Jun 5, 2012; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Pat Shurmur (left) walks with team president Mike Holmgren during minicamp at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

Josh Gordon Comes To Terms With Cleveland Browns, According To Report

The Cleveland Browns have come to terms on a contract with Josh Gordon, according to a report

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Can Josh Gordon be a Game Changer for the Young Browns Offense?

The Browns selected Josh Gordon in the second round of the 2012 Supplemental Draft on Thursday afternoon, a huge vote of confidence in a guy who has not played football in almost two years.

Gordon started out his college career at Baylor where he looked like he was emerging as a young star in that offense prior to leaving after the 2010 season and transferring to Utah.

Though on paper, Gordon’s departure from Baylor was a curious one, the end result didn’t wind up hurting his draft stock all that much. In fact, the mystery of what he could have been probably propelled him to an even higher draft status than he otherwise would have been.

Gordon has fantastic overall measurables, big hands, and really good athletic ability. All he really lacks is experience, and the thought of what he cold become tantalized the Browns enough that they used a second round pick in next year’s draft to get him.

That’s surprising to me for a variety of reasons, the main one being that the Browns’ pick in next year’s draft could be pretty high. They have an up-and-coming defense and a couple of young offensive stars with which to build around, and with Brandon Weeden’s age, the time to win is clearly now or in the not-so-distant future. However, the choice to drop a second rounder from next year’s slew of picks is a curious one.

Still, it’s well understood what the Browns are trying to do. In 2011, they selected Greg Little with a second round pick, and in 2012, they brought in Miami’s Travis Benjamin in the third round. Add Josh Gordon to the mix, and the Browns obviously feel like they have a great young trio of receivers. With those three guys, it will be extremely intriguing to see what they do in the pre-season and in training camp.

What the Browns are getting in Gordon may be unknown, but at least on paper, they believe he can start and he really enjoyed meeting the team.

“I enjoyed my visit there last week, and was very impressed with all of the people I met, including Mr. Heckert,” Gordon said. “I have also had the chance to speak with Coach Shurmur on several occasions and I am looking forward to the opportunity to play for him.”

Gordon hasn’t played in an actual football game since the 2010 season when Baylor concluded a pretty average season with a bowl game against Illinois, and he missed out on being on the receiving end of a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback last season. That being said, Gordon hasn’t been inactive. He practiced all of last season with the Utah Utes football team, and he was planning on using his redshirt last season and playing with the Utes in 2012. I am not sure Gordon could have done much better than being a second round pick in the 2013 draft had he actually played, but the Browns expect him to be an immediate contributor despite the time off.

“Anytime you pick somebody that early, you’re hoping he’s a good football player, and that’s what we think Josh is,” Heckert said. “… Most years, there’s not a player of Josh’s caliber in the supplemental draft, so you don’t hear about it very much. But we look at it as a positive. We’re getting a really good football player and we’re getting him a year early.”

Gordon is going to need to learn fast, and he’s got a bunch of young new teammates to do it with. Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson, Greg Little, Joe Thomas, and now Gordon provide the foundation for the future of this team, and the Browns need him to be a game changer.

Athletically, Gordon appears to be up to the task, and from what I have heard and read about his pre-draft interviews, he is a sharp kid. This is an exciting move for Browns fans, though they might be disappointed to not have the pick next offseason. Hopefully Gordon produces well enough to keep the fan base at ease.


Interesting Argument for the Browns Making the 2012 Playoffs

Are the Cleveland Browns good enough to go to the playoffs?

With a revamped defense, a new look offense, and a rejuvenated fan base, it may not be out of the question. Mike Hoag of Bleacher Report makes the remark that the Browns have a potentially similar situation to that of last year’s AFC Breakout team, the Cincinnati Bengals:

Can Brandon Weeden drastically improve the potency of the aerial attack? Will he make those around him better with his leadership and strong downfield delivery?

Weeden is the key. Everything is riding on the 28-year old rookie.

Is it playoffs or bust for the Cleveland Browns in 2012?

A season ago, the Cincinnati Bengals rode a stout defense, a rookie quarterback and a rookie No. 1 wide receiver to the playoffs.

Why is it so crazy to think the Browns can’t do the same this year?

It’s not crazy.

I guess I had never really thought of it that way. The Bengals had a huge year from rookies A.J. Green and Andy Dalton, where Green was expected to be really good but Dalton wasn’t even assured to be the starter going into the year. It looked like the Bengals would potentially be one of the worst teams in the entire NFL before they pulled it together and started winning some ball games.

The Browns have a rookie quarterback in Brandon Weeden, who was arguably much better in his last two years of college football than Dalton with equally as big of wins. I do not think Greg Little is as good or talented as A.J. Green, obviously, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have a similar impact.

One thing the Browns have that the Bengals don’t or didn’t is a running back like Trent Richardson. Richardson could come in and realistically be one of the top 10 backs in the NFL in 2012 as a rookie. He is that good.

Where the Browns need to improve is their overall defensive play. They play in a division with two pretty old teams in Pittsburgh and Baltimore, both of whom have some injury concerns going into training camp.

If the Browns can take advantage and win some games early, they may surprise some people in 2012. It’s certainly an interesting argument, and the chips would have to fall into place, but it’s certainly not out of the question for the Browns to surprise some people and be a playoff contender this season if their young players exceed expectations.


Browns Offseason: Cleveland Needs a Breakout Year from Greg Little

In the 2012 NFL Draft, it was rumored that the Cleveland Browns were interested in selecting a number of different receivers, namely Justin Blackmon or Kendall Wright with one of their two first round picks. Neither player is wearing brown this season and, to the surprise of many, the Browns’ receiver group looks largely the same as it did last season.

It is considered one of the team’s major positions of weakness, and that is why Cleveland is going to need a jolt of energy from second year player Greg Little, who had a very solid rookie year considering the circumstances surrounding the entire league.

The Browns obviously have high hopes for the former second round pick out of North Carolina. Little is a bigger receiver who is every bit as capable of being as good or better than a guy like Brandon Marshall, whom he might compare favorably to.

But not only do the Browns have high hopes for Little, they need him to have a big year. Their receivers are very questionable at this point in time, and they aren’t going to break the bank for any veteran free agents. Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden will get a taste of what it was like to be Colt McCoy last season, constantly under pressure with not a lot of help on the outside.

That being said, I feel like Little is a very likely candidate to break out. The Browns’ offense isn’t going to be a monster passing offense I don’t think, but I feel like Little is due for a thousand yard season and potentially a very under-the-radar type of season. Toward the end of the 2011 campaign, we got to see what Little is capable of when the Browns played against Arizona and the rookie receiver had 131 yards on five receptions.

That is the type of performance the Browns selected him for, and that’s why so many scouts spoke so highly of him coming out of North Carolina.


Cleveland Browns 2012 Roster Analysis: Quarterback

Much has been made of the Cleveland Browns’ quarterback situation since 1999, but that’s mainly because they have been unable to find a guy to stick with as the “franchise” player for all this time.

In 2010, I thought the Browns made a huge move going and getting former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, one of the most productive and winningest quarterbacks in college history. McCoy obviously ended his college career on a sour note, but the third round pick of the Browns started a few games in his rookie season, and ignited a fire in his teammates.

At least, that’s how it looked from the outside looking in. From the inside out, it is obvious that in two years, the Browns have seen enough from McCoy that they don’t want him as their starter anymore. Not only did the Browns spend a first round pick on Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden, but Cleveland GM Tom Heckert was quoted as saying they expect Weeden to be the starter when the season kicks off in September.

Despite the lack of confidence in McCoy, I think he has handled it like a professional. I haven’t heard anything from McCoy’s camp except how hard he is working to get better, and he is still working with the starting unit while Weeden works his way to the top of the depth chart.

According to a report from CBSSports.com, McCoy received a phone call after Weeden was drafted by the Browns telling him just to “come in and compete.” As a competitor, there’s nothing that McCoy could ask for other than that, though there were rumors that he was previously told the team would not draft a quarterback in the first round.

In the end, it really didn’t matter whether the Browns took Weeden with the 22nd pick or with their second round pick—the writing was on the wall for McCoy. There were rumors that the Browns and Packers may be discussing a trade for McCoy, but or now, he remains a Cleveland Brown, awkward or not.

Obviously, the Browns selected quarterback Brandon Weeden in the first round to be their quarterback of the future, but since he will be 29 in his rookie year, they also drafted him to be their quarterback of the present. Since Weeden will be 33 or 34 at the end of his rookie contract, the Browns have to believe that he can get them to and win them a Super Bowl within the next five years.

Jon Gruden laid it out perfectly in his QB Camp with Weeden—he beat everyone he faced last year (except for Iowa State) including Andrew Luck’s Stanford Cardinal and Robert Griffin III’s Baylor Bears. Weeden is able to sling the ball around the field as well as pretty much anyone in the draft, and if he was a first round pick at age 28, can you imagine if he were four or five years younger?

He clearly has the tools required to succeed, but he’s going to have to develop faster than most rookies. The Browns have done a pretty good job of getting some competent targets around Weeden as he starts his career as the Browns’ quarterback, but many of those players are still under-developed at this point.

Cleveland drafted running back Trent Richardson, as well as receivers Travis Benjamin and Greg Little with premiere picks over the last two years, but an underrated addition was last year’s fourth round pick—tight end Jordan Cameron. Cameron has unbelievable athletic ability and should be able to contribute a lot more in 2012 than he did in 2011.

So, despite the overall questions concerning Cleveland’s skill positions, it’s not like the Browns haven’t used picks on guys. They are investing high draft picks in skill players, they just either haven’t developed or turned out to be flops.

Also still on Cleveland’s roster is long-time backup Seneca Wallace, who is certainly still capable of starting if the need should arise. Wallace has been in the league for nine seasons since leaving Iowa State, and has definitely been one of the better backups in the NFL throughout that time. His most extensive action was back in 2008 when he started eight games for the Seattle Seahawks, where he developed his relationship with Mike Holmgren, who is once again his boss in Cleveland.

The Browns also have former Duke quarterback and Rams pre-season star Thaddeus Lewis, who is a candidate for the Browns’ practice squad or a third quarterback role depending what they decide to do with Colt McCoy.

Overall, the Browns’ quarterback situation is in a “wait and see” type of mode right now. The general consensus seems to be that Brandon Weeden will take over as the starter sooner rather than later, but Colt McCoy’s future is still uncertain after that. Will the Browns trade him? This will be an interesting storyline to follow as the offseason develops further and rosters begin to take shape.


Cleveland Browns Mini-camp: New RB Adonis Thomas Scouting Report

The Cleveland Browns signed local product Adonis Thomas, a running back out of Toledo who has big play ability but is very undersized. The draft is one of my favorite things to talk about, and I was surprised to see Thomas didn’t add much weight over the offseason in his preparations for the NFL.

What Thomas lacks in size (5’9" 185 pounds) he makes up for with freakish athletic ability. He runs a 4.45 second 40 yard dash, and has a 38-inch vertical leap to go along with throwing up 19 bench press reps of 225 pounds. For a man of that size, that’s impressive.

During last season, I did a scouting report on Thomas, who was one of the more exciting and productive playmakers I watched in college football last year.

Small back with speed to burn who can make plays and hurt you in so many different ways. Averaging over six yards per carry both of the last two seasons, and has a career high 11 touchdown runs in 2011. Has received very limited carries in college, so his wear-and-tear should not be too bad heading into the pros, but his size does pose cause for some concern because he is not a thick back. He could probably add 10-15 pounds of muscle and maintain his speed. Good receiver out of the backfield with 59 catches over the last two seasons, along with three touchdowns. With the way defenses are being built to stop the pass first, he might be able to get away with playing at this size for a year, maybe two in the NFL. One of the best playmakers in the country when he has the ball in his hands.

Overall, I think Thomas is a great guy to have at least for a camp body. He may be too small to make it in the NFL initially, but you stash a guy like this on the practice squad for a year and develop him physically, and he can become a huge steal as a second year player.

Perhaps he could even contribute as a gunner on special teams or as a punt/kick returner as well. There are a lot of options for a guy who makes plays like Thomas, so I like this pickup for the Browns a lot.

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