same position. In that time, not a lot has changed in Jacksonville's bottom line, though there is legitimate optimism about this franchise's direction.

26. Pete Carroll, Seahawks
It's way too early to judge. His first draft class looks like it could turn out to be spectacular at the top (Russell Okung has star traits, Earl Thomas has shown flashes and many like Walter Thurmond) but very few men have successfully worn the GM hat while coaching.

27. Trent Baalke, 49ers
The Niners' draft record during his two years as VP of Player Personnel was iffy, but he wasn't the final decision-maker then. His first draft class will likely prove to have produced long-term starters with the first four picks (Mike Iupati, Anthony Davis, Taylor Mays and NaVorro Bowman). Iupati, in fact, seems destined to be a perennial Pro Bowler.T. Baalke (US Presswire)

28. Buddy Nix, Bills
Bills are full of overachievers, but part of overachieving is not being very talented. The Aaron Maybin air ball in 2009 puts a damper on what was otherwise a solid draft class. But Nix, a national scout at the time, wasn't fully responsible for that draft class. His 2010 draft class is off to a slow start but its still in the judgment phase.

29. Rick Smith, Texans
Houston is overhauling its defensive scheme after spending five years investing first-round picks on players who were supposed to fit that scheme.

30. Mike Brown, Bengals
He would be a great fantasy drafter because he always takes the best player. Problem is, in the real draft, team chemistry needs to factor into your decisions. Those "best players" Brown takes are often available because of character red flags.

31. John Elway, Broncos
No track record to evaluate.

32. Al Davis, Raiders
One apparently solid draft (2010) does not erase years of atrocious ones.

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Posted on: April 25, 2011 4:35 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 7:47 pm
 

Hot Routes 4.25.11: Ocho top athlete on Twitter

Posted by Will Brinson



Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
  • Per our friend Darren Rovell, Chad Ochocinco is the top athlete in social media. Ocho's obviously one of the most famous athletes in the world -- hell, he had his own reality show and, in possibly the single-most impressive display of popularity, is the Future Mrs. Brinson's favorite NFL player -- but it just goes to show how well he (and the gents at RockLive) have utilized the medium in order to boost his recognition.
Posted on: April 23, 2011 9:19 pm
 

Joe Haden (a player) says fans on players' side

Posted by Andy Benoit
J. Haden
Barring another stabbing, we’ll feature on this Saturday night some lockout analysis from Browns cornerback Joe Haden (a fantastic young player who has all of one season under his belt).

Haden told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “The fans are definitely on the players’ side. Definitely on the players’ side. The owners? Come on. They’re making billions and billions. We’re making millions, but they’re making billions. It’s like, Come on, guys.

“Let’s just get an agreement, let’s get everything right. It was good before the lockout. Let’s get it back to the way it was. I’m ready to play football, fans are ready to watch football. The owners are ready to sit in their suites and watch football too, so let’s just get it all together.”

Hear, hear!

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Category: NFL
Posted on: April 18, 2011 4:55 pm
 

Hot Routes 4.18.11: Suggs, um, like Celine Dion?



Posted by Josh Katzowitz
  • Good lord, could Michael Strahan really have a good chance of replacing Regis Philbin on the Regis and Kelly Ripa show?
  • The Cowboys players and coaches hung out together Sunday night, but don’t worry. Nobody was breaking any lockout rules. Instead, they were attending a long-standing charity event – which is A-OK by the NFL. “We’ll talk about the bread and water,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.
  • A Twitter war broke out between NFL spokesman Greg Aiello and a Texans blogger/fan. Spoiler: Aiello doesn’t come off looking so good here.
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Posted on: April 17, 2011 3:38 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 3:39 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: Cleveland Browns

Posted by Andy Benoit



Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups



Another year turned into another rebuilding season for the Browns (it turned out to be the last of three in Eric Mangini’s tenure). Injuries rocked all three mistake-prone quarterbacks (Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace and third-round rookie Colt McCoy, who performed OK but was limited to a cliff-noted playbook).

It maybe wouldn’t have mattered anyway, given the paucity of quality receiving options (No. 1 wideout Mohammad Massaquoi improved just enough to pass for being a low-end No. 2, while tight end Ben Watson was the go-to guy by default).

Defensively, the young secondary at times seemed overburdened by the volume of sub-packages in Rob Ryan’s complex system. But often, Ryan’s scheme compensated for shabby pass-rushing resources. The Browns were the only team not to give up 30 points in any of their first 15 games. Still, that wasn’t enough to save Ryan from the coaching staff overhaul in January.




Defensive scheme

The task of installing a 4-3 scheme is substantial, especially given this team’s prior commitment to the 3-4.

Linebackers Chris Gocong and Scott Fujita and nose tackle Ahtyba Rubin (who will now play more one-gap techniques) are the only players from last year’s team who are truly equipped to operate in a 4-3.

And Gocong never did blossom in Philadelphia’s 4-3. Restocking the defensive line will be the biggest challenge.




1. Defensive End
Marcus Benard is a fantastic athlete who, as an outside linebacker, often played bigger than his 256-pound size suggested. That doesn’t mean the undrafted third-year pro is ready to start – especially given that he’ll be learning how to play with his hand in the dirt. Jayme Mitchell, another undrafted guy, is penciled in on the other side. What does this tell you? The Browns need at least three, and maybe four, defensive ends.

2. Defensive Tackle
Rubin can be an adequate two-down player, even if he’s not a true Pat Williams-like clogger. Brian Schaefering, however, does not get off blocks well enough to play inside. Even if he did, the Browns would still need more one-gap quickness here.

3. Wide Receiver
Very few quarterbacks could succeed with Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie, Chansi Stuckey and Joshua Cribbs as their top four wideouts. Massaquoi is not dynamic enough to create on his own; Robiskie has barely seen the field his first two seasons; Stuckey’s quickness is impressive but best suited for the slot, while Cribbs is simply a gadget player.




Let’s hope new head coach Pat Shurmur is a patient man. The defense that Dick Jauron is installing is not complicated schematically, but it will take at least two years to accumulate the front seven personnel needed to run it.

That’s about how long the offense will take to develop if Shurmur decides that Colt McCoy is indeed the long-term solution for his West Coast system. A third straight 5-11 season seems likely.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com