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You know where I’m at on this year’s free agent season:
“Free-agency is where it’s at this year. Browns have the cap space to go after someone and, in my opinion, they’re close enough to being playoff caliber where such outlays make sense. … FA done right lets you transform positions of weakness into strength literally over night. FA done right can move an ‘ok’ team into playoff range. That’s where I think the Browns are; that’s why I think this FA season is crucial.”
Are we getting fired up yet?
This weekend, next week, is this year’s version of last year’s three-picks-in-the-top-37 draft weekend. Next week will either turn the Browns into a playoff team or leave us looking at another top-10 draft pick in 2014.
Given that the Browns enjoy more cap room than most other teams and given only one draft pick in the first 67 and given the number of teams struggling with cap space… the Browns are in great shape to address several holes with top notch talent.
I’m as big a ‘build-through-the-draft’ guy as you’ll find and this year’s draft offers a good deal of hope in that at #6 overall, elite talent will be available.
But this is a unique year in free-agency and here’s hoping the Banner-Lombardi team recognize it as such. This is the year where three top-end starters in positions of need should be the goal for free agency.
Blah, blah, blah, enough… here’s my take on all this.
Here’s how I’d use FA and draft to plug the Browns holes.
[editor’s note: reduce your audio volume before clicking on the video clips. there’s no way on my side to adjust the sound and they seem to come out blaring.]
The needs (in order):
This seems so clearly to be the number one need that I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it.
Buster Skrine is currently the #2 CB. I thought his coverage was energetic and actually decent. His problem in coverage centered on his being under 5’10”. When I made the Usama vs Giants clip below, I noticed a lot of Skrine being there, but Victor Cruz just getting the ball… like Cruz would just effortlessly reach out over Skrine’s flailing little arms.. ah well. His other problem is that he’s not known as a tackler as was noted in his combine profile. In fact, pretty much everything in Skrine’s draft profile has been on target:
Undersized and will be out-muscled by stronger receivers at the next level. Tight hips limit his ability to chance direction quickly. Over aggressive at times and can be fooled by play action. Boxed out by bigger receivers in jump ball situations. Does not have the strength to shed blocks and is a poor tackler.
The move: Keenan Lewis in FA. We had him as our pick three weeks ago. We liked his no missed tackles. That no WRs got over 100 yds on him. That he did well against other teams’ #1 when Ike Taylor was out. But we keep finding more and more things to like. For example, his 23 pass defended last year was second only to Richard Sherman. And it quite a bit more than Haden’s best year (19). The video we’ve watched has done nothing but make us more jazzed to get him.
Alternate move: None. Even though the free agent CB crop looks deep — Cox, S. Smth, Toler, Grimes, Williams, Talib, DRC — I don’t see anyone in the draft or FA who is in Lewis’ class. This is the must-have signing.