The Cleveland Browns are coming off of a 4-12 season and like all losing NFL teams, trying to make that quick turnaround. When you’re in that situation you start trying to find a way to score points, meaning offensive key players are at a premium. To give the Browns credit they did attempt to go for the gold, making attractive offers to move up in the draft and nab either Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, but to no avail. At that point Cleveland became a little more pragmatic, and settled into wise use of draft choices, looking long term.
The first order of business was bringing in a premiere running back in Trent Richardson out of Alabama, using three of their later picks to move up in the draft. It’s a solid move that gives their offense a dependable runner to keep defenses on their toes. Richardson should start immediately. More interesting was the decision to use another 1st Round pick to draft Brandon Weeden of Oklahoma State at quarterback. All offseason there was a huge battle brewing as to whether former starter Colt McCoy could get the job done if he had a better team around him. The drafting of Weeden puts the whole issue in question. Can the Browns afford to put their offense in the hands of two rookies? Will there be a legitimate competition between Weeden and McCoy?
Thankfully the Cleveland Browns fielded a pretty fair defense in 2011 and wholesale changes weren’t needed. Some improvement against the run would help though and the Browns added a few journeymen to the defensive line. It won’t take a lot of changes to improve on their scoring defense which allowed less than 20 points per game in 2011.
As usual the Cleveland Browns are facing an uphill battle within their division. The Pittsburgh Steelers are annual contenders, the Ravens still field a fierce defense, and Cincinnati is on the cusp of becoming a much better team. Moving form 4-12 to winners of 6 to 8 games in 2012 would be a big achievement for the Brons in 2012.Eric Drouant