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Whither Rashard Higgins?by Thomas Moore on March 30, 2020 at 10:49 pm
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports Depressed wide receiver market could see free agent make a return engagement with the Browns. The NFL entered the third week of free agency on Monday and things are definitely starting to slow down. That is especially true of the wide receiver market, which was never very robust to begin with this year. In the past few days, wide receivers Demarcus Robinson returned to the Kansas City Chiefs on a one-year deal, and wide receiver Geronimo Allison signed with the Detroit Lions, also on a one-year deal. Few markets were as brutal as the receiver market in free agency this year. This was the going rate for a bunch of them. A historically deep draft kept prices down but Allison — like many of them — gets another shot next year https://t.co/LX3sIat8EK— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 29, 2020 One familiar name still out there is wide receiver Rashard Higgins, who spent the past four seasons as a member of the Cleveland Browns. Expected to be a solid third option in the passing game in 2019, Higgins hurt his knee in the opening game, had issues with former head coach Freddie Kitchens, and rarely saw the field as the Browns went through a tumultuous season. That led to Higgins not being able to build on the solid second half of the season he put together in 2018, as Pro Football Focus points out: Rashard Higgins struggled mightily in his first two years in the league back in 2016 and 2017. He saw only 58 targets and produced a 58.5 receiving grade, the second-worst among wide receivers in that span. Higgins then came back in 2018, struggled once again to start out the year then things started to come around for a change in the post-Hue Jackson portion of the 2018 season as he owned a 71.4 receiving grade which ranked 35th in that stretch. Injuries then limited his 2019 campaign to only 10 targets, leaving him still as an unproven wide receiver. It seemed like a lock that Higgins would go elsewhere in free agency once the season came to an end. There was even reported interest from the Buffalo Bills a few weeks back, but still nothing. Source: #Bills interested in Rashard "Hollywood" Higgins. More here: https://t.co/hp68B6vCOr #BillsMafia— Ryan Talbot (@RyanTalbotBills) March 19, 2020 So could Higgins make a return to Cleveland, possibly on one of the one-year deals that have become so popular this offseason? Now that the Browns have moved on from Kitchens, Higgins would presumably have a clean slate with the new coaching staff. And he did have the kind of chemistry with quarterback Baker Mayfield in 2018 that was lacking with some of the wide receivers last season. On the other hand, head coach Kevin Stefanski has a preference for using two tight ends in his offense, and with wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry entrenched as the starter, and running back Kareem Hunt a threat in the passing game, the opportunities for a third wide receiver might be very limited. Of course, it only takes one injury for a larger role to open up, and Higgins is arguably a far more attractive option than the other wide receivers currently on the roster, a group that includes KhaDarel Hodge, D.J. Montgomery, J’Mon Moore, Damion Ratley and Taywan Taylor. It may not be the outcome that Higgins was envisioning when free agency opened a few weeks back, but given the current state of the wide receiver market, if the Browns are interested then an encore in Cleveland could end up being his best option.
Daily Dawg Chow (3/30/20)by Jon Stinchcomb on March 30, 2020 at 10:30 am
Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images More of the latest Browns news and notes from around the web in today’s dose of the Daily Dawg Chow. Cleveland Browns: “Andrew Billings has learned to appreciate every snap, is eager to join Cleveland’s defensive line” (BrownsZone) - “Billings has played three seasons since, including the last two as a starter, but he still reflects on his season that wasn’t.” “Keenum Says He’s Ready To Step In & Play Well, If Needed” (OBR) - “Keenum has been on five teams in eight seasons, including four teams in the last four seasons. The Browns are his fifth team in as many years.” “What did the Browns defense gain in signing former Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo? — Film review” (cleveland.com) - “When a coach lands a head NFL job, they tend to bring in talent they are already familiar with.” “Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz thinks Browns, any NFL team wise to draft ‘freakish’ Tristan Wirfs” (CantonRep) - “Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon. Hype and hope.” NFL: “Roundup: Redskins add ex-Eagles CB Ronald Darby” (NFL.com) - “The former Packers wide receiver has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions, the team announced.” “Former Broncos cornerback/kick returner Goldie Sellers dies at 78” (ESPN) - “Former Denver Broncos cornerback/kick returner Goldie Sellers died Saturday night of complications from cancer, his family announced. He was 78.” “Could an isolated coronavirus-free facility be only way for NFL to play in 2020?” (PFT) - “But even if no fans are present, how will teams be able to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread through a given locker room?” “The Story Of The NFL Draft, From Extravaganza To Unadorned” (AP) - “An NFL draft handled remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic is the latest twist to an event that has become as popular as any pro football happening short of the Super Bowl.”
Draft INSIGHT: OT Matt Peart & OG Logan Stenbergby Barry Shuck on March 30, 2020 at 8:41 am
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports How would drafting either of these players in Round 4 make the Browns better? The Browns need depth at both tackle and guard spots. Round 4 is a perfect spot to get backups at either position and push for a starting job with pick #115. Matt Peart and Logan Stenberg are each talented players who need some seasoning and can be coached up. Cleveland offensive line coach Bill Callahan is just the man who can take raw clay and mold an athlete into a valued roster member without the pressure of having to man a starting role from Day 1. OT Matt Peart Specifics: College: UConn Height: 6’-7” Weight: 303 pounds 40-time: 5.06 Career Games: 48 Positives: Played right and left tackle in college Four-year starter and very durable Mobility Penalized very few times Active in run blocking Quick enough to stay with outside rushers Knows how to use leverage to his advantage Senior Bowl invitee 2019 First Team All-AAC Negatives: Irregular hand technique Needs improvement in pass protection Not the longest of arms Tends to lean on bodies instead of pushing Needs more girth to handle bigger defensive linemen Will need development and coached up Get more stronger Expert Draft Site Analysis DraftBlaster.com Ideal length, height and frame to play on the outside at the next level. Peart a natural bend, and does an excellent job at getting inside leverage and being in a position to maximize his push against opponents. Agile and light footed for his size, and comfortably moved from guard to tackle. Lateral movement is smooth and rarely gets beaten with speed moves on the outside. Needs to work on his lower body strength, as he can get challenged with pure power rushers. Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images OG Logan Stenberg Specifics: College: Kentucky Height: 6’-6” Weight: 322 pounds 40-time: 5.30 Career Games: 39 Positives: Great strength Is known for putting defenders on their backs Is a finisher and a bully Rarely is overpowered by defender Can simply engulf his opposition Excellent point-of-attack power Very good reach and extension Has great vision with pulling Selected for Senior Bowl and dominated every defender 2019 First Team All-SEC 2019 Second Team All-American SEC Academic Honor Roll Three-year starter in tough conference Did not allow a single sack his senior season Negatives: Can “stand up” too often Needs to sustain blocks on running plays longer Sufficient second level blocking Lacks true positional flexibility May be too tall for guard? Expert Draft Site Analysis thedraftnetwork.com Logan Stenberg projects as a starter in a gap/power heavy scheme at the pro level. Stenberg is a mauler with a tenacious demeanor and will be an effective tone setter — although he does have his limitations. Stenberg is not a dynamic mover and his stiffness will present issues with remaining stuck on his blocks for an extended period of time. In all, Stenberg’s wins in close quarters outweigh his lack of range and influence on the fringes. Very scheme specific but can serve as a starter.
Browns mock draft roundup: post-free agencyby Thomas Moore on March 29, 2020 at 3:41 pm
Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports Cleveland GM Andrew Berry filled one of the offensive tackle holes in free agency. Will he fill the other one in the draft? Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry has kept busy the past few weeks filling some of the holes on the team’s offensive line. The biggest addition was free agent right tackle Jack Conklin, who agreed to a three-year deal at the start of free agency. The Browns worked out a restructured contract with incumbent right tackle Chris Hubbard, and moved on from offensive linemen Greg Robinson, Eric Kush and Justin McCray. There is still a major void to fill at left tackle and it appears increasingly likely that Berry will look to the upcoming NFL Draft to fix that particular issue. The Browns currently hold the No. 10 overall selection, so while they will not have their pick of offensive tackles the consensus among just about every mock draft floating around the internet has Berry selecting a tackle when Cleveland is on the clock. Let’s take a quick run through the various mocks to see just who the Browns might select. Michael Renner at Pro Football Focus: Andrew Thomas (OT), Georgia: Thomas’ familiarity with left tackle gives him the nod here over Jedrick Wills. Thomas allowed 37 pressures on 1,075 pass-blocking snaps in his college career. Chad Reuter at NFL.com: Andrew Thomas (OT), Georgia: Signing Jack Conklin to stabilize the right side of the line was huge. Acquiring Thomas to man the left side will bring a smile to Baker Mayfield’s face. R.J. White at CBS Sports: Andrew Thomas (OT), Georgia: The Browns land a left tackle to pair with big free-agent signing Jack Conklin and give the offensive line the upgrade it desperately needs. Jordan Read at The Draft Network: Andrew Thomas (OT), Georgia: I don’t think there’s a team that’s had a better free agency period than the Cleveland Browns. Signing Jack Conklin to a reasonable three-year, $42 million deal was a major step to their offensive line rebuild, and cashing out and securing Austin Hooper was vital for Kevin Stefanski’s scheme. There wasn’t an offensive play-caller last year that incorporated more double tight ends sets than Stefanski did with the Minnesota Vikings a year ago. The Browns continue their quest to fortify their offensive front and add a rock-solid option in Andrew Thomas. Nathan Zegura at clevelandbrowns.com: Tristan Wirfs (OT), Iowa: The Browns find every team’s dream scenario when the best player available also fits their biggest need. Andrew Berry will run to the podium to select the top tackle on the board and, in this scenario with the run on QBs, they are able to land Wirfs, who absolutely electrified athletically at the NFL Combine. Vinnie Iyer at The Sporting News: Tristan Wirfs (OT), Iowa: The Browns took care of right tackle in free agency with Jack Conklin signed to replace Chris Hubbard. Here they can get a massive upgrade from Greg Robinson on Baker Mayfield’s blindside. Wirfs has the athleticism at 6-5, 320 pounds to hold down left tackle for a long time. He combines his pass-blocking skills with power and physicality in the running game. Mel Kiper at ESPN: Mekhi Becton (OT), Louisville: “I really liked Cleveland paying up in free agency for Jack Conklin, who will upgrade the right tackle spot. But this team could still use a new starter at left tackle, which is why I like Becton here. A mountain of a man at 6-foot-7, 364 pounds, Becton also has excellent feet and agility — he is the heaviest player to run a sub-5.2 40-yard dash at the combine since 2006. Chris Hubbard, signed in 2018 to replace Joe Thomas, hasn’t worked out; it’s time to get Baker Mayfield better protection.” Walter Football: Mekhi Becton (OT), Louisville: Perhaps the Browns will think twice about entering the season with Greg Robinson as their left tackle. They desperately need help on the offensive line. At 6-7, 340, Mekhi Becton is a massive human being. Despite his size, however, Becton is athletic and flexible, as he showed us at the combine. He projects similarly to Cordy Glenn. The 2020 NFL Draft will take place April 23 through April 25.
Sunday Dawg Chow: Browns news (3/29/20)by Thomas Moore on March 29, 2020 at 11:00 am
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports More of the latest Browns news and notes from around the web in today’s dose of the Sunday Dawg Chow. Cleveland Browns: Top 5 most valuable Cleveland Browns (Forbes) - The NFL offseason is a time for self-reflection. In making trades, adding free agents and drafting rookies, NFL teams decide what types of players they value. With that in mind, let’s analyze what kind of value the Browns have on their current roster. Here is one writer’s rendition of the Browns’ five most valuable players. Damarious Randall Hints at New Destination in Cryptic Tweets (heavy.com) - While there have been some teams that have expressed reported interest in Damarious Randall, the outspoken safety has yet to find a home in free agency. But Randall has not been shy to express his feelings off the field, clashing with the coaching staff last year in Cleveland. He was mysteriously benched for a game late in the season against the Steelers and clashed with the medical staff early in the year about a concussion. How did free agency impact the draft? (clevelandbrowns.com) - The Browns Mailbag is back after a two-week hiatus, and we’ve got plenty to cover as we write this from the home office. We’re tackling five of your questions in this “welcome back” edition. Baker Mayfield killing his garage workouts (cleveland.com) - No one will accuse Baker Mayfield of sporting a dad bod during this coronavirus pandemic. The Browns’ QB has gone from being body-shamed on social media in January when he was photographed in a swimsuit in Antigua alongside Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Giants receiver Sterling Shepard and linebacker Alec Ogletree, to posting shirtless photos of himself working out in his garage during this shelter-in-place order. NFL: Could the Patriots do the unthinkable and tank? (The Guardian) - With Tom Brady gone, the Pats find themselves at a crossroads. Would they consider tanking in the hope of finding their next franchise quarterback? Chiefs re-signing DeMarcus Robinson (ESPN) - The Kansas City Chiefs are re-signing wide receiver DeMarcus Robinson to a one-year contract, a source confirmed to ESPN. Ravens set to sign defensive end Derek Wolfe to one-year deal (Baltimore Sun) - The Ravens and defensive end Derek Wolfe have agreed to a one-year deal, addressing a position of need one day after a deal fell through for the team’s top free-agent acquisition.