Let’s talk the third round

Cleveland got two selections in the third round as well; I am somewhat less sanguine about those. First was Duke Johnson, a running back. Cleveland has two great running backs already; Johnson, however, is more of a pure speed guy/receiver. A poor man’s Reggie Bush, maybe. This line makes me a little optimistic: ” He’s perfectly suited for a role as a zone-scheme back.” Gee, like Cleveland’s offense!

Xavier Cooper, the last pick in the third round (which Cleveland got in another trade), is another DT, but he’s the anti-Danny Shelton: a pass rusher who happens to play at tackle. I could see him moving to the outside, maybe.

I really wanted to see Cleveland grab a wide out or tight end; they still have two fourth rounders, so maybe that’ll get addressed tomorrow, but I overall do like the direction they’ve taken in the draft. I’m just not enthusiastic about Johnson or Cooper… yet.

More draft news

Cleveland swapped their second rounder and a seventh rounder to Houston for their second round pick, a fourth, and a sixth, which I call a win. Cleveland then drafted edge rusher Nate Orchard. Orchard projects to be quite similar to Paul Kruger; even though we’ve already got one of those, why not have two? Although pass rush wasn’t as pressing a need as stopping the run (and the scouting report on Orchard is troubling, saying he gets “engulfed at the point of attack”), it was still a place we could improve upon.

We have to go offense in round 3, preferably a receiver of some sort. As I write this, nobody has taken Bryce Petty yet, and if the Browns really like him, I could see him snapped up.

Round 1 is in the books and I couldn’t be happier

We got Danny Shelton! When the only glaring weaknesses, according to SI, are that he sucks as a pass rusher, well, the Browns didn’t draft him for that. We need to stop the run in 2015 and we’re in a much better position to do that.

We also got Cameron Erving! I hadn’t heard of him before the draft, but the more I hear, the more I like him. He’s a future replacement for Alex Mack (if he walks), Mitchell Schwartz (if he walks or outplays him in camp), or even start at RG (since John Del Greco is what advanced sports analysts term ‘meh’.)

Assuming Cleveland also grabs a wideout tomorrow, I am a happy camper. So is Terry Pluto, and if he’s happy, I’m happy. The best move Cleveland made is the one they didn’t make: trading up for Mariota. McCown can fight him in camp to see who wins the spot; I’m looking forward to Manziel either proving he can’t handle the NFL or proving that he can. I just want proof.

Another mock and some good points about QBs

Tom Reed has a pair of articles regarding the Browns in the NFL Draft, which is coming up this Thursday (I will be elsewhere and will miss the first round, sadly).

First, Reed offers his view of the first round. He assumes the Browns don’t trade up for Mariota (which I do think is unlikely). He has them taking DT Danny Shelton with the first pick and a WR I never heard of, Breshad Perriman with the second first rounder. I’m becoming a believer about Shelton; we need to stop the run, as I said in my schedule preview. Perriman, based on Reed’s assessment, seems like a bad call — we already had a tall receiver who had issues dropping the ball. I agree we need help out of the receiver position; I don’t agree that we should take the first tall guy we can, even if he is fast. We need a more complete and polished package at receiver to help out whomever the QB happens to be. If Shelton drops to #19, that would solve our problems neatly.

His other article discusses Mariota in the context of recently drafted QBs. His primary point is about the spread offense, and how it doesn’t really work in the pro game. He sums up his argument with this gem:

The majority of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in 2009 – Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers – remain its best quarterbacks today. The only young ones demonstrating any consistency are Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, products of pro-style college programs.

I think Reed is overstating it, as some other QBs have at least been decent (like Nick Foles, Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Tannehill, RGIII when healthy, even Alex Smith). If your benchmark is truly elite, I’d have to agree, but you don’t need super elite QBs to win either. He closes the article by suggesting that this natural offensive deficiency is only going to get worse, so it makes sense for Cleveland to trade up and grab Mariota now if they think he’s the guy (although he argued in the first article that they ought to wait and grab Bryce Perry in a later round.) I’ve pretty consistently rejected the idea of selling the future for a QB: Cleveland is more than a QB away, and we still don’t know if Manziel has value. A late round pick, maybe, but unless Mariota drops to #12, let someone else take him.

Another Hall of Fame to complain about! Yay!

As I learned from the AV Club, Video Games are getting their very own Hall of Fame (as part of the National Toy Museum in Rochester, NY. There are fifteen nominees. Although the balloting process is not clear, AV Club says that the panel will be composed of “journalists, scholars, and other video game experts.” The first class is:

Pong

Space Invaders

Pac-Man

Oregon Trail

Tetris

Super Mario Bros.

Sonic The Hedgehog

The Sims

Doom

FIFA Soccer

The Legend Of Zelda

Pokémon

World Of Warcraft

Angry Birds

Minecraft

There are fourteen games with legitimate credentials (and FIFA Soccer). Let’s assume, for the moment, there will be five nominees. I think four are very clear, right off the bat: Pong, Tetris, Pac-Man, and Super Mario Bros. All four are enduring classics, which have been carried up to the present day. The fifth choice is a tough one: Space Invaders seems a safe bet, but I think we’ll get one relatively new franchise. The poll on the Strong Museum’s website has The Sims leading the way with, as of this post, more than 50% of the vote. Personally (assuming this is not a one-time deal, and that entries can be nominated more than once), I think either Legend of Zelda or, especially, Pokemon is a better bet for spot #5.

2015 NFL Schedule is out

In what has become a nigh annual tradition, I am going to analyze Cleveland’s schedule and predict our record! Shout out to Tom Reed of Cleveland.com, who first posted the schedule (as far as I saw it).

Week 1 (at NYJ): According to Reed, Cleveland is 1-15 in the past 16 seasons for the first game of the season. Ouch. However, the Jets don’t particularly impress me (although Revis + Skrine is a nasty DB combination). Win. (1-0)

Week 2 (vs. TEN): Tennessee has beefed up its defense, true, but that offense is butt ugly. Even if the Titans pick up Marcus Mariota, who thinks he’ll be ready to face what should be an improved Browns defense by week 2? Win. (2-0)

Week 3 (vs. OAK): I know we’ve all crowned Derek Carr the next big QB, but while he had a solid rookie season, he didn’t light the league on fire (Oakland was 30th in offensive DVOA). The Raiders defense will probably still stink (26th in 2014 by defensive DVOA), and that should give Cleveland a chance to go 3-0. Win. (3-0)

Week 4 (at SD): San Diego has a killer offense, but their defense is only a little better than Oakland’s. There have been trade rumors swirling surrounding Philip Rivers, but I don’t think he goes anywhere. If we can stop the run and whoever starts at QB isn’t a steaming pile of shit, this could go either way. Loss (but a close one). (3-1)

Week 5 (at BAL): The Ravens will be the first team that, I think, will probably wipe the floor with Cleveland. Baltimore has had Cleveland’s number for a while. I think we’ll make a good showing, but the Ravens are extremely balanced and don’t have glaring weaknesses. Loss. (3-2)

Week 6 (vs. DEN): The Browns have one, and only one chance: Peyton Manning has to be human. He has to, finally, start sucking as somebody of his age should. If Manning does melt down, it’ll come at the end of the season, not near the beginning. Loss. (3-3)

Week 7 (at STL): Time to get back on the winning track, wouldn’t you say? I’m not convinced that Nick Foles is better than Sam Bradford; healthier, maybe. Philly had a lot more weapons than the Rams do. Win. (4-3)

Week 8 (vs. ARI): Arizona went 11-5 last season. If they break .500 this year, I’d be pleasantly surprised. They are, essentially, a mirror image of the Browns (good defense, bad offense), but they had better luck. Carson Palmer doesn’t scare anybody and hasn’t for years. Win. (5-3)

Week 9 (at CIN): It comes down to the run defense. If it’s better (and honestly, a cardboard cutout of Ted Washington would be an improvement), I think Cleveland looks more like the team that dominated the Bengals, not vice versa. Andy Dalton is overrated and always has been. Win. (6-3)

Week 10 (at PIT): If we beat Cincinnati (specifically shut down the run), I think we can beat Pittsburgh. The Steelers are formidable offensively, but a shadow of their former selves on defense. We’re being optimistic, aren’t we? Win. (7-3)

Week 11 (BYE): So, at this point, Cleveland is 7-3, and only two of those wins make me nervous (Pittsburgh and maybe Cincy.) If we’re 7-3, and 2-1 in the AFC North, we’re in playoff position. The key is not to shit the bed for the rest of the season. Let’s move on.

Week 12 (vs. BAL): We’re at home, coming off of a bye, when people will be rested. I genuinely think we have a chance at an upset here. Win. (8-3)

Week 13 (vs. CIN): This feels like a trap game to me. Cleveland’s won five straight (if my predictions are right), and we’ll probably get some injuries about this time. I think we lose here. Loss. (8-4)

Week 14 (vs. SF): I have no idea what to expect out of the 49ers next season. I genuinely don’t. Colin Kaepernick was still pretty darn good, but they lost Patrick Willis, the key to their defense. If that means the offense gets better but the defense gets worse… I think this game is winnable. Win. (9-4)

Week 15 (vs. SEA): Yeah, we’re losing here. This and Denver strike me as two no-doubt losses. Loss. (9-5)

Week 16 (at KC): If I can get some cash together, I’d love to go see this game. This is another trap game. KC is on the downside defensively, but upside offensively. Unlike the second Bengals game, though, I think we’ll overcome this trap. Win. (10-5)

Week 17 (vs. PIT): Dare I predict sweeping the season series against the Steelers? I think I do. It’s at home, and we might be fighting for playoff positions. Win. (11-5)

Now, obviously, I could be very, very wrong. Everything depends on Cleveland addressing their most fundamental weakness (which is not quarterback): stopping the run. If the Browns don’t improve there, I have little confidence we can beat Pittsburgh or Baltimore. A healthy Jamaal Charles also guarantees us a loss at KC. However, it is at least possible that Cleveland makes the playoffs with competent QB play and, most importantly, good DL play. We’ll have to see!