National Football Authority

The Cleveland Browns receiving corps was easily the worst in the NFL last season.

If you count receptions by players who are deemed wide receivers, the five players for the Browns totaled 129 receptions for 1,438 yards. Or for those of you who need easier numbers for comparison, 14 receptions more than Atlanta Falcons Pro Bowl receiver Roddy White and 10 less yards receiving than Denver Broncos Pro Bowler Brandon Lloyd.

I mean, you know things are bad when two of the Browns top three leading receivers were tight end Ben Watson (763 yards) and running back Peyton Hillis (477 yards). In fact, those two had the same amount of receptions as the five Browns receivers on the season, as Watson had 68 and Hillis had 61 for a total of 129.

You can’t put all the blame on the Browns receivers though. When your team starts the season with Jake Delhomme under center, then has Seneca Wallace take over due to injury and then finally third-round rookie draft pick Colt McCoy takes over when Wallace goes down with an injury, it may be a little tough to develop any type of rhythm with your quarterback.

After the 2010 season ended with the Browns in their usual place, on the couch at home watching the playoffs, many fans thought the team would go out and either draft one of the top two available wide receivers (A.J. Green from Georgia or Julio Jones from Alabama) or throw big money at a veteran free agent like Santonio Holmes or Sidney Rice.

However, fans could not have been more wrong, as the team not only passed on drafting Jones by trading down, but they also left free agency without any major additions to the receiving corps. In fact, outside of second-round draft pick Greg Little from North Carolina, one could say the Browns did not do anything to their group of receivers.

But they could not be more wrong.

See, it was not so long ago that another “small” quarterback was taking over a franchise in a state of flux. In 2006, Drew Brees signed a deal to become the starting quarterback of a team coming off a 3-13 season. While I know Brees was already an accomplished quarterback with the San Diego Chargers and McCoy still has much to prove, my focus here is on the receivers, not who was under center.

Can you venture a guess at how many “big name” receivers Brees has had when he signed with the New Orleans Saints? Well I’m going to make it easy on you, none.

Yeah, Marques Colston is a household name now, but back in 2006 he was a seventh-round draft pick out of Hofstra. The Saints did not think he would make the roster when they drafted him, let alone post four 1,000-yard receiving seasons in his first five years in the NFL. The rest of the team’s leading receivers from the Brees era are listed below:

Lance Moore, 2005 Undrafted Free Agent from Toledo
Robert Meachem, 2007 First-Round Pick from Tennessee
Devery Henderson, 2004 Second-Round from LSU
Joe Horn, 1996 Fifth-Round Pick from Itawamba Community College
David Patten, 1996 Undrafted Free Agent from Western Carolina

The team also had the likes of tight ends Jeremy Shockey and running back Reggie Bush too. The point is the New Orleans Saints have been dominating the NFL in passing without top wide receivers in the draft or big name veteran free agents and they grew within the system itself.

What the Saints do is trust in the system and their quarterback. They gave Brees the keys to their version of the West Coast offense. Their fans don’t clamor for big name wide receivers, because they trust in their quarterback to put the ball on their compilation of guys who know how to run routes and catch the ball. And I think the Saints have been doing a pretty good job at it.

So when the Browns enter the 2011 season with the likes of Brian Robiskie, Mohamed Massaquoi (currently injured), Josh Cribbs, Little, Carlton Mitchell and Jordan Norwood as McCoy’s wide receivers, don’t panic and start screaming for Terrell Owens. The big change to the receiving corps won’t be the addition of any “big name” players, it will be the installation of a new offense which will allow them to do what they are supposed to do best—catch the ball.

Under the direction of Pat Shurmur and Mike Holmgren’s West Coast offense, you will soon see it does not matter how big of a name the receiver has. What matters is that the guys can run the routes effectively and catch the passes thrown to them. It has worked with the combination of head coach Sean Peyton and Brees in New Orleans since 2006 when they came together, and it will work for Shurmur and McCoy in Cleveland.

November 8th, 2011

Posted In: NFL

Get ready NFL fans, the lockout has been lifted for less than 24 hours and trade rumors are already starting to swirl.

A league source close to the situation confirmed to National Football Authority that the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings have had ongoing discussions regarding Minnesota’s No. 12 pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

According to this source, the Browns have expressed high interest in obtaining two certain players in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft. If the Browns can draft the first player they are interested in with the No. 6 pick and the other player is still available at the No. 12 pick, the two teams plan to make the deal.

While the complete terms of the deal were not discussed; the current talks are centered around the Vikings sending their No. 12 pick in the first round to Cleveland for the Browns’ 2012 first round pick and their No. 37 overall pick in the second round of the 2011 Draft.

Targeted prospect names have not been revealed and only actual draft picks have been discussed thus far.

I believe these discussions could potentially mean the Browns are targeting cornerback Patrick Peterson from LSU with the No. 6 pick and could be angling to acquire the No. 12 pick to draft wide receiver Julio Jones from Alabama, if he is still available. Or the Browns could be targeting any number of other prospects too.

If these are indeed the targeted players, it would allow the Browns to insert two opening day starters at areas of need from the first round right away.

This potential deal also could mean that Minnesota is not sold on a quarterback or defensive lineman with the No. 12 pick, and could be looking to draft those positions (and save money in the process) at the top of the second round.

Perhaps the Vikings are looking at picking up Jake Locker at the top of the second, since he has been trending to fall out of the first round altogether, but that could change if there is a run on quarterbacks at the bottom of the first round too.

A risky play by the Vikings, but they could be thinking they would get a Top 10 pick from the Browns in the first round of the 2012 Draft too. On the flip side, the Browns might think having two first round picks this year can make a huge impact for the team in 2011.

Either way you look at it, both teams are in talks and these talks are real right now

April 26th, 2011

Posted In: NFL

If you look at mock drafts across the web for Miami, one name has been constantly selected for the Dolphins with the No. 15 pick in the first round: Mark Ingram, running back from Alabama.

Don’t get me wrong, Mark Ingram would be a great addition to the Miami backfield. Especially since Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown are both free agents, and the Dolphins do not know if they are coming back next season.

With that said, I couldn’t pull the trigger on Ingram because the Dolphins have a bigger need. This need is for speed and athleticism at the outside linebacker position. This is why I have the Dolphins selecting Aldon Smith from Missouri with the No. 15 pick.

This pick wasn’t a very hard one to make. Current starting right outside linebacker Tim Dobbins is 28 years old and has 2 sacks in his NFL career. Not to mention starting inside linebacker Cameron Wake is coming off a 14 sack outburst in 2010, which means that teams will start to game plan specifically to stop him in 2011.

And that is where you insert Smith. He has great athleticism, speed, and explosion from either the defensive end position in the 4-3 defense, or outside linebacker in the 3-4. He is 6’4” tall, weighs 258 pounds, and is entering the NFL after his redshirt sophomore season of college football.

His claim to fame in college football was his 2009 season. He dominated Missouri as a redshirt freshman, amassing 11.5 sacks, 64 tackles, and 19 tackles for a loss during his first full-time season as a starter. He followed that up with a 48 tackle and 5.5 sack performance in 2010. His 2010 season was slowed up by a leg injury which only allowed him to play in 10 games during his sophomore season.

If Smith were healthy during the entire 2010 season he wouldn’t be available for the Dolphins at No. 15. I can say with certainty that he would have been a top ten pick. His rare blend of speed and athleticism gives the Dolphins a threat to sack the likes of Tom Brady and Mark Sanchez on any given down in the future. And with a talent like that on their roster, the Dolphins defense will be ready to go in 2011.

March 16th, 2011

Posted In: NFL