Cleveland Browns: Was The Offseason A Success?

Feb 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cleveland Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cleveland Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Did the Cleveland Browns do enough to have a successful offseason?

There is still time for the Cleveland Browns to continue with their changes this offseason as they try to improve the organization. Now that is in the second week of May, any more additions will not be too significant.

After another disappointing season in 2015, Cleveland decided to go another route in making the Browns a contender again. Owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam is (at least for the time being) allowing a rebuilding situation that will take some time. Hopefully, the rebuilt is seen through rather than quickly making another series of moves in the front office and coaching staff.

Out are Mike Pettine and his coaching staff, as well as members of the front office, most notably Ray Farmer as general manager. The Cleveland Browns then chose to replace those individuals with Hue Jackson as the team’s head coach. Multiple people are also now involved in the football operations department, with Sashi Brown as the leader with the title of VP of football operations.

The front office has a background in analytics, which is something NFL teams use, but not to the degree Cleveland could be relying on this upcoming season. The Browns are going against the norm as to how to run a football team and it could pay off. The key once again is allowing the time to play out.

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The Cleveland Browns needed to make changes on the football side of the ball this offseason and with who they hired, it appears that they did a good job. Jackson has coached multiple decades for a number of programs and organizations, but he still may be a bit underrated nationally. That could be a good thing, as he can do his thing with the players and coaches in Cleveland, and in turn potentially turn the Browns around.

Cleveland was among the leaders with the most salary cap to spend heading into fee agency. Unfortunately, not much was done during that period of the offseason. Yes, they signed Robert Griffin III as their new quarterback, but Cleveland also let go of two starters along the offensive line, a starting safety, and a play-making wide receiver.

Later in the offseason, the Cleveland Browns also released multiple veterans who were starters last season, but at the same time it shows that they are invested in a youth movement. The players (outside of Griffin) that were free agent signings are not household names and likely are not difference makers. During free agency was when the “Moneyball” approach really started to take effect.

When those signings started happening, the fact that those players were members of the Cleveland Browns did not change the reality there were and to this day still are needs on this roster. Needless to say, I was hoping Cleveland would do better during the 2016 NFL Draft after seeing what they did in free agency.

Prior to the draft, the Cleveland Browns had 12 selections, but by the end of the draft, they had drafted 14 players. Cleveland easily went the quantity over quality approach. The majority of their draft class was made of players who had college production and the needed size at their respective position.

That is great, but college production translated to the NFL does not guarantee success. Cleveland should be happy with their draft class as a whole, but they also need to be on the side of caution because of that very reason.

At the end of day one of the draft, the Cleveland Browns had acquired Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman. The Browns needed to gain more talent along the offensive side of the ball, but he could have been selected a bit later (because of route tree issues). Instead, TCU wide receiver Josh Doctson would have made more sense at the time. All in all, it was a solid pick with plenty of potential.

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Cleveland was horrible last season on defense, so the additions of Oklahoma State EDGE Emmanuel Ogbah and Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib should help from day one. Following the Nassib selection, Cleveland went back to the offensive side selecting Auburn tackle Shon Coleman and USC quarterback Cody Kessler.

Stating Kessler could be the answer at quarterback would be wrong. He has a ton to work with, but he also a lot to work on. Do not expect much from Kessler his first couple of seasons.

The highlights of day three were four more wide receivers becoming Cleveland Browns and then finishing with Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III, who was a great value. Cleveland needs help and although not every wide receiver will work out, I am hoping for two of them to be a great benefit to the team.

Anything more than two would be icing on the cake. I understand the need to add as many options on offense, but simultaneously it was very hard seeing the Cleveland Browns passing up certain players that were just as talented at other key positions. Adding two kickers (on either a tryout basis or through a UDFA contract) also helps, as well as the UDFA signing of former Texas A&M lineman Mike Matthews.

Looking back at the draft, there are a couple of players I completely disagree with, but there is a lot of talent in this class. Each player brings a different skill set, but at the same time, they all check out off the boxes the Browns were looking for. Cleveland did not hit an “A” at this time, but listing them with a “B” grade is fair.

For the Cleveland Browns, some of their rookies will have to play right away. That is not always the best way to go, but for some positions, Cleveland does not have any other choice. In a few seasons, we can better assess this draft class.

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In the meantime, we must remember this is just the beginning with this regime. Hopefully, next season as they continue to build through the draft, they spend some money too, but for 2016, yes this offseason was successful.