Much to the chagrin of my brother, lets talk some NFL football. Tonight is the opener of the 2007 regular season. The defending champion Indianapolis Colts take on the new America's Team, the New Orleans Saints. Last night I had my fantasy draft. I'm a big fantasy football guy and I love draft night. I picked 5th and here is how I made out:
QB Carson Palmer (2nd Round)
RB Joseph Addai (1st Round)
RB Thomas Jones (3rd Round)
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (4th Round)
WR Donald Driver (5th Round)
TE Jason Witten (9th Round)
K Jeff Wilkins (11th Round)
D Chicago Bears (7th Round)
QB J.P. Losman (13th Round)
QB Chad Pennington (14th Round)
RB Tatum Bell (8th Round)
RB Jerious Norwood (10th Round)
RB Leon Washington (12th Round)
RB Kenton Keith (15th Round)
WR Randy Moss (6th Round)
I don't have a lot of depth, but my starters are solid. Randy Moss could be a serious steal if he returns to his old form in New England. Thomas Jones better not let me down as my #2 RB. I'm a big Carson Palmer guy and loved it whe he fell into my lap in the second round. I wanted Drew Brees in that slot, thinking Palmer would be gone.
Since we are talking football lets look at the Browns position by position and break it down:
QB - Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn
This position has been discussed ad nauseum by everyone in this city. We all know the facts; Frye is very average and keeping the seat warm for Quinn. Anderson has a rocket arm and basically lost the job in training camp due to poor performance. Quinn is the future. The burning question is how long will it be before Brady takes over?
RB - Jamal Lewis, Jason Wright, Jerome Harrison
FB - Lawrence Vickers, Charles Ali
I was one pick away from snagging Lewis as my backup RB and was livid. I think he is going to have a big year. Nothing like a guy one a one-year deal with something to prove. Running behind that left side of Joe Thomas and Eric Steinbach, this should be the strength of the offense. Jason Wright is what he is. Very average. The 5'7 Harrison needs to show he can block and hang on to the football before I'd ever put him in a key situation. The team has high hopes for Vickers. You remember him don't you? the guy who threw a halfback pass in Oakland (I think) and was pitched out to on 3rd and one twice in the first game last year.
WR - Braylon Edwards, Joe Jurevicious, Tim Carter, Travis Wilson, Joshua Cribbs
The depth at WR is almost laughable. Edwards is the classic big mouth underachiever who catches the tough ones and drops the ones right in his hands. He must have a big year for the Browns to improve. Jurevicious is all heart - too bad the Browns QB's seem to forget about him. He is a solid #3 WR for a good team, yet he is cast as the #2 guy here. Tim Carter? Who? He's got speed. That's about all I can say nice about him. Wilson dubbed himself "the best WR in the draft" in 06, then went out and proceeded to drop everything that came his way in practices. Cribbs is a great return man. Wouldn't surprise me if all five of these guys were elsewhere in two years.
TE - Kellen Winslow, Steve Heiden, Darnell Dinkins
What more can you say about Winslow the Warrior? He's a stud. Catches everything. Is strong and has great speed, despite his knee injuries. He can't block. All that said, K2 and Jamal Lewis should touch the ball 70-80% of the time. Steve Heiden is the best backup pass-catching TE the Browns could ask for. He's rock solid. Dinkins is a big blocker who helps on running downs. This is another strength area of the team.
OL - Joe Thomas, Eric Steinbach, Hank Fraley, Seth McKinney, Kevin Shaffer, Lennie Friedman, Isaac Sowells, Kelly Butler, Nat Dorsey, Ryan Tucker
I've had to stomach pathetic line blocking for the last seven years. This year, I truly believe the tide turns. The left side should be rock solid for years to come. Thomas and Steinbach are both All-Pro talents. Fraley has held down the fort at Center nicely. he is solid, yet unspectacular. McKinney sat out all of last year with a neck injury, but has been the biggest surprise of camp. Shaffer who complained about his move is much better suited for the right side. There is depth with the versatile Tribe member Friedman and Butler. Tucker is suspended the first four games for testing positive for Steroids. This is the best line on paper the Browns have had. Lets see if it holds up.
Special Teams - KR-PR Joshua Cribbs, K Phil "Dudley" Dawson, P Dave Zastudil
In the misery that was the 2006 season, one would have to say this was the strongest unit. Cribbs is an elite kick returner who runs north/south and is a threat to take one the distance everytime. This will be his first attempt at returning punts, something he struggled with last year late in the season. Dawson's accuracy has been getting worse each of the last two years. Lets hope that is a fluke and not a trend. Zastudil is rock solid and as good of a punter as the Browns have ever had. The coverage units are also top notch.
DL - Robaire Smith, Ted Washington, Orpheus Roye, Shaun Smith, Simon Frasor, Ethan Kelley
In a word - WEAK. This unit is old, banged up, and lacks stars. Washington is a 95 year old run stopper who defies the odds by still collecting paychecks. Roye is all heart and guts, but his body is starting to fail him. The Smith's were brought in to provide some depth and challenge for a starting spot. Frasor is an overachiever and fan favorite. I've got nothing nice to say about Kelley other than he made an NFL roster. get ready to watch this unit get overmatched all 16 game.
LB - Kamerion Wimbley, Andra Davis, D'Qwell Jackson, Antwan Peek, Leon Williams, Willie McGinest, Chaun Thompson
The opposite end of the spectrum from the D-Line. There is depth, youth, and speed. Wimbley is the closest thing the Browns have to a star on defense. Davis and Jackson are solid. Peek was the defensive star of camp and should be a great fill in for the injured McGinest. Williams looks like a keeper who is a future starter. Thompson is a veteran who will play special teams and can fill in wherever needed. Give Phil Savage credit. He put the guts of this unit together via the draft (Jackson, Wimbley, Williams) and free agency (Peek, McGinest) in the last two years.
DB - Leigh Bodden, Eric Wright, Brodney Pool, Sean Jones, Daven Holly, Kenny Wright, Mike Adams, Gary Baxter, Jereme Perry, Brandon McDonald
Like the LB's, this is another solid unit that looked to be in shambles last year. Bodden and Eric Wright are a very solid pair of starters. Wright looks like a steal as a second rounder, earning the starting job as a rookie. Bodden was arrested last night at Hopkins airport for being a jackass, but he'll be fine as long as he can stay healthy. Pool and Jones are budding stars at safety. Jones is the kind of ball-hawking, game-changing safety every team needs. What do you know, he was a Butch Davis draft pick! There are plenty of nickel and dime options with Holly and Kenny Wright. Holy showed a unique nose for the ball last year as an undrafted free agent rookie. Baxter is a great story, but don't expect anything out of him coming off two torn knees.
Prediction: With Coach Romeo Crennel most likely on the hot seat and residing in the toughest division in football, it could be another long year for our Clowns. I think they'll be more competitive and will play hard for Crennel, but as long as Charlie Frye is the starting QB, the Browns will struggle. The schedule is brutal from the start - Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Baltimore all visit in the first month. Add in a trip to New England and only the game at Oakland seems winnable. It wouldn't shock me if they were 1-4 with Miami coming in for a game that could decide Crennel's job before the bye week. Brady Quinn will be starting by week 8. Jamal Lewis will have a big year. The Linebackers and DB's will keep them in games, but in the end, this team is still a year or two away. RECORD 5-11