Cleveland Browns: 2012 Free Agent DEs They Should Consider
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In the 2011 draft, the Browns added two key rookies that became starters in the D line. DRE Jabaal
Sheard had a very solid season, and DT Phillip Taylor played well.
But DLE Jayme Mitchell struggled against the run and ended the season on IR.
The Browns should focus their 2012 draft on offense. But there are still some holes on the defense
they need to fill.
In my opinion they need to sign a veteran DE so that Mitchell can become a rotational pass-rusher. If they do it will be a young DE that hopefully has some upside and starting experience.
Here is the list of players I think the team should review:
Cliff Avril Lions and Jeremy Mincey Jags
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Cliff Avril Lions 26 years old by the start of the 2012
season 6’3” 260
Avril has played in 57 starting all but 13 of them. He is THE DE prize in the UFA category. He is young and talented. He is coming off his best year. He had 11 sacks six forced fumbles and an
interception in 2011. That sudden
development makes me wonder if his production was more related to his coming
free agency than desire to help the Lions.
You would hope it was because he finally got what it takes to be
successful at this level.
He is an athletic DE with a high motor and very good
instincts. He has more of a finesse pass
rusher than a power guy and could use a little more strength to play the run
better. He has a quick first step and
can get around the corner with good speed. He will get tied up with a blocker too often
and needs to get stronger to add power moves to his pass rush arsenal.
He will be pursued by a lot of teams and will not likely end
up in Cleveland. The Lions will try hard
to keep him.
Jeremy Mincey Jags 29 6’3” 270
Mincy was an undrafted FA for the 49ers and was picked up by
the Jags in 2006. He has developed into
a legitimate pass rush threat with the Jags.
He started in the 10th game of 2010 and through the 2011 season.
He had five sacks in 2010 and eight last
season. This is another late blooming
player. Whoever signs him will want to
be sure he will have as high a motor after he gets his money as he had in his
free agent year.
Mincy is not as fast as most of these prospects but has an
above average first step. He uses power
moves and needs to develop more finesse to be even more effective a pass
rusher. Work on his technique will help him
a lot. Mincey displayed some additional
pass rush moves this year. In the past
he had been a one trick power pass rusher.
The Jags will try to resign because former starter Aaron
Kampman’s future is in question due to injury and age.
Jamaal Anderson Colts and Kroy Biermann Falcons
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Jamaal Anderson Colts 25 6’6” 272
Anderson started from day one with the Falcons until 2010
played 75 games with 48 started but just four in last two years.
He has 7.5 sacks with five in last two years with two forced
fumbles. He was a reserve for the Colts
in 11. He had a good year in relief of DRE
Dwight Freeney who is primarily a pass rush specialist.
He gets off blocks quickly and uses his hands
to avoid getting locked up by the blocker.
He is strong relying primarily on power moves. He is solid against the run with good
instincts and the experience to sniff out sweeps and counters to his side.
That is something that the Browns need from a DE.
It is hard to figure who will stay and will be allowed to
leave under the new Colt GM. He could
start for the Browns from the day of his signing.
Kroy Biermann Falcons 26 6'3" 255
Biermann has played 64 games starting 17 including 14 in
2010. He has 12.5 sacks and one forced fumble.
He started just one game in 2011 but got 2.5
Biermann is a tough guy that is more finesse than
power. He just does not use his physical
skills to the best advantage. He is good
at avoiding lockup with the blocker but lacks the athleticism and great speed
to be an elite guy. He has a good first
step and pretty good football instincts.
He is a borderline starter with the Browns but at the least would provide
an experienced rotational guy.
Trevor Scott Raiders and Derrick Harvey Broncos
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Trevor Scott Raiders 28 6’ 5” 255
Scott has played in 58 games starting 16 but none in 2011. He did start ten games in 2010 and six in 2009. He has had 13.5 sacks.
Scott has good skills at avoiding lockup with blockers. He has decent speed and first step. He is more finesse than power rusher and has
a high motor. He will pursue the play
and tackle from behind if he needs to.
Despite his playing time, he needs work on his footwork and strength.
He would be a marginal starter but good rotational guy for the Browns. If he got the coaching he
needs he could be a starter by the middle of 2012 for the Browns.
Derrick Harvey Broncos 26 6’5” 268
Harvey was the 8th overall pick in 2008 by the
Jags. He has had 52 games and 32 starts
all of which were in Jacksonville. In
2011 he was picked up by the Broncos and played in just 5 games 0 starts.
He has had only eight sacks in his
career. If there was ever a great
athlete with wonderful potential that has come nowhere near his ceiling, this
is the guy.
The biggest problem is that Harvey does not seem to have the
instincts and awareness to be effective.
He has major issues with his footwork and technique.
This guy could be a star if anyone could find
the on switch to his motor and attitude.
Dick Jauron might be the DC that could get Harvey going.
Potential Reserves William Hayes Titans and Jason Hunter Broncos
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William Hayes Titans 27 6’ 3” 272
Hayes has played in 48 games with 12 starts 11 of which
happened in 09. He has eight sacks and four
Hayes is not instinctive. He needs to be more focused on watching film. He is a power guy that would profit from more focus on his technique as well.
He has good speed and an above average first step.
His lack of awareness hurts his performance. Better coaching would solve a lot of the
problem but there is a question about his motor as well.
If he gets the coaching he needs he could be a major asset
to the Browns. I have a doubt that he
will develop into a starter but he has the ability to be a rotational guy.
Jason Hunter Broncos 29 6’4” 271
Hunter has played in 88 games with 21 starts. He has accumulated 11 sacks with six passes
defended and three forced fumbles.
Hunter is a finesse guy with OK speed and a decent first
step. He gets off of blocks OK but is
not particularly good at reading plays.
He has a good motor and will chase down plays. He needs to be more physical and work harder
in the weight room. He was forced to
fill in due to injuries to the starters and did a decent job.
He will never be a star but has some potential as a
rotational guy for the Browns.
3-4 OLBs That Can Play DE Mario Williams Texans and Anthony Spencer Cowboys
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There are a number of OLB that could be possible DE
conversions for the 4-3. Most of these
players are in 3-4 defenses now and would play better in a four man line.
Mario Williams Texans 27 6’6” 283
Williams was the 1st overall pick in 2006 as DE
and played there very successfully until the 2011 season.
This year he was forced to OLB by change to
3-4 He has played in 82 games with 82
starts. He played in only five games this
season and ended the year on IR. He has
amassed 241 tackles with 53 sacks, 10 passes defended and 11 forced fumbles.
At 283 he is not comfortable in playing in space. He is a UFA and will be looking for a 4-3
team to join. Given the improvement in
the Texan D, they will not be going back to the 4-3 any time soon. He will want to move on.
He has a flash first step with excellent athleticism for a DE and a high motor that makes him successful.
He has high awareness and play recognition as
a DE but has not made the transition to the OLB. He struggles in zone coverage and is not in a
position to take full advantage of his skills.
His instincts are good with enough moves both power and finesse to be
He will be highly sought after as a free agent and get a
nice payday. He is not what the Browns
will go after but exactly what they need.
Very seldom can you get a first overall pick that has been successful as
a free agent. And the Browns will not get this one.
Anthony Spencer Cowboys 28 6’3” 257
Spencer played in 60 total games starting 53. He has accumulated 17 sacks in the last three
years with a total of 21.5 sacks 10 passes defended and 10 forced fumbles.
He has good speed and a very good first step. He has multiple pass rush moves
but struggles at both zone and man coverage.
His combination of speed and strength would make him a better
DE than he is an OLB. Since the DE is
paid more than an OLB, he might be interested in going to a 4-3 team.
The Cowboys will do their best to keep him
but they have several key UFAs they need to resign.
If he is available the Browns should consider
giving him an offer.
Ahmad Brooks 49ers and Erik Walden Packers
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Ahmad Brooks 49ers 28 6’3” 259
Brooks was drafted by the Bengals. He was signed by the 49ers in 08 but did not
play that season. He has played 58 games with 24 starts including 16 in 2011.
He has 20 sacks overall with seven in 2011. He has totaled nine passes
defended, an interception and has forced seven fumbles.
For an OLB he has average speed and first step. But that is well above average as a DE. He is a high motor guy that will chase down the play. He uses power moves to get to
the QB and could use some coaching to develop additional moves to increase his
sack total. Like most LBs he is more
comfortable rushing the passer than falling back in coverage. He is good at preventing a blocker from
locking on him.
The 49ers will try to keep him and he will likely resign
with the team.
Erik Walden Packers 27 6’2” 250
The Dolphins picked Walden up in 08 and he played for them
until 2010. He never started a game
there. He was picked up by the Packers
in 2010. With the Pack he started 2
games in 10 and 15 in 2011. He has six
sacks in his 17 starts with four passes defended and one forced fumble.
Walden would be much better as a DE than as an OLB.
He really struggles in coverage particularly
man to man. He has some athleticism with
limited pass rush techniques. He is a
power rusher. He has decent instincts
but needs coaching to be able to sniff plays out better from either position.
The Packers have a number of critical UFAs with whom they
must deal first before signing Walden.
He has some experience and the ability to be a developmental DE that can
be plugged in as a rotational player.
The Browns are not strong at thinking out of the box so this is not
someone that would likely be on their radar.
That is what I think. Tell us what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has
done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent.
He edits http://fryingpansports.com and hosts the Internet radio version of
News, Notes and Rumors M-Th at 6 PM EST on http://mooheadradio.com/2.0/. He has also published several novels on
and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/.