He will serve a four game suspension this year and then he’s back for good! Reports are that he is still in football shape and his game is still elite. When playing, Josh Gordon is a true number one wide receiver and he is hungry to be show the NFL that he still can tear it up. Two other receivers on the team is quarterback-turned-wideout Terrelle Pryor, who has been stunning critics with his game. He is a true wild card candidate here because I don’t think anybody knows how good he is going to be. He is freakishly athletic and could take advantage of defenses that aren’t paying attention to him. Another receiver we have is Corey Coleman, a rookie that the Browns drafted in the first round. While not exactly having a spectacular preseason, there is still tons of optimism moving forward about his playing ability. His speed and elusiveness will also allow him to see some action at punt and kick return. Rounding off the receiving depth chart are rookies Jordan Payton, Rashard Higgins, and Ricardo Louis, all of whom the Browns drafted this year. Behind Gary Barnidge at tight end is Randall Telfer, a sophomore who has yet to play in the NFL, and rookie Seth DeValve.
On right guard, we have John Greco. He’s been with us since 2011, if you can believe it. No complaints with Greco, a relatively solid player at the position who doesn’t get drawn into penalties often. Rounding off right tackle is Austin Pasztor, whom the Browns claimed off waivers last season from the Jacksonville Jaguars. With the left side of the line virtually locked down, Pasztor has the tough job of stopping quarterback assaults and stepping in for Mitchell Schwartz, who is now with the Kansas City Chiefs. Just like with Cam Erving, the Browns will not wait around if they feel he is not up to task. Some reserve linemen are rookies Spencer Drango and Shon Coleman and free agent acquisition Alvin Bailey.
I’ll say this right now, I think the Browns offense is very underrated. We have some untapped potential with the receivers and RG3 could be poised to have an explosive season. There are concerns with the offensive line and if the running backs can continue to evolve their game, but overall, I expect the Browns to put some sizeable points up on the board this season.
Things look a little different at linebacker. Karlos Dansby and Paul Kruger are no longer with the team, both somewhat surprising departures. Christian Kirksey, Tank Carder, and Nate Orchard are all relatively young still and are the veteran leaders on this unit now. Kirksey has a tremendous work ethic and I have been very impressed with his progress in the defensive game. I think he continues to evolve and should be a huge cog in our defense. Tank Carder has come a long way from being strictly used as a special teamer and I am excited to see how he continues to play. Also, I am a big fan of Nate Orchard, or “Sackintosh” as I call him. This guy could be a premier quarterback hunter-killer in the coming years for us. What’s really got me excited is the arrival of fresh talent to the linebacking corp. I am talking specifically about Scooby Wright, Emmanuel Ogbah, and Joe Schobert, all of whom were drafted this season. If you haven’t noticed, the Browns have drafted a truckload of talent this past offseason. Ogbah and Scooby seem to be the furthering their NFL game quickly and I think they will be our two best defenders by season’s end. Also at linebacker is Demario Davis, a tackling machine we signed from the New York Jets and undrafted walk-on Alexander Dominique.
Last season, our biggest weakness on defense turned out to be the secondary. Joe Haden was injured. Tramon Williams started to show his age. Justin Gilbert continued to be a non-factor. Donte Whitner did not play well at all.
The list goes on.
This season, Joe Haden and Tramon Williams have returned in the cornerback role. I expect Haden to start and go back to his dominant form, especially since he played exceptionally well under Ray Horton in 2013. Tramon Williams will move into a more reserve role while mentoring the young secondary. We also have Jamar Taylor at corner, whom we acquired from the Miami Dolphins in a trade. He’s a speedy defender who should be a much-needed upgrade at the position. Also at cornerback are Marcus Burley, and rookies Tracy Howard and Briean Boddy-Calhoun. At free safety, Jordan Poyer returns at starter after a productive season with two interceptions. I like him for his speed and vision, so look for him to breakout at some point. Ibraheim Campbell starts at strong safety, a player with limited play-time in his rookie campaign last season. Don Jones and rookie Derrick Kindred are also on the safety depth chart.
I want to quickly touch on special teams. We had probably the best punter in the league in Andy Lee, whom we traded to Carolina because of his lack effort in preseason where he refused to tackle a punt returner. I feel like he would have made that play in the regular season and didn’t want to risk his health in exhibition. I get it. However, I also see Hue Jackson’s point of view in which he demands excellence and clearly didn’t see that with that one play. It’s a tough situation and I hate to see Andy Lee go, but I get it. We already cut the punter we traded Andy Lee for, so we signed veteran Britton Colquitt, fresh off a Super Bowl win with Denver. At kicker we have Patrick Murray, who beat out Travis Coons at the kicking position. Coons was good, but just deflated at the end of the season last year with blocked kicks. Murray has some experience when he kicked for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is fairly accurate. Snapping to these guys is Charley Hughlett.
It’s a new look for the Browns, that’s for sure. This is a prime opportunity to lay the foundation of the team the right way so we can move forward. I’m not picking us to win the Super Bowl or anything, but it should be a fun season watching all the young talent develop. And I don’t think we will be as bad as most pundits are saying we will be. It’s a new era for our football team.