The 2014 Senior Bowl: A Positive Time
Over the past few weeks, a majority in the local media – including newspaper writers, radio hosts, and those who cover the team have lambasted the Cleveland Browns regarding their process of firing and hiring a new head coach. Remarkably, this sentiment has hit the national stage as well (and included negative slants from outlets like Sports Illustrated, Yahoo!, and even ESPN).
However, let’s direct our attention to the part of the franchise that can make the largest impact on the field. This week, there are one-hundred talented athletes competing in Mobile, Alabama and several could boost this roster going forward. Obviously, some position groups are more vital than others – regardless, the Browns’ front office and scouting department must do their best to get a sound handle on a majority of these players.
Offensively, it appears the weaker parts of the team are at quarterback, running back, a complementary wide receiver, and an offensive lineman or two.
– I believe the only signal callers that would be selected from the Senior Bowl rosters are David Fales and Jimmy Garoppolo, as the Browns will more than likely choose an underclassmen early in the draft.
– Replacing Trent Richardson could be done by Carlos Hyde. However, he will be selected early, this front office does not appear to value backs that highly, and he recently backed out of the Senior Bowl. Therefore, James White or Marion Grice may be evaluated further as a potential middle-round draft pick.
– Jordan Matthews has grabbed my attention at the wide receiver spot; I believe the Browns should take him with the twenty-sixth pick (assuming he is available). Jared Abbrederis may be a sleeper option if the Browns are looking for a slot receiver or a third wide out.
– It would not be surprising if the team chose two offensive linemen in the upcoming draft (depending on how free agency goes). Travis Swanson is a name to keep an eye on as a possible successor to Alex Mack. Cyril Richardson and Zack Martin might be available in the second or third rounds as viable guard and tackle targets, respectively – should the team agree.
Defensively, the primary needs for the Cleveland Browns include an inside linebacker, a safety (either strong or free), and a cornerback.
– C.J. Mosley will likely be taken off the board before the Browns select a linebacker, so Christian Jones ought to be scrutinized daily in the upcoming week. There’s a great probability he could be a starter in this defense. Jordan Zumwalt and Christian Kirksey may be choices later in the draft but they are potentially special teamers (at least initially).
– Regardless of whether the team re-signs T.J. Ward, the Browns should still be in the market for a safety. Ahmad Dixon and Deone Bucannon are two possibilities who play the position differently. The scouting department must relay two things to the general manager; which guy would be the better fit for this defense and to keep him in mind on draft weekend.
– Like the safety spot, the Browns could be looking for another cornerback in the middle to later rounds. A few physical athletes who might bolster the secondary are Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Aaron Colvin, and Kyle Fuller. Producing a starter from this draft would be monumental but also a tall order.
The Senior Bowl is an exciting time for players, fans, and NFL personnel alike. For the Cleveland Browns, it’s a time of optimism in a period largely dominated by negativity.