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Tag:Greg Little
Posted on: December 8, 2011 9:17 am
 

Pick-Six Podcast: George Atallah + Thurs Preview

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Despite there being no lockout, the NFLPA's been under fire for a number of issues (a lack of HGH testing, the suspensions of some Redskins, Cedric Benson) and union spokesman George Atallah was kind enough to join the show in break down where the union stands on those issues.

We also discuss in depth some of the issues surrounding HGH testing and whether or not it's a viable option for 2011.

Then Ryan and Will break down the Thursday night matchup between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, wondering if the Browns have any shot at all to upset the Steelers and if the trade that gave Atlanta Julio Jones (and the Browns Greg Little) is already a bust for Cleveland, and if Pittsburgh is the best team in the AFC.

The guys also break down Archie Manning's latest comments about Peyton and Andrew Luck and how they relate to the Colts future.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



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Posted on: December 7, 2011 11:11 pm
 

Colt McCoy could really use a big-play WR

Turns out, Little might be better as a No. 2 receiver. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

The Cleveland Browns are in desperate need of a big-play wide receiver. They had a chance to land such a player during the 2011 NFL Draft. Instead, they traded the sixth-overall pick to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for the Falcons' 2011 first, second and fourth-round picks, as well as a first and fourth-rounder in 2012.

Atlanta promptly selected Julio Jones, who along with A.J. Green were considered can't-miss prospects. Green has been that and then some this season -- 50 catches, 832 yards, seven touchdowns. Jones has battled hamstring issues but has started nine games, catching 34 passes for 566 yards and two touchdowns.

The Browns, meanwhile, used their first-round pick on defensive tackle Phil Taylor and took wideout Greg Little in the second round. Little has struggled with drops this season and is considered something of a project. This has to be disconcerting to Cleveland's second-year quarterback Colt McCoy.

After playing well as a rookie, the expectations were that McCoy would continue to get better in Year 2, especially if the Browns gave him a legit downfield threat to complement Peyton Hillis and Josh Cribbs. That didn't happen.

Instead, McCoy has regressed, the offense has stalled, and the Browns (4-8) are one of the worst teams in the league. On Thursday, they'll face the 9-3 Steelers on NFL Network. Draft guru and color analyst Mike Mayock, who will work the game, spoke about the Browns' offense and McCoy and Little in particular.

"I think the kid's got the deck stacked against him a little bit right now," Mayock told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot. "They don't really have anyone like a [Mike] Wallace or [A.J.] Green that can stretch the field for them vertically, and that's a difficult thing when you're a quarterback. Basically, you're kind of playing small ball. You're trying to run the football and move the chains with a lot of play-action and underneath stuff. And at some point, you've got to be more than that."

Mayock was also troubled by the Browns' unwillinginess (inability?) to throw the ball down the field.

"[McCoy's] not making the downfield throws and what's really happening is that teams are starting to squat on the wideouts, and it's difficult to watch when your offense is so compressed. It's an old-school West Coast offense -- a lot of three- and five-step drop, get the ball out of your hand. I understand it, but at some point you've got to watch this kid throw the ball. You've got to see more of the intermediate routes that demonstrate arm strength."

And that goes back to not having a premier pass catcher.

"Maybe the wide receivers aren't getting as much respect as you'd like," he said. "Greg Little is having a good year, but he's dropped four or five passes [actually six] in the two games I've watched. Mohamed Massaquoi is a pretty good receiver and Josh Cribbs obviously has the 'wow' factor, but he's certainly not a polished receiver."

It's hard to fault the Browns for making that deal with the Falcons. After all, on draft day, New England coach Bill Belichick told Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff, "Thomas, I'm just telling you as a friend. I wouldn't do it."

Belichick added that he thought Jonathan Baldwin was "just as good if not better" than Jones. Which leads us to this: the Browns weren't wrong to trade out of the No. 6 pick, but they really could've used a playmaker.

As it stands, their offense is so predictable that people half-paying attention know what's coming.

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Posted on: November 13, 2011 11:59 am
 

Belichick didn't like Julio Jones draft-day deal

Posted by Will Brinson

When the Falcons decided to trade a pile of draft picks to the Browns for the rights to Julio Jones, there was reason to be skeptical, considering the bounty. But there was also reason to be optimistic if, as Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff thought, the Falcons were just one piece away from a team that was capable of going the distance.

Jones isn't necessarily guaranteed to be that piece, but he's shown flashes of being the prescription for what ails Atlanta's deep-threat problem. More interesting, though, is franchise-building savant Bill Belichick's reaction to the trade, before it happened, when Dimitroff called him to get his input on the deal.

"Thomas, I'm just telling you as a friend," Belichick told Dimitroff prior to the trade, per the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. "I wouldn't do it."

Two things are important to recognize about Belichick's comment, which comes from Michael Holley's book about the coach. One, Belichick felt that Jonathan Baldwin, now a Chiefs wideout, was "just as good if not better." And two, hindsight is always 20/20.

None of that is to say that the deal worked for Atlanta. That still remains to be seen. In fact, their decision to jump up in the draft inherently hinges on their ability to make the playoffs.

What's interesting to me, how Atlanta and Cleveland fare aside, is what would have happened if Belichick, master of the draft-day manuevering, moved up to nab a top-tier prospect.

As I've noted over the past few weeks, the top seven picks in this recent draft are outstanding. Four of those players -- Von Miller, Patrick Peterson, Marcel Dareus and Aldon Smith -- would have an immediate impact on a terrible Patriots defense.

Belichick isn't a guy that jumps into the top 10 of the draft to pay heavily for a player with upside that doesn't equate to guaranteed. But is it possible he missed the economic trend of grabbing the best young players at a much more reasonable cost by virtue of sticking to his guns?

It absolutely is -- Belichick held five picks in the first three rounds of the 2011 draft. Trading up to grab an upper-tier selection would've been tough, but the Pats could've pulled it off. Guaranteeing that they landed a great player is a totally different ballgame of course, and it's hindsight to assume all the top picks from this year will succeed.

But exploiting the new rookie-wage scale is exactly the Moneyball-esque technique we've come to expect out of the Patriots and somehow, instead, New England's left wondering why Ras-I Dowling is on IR and the defense can't stop anyone.

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Posted on: September 1, 2011 11:59 am
 

Should the Browns give Hillis a long-term deal?



Posted by Ryan Wilson

Last week, the Browns signed left tackle Joe Thomas to a seven-year, $84 million extension. And in Colt McCoy, they appear to have finally settled on their quarterback of the future. It's all part of the rebuilding process overseen by team president Mike Holmgren and implemented by new coach Pat Shurmur. Cleveland also took Greg Little in the second round of the April draft to bolster the wide receiver position. And in one season, Peyton Hillis, the guy the Browns got in the trade for Brady Quinn, went from an afterthought in Denver to one of the Browns' best players.

Hillis was so good, in fact, that he ended up on the cover of Madden 12. After spending the first two years with the Broncos where he managed 397 yards on 81 carries, Hillis ran for 1,117 yards on 270 carries (4.4 YPC, 11 TDs) and added 477 receiving yards (and 2 TDs) in 2011.

In addition to the Madden love, the Browns are now talking about extending his contract.

Given Hillis' importance to the Browns' offense, and that McCoy could use all the weapons he can get, the extension makes a lot of sense. Yes, page/TEN">Titans shouldn't pay Johnson">we're not big fans of overpaying for running backs because you can't swing a dead cat without hitting one capable of rushing for 1,000 yards, but we can't imagine that Hillis will be asking for Chris Johnson money. (Granted, it's still not clear what constitutes "Chris Johnson money," but it's more than what the NFL's highest-paid back currently makes.)

Still, the Browns blog, Dawgpound Daily, asks an important question: Would signing Hillis to a long-term deal be a good idea?
With just one solid season under his belt … there is no guarantee that he will come close to those numbers again or, worse, stay healthy. Hillis’ running style is not kind to his body, and it was evident in 2010, as he battled injuries for much of the second half of the season.

Most likely, the Browns will give Hillis a fair amount of guaranteed money and let him earn the rest of the contract. Luckily, the team is flush with cash to spend (they have more than $18 million in salary cap room) and can afford to take a chance on Hillis.
If the idea is to surround McCoy with playmakers then keeping Hillis is a no-brainer. But questions about his durability are certainly relevant; it's not like Hillis tiptoes out of bounds whenever he gets the chance and shies away from contact. He's a fullback by nature and seems to enjoy steamrolling defenders. That takes a toll.


The real reason we wanted to write about Hillis is to show this video. Because, really, there's nothing quite so awesome as Peyton Hillis vs. Chuck Norris.

For now, though, he's just happy to be playing football. "When you are playing a game, that’s when you know you are truly blessed," Hillis told Forbes.com recently. "I’m looking forward to another big season with the Browns to show fans how much we appreciate them."

And speaking of the fans, he has nothing but good things to say about those who voted him onto the Madden 12 cover. "This has been a humbling experience and I want to thank all the fans in Cleveland and throughout the country that got behind me and voted each and every week."

Enjoy it, Peyton. Because it's only a matter of time before fans start making fantasy demands and you just snap.

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Posted on: August 22, 2011 9:09 pm
Edited on: August 22, 2011 9:26 pm
 

Browns, Thomas agree to 7-year, $84M extension

Posted by Ryan Wilson

We don't know if Titans running back Chris Johnson will point to this as more evidence he deserves to be the NFL's highest-paid player, but either way, the Browns have signed left tackle and 2007 first-round pick Joe Thomas to a seven-year, $84 million extension that reportedly includes $44 million in guarantees, a league source tells the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot.

Thomas has been one of the Browns' most consistent players since the team returned to Cleveland in 1999, and he is the cornerstone of an offense that finally appears to have a quarterback in Colt McCoy. (Yes, we're aware of similar conversations about Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn.) Thomas was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons, has started all 64 games in his four-year career, and has never missed a snap.

"Joe is obviously one of the finer left tackles in the business,'' coach Pat Shurmur said, according to Cabot. "He's a very, very good pass protector. I guess what's impressed me is that he's a fine run-blocker as well. Typically, you find a guy that's good at one and average at the others, but I think Joe is good in both phases, extremely good.

"He's big, has good feet, balance and body control. He has pretty good power for a guy that's a tackle. And he has a feel for the game. Usually what makes a player good is kind of a combination and he's blessed with a lot of those things.''

The Browns' offensive line has been the least of their worries in recent seasons. In addition to the revolving door at quarterback, the running and passing games fell somewhere between inconsistent and nonexistent. Trading for Peyton Hillis prior to the 2010 season immediately upgraded the rushing attack. And the emergence of tight end Evan Moore, and the addition of rookie Greg Little could give McCoy the downfield weapons he'll need to have any chance at success.

Ultimately, it all starts up front with the o-line, and Thomas has been a big part of that.

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Posted on: June 24, 2011 8:00 pm
Edited on: June 25, 2011 2:15 pm
 

Browns WR Little got 93 parking tickets at UNC

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Somewhere Terrelle Pryor is no doubt wondering "Hey, wait a second, Greg Little had 93 parking tickets in college and people are focused on me? Really?"

As it turns out, yes, although that could be changing.  According to the News & Observer, Little received 93 parking tickets associated with five different vehicles while at North Carolina. UNC officials confirmed that Little and seven other players racked up 395 tickets worth $13,000 in fines from March 2007 to August 2010. 

No idea how you explain that away, although Little's time in Chapel Hill wasn't without controversy. He was suspended for the 2010 college season after accepting improper agent benefits. Mistakes as a 20-year-old don't necessarily portend a life of crime. But racking up more parking tickets than career college receptions (93 to 86) doesn't do much to change that perception.

As for how Little came to the Browns, it's an interesting story.

Cleveland had the sixth-overall pick heading into April's draft. The pre-draft scuttlebutt was that they would probably add one of the two game-changing wide receivers -- either AJ Green or Julio Jones. The Bengals ended up taking Green fourth overall and instead of settling on Jones, the Browns made a deal with the Falcons, who landed Jones in exchange for their 27th, 59th, and 124th selections in 2011, as well as their first- and fourth-rounders in 2012 NFL. That's a lot to give up for one player, but Atlanta thinks Jones could be the final piece to their Super Bowl puzzle.

Meanwhile, the Browns were praised for the move, even if they didn't land one of the two best wideouts in the draft. What they got instead were enough picks to add depth to a roster desperately in need of it. And they got their big-play wide receiver, too, drafting Little 59th overall.

You could make the argument that the difference between Jones and Little isn't worth what the Falcons gave up to get Jones. And in that sense, the Browns appear to have made out. Except that Jones, by all accounts, is a high-character guy. Little still has a long way to go, but has said he learned a lot from his 2010 suspension. 

"It was really tough for me, man," Little told the Cleveland Plain Dealer shortly after the Browns drafted him in late April. "I learned a tremendous amount about how to deal with success. I've grown from it. A lot of my morals and values have changed so much just from sitting out that year. I'm so hungry and ready to get back and play, it just baffles me sometimes."

A word of advice: maybe he should let someone else drive him to practice. Like, say, this guy.

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Posted on: May 8, 2011 2:31 pm
 

AFC North draft truths revealed

Posted by Andy Benoit

One of the best things about the draft is that from it we can find out what teams really think about their current players. Excluding examples of teams filling obvious needs, here are some of the more revealing draft picks from 2011, with a quick blurb of what the team was really saying by making this pick.

Baltimore Ravens

2nd round, Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
We’re not sure we want to re-sign T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and we need a downfield playmaker anyway. Plus, Derrick Mason can’t play forever…right?

3rd round, Jah Reid, OT, UCFA. Dalton (US Presswire)
Jared Gaither is far too flaky to bank on, and we prefer to play Marshall Yanda at guard.

4th round, Tandon Doss, WR, Indiana
We’re aware of the Torrey Smith-Darrius Heyward-Bey comparisons.

Cincinnati Bengals

1st round, A.J Green, WR, Georgia
We’re as sick of Chad Ochocinco as everyone else.

2nd round, Andy Dalton, QB, TCU
We’re not going to give an inch with Carson Palmer. Problem is, we don’t think he’ll give an inch with us either.

3rd round, Dontay Moch, OLB, Nevada
We’re not sure Michael Johnson has the ability or drive to be a stud starting linebacker. And we might be starting to realize the same thing about Keith Rivers.

Cleveland Browns

1st round, Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
We need defensive linemen in the worst of ways. Taylor is perfect because he’s Shaun Rogers without being Shaun Rogers.

2nd round, Greg Little, WR, North Carolina
Why spend a first-round pick on Julio Jones when you can get a handful of extra picks and a player who, talent-wise, is not all that far off from Jones? All it takes is a little maneuvering and a slight willingness to overlook character concerns.

Pittsburgh Steelers

2nd round, Marcus Gilbert, OT, Florida
At some point offensive line coach Sean Kugler won’t have the patience of Job and will start pounding his fists on the table.

3rd round, Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
Yeah, yeah, we know about Green Bay’s spread formations in the Super Bowl. But a third-round pick isn’t going to do the trick. That’s why we’re praying we can re-sign Ike Taylor.

Check back throughout the week for other division’s Draft Truths Revealed. To see all Draft Truths Revealed, click the “Draft Truths” tag.

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RSS Feed .

Posted on: April 29, 2011 10:57 pm
Edited on: April 30, 2011 12:05 am
 

NFL Draft day 2: Winners and losers

Posted by Will Brinson

NEW YORK -- Well, the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft are under wraps. The lights are off at Radio City Music Hall, the boos and screams have subsided, and now we make knee-jerk reactions about who did well and who did poorly on Friday.



WINNERS

Ryan Mallett: Unbelievably, while in the middle of living out a Tom Petty song, Mallett caught a miracle branch extended by Bill Belichick and the Patriots, and now finds himself in the only situation in the NFL that could really get people excited about his potential.

Washington Redskins: Dan Snyder must have been hogtied before this draft started, because the ‘Skins actually traded down during the second day of the draft. Four fifth- AND seventh-rounders won’t win you a Super Bowl tomorrow but it’ll help strengthen a roster.

Denver Broncos: The Broncos took advantage of San Francisco’s desperate hankering to nab Colin Kaepernick, moved back and picked up a bunch of draft picks. Then they got a guy who will be one of the biggest steals of the draft in Nate Irving, added Rahim Moore at safety and picked up Orlando Franklin to help the line.

Buffalo Bills: They drafted defense in the first round. And then they drafted defense in the second round. And then they drafted defense in the third round. There’s really no reason to stop until the seventh ends.
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Cincinnati Bengals: They called Carson Palmer’s bluff for the second-straight day, and they did so in a way that could be teachable for some other first-round reachers, like the Titans and the Vikings: let the arguably-indistinguishable quarterbacks like Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder and Jake Locker fall.

Cleveland Browns: They’re stacked with picks for the next two years and they’re making great selections all over the place. Greg Little gives Colt McCoy a weapon and Jabaal Sheard can slot into their new 4-3 as an end.

Houston Texans: They jump back on the good side during the second day after grabbing a linebacker who can help out in the 3-4 shift in Brooks Reed and then trading back up to into the second to grab the talented Brandon Harris from Miami.

Randall Cobb: Cobb had to hang around for the entire second round in New York City, but it was worth it, since he went to the Packers (he actually said he would have waited ‘til the seventh to end up there). Just a case of Ted Thompson looking far enough ahead. Again.

New England Patriots: I don’t know why Colin Cowherd is stealing my line about the Patriots owning every single first-rounder in the 2030, but it might not matter if it actually happens -- Pats already have two first- and second-rounders in next year’s draft.

Sam Bradford: The Rams went defense in the first round when Julio Jones and A.J. Green didn’t fall, but went out and got their franchise QB some nice weapons with great hands in TE Lance Kendricks and WR Austin Pettis.

LOSERS

The NFL: It was the second day of the draft and in the middle of the league trotting out veterans -- both of the league and the military -- and a score of fans to announce draft picks and huge new NFL players, the Court of Appeals ruled that the lockout was back on. It just felt dirty.

Ryan Mallett: He plummeted in the draft, falling all the way to the middle of the third round. And it looked like he was going to fall out of the third, with no one really expressing interest in the Arkansas quarterback. Then Belichick came calling.

Carolina Panthers: Said it before the round started, but it remains to be repeated, because they had no second-rounder. Hard to win on Friday without one of those. On the bright side, they took their medicine and used their two third-rounders on defensive tackles.



Da’Quan Bowers: Don’t get me wrong -- I like his spot in Tampa, and they’ve got a shot to hit an absolute home run with him late in the second round. But there’s no denying his health cost him a big old pile of money.

Atlanta Falcons: The Browns, using a pick obtained in the first-day trade for Julio Jones, grabbed Greg Little one pick after Torrey Smith went. Neither’s better -- or even close to better -- than Jones, but is Jones five draft picks-worth better than either of them? I’m not sure about that.

Marion Barber: The Cowboys drafted DeMarco Murray and it looks like Barber’s book is just about closed in Dallas.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Sssshhhhh. Do NOT tell Jacksonville, but they actually were horrible on defense in 2010. Actually, no, wait, tell them, because they’re only drafting offense for some reason.

Detroit Lions: I actually like the guys they got in the second day -- Titus Young and Mike LeShoure will help make the offense more potent -- but who’s going to protect Matt Stafford? If Jim Schwartz thinks the guys he’s got can do the job, they’ll be fine. But if not, 2011, meet 2010 and 2009.

Derek Jeter: Not football-related, but a certain sportswriter who was monitoring the Yankees game during the draft tells me he’s “terrible.” What? It was a theme!

Marvin Austin: The big fella out of Carolina was taken by the Giants, which would be fine, if the Giants didn’t play in New York City. The guy who single-handedly unearthed an agent and academic scandal at Carolina (still ongoing!) via his own Twitter account doesn’t need the bright lights of the Big Apple.

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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