Guys on Offense – Who the Browns should focus on at the Scouting Combine:
In Indianapolis, the combine begins next week for professional football franchises. This is an extremely important few days of the scouting season. Teams are taking into account one’s strength (bench press), speed/action drills (sprints, cone drills, and positional exercises), and personality. Some position groups are in more dire situations than others, as well as some athletes need to be scrutinized greatly. Let’s first take a look at the top offensive options:
Quarterbacks – Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville), Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), Blake Bortles (Central Florida), Derek Carr (Fresno State), Aaron Murray (Georgia), Zach Mettenberger (Louisiana State)
Conclusion: I cannot hammer this point any more (though I’m sure I will), but the Browns will choose one of the first three during the draft. Hopefully they can get a fair amount of insight from these guys – especially in interviews. How much do the quarterbacks love and care about football? Can they handle tough questions (or pressure) from multiple general managers? Carr was on display in Mobile and the last two listed are rehabbing from injury; the Browns main focus should be setting their hierarchy among the guys behind center.
Running Backs – Carlos Hyde (Ohio State), Ka’Deem Carey (Arizona), Jeremy Hill (Louisiana State), Tre Mason (Auburn), Lache Seastrunk (Baylor), Bishop Sankey (Washington)
Conclusion: All six players listed are tremendous athletes who can quickly make an NFL franchise better. The Scouting Combine is an opportunity to determine which type of back best fits what the Browns want to accomplish offensively. Along those lines, value will be of equal importance – the team does not assess this position as highly as their predecessors. During the middle rounds, should one of the prospects that they desire remain available – they must make the correct decision. I could envision a dual threat back being the choice in the third round, like a Mason, Seastrunk, or Sankey.
Wide Recivers – Sammy Watkins (Clemson), Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt), Mike Evans (Texas A&M), Odell Beckham Jr. (Louisiana State), Allen Robinson (Pennsylvania State), Marquise Lee (Southern California)
Conclusion: This is becoming (in my opinion) the second-most important position on offense. The Browns already have Josh Gordon, but pairing him up with a dynamic receiving threat will completely open up the offense. Watkins and Evans will likely go before the Browns’ second first-round pick of the draft (twenty-sixth overall) – where they may choose one of the remaining guys listed above or an athlete like Brandin Cooks (Oregon State). However, the front office might wait and find a wide out later – i.e. the second or third round – if they value an available guy earlier. Matthews is one of my favorites, but Beckham Jr. is the most intriguing.
Tight Ends – Eric Ebron (North Carolina), Jace Amaro (Texas Tech), Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Washington), C.J. Fiedorowicz (Iowa), Troy Niklas (Notre Dame), Jacob Pedersen (Wisconsin)
Conclusion: At a spot that features several incredible football players, I would not be surprised to see the Browns scoop up one of the first two guys listed – provided they drop to the latter portion of the first round. Are these tight ends confident about being like Jimmy Graham and primarily a receiver? Or are they willing to “get dirty” and be a blocker when not running routes? The four remaining members seem to be solid complements to Jordan Cameron and perhaps the Browns would want to pair them with the Pro Bowler when employing multiple tight end sets.
OG/OC – Zach Martin (Notre Dame), Travis Swanson (Arkansas), Cyril Richardson (Baylor), David Yankey (Stanford), Xavier Su’a-Filo (UCLA), Gabe Jackson (Mississippi State)
Conclusion: Martin and Jackson had excellent Senior Bowl weeks, while Richardson’s stock took a large hit. I support the franchise choosing either of these two in the first two rounds, but getting a closer look at the remaining three prospects would be a great idea – especially if they fit a zone-blocking scheme. It’s possible that one of those guys could fall down draft boards due to a perceived weakness, whereas the Browns get tremendous value with an interior offensive lineman while filling other needs earlier.
OT – Jake Matthews (Texas A&M), Greg Robinson (Auburn), Taylor Lewan (Michigan), Antonio Richardson (Tennessee), Cyrus Koundjio (Alabama), Jack Mewhort (Ohio State)
Conclusion: Matthews, Robinson, and Lewan are likely to go early in the upcoming draft and the odds that the Browns select any are slim. Depending on what the team wants to do with the line (i.e. free agency and position shuffling), keeping an eye on the remaining three would be a great idea. Mewhort was solid in Mobile last month and many believe he can play several spots upfront in the NFL.