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Browns undergoing a defensive renovation


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CantonRep.com staff writerPosted Mar 30, 2009 @ 11:18 PMLast update Mar 31, 2009 @ 12:27 AM The loose perception that the Browns will focus on defense at the top of the draft got a little tighter, thanks to Pat Kirwan.

 

An NFL.com analyst and former Eric Mangini associate with the Jets, Kirwan has posted a revised mock draft that has the Browns spending all three picks in the first two rounds on defensive help.

 

The defense-or-bust theme is buttressed by the fact Mangini, the new Browns head coach, built his reputation as a Patriots defensive coordinator.

 

New General Manager George Kokinis jumped from a Ravens team whose backbone was in the shape of a “D.” Baltimore’s defense ranked no worse than No. 6 in the NFL in each of the last five years.

 

But how can this be right?

 

Why would the Browns spend Nos. 5, 36 and 50 picks on defenders in light of certain glaring facts? To wit:

 

• The Browns offense ranked lower than the defense in four of the last five years.

 

• The Browns are coming off a 2008 season in which the offense didn’t find the end zone in the last six games.

 

• The 2008 offense was often awful, even before injuries rendered it irreparably ugly.

 

But then, most would agree that defense has been a dirty word on the Lake Erie shore and that Mangini is doomed unless he does something. In less than a year and a half, the face of the Browns defense has been warped beyond recognition.

 

Opening-day starters against Pittsburgh in 2006 included Ted Washington and Orpheus Roye up front, Antwan Peek and Andra Davis at linebacker, Leigh Bodden at cornerback and Sean Jones at strong safety.

 

Less than three months into the Mangini era, not one of the six remains on the team.

 

Mangini and Kokinis have been busy rounding up defensive free agents. Here is a look at where the defense stands as the new regime bores in on the draft:

 

Defensive line

 

Big issues Mangini vs. Shaun Rogers threatened to be a problem, but it hasn’t turned into Josh McDaniels vs. Jay Cutler. Rogers was told he can play at the weight that got him to last month’s Pro Bowl. Accusations that he was snubbed by Mangini have blown over. That relationship still bears watching, but a bigger concern is whether Corey Williams can play in a 3-4 scheme. Williams basically apologized in December for not playing up to a big contract and the price tag of a second-round pick sent to Green Bay. One theory has it that he was playing hurt and should be more helpful if healthy. Another is that he is a 4-3 tackle, not a 3-4 end, and ex-GM Phil Savage guessed wrong.

 

The new guy Free agency pick-up C.J. Mosley looms as the first lineman off the bench. Mangini trusts him — they spent three years together with the Jets — and will use him to help clarify the nuances of a revised 3-4. At 25, Mosley should be peaking.

 

Draft watch It’ll be a stunner if the Browns pounce on B.J. Raji with the No. 5 pick, simply because of last year’s two-headed-monster investment in Rogers and Williams. Depth is a concern for a team that hasn’t drafted a defensive lineman of any note since Gerard Warren in 2001. Raji’s Boston College teammate, run stuffer Ron Brace (6-3, 330), might be of interest at No. 50.

 

Linebackers

 

Big issues Kamerion Wimbley’s 11-sack rookie season is a fading memory. His third defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan, needs to figure out if Wimbley’s athleticism has been going to waste. The new staff likes D’Qwell Jackson, who was drafted lower than Wimbley in the same year. Departed Andra Davis and Willie McGinest must be replaced.

 

The new guys Eric Barton started 46 of 48 games for Mangini with the Jets. You wonder about erosion. He turns 32 in September. Barton and Jackson loom as a decent starting pair inside. Mangini likes Barton’s flexibility and willingness to take on any role, necessary traits if the Browns draft a linebacker high. It will be easier for Barton to go outside his comfort zone than it would be for a rookie. David Bowens has been a 4-3 end and a 3-4 outside linebacker. He’s a poor man’s Adalius Thomas, a guy who can be moved around. He’s not Jason Taylor, but he has been a steady pass rusher, with 24 1/2 sacks in the last five years. Bowens will turn 32 in July.

 

Draft watch The smart money has the Browns taking an outside linebacker (Texas’ Brian Orapko) or an inside linebacker with the flexibility to move around (Wake Forest’s Aaron Curry), if one is available at No. 5. Some think Clay Matthews Jr. could drop to Round 2. Seasoned Browns fans would love to see him picked. USC’s Rey Maualuga projects as a better inside linebacker fit than Ohio State’s James Laurinaitis, but neither is slotted where the Browns are drafting.

 

Secondary

 

Big issues Sean Jones failed to emerge as the elite strong safety his 2006 season suggested, but was one of the better defenders of the Browns’ wayward expansion-era seasons. Drafting his replacement is a distinct possibility. Re-signing safety Mike Adams was a strong move. He’s undersized, but very fast and very sure of himself. Give Brandon McDonald credit for not spouting off as if he had accomplished something in 2008. McDonald believes he can be a long-term starter, but talks as if he would adjust to a lesser role. Adding a starter-quality corner alongside 2007 Round 2 pick Eric Wright is on the wish list.

 

The new guys Free agents Hank Poteat (Jets) and Corey Ivy (Ravens) are manifestations of Mangini’s and George Kokinis’ trust built at previous stops. Both are aging. Ivy turned 32 on Sunday. Poteat turns 32 on Aug. 30.

 

Draft watch Analyst Pat Kirwan predicts Western Michigan safety Louis Delmas and Georgia cornerback Asher Allen as the Browns’ Nos. 36 and 50 picks. Other analysts are all over the yard as to which defensive secondary picks fit into the second round. The Browns are expected to swing a trade or two, possibly a major trade, to acquire more draft picks. They are not expected to consider Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins at No. 5, but could have him on the radar if they wind up elsewhere in Round 1. Jenkins lacks blazing corner speed, but would be an upgrade over McDonald. If he moves to safety, he is seen as a possible All-Pro. Oregon’s Patrick Chung strikes some as a mature safety who could start for the Browns tomorrow.

 

Bottom of the North barrel

The Browns have generally ranked near the bottom of the AFC North in both offense and defense during the last five seasons. The breakdown (listing league ranks and yards per game):

2008

Steelers, first, 237.2

Ravens, second, 261.1

Bengals, 12th, 325.5

Browns, 26th, 356.5

2007

Steelers, first, 266.4

Ravens, sixth, 301.6

Bengals, 27th, 348.8

Browns, 30th, 359.6

2006

Ravens, first, 264.1

Steelers, ninth, 300.3

Browns, 27th, 344.8

Bengals, 30th, 355.1

2005

Steelers, fourth, 284.0

Ravens, fifth, 284.3

Browns, 16th, 316.8

Bengals, 28th, 338.7

2004

Steelers, first, 258.4

Ravens, sixth, 300.2

Browns, 15th, 325.9

Bengals, 19th, 335.3

 

 

 

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this year i really think will be different, its my belief that the ravens will not be as good as last year. the moves the FO has hade so far havent been terrible thus far. with the additions of the corners and lb's and when we draft Orakpo and hopefully and a saftey i think we will be ok. i think with the defense healthy we will be good, Williams will be back after a poor year getting used to the 3-4 and putting Orakpo on the left side will do wonders, and if Bell can prove that he is the badass they said he was then i think he will help tremendously. as a browns fan year in and year out this still isnt the worst we have seen over the years. by the way how does d. jackson not make the damn probowl with 190 tackles?

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I get it. Mangini would like to get something not just right but VERY right in 2009, and defense is his wheelhouse. Adding some familiar veterans and then devoting the draft to that side of the ball is a distinct possibility... assuming Lewis and Edwards both stay and raise their play.

 

Even if they don't it may still be a defense heavy draft.

 

If Gini feels it can be fixed to a good level, a good D at least keeps you in games.

 

Even a bad O can score 16 points most weeks....a TD and 3 fieldgoals

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Even if they don't it may still be a defense heavy draft.

 

If Gini feels it can be fixed to a good level, a good D at least keeps you in games.

 

Even a bad O can score 16 points most weeks....a TD and 3 fieldgoals

 

We didn't seem to have the ability last 5 or 6 games of 08

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We didn't seem to have the ability last 5 or 6 games of 08

 

 

I understand that.

 

You seem like a knowledgeable fan....I would think you know it is easier to build a D than it is a O.

 

 

If one unit could be great, I think most coaches would prefer a D that fits that description, only from the standpoint it keeps you in most games.

 

I think most coaches only ask for a chance in the last 5 minutes.

 

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Guest Masters
We didn't seem to have the ability last 5 or 6 games of 08

 

And for the most of those last games CLE had no healthy QB. When you got to trot out Dorsey and a recently signed Gradkowski, you are in for some scoring woes.

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Asher Allen at #50?!! Wow....I like the kid but I think that is a bit of a reach.....No, I think that is a huge reach.

If we pick him at #50 I'll go run out in the middle of a busy street on day 1.

He may go in the third round but it's possible he'd be there for pick #104 for the Browns.

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I understand that.

 

You seem like a knowledgeable fan....I would think you know it is easier to build a D than it is a O.

 

 

If one unit could be great, I think most coaches would prefer a D that fits that description, only from the standpoint it keeps you in most games.

 

I think most coaches only ask for a chance in the last 5 minutes.

 

I really don't think we are in any disagreement reguarding the need for a strong D . In our division it is a must . But if it was really easy to build a Defense we sure the hell missed the boat so far . lol

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Did you guys know that Brandon Mcdonald has 7 interceptions in his first 17 starts?

 

Im sick of B-mac being written off, he's better than wright in my opinion

 

Check this thread out: http://thebrownsboard.com/forums/index.php...pic=1596&hl=

 

I wouldn't go as far as saying B-Mac is better the Wright (when you look at times even targeted, you see why Wright's INT total is lower and B-Mac's is higher). But B-Mac should not be written off. He was made to start a lot sooner than he should have been and most CBs drafted where he was usually do, with success.

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I really don't think we are in any disagreement reguarding the need for a strong D . In our division it is a must . But if it was really easy to build a Defense we sure the hell missed the boat so far . lol

 

No disagreement.

 

Not saying it is easy....just easier. O requires more of a plan and timing. D requires that, but not as much, and on D, a player or unit can get by on desire more easily. A defensive player can will himself into knocking the snot out of the next person to have the ball easier than a qb can will himself into completing his next pass.

 

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Did you guys know that Brandon Mcdonald has 7 interceptions in his first 17 starts?

 

Im sick of B-mac being written off, he's better than wright in my opinion

 

Check this thread out: http://thebrownsboard.com/forums/index.php...pic=1596&hl=

 

 

When people talk about drafting DB's, especially later round DB's, that doesn't mean they are writing off anyone.

Teams play nickle and Dime defenses so often that depth is a huge concern.

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