ESPN has rankings for all NFL players from Scouts, Inc., but it's only available to Insider subscribers. Here are the top 10 Browns players with their grades: 93 Joe Thomas 89 Shaun Rogers 82 Alex Mack 78 Eric Steinbach 77 Eric Wright 77 Josh Cribbs 76 Phil Dawson 76 Sheldon Brown 75 Matt Roth 74 D'Qwell Jackson Joe Thomas' 93 ranking is tied for the third highest in the NFL, behind only Peyton Manning at 95 and Andre Johnsons at 94 (there are seven other players with 93 rankings). Shaun Rogers is tied with five other players as the highest ranked DT and Alex Mack is the third highest ranked center, after Nick Mangold and Ryan Kalil. Phil Dawson is the highest ranked kicker.
Punter Dave Zastudil is done for the season after being placed on the IR today with a right knee injury. He had surgery last year to repair a torn patella tendon and it hasn't healed properly, so the doctor determined that the best course of action was to shut him down for the season. Mangini said that Reggie Hodges will be our punter this season so I don't think they'll bring in anyone else to compete with him.
This will be the second year that I'm running an LGT Fantasy Football league on Yahoo and I'm looking to see who is interested in playing. We had twelve teams last year and seven of them are back...
Not surprisingly, Ryan has a lot of good things to say about our defense. He really likes Haden and Ward, saying they're both "excellent football players."
SI.com sent Damon Hack to visit the Browns' training camp in Berea and he gives this report. Nothing really interesting in there, just an overview of what's going on with the Browns coming in to this season. He did talk about how the players and Mangini are much more comfortable with each other this year after one season together, which is a change from last year. The most interesting tidbit for me was his description of Holmgren's office. It's huge, for one, and he has a large picture of Browns Stadium on one wall and a large picture of the Super Bowl winning Packers team on another wall. He also has a bank of shelves with helmets for the Packers, Seahawks, and Browns.
I'm not sure how many people have seen this, but Eric Walker has a long analysis of steroids in baseball where he discusses the reasons for them being banned and if those reasons actually exist. He spends a little bit looking at how much steroids really affect a player's health and other issues, but the main discussion is how much they help players hit home runs. He looks at one hundred years of historical data to analyze power rates for hitters (total bases per hit) and see just how much that has changed over time. Of course, many things can affect how many home runs are hit -- the size of the strike zone, changes in the baseball, the size of the ballparks, expansion, etc. He analyzes the data to see if we can find any evidence of steroids increasing power hitting over the past two decades, and he doesn't find anything. He also mentions that the power required to hit a baseball comes solely from the lower body (and by that he means the muscles below the shoulders) so the huge biceps and triceps that are associated with steroid users do nothing to help a player hit a baseball with more power. The post is long and filled with analysis, charts, and links to other articles backing up his information. It may be difficult to comprehend all the information, and much of it goes against the conventional widsom, but the point is that what seems so obvious isn't all that obvious after all. Now, maybe he's wrong and maybe steroids do help players hit home runs, but the point is that there are many, many other factors that go in to hitting home runs as well, and there have been many different changes in power hitting throughout baseball history, so you can't just look at the high home run totals of the past decade and assume that it was all due to steroid use. It's much more complicated than that. For another take on the article, Joe Posnanski has a post about it giving his thoughts. He's always been one of the few sportswriters with a sensible head about steroids and doesn't rush to judgement like most everyone else, so this article has him saying that maybe we've been wrong all along about steroids. He doesn't really come down one way or the other on the topic, just that we don't know as much as we think we do about steroids in baseball. So maybe we shouldn't be so quick to make assumptions and judgements about players. Besides, if a post about steroids isn't controversial enough, how about adding a little Posnanski to get things going? *By the way, Eric Walker is a longtime baseball statistician who worked for the A's under Sandy Alderson and Billy Beane and is credited with starting the statistical revolution chronicled in Moneyball.
The excellent website collegefootballnews.com has their annual Big Ten preview posted today. They preview each team, rank the teams by position, and give their predictions for every game. If you've never visited that website before its a must-read for college football fans. They really know their stuff. Here is their predicted order of finish: 1. Ohio St. 7-1 (11-1) 2. Iowa 6-2 (9-3) 2. Penn St. 6-2 (9-3) 2. Wisconsin 6-2 (10-2) 5. MIchigan St. 5-3 (9-3) 6. Northwestern 4-4 (7-5) 7. Illinois 3-5 (5-7) 7. Michigan 3-5 (7-5) 7. Purdue 3-5 (6-6) 10. Indiana 1-7 (5-7) 11. Minnesota 0-8 (3-9) First Team Preseason All-Big Ten Offense QB - Terrelle Pryor, Jr. Ohio State RB - John Clay, Jr. Wisconsin RB - Evan Royster, Sr. Penn State WR - Tandon Doss, Jr. Indiana WR - Keith Smith, Sr. Purdue TE - Lance Kendricks, Sr. Wisconsin OL - Justin Boren, Sr. Ohio State OL - Gabe Carimi, Sr. Wisconsin OL - David Molk, Jr. Michigan OL - Stephen Schilling, Sr. Michigan OL - Stefen Wisniewski, Sr. Penn State PK – Stefan Demos, Sr. Northwestern KR - Keshawn Martin, Jr. Michigan State First Team Preseason All-Big Ten Defense DL - Adrian Clayborn, Sr. Iowa DL - Jack Crawford, Jr. Penn State DL - Cameron Heyward, Sr. Ohio State DL - Ryan Kerrigan, Sr. Purdue LB - Ross Homan, Sr. Ohio State LB - Greg Jones, Sr. Michigan State LB - Jason Werner, Sr. Purdue DB - Brett Greenwood, Sr. Iowa DB - D’Anton Lynn, Jr. Penn State DB - Tyler Sash, Jr. Iowa DB - Troy Woolfolk, Sr. Michigan P – Aaron Bates, Sr. Michigan State PR - Keshawn Martin, Jr. Michigan State
With the news today that the Bengals signed Terrell Owens, I heard many people saying that they were the favorites to win the AFC North this year. But I've also heard a lot of high praise for the...
The PD is reporting today that the Browns have signed Colt McCoy to a 4-year contract worth almost $5 million. They paid a "quaterback premium" of about 50% over the normal slot. They also agreed to a 4-year deal with G Shawn Lauvao worth up to $3.22 million.
I don't know if this has been talked about before on here, but this is the first I've heard of it so I thought I'd post it. Ken Rosenthal reports that Jake Westbrook will receive a $2 million bonus if traded, and his salary will increase by a pro-rated portion of $1 million. So, if he's traded on July 31, that will add approximately $2.3 million to his $3.6 million salary for the remainder of the season. This could certainly make it more difficult for the Indians to trade him and it may be part of the reason we haven't heard many rumors about him lately. Of course, the Indians could throw in some cash to pay for those bonuses and make it easier to trade him if they really want to get something done.
Joe Posnanski gives his feelings on LeBron as a native Clevelander. As always, he's right on the mark.
There have been many rumors floating around recently about where LeBron is headed in free agency, many saying that LeBron has already made a decision or that he's agreed to team up with Bosh or Wade or anyone else. We've been hearing many "inside quotes" from guys like Worldwide Wes about LeBron's plans. But while that certainly stirs up a lot of chatter on national TV and sports talk radio, there may not be much truth to any of it (if at all). Brian Windhorst, who probably knows LeBron better than any other reporter, says that the free agency decision will be made by LeBron alone if you look at his history of making important decisions and listen to him talk. He said as much in the Larry King interview, but of course nobody paid attention to that. So, while there is a lot of noise floating around about what LeBron's friends and advisors think, it's important to realize that none of that may matter one bit. It gives the national media something to talk about, but that doesn't mean LeBron wants to leave Cleveland. He's going to do what he wants, and if he's happy in Cleveland then I think he'll stay regardless of what anyone else wants him to do.
The Ravens were ordered to cancel the rest of their OTAs because of violations by the team in regards to the intensity of the workouts and length of time the players were at the facility. What should be concerning for the team is that this violation was reported to the players' association by a player on the team.
Longtime Cavs play-by-play announcer Joe Tait will be honored at the Basketball Hall of Fame Ceremony this August along with Boston reporter Jackie MacMullen. Great honor for Tait. I've always enjoyed listening to him on the radio since I was a kid during the Price/Daughtery days and his voice will always represent Cavs basketball to me.
Lawrence Taylor was arrested in New York today for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl. Authorities said that the girl was a runaway and supposedly there was a pimp involved (maybe Dez Bryant's dad??). As most people know, Taylor has a long history of drug problems and criminal behavior.
Tony Grossi gives an early look at his version of the Browns depth chart for the 2010 season, along with a few comments. He metions the need for a backup OT and a veteran WR. He also has Rogers listed as the starting NT and Rubin as the backup but that could change if Rogers moves to end as some have speculated.
Collegefootballnews.com, a fantastic college football website (which every college football fan should read during the season), also has extensive coverage of the NFL Draft and ranked all the teams by who they felt got the best value for their picks. They compared each pick to where they had the player ranked to see which team did best getting value for their picks. The Browns topped their rankings with a +15, meaning their players picked were ranked an average of 15 slots ahead of where they were selected. They felt the Browns reached for T.J. Ward but thought they got great value for Colt McCoy and the two sixth round picks, Carlton Mitchell and Clifton Geathers, which propelled them to the top of the rankings. As far as the other AFC North teams, they had Baltimore 8th, Pittsburgh 10th, and Cincinnati 17th. CFN also gives their in-depth analysis of every played draft by the Browns here. I've read this site for many years and can say that the people who write for this site always have excellent analysis of college football and they know all the teams, not just the big schools, so I trust their opinion.
According to SI.com's Peter King, the Browns only took Colt McCoy in the 3rd round because the Atlanta Falcons picked the guy they were planning to take, Kentucky DT Corey Peters, two picks earlier. King says the Browns were set to take Peters and Shawn Lauvao with their 85th and 92nd pick, even with Colt McCoy still on the board. Holmgren said he kept telling Heckert "what about the quarterback?" as McCoy was sliding through the third round but Heckert was going to stick with their plan and take Peters. But then the Falcons took Peters so Holmgren figured that fate was telling them to take McCoy. They must not have been as high on McCoy as so many people thought if they were willing to pass on him three times on Friday night. How crazy would it have been if he was still on the board at 85 and the Browns passed on him for Peters? If McCoy goes on to lead the Browns to a couple Super Bowl victories then we all have Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff to thank for it.
ESPN.com's John Hollinger, their NBA stats guy, writes about LeBron's runaway MVP season and says that he's having an even better season than last year statistically. His PER is just below Jordan's 87-88 season for the best of all time, and if he finishes there then he and Jordan will each have two of the best four seasons in "modern" NBA history (his stats only go back to 1973 when the league started tracking blocks and turnovers). Right now, LeBron James is clearly playing at a level that the NBA has not seen since Jordan was in his heyday. He also writes about the similarities between James and Jordan at this point in their careers. Jordan won his first title in his seventh season, and up until that point he was dogged by the same ridiculous criticisms that James has been receiving the last few years. Jordan was once thought of as a guy who was a great regular season player but couldn't win in the playoffs, much like some morons say about LeBron now, but then he won six titles and became the ultimate winner and competator. Yet, here we are twenty years later and the same idiotic comments are being made about LeBron that were once made about Jordan. And, Hollinger says, much like Jordan, LeBron will probably soon lead his team to a title and silence any of his remaining critics. It's obvious now to anyone except the most idiotic Lakers fans that LeBron is clearly the best player in the NBA, and not only is he better than Kobe now but his past two seasons have been better than any season in Kobe's great career. And the scary part is that he's still getting better.
The PD is reporting, via Adam Schefter, that the Browns signed former Patriots tight end Ben Watson to a 3 year, $12 million contract, including $6.35 million guarenteed. He provides an immediate upgrade to a tight end position that was sorely lacking in playmakers last season. He spent six season in New England and worked with both Eric Mangini and Brian Daboll when he was there so the Browns coaches are very familiar with him. He's not a great pass catching tight end but he's definitely better than anyone we had last year and he's also a good blocker so I think he'll fit well in Cleveland. Hopefully Evan Moore will continue to improve and those two will give us better production from our tight ends next season.
The NBC Sports blog Hardball Talk (formerly Circling the Bases) looks at Mark Shapiro's five best and worst moves in his nine years running the Indians. The list is pretty much what we'd expect -- the hits are all trades, except for Grady's contract extension in '06, while the Hafner extension leads the misses.
There is no doubt about it. It has always been a childhood dream of mine.Ravens QB Troy Smith, to WKNR on playing for the Cleveland Browns
Brian Windhorst talks about the upcoming owner's meeting in Dallas over All-Star weekend and there are reports that the owners want to see the league go to a 'hard' salary cap, like the NFL has, as opposed to the 'soft' cap with a luxury tax which has been in place for more than a decade. He says this demand could have many consequences, including a potential lockout following the 2010-11 season. This move could hurt the Cavs because owner Dan Gilbert has shown a willingness to go over the salary cap and pay the luxury tax to take on salaries that other teams are trying to get off their books. This has allowed them to get Mo Williams and Shaquille O'Neal in trades without giving up much talent in return. It would also decrease their flexibility to add players if one player, such as LeBron, takes up a large percentage of the team's salary cap. This may also mean that LeBron and other big free agent this summer -- such as Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh -- would want to sign long-term deals this summer while the current rules are in place. So we probably won't see LeBron sign an extension for only three years like he did last time. There hasn't been much written about this proposal yet but we may hear more after the owner's meeting in Dallas. Either way, this will be a very interesting story to follow because it could impact what LeBron and the Cavs do this offseason as well as what happens down the road for the league.
The agent for Josh Cribbs today said he's had positive discussions with the Browns and he's optimistic about a good outcome. He said that Holmgren and Heckert made it clear that their last offer was not a take-it-or-leave-it offer. Rickert (Cribb's agent) said that no numbers were exchanged during the recent discussions, "but we definitely have a much clearer sense from the team where they see Josh -- and an understanding that they're willing to negotiate." He said they understand the Browns' front office is going through a transition and the ball is in their court as to when and how the negotiations take place.
PD writer Brian Windhorst grades each Cavs player for the first half of the season. As usual, he gives a very good writeup and points out the strengths as well as weaknesses of the team.
New Browns GM Tom Heckert today dismissed all four members of the pro personnel department in the first step of a transition to a new front office. Heckert and Holmgren are expected to bring in mostly new people to work in their staff but the team's college scouts who have been working all season will stay through the draft (which makes a lot of sense). The four men let go were Steve Sabo, Keith O'Quinn, Jim Jauch and James Kirkland. Sabo is the last remaining football employee from the organization established by the NFL to run the Browns before Lerner was awarded the franchise. O'Quinn was hired by Mangini last year and the other two had been with the team since 2004.
Since the first draft thread has reached over 1000 comments I thought we should start a second thread. I know the draft is still months away and we'll definitely have more posts to come as we get...
Well, folks, it's now official -- the Browns will have the seventh pick in April's draft (according to this site). They finished tied with Seattle and Oakland at 5-11 and finished in the middle...
Tony Grossi of the PD is reporting that the Browns may have interest in former Seattle GM Tim Ruskell who resigned last week after five seasons with the team. He presided over three playoff appearences with the Seahawks before injuries to Matt Hasselbeck led them to a 4-12 record last season and a poor start this year. He previously worked with Rich McKay in Atlanta and was interviewed by Lerner for the Browns' GM position in 2005 before taking the Seattle job, which led to Lerner hiring Phil Savage. A source said that Lerner had a very high opinion of Ruskell, and that Ruskell wouldn't necessarily want to bring in a new coach if hired so Mangini might be able to keep his job.
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