After a third-straight season with at least 10 losses, Cleveland Browns president Mike Holmgren fired head coach Eric Mangini and hired former Eagles assistants Pat Shurmur and Dick Jauron to be the new head coach and defensive coordinator, respectively.
There is some reason for optimism in Cleveland. Last year, rookie third-round pick Colt McCoy showed that he could be the quarterback of the future by helping the team win back-to-back games midseason in dominating fashion over playoff teams New Orleans and New England. McCoy's skill set should be an ideal fit for the new West Coast offense. The one potential roadblock for the Browns with the work stoppage is the installment of the new schemes on both offense and defense. The offense will be the traditional West Coast scheme that Shurmur learned under Andy Reid in Philadelphia before becoming the offensive coordinator in St. Louis. Jauron will transition the defense from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 front.
What do the Browns need to improve? On offense, the biggest deficit is at wide receiver where last season the team's two pass catchers were tight end Ben Watson and running back Peyton Hillis. There is no deep threat and it's been an issue for this team for years. With A.J. Green of Georgia off the board, Alabama's Julio Jones - considered by some to be a better receiving option than Green - would be the ideal choice from that regard. The right tackle position could also be addressed with John St. Clair set to be 34 years old later this summer.
Last year, the Browns netted two starters on defense in the draft with cornerback Joe Haden and safety T.J. Ward. That shouldn't preclude the Browns from going after the top cornerback in the draft in LSU's Patrick Peterson, who is still on the board. However, the needs are primarily in the front seven for this defense which needs an impact player especially with the transition to the 4-3 scheme. Two of the top ends are still on the board in Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers as well as North Carolina's Robert Quinn, as well as defensive tackle prospect Nick Fairley of Auburn. Cleveland released veteran linemen Shaun Rogers and Kenyon Coleman and there isn't much depth in place right now. Two of last year's starters at linebacker in Eric Barton and David Bowers were also cut in a postseason sweep of the old.
What should the Browns do with the No. 6 overall pick? Yes, they can get their receiver now, but they also could get a speed option later and take an premier defensive line talent.
Needs: WR, DL, LB
All Good: LT, C, QB