Evaluating the Browns New Additions: Offense

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Updated: May 5, 2015
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The Browns added 12 players in the 2015 draft, the most the team has added in a draft since 2000. But how do these picks address the team’s needs?

Offense:

Quarterback: The Browns were unable to add a quarterback in the draft. While the Browns probably had at least some interest in Mariota, they were unwilling to sacrifice the number of assets it would take to secure the Oregon star. For now, the Browns look to start the year with McCown and Manziel. A surprise year from either player would certainly make the Browns more of a threat to compete in the AFC North.

Running Back: The Browns added Duke Johnson in the third round of the draft, a running back out of Miami. Johnson complements Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell well, and figures to make an impact right away, possibly returning kicks. Johnson gives the Browns something they have been lacking, a home-run threat from the backfield. While some have Johnson pegged for a third down back, it would not be surprising to see Johnson surpass the often malcontent West as starter at some point during the season.

Duke

Tight End: The Browns added a pair of tight ends in the sixth round of the draft. Malcolm Johnson, out of Mississippi State, projects more as an H-back at the NFL level. Johnson will help block for Crowell, West, and Johnson but do not be surprised to see him be an asset in the passing game. Randall Telfer, a tight end out of USC was voted the team’s most inspirational player, likely for his willingness to play through numerous injuries. Telfer offers great size at 6’4, 250 and should be an asset in the running game. Telfer is also recovering from foot surgery. It is worth nothing that the Browns also added EJ Biggs from Iowa State as an UDFA, a player that many thought would be drafted. The Browns plans at tight end appear to be to throw numerous players against the wall and see what sticks. Rob Housler will likely serve as the teams athletic pass catcher with Gary Barnidge also showing an ability to make tough catches in traffic. Jim Dray proved to be a competent receiver as well as a willing blocker. Since Johnson will be more of an H-back, it is likely that the Browns will keep both Johnson and Telfer on the roster. Biggs is likely a target for the practice squad but has a shot at getting on the active 53 man roster if Telfer is not healthy.

Wide Receiver: Many Browns fans on Twitter grew more and more angry that the Browns kept passing on wide receivers during the first three rounds of the draft. However, their anger was briefly alleviated when the Browns added Vince Mayle from Washington State in the fourth round. Mayle offers good size at 6’2, 224 but ran slow 40 times, partially due to an injured hand which limited his ability to get off the line. The poor 40 time likely pushed Mayle down to the fourth round. Mayle will compete with Dwayne Bowe, Brian Hartline, Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel for playing time. The Browns are hoping Bowe and Hartline both have resurgent years. Hawkins proved to be an extremely effective weapon last year and Gabriel showed flashes as an UDFA. Travis Benjamin is the player that is on the bubble to make the team. Possible camp cuts from other teams or an impressive camp from an UDFA may end Benjamin’s tenure as a Brown. While the Browns still lack weapons at wide receiver, they are in a better position than they were a year ago with Miles Austin, Andrew Hawkins, and a partially suspended Josh Gordon.

Offensive Line: The Browns selected Cameron Erving with the 19th pick in the 2015 draft. Erving, from Florida State, demonstrated an ability to play multiple positions on the offensive line. Erving adds depth and flexibility to the Browns and will likely start at RG this season. With the future of Pro-Bowl Alex Mack uncertain beyond this season, Erving may end up starting at center next year. The poor performance of the offense after Mack’s injury last season likely encouraged the Browns to add insurance both for this season and beyond. Erving adds great depth to an already strong unit which includes Pro Bowlers Joe Thomas and Alex Mack as well as Joe Bitonio who had an impressive rookie season at left guard. Mitchell Schwartz figures to start at right tackle with John Greco and Michael Bowie set provide strong depth at multiple positions. The Browns are set to have one the strongest offensive lines in the league which will help the Browns evaluate Manziel.

Overall, the Browns addressed key needs on the offensive side of the ball. While they were unable to add a QB, they added depth at every other position. Erving is likely the only starter on among the offensive picks but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Duke Johnson play a prominent role in the running attack. The Browns additions all figure to be assets in the running game, something the Browns will need to rely on to have success this season.

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