By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
As the draft draws closer, contributors to Hey Tony question the release of linebacker Chris Gocong and safety Usama Young and wonder why the team creates new holes without filling others. Surprisingly, there was very little response positively or negatively to the trade of quarterback Colt McCoy.
Hey Tony: Re: the release of Chris Gocong and Usama Young. What are they thinking? Now we have to replace another inside LB and get two safeties? If they did this at the beginning of free agency I think I'd be a lot more confident because I don't disagree with the move, just the timing! It seems to be a little too late to be dropping STARTERS! Ugh thank God I live in Baltimore (live on the same street as the stupid stadium ugh). I am anxious to see what you have to say about their latest ineptitude.
-- Tunde, Baltimore, MD
Hey Tunde: Gocong, 29, is coming off Achilles tendon surgery and was scheduled to make $4.45 million. All of that made him a marked man in the eyes of the new management. I thought Gocong would have been a nice fit at the inside LB spot next to D’Qwell Jackson. Perhaps the Browns coaches see enough good things in James-Michael Johnson, Craig Robertson and Tank Carder to fill that spot. Young’s release makes Tashaun Gipson the incumbent starter at free safety. This, too, is a position that must be addressed in the draft or free agency.
Hey Tony: Do you think that the Browns’ acquisition of an additional late round pick in the Colt McCoy deal makes it more likely that the Browns will use a late round pick on a kicker or punter?
-- Paul, Crescent Springs, KY
Hey Paul: After your email arrived, the Browns announced the signing of kicker Brandon Bogotay. He was a kickoff specialist at Georgia and didn’t have many field goal opportunities. So I would expect the Browns to add another kicker either through the draft or free agency. They have two unproven punters on their roster, too, including 2012 camp hand Spencer Lanning.
Hey Tony: I have a funny suspicion the Browns are going to trade Brandon Weeden away on draft day. Either for Ryan Mallett in a deal with the Pats, or for a second rounder that allows them to get a QB they like. What do you think?
-- Bryan, Belpre, OH
Hey Bryan: It’s amazing so many people still believe Weeden is on his way out. I believe the Browns have committed to Weeden – for one year, at least. If he doesn’t show significant improvement under the new coaches and system, they will reboot the QB search next year. If that happens, Mallett – who would be entering the final year of his New England contract – would be a prime option. I don’t envision Weeden being traded this year. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see no quarterback at all drafted this year.
Hey Tony: Jason Campbell has been in this offense before. Does that give him a legit shot at winning the starting QB job or is it Weeden’s job no matter what?
-- Angelo, Cleveland, OH
Hey Angelo: I think Campbell has a legit shot at winning the job, but I also think everyone expects Weeden to prevail. If he doesn’t, it will be a big disappointment and the QB search will resume in 2014.
Hey Tony: With the hands-on ambitious new owner in Jimmy Haslam, do you see the Browns getting more national attention? How many prime-time games do you see the Browns having this upcoming season? Also I feel like the young players we have are hungry for stardom. Players like Joe Haden, T.J. Ward, Phil Taylor, Jabaal Sheard, Trent Richardson, Josh Gordon, Greg Little love the attention and I feel like with more nationally televised games they will play more nasty and fierce.
-- Mike, Fairview Park, OH
Hey Mike: NFL rules now require each team to appear in a minimum of one nationally televised game per season. I wouldn’t expect an additional appearance in 2013. The Browns have to earn that type of respect before being showcased on the networks. I would settle for one home game at night, rather than multiple appearances on the road.
Hey Tony: Your article on the defensive backs shows a glaring need at this position for this defense to be successful. What if Haden goes down? Where's our ball-hawking safety? Do we have anyone capable of starting opposite of Haden? We now seem to have an overload on the line, especially in a 3-4 scheme. Tony, do you feel with this imbalance on the defense, the Browns will trade D-linemen for some backfield help or extra draft picks? What could they get for Rubin or Hughes? Do you think they see some player on the roster that's been overlooked?
-- Rick, Shreveport, LA
Hey Rick: The Browns’ inability, or unwillingness, to address the holes in the secondary in free agency baffles me. I do believe a trade of a lineman is a possibility. More than likely, it would be for a draft pick. But that’s no guarantee the Browns can adequately fill their secondary needs – a starting CB and a nickel back, plus a starting free safety – in the draft.
|Kenny Vaccaro Photo/Getty|
Hey Tony: I heard you on KNR responding to Aaron’s scenario of Milliner, Jordan, Ansah, etc., being gone by the time the Browns pick. If the Browns are not able to trade down, why not take Kenny Vaccaro at #6. He is the best safety (a position of need) who many feel also could play corner (also a position of need). I know ideally it would be best to trade down and do this … but if you can’t find a partner why not just draft him there?
-- Brad, Westlake, OH
Hey Brad: I don’t know of anybody who has Vaccaro ranked that high. Yet I have seen some draft experts list Alabama guard Chance Warmack as one of the top five players in the draft. And you could easily justify guard as a position of need, too. Overall, it’s a scenario that I don’t think the Browns would like.
Hey Tony: If the position is not addressed in the draft, would Kerry Rhodes, formerly of the Cardinals, be a viable option. He played for Ray Horton last year, and was successful. He's only 30 years old and is an accomplished ball hawk in that system.
-- Mike, McAllen, TX
Hey Mike: Rhodes will be 31 in August. He played five years with the Jets and three with the Cardinals. One thing you really want to avoid in free agency is signing a plus-30 player going on his third team. Rhodes might appeal to a Super Bowl-caliber team who is strapped at the free safety position. But the Browns will not reach the Super Bowl, in my opinion, before his tank runs dry. Another issue is whether a player at his age and experience wants to finish his career with a rebuilding team. Then again, if the Browns fail to land a safety in the draft and still have the need when camps draw near, Rhodes might appeal to them as a one-year stop-gap.
Hey Tony: Two questions about the Browns offseason: Is it fair to measure Chud's Browns’ record next season against the record of Marc Trestman's Bears? Both are new coaches with new teams. Second, who got the better deal for their defense, the Browns getting Paul Kruger or the Ravens getting Elvis Dumervil?
-- Kevin, Detroit, MI
Hey Kevin: Measuring Chudzinski v. Trestman is somewhat fair. But keep in mind the Bears have a stronger overall roster, are coming off a winning season and have an established QB in Jay Cutler. As for Kruger v. Dumervil, I think the Ravens came out ahead on that one for this reason: Because of the presence of Terrell Suggs, Dumervil can fill the role of complementary pass rusher. In Cleveland, Kruger has to be ‘the man,’ which he has never been before. The money issue also sides with the Dumervil pickup.
Hey Tony: My name is Eric and I work in Saudi Arabia so it can be a bit hard to keep up with things. I just had a quick question that I hope you have a second to answer. I keep hearing about the hole we have at guard. Last year didn't we draft some monster of a guard out of Colorado? Can or is he developing into the guard we need to fill that hole? Thanks for your time.
-- Eric, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Hey Eric: Ryan Miller was picked in the fifth round in 2012. He is 6-7 and 321 pounds and played both tackle positions at Colorado. The Browns positioned him as a backup guard as a rookie. He may eventually be developed as a tackle because his height might be a hindrance at the guard position.
Hey Tony: With the recent history of Offenses winning Super Bowls as opposed to Defenses, do you think it would be prudent to focus the draft on Offense? Go after Patterson, Allen, or Austin in the first and Tight End in the third? I know our Secondary needs help, but with today's NFL, I feel like we need playmakers to actually score touchdowns. The days of winning (or losing) 6 to 3 on Phil Dawson's leg are gone.
-- Steven, North Canton, OH
Hey Steven: I feel they have enough youth at WR in Gordon, Little, Benjamin. I’d rather have seen them buy a mid-level WR in free agency. You can stock up all you want on WRs and TEs. Until you have the right QB, it won’t matter.
Hey Tony: Why such a hater when it comes to changing the color of the helmets? I'd like to see the Browns go super-retro and go back to the all-white helmets!!
-- Tom, Hilliard, OH
Hey Tom: The all-white helmet was not one of Paul Brown’s better innovations. Sign me up for orange, thank you.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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