Browns, WFNY Roundtable

WFNY’s take on the 10 building block Browns players

Here at WFNY, we have been spending an inordinate amount of time discussing the future of the Cleveland Browns whether it be the fate of Hue Jackson, the front office, or the players. We’ve been covering the 2018 NFL Draft extensively, and even gave a current status of The Plan.

One of the things we had planned on doing was transferring the trade value ranks that we have done in the past for the Cleveland Indians to the Browns. Well, this week, our friends at Inside the Pylon took a similar tact when they created their Top 10 Building Blocks for the Browns. Given the current status of the team and the nature of veteran trades in the NFL, it works well.

Here is their list for comparison, but please go give the full article a read to get their reasons and do give them a follow on Twitter. Inside the Pylon has a vast array of resources that help fans follow the intricacies of the NFL in ways that make it easy to understand.

The Inside the Pylon Top 10 Browns Building Blocks

  • OG Joel Bitonio
  • WR Corey Coleman
  • LB Jamie Collins
  • EDGE Myles Garrett
  • LB Christian Kirksey
  • QB DeShone Kizer
  • TE David Njoku
  • EDGE Emmanuel Ogbah
  • SAF Jabrill Peppers
  • DT Danny Shelton

Note: One thing we are doing is creating a bit more structure around what they proposed. We have added categories for the different levels of agreement we found among the 10 voters with one voter assigned to do a write-up for each cumulative Top 10 player.

The Full WFNY Top 10 Browns Building Blocks Voting Table

Selection Color Key
Foundation: Green, Unanimous
Cornerstones: Brown, 60-90%
Framework: Orange, 30-50%
Bricks: Pink, 10-20%

The WFNY Top 10 Browns Building Blocks

Foundation

Bode: How much do you even think about Joel Bitonio? The fact that you don’t unless he is injured is a fantastic sign for an offensive lineman. A much-better-than-advertised athlete, Bitonio was top four in all speed, quickness and jumping categories for linemen at the 2014 NFL Combine. He is a former top-prep power forward, and he grew up doing mixed-martial arts (his father was a professional), which is likely why he has such amazing balance and is so good with his hands. Bitonio graduated college with a degree in statistic-based economics, and he has used that intelligence to be a leader in film room studies along with Joe Thomas. He has never been the strongest and has somewhat shorter arms, but Bitonio has been excellent in his four seasons with the Browns.

Josh: When you have Myles Garrett, it’s easy to forget about the other defensive end, Emmanual Ogbah. While everyone has been focused on what the rookie has done, whether he’s getting sacks, getting double- or triple-teamed, performing like a No. 1 pick, etc., Ogbah is out here playing very, very well. Garrett is the team’s featured defensive end, which allows Ogbah to sort of fly under the radar, do his own thing, and dominate in his own way. The second-year defensive end has totaled 27 tackles, four sacks, three passes defended, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery so far through nine games. If both Garrett and Ogbah can stay healthy, the Browns have identified the outside of the defensive line for years to come. The No. 1 pick in 2017 has received all the hype (and deservedly so), but don’t forget about the 32nd pick in the 2016 draft. At just 24, Ogbah is already one of the best players on the Browns defense and is one of the main reasons why they have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.

Jim: It took the Browns rookie Myles Garrett all of one play to showcase exactly why he was the first pick in the 2017 NFL draft. Garrett blew past two Jets’ left guard James Carpenter and Center Wesley Johnson to sack QB Josh McCown before he knew what hit him. Garrett hasn’t had much time to showcase his talent, missing games with a high ankle sprain and a concussion, but that hasn’t stopped him from showing off his speed, power and effort. In his first three games, Garrett recorded four sacks and 11 tackles, and while he’s still trying to find his footing after the concussion, it’s easy to see that he has the dominant skills to be the best in the league at his position. What makes Garrett scary in this defense isn’t just his ability to both blow by linemen, as well as overpower it, but will be the entire defensive line’s ability to mask what’s coming next. With Emmanual Ogbah on the opposite side of the line, and Danny Shelton on the inside, the line has the ability to create havoc on opposing offenses going forward. What’s scary is that you can make a case that we still haven’t seen Garrett at 100% in his small 2017 sample, and it’s clear that Gregg Williams ultimate plan will be to open the playbook to make it extremely difficult for teams to plan to stop an already unstoppable force. Once he’s 100%, there isn’t a more important player on the Browns roster than Garrett.

Craig: It’s easy to overlook Danny Shelton. He’s a former first-round pick, but he’s lost in an era of Justin Gilbert, Johnny Manziel, and Cameron Erving as the lone survivor of the first rounds of 2014 and 2015. It’s easy to forget that he’s still just in his third season because like so many other young Browns, he was thrust into a starting role right away. Ready or not, here come the Browns! Danny Shelton is never going to be Haloti Ngata or Ndamakong Suh. If he ever imposes his will on a game and takes it over, I’ll be absolutely shocked. Still, despite that, he’s clearly a part of what Joe Thomas referred to as the NFL’s middle class that the Browns are lacking, Danny Shelton is one of those guys. He can play a solid, above-average defensive tackle that will allow guys like Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah to shine and earn big contracts based on QB sacks. Of course, the Browns will have to extend Shelton. 2018 is the fourth and final year of his rookie contract.

Corner Stones

Gerbs: If you look at just the per game stats, you may question whether or not I should be in the concussion protocol, but David Njoku is absolutely a building block type player for this Browns franchise and someone that would need protecting if an expansion draft were to happen. If you look at the touchdown plays for Njoku, *whispers he has the most touchdown receptions of anyone on the team as a rookie*, you see a player with explosiveness that cannot be easily matched. Njoku came to football late in his timeline, so while the nuances of the game are still new to him, you can see the makings of a game-changing tight end in the molds of Gronkowski, Graham, Gates, and Gonzalez.

Dave: When I made my list I focused on the trenches. I picked the entire Offensive and Defensive lines. This seemed like a clever strategy until Bode assigned me to do a write up on Kevin Zeitler. I love football. I love the Browns. But let me be straight with you fine people. I really don’t know if a lineman is good or not. If an “expert” tells me a lineman is good, I believe them, because I don’t understand most of what they are doing. Experts have said that Zeitler is a good lineman. WFNY’s Jake Burns told me “Dave, he’s been damn good. Great in pass protection and excellent when they use him as the pulling guard in power and sweep schemes. He struggled initially with Browns slide concept pass protection but solid as hell after Week 3.”

That sounds pretty good, and the offensive line is something key for the Browns to be successful in both running and passing. Having a good offensive lineman on the offensive line is good for the Browns moving towards the future.

Jake: The massive Shon Coleman has had a really positive 2017 campaign. Selected in the third round in of the 2016 draft out of Auburn, Coleman was described as an athletic mauling tackle with immense upper body strength. Coleman played in seven games in his rookie year as he came back from a knee injury. In 2017, Coleman has established himself as the starting right tackle this year at the ripe age of 25. He has started all eight games and Pro Football Focus has graded him out at a 65.4 overall, excelling in the run blocking side of his craft. Coleman is continually improving his technique in pass blocking and has held his own against some tough pass rushers. With Joe Thomas’s career threatening injury there is no doubt there will be some consideration in moving Coleman to the left side in the future. For now, Browns fans can rest easy knowing the right side is taken care of for some time.

Scott: When I had the chance to speak with Matt Bowen about what positions would best benefit the Cleveland Browns’ defense under Gregg Williams, he immediately gravitated to an outside edge rusher and a versatile safety who can play both inside the box and in coverage when needed. In drafting Myles Garrett, the Browns immediately checked off one of those boxes. The other, however, would not be addressed until the Browns  traded down from No. 12 and used their next first-round selection in Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers. Peppers was supposed to be a player who would thrive in Williams’ system, plugging holes in the run game and matching up with slot receivers or tight ends to cover the middle of the field in certain pass-coverage packages. What has happened, however, is Peppers being asked to play out of position due to necessity. The Browns front office has provided this current team without a natural free safety. Thus, their first-round draft pick who should be playing near the line of scrimmage is playing 30 yards off the ball while simultaneously having his entire rookie season punted. I haven’t given up on Peppers, but the Browns desperately need to make sure he isn’t the next Justin Gilbert.1 For the team to achieve full value from this selection, something that is a must considering the moves made to select him, Peppers must be utilized in the correct capacity. If quarterback is the number one need, free safety isn’t far behind. #FreePeppers

Framework

Gage: An undrafted gem in his sophomore season, Briean Boddy-Calhoun has made his presence known. According to Pro Football Focus, he is a top slot corner in the NFL only allowing a reception every 20.1 snaps when lining up in that spot. With a 5’9″, 193-pound frame, he leans on his quickness and anticipation in keeping up with today’s lightning fast slot receivers. His size has always hindered him off the field, as he missed out on Division 1 offers out of high school. It only took a single season at a community college for the University of Minnesota to pounce. Passed over in the 2016 draft, the Jaguars inked him just following it. He made it to the final roster cuts before his release, only to be scooped up by the Browns. Though being undersized has denied him a few chances to show his merit initially, he has immediately quelled those concerns with his play at every level. His play, size, and attitude have quickly morphed him into a fan favorite in Cleveland, where underdogs are immortalized.

Joe: Duke Johnson is the Browns’ best offensive skill player. He has been the best running back and receiver on the roster this season. When the ball is in his hands, he has a chance to make a big play. He is a quick player with the ability to elude defenders and make a play out of nothing. He leads the team in yards per carry with at least 40 carries, posting 5.2 yards per carry. He also leads the team in yards after the catch with a total of 292 yards after the catch. These statistics show the special ability he gives the Browns whenever he touches the ball. One of the more underrated aspects of his game is his toughness. He is not afraid of contact, showing strength in his running style, including the ability to break tackles. He is also a good pass blocker out of the backfield, which is a huge task for a running back. At 24, Johnson is entering his prime. He has the ability to be the focal point of the offense with the versatility and playmaking ability to be a weapon for the Browns for years to come.

  1. Not in the desire to play aspect as much as a guy they eventually drafted after trading down in a draft that was loaded with talent. []