Reviewing the Cleveland Browns' 5 Biggest Scouting Combine Takeaways
There were over 800 media present to scrutinize every NCAA prospect's move and provide the hype for what has become one of the league's most anticipated events.
The Cleveland Browns' five biggest takeaways from the Combine focused around the positions of fullback, offensive guard, tight end, quarterback and the front seven on defense.
Some new talent stepped up and may have made a case to have their name called out at the draft in April to play in Northeast Ohio.
Unless otherwise referenced, all results and statistics from the past four days were gathered via NFL.com
One True Fullback Stands Out: Tommy Bohanon
It is well known that the Browns are in definite need of a physical and nasty fullback that is able to contribute the odd time on offense as well.
Wake Forest's Tommy Bohanon impressed at the scouting combine, which builds off his solid performance during the Senior Bowl week.
Currently projected as a seventh-round selection, Bohanon wowed spectators in Indianapolis by winning the bench press competition for running backs (36 reps of 225 pounds).
That type of power demonstrates brute force, but what makes the 6'1", 246-pound Demon Deacon truly appealing is combining that strength with speed.
Producing a 40-yard dash time of 4.81 seconds is respectable and suggests that he can be a lane-clearing-bulldozer type in the NFL.
The Florida native may still not be high profile or draw a lot of attention, however, his combine performance will have him moving up some draft boards.
Bohanon is the best fit for Cleveland at fullback as his hard-nosed style, broad build and quickness would fill a void still left from the departure of Lawrence Vickers following the 2010 season.
Adding depth and upgrading the offensive guard positions in Cleveland are absolutely necessary this offseason to help improve the running game as well as pass protection.
We all know the top names of Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper, but Browns CEO Joe Banner made it clear in his combine media session that taking a guard with their first-round pick is unlikely.
This suggests that middle-to-late draft prospects were the ones to focus on this past weekend.
Eric Herman caught the eye of scouts by bench pressing more than any other offensive lineman by lifting 225 pounds 36 times.
The Ohio Bobcat has short arms; however, his nearly 11" hands and obvious strength allowed him to trample over defenses to get to the next level throughout college.
Herman is known as "Ironman" to teammates for starting in 51 consecutive games and being as tough as a two-dollar steak.
While not overly fast (5.25 second 40-yard time) he may be worth taking by the Browns in the sixth-round if still available.
Earl Watford out of James Madison is an interesting project that still has room to fill out his 6'3" and 300-pound frame.
Agile, the ability to anchor in pass protection and clear lanes for the run all point to a recipe for a successful NFL career. Finishing ninth in the 40-yard sprint (5.09 seconds) and tied for fifth in the vertical jump (30 inches) doesn't hurt either.
The knock on Watford is that he has not faced high-level competition. The senior will undoubtedly start on special teams and work from there to see whether he can hang with the big boys.
Garrett Gilkey came in to the combine as a guard, but was worked out a bit at center and during his Chadron State career played some left tackle as well.
At 6'6" and 318 pounds it is surprising that he fell to a NCAA Division II school. The Illinois native used the combine and Senior Bowl week to capture the attention of personnel evaluators nationwide.
Gilkey finished in the top 15 in several of this past weekend's festivities including: bench press; three-cone drill; vertical and broad jumps. His stock shall continue to rise.
If Benjamin Watson is allowed to walk then the Browns will require two to three tight ends via free agency and the draft.
If this year's scouting combine proved anything it is that being tall, thick and physical at the position is now the norm; 6'4" is considered average these days.
Cleveland's focus with its first pick undoubtedly will be on defense. Where does TE fall from Round 3 and down?
Top prospects Zach Ertz and Tyler Eifert are set to go in the first two rounds of the entry draft. There remains several good looking options, however, being a day one starter seems like a stretch for most.
Vance McDonald out of Rice is the next man up in the talent pool. Slated to be a late second/early third-round choice means that he has a chance to fall to the Browns.
However, without a pick in the second can Cleveland afford to take a tight end that high?
McDonald's success in Indianapolis may point the needle towards yes. His events demonstrated speed (4.69 second 40), strength (31 reps of 225 pounds) and agility (11.73 second 60-yard TD shuttle).
The former Owl is dynamite as a slot receiver and blocks effectively in space. He does bobble balls and needs coaching up to take care of below average inline blocking.
All in all, McDonald creates the desired physical mismatches over the middle and bursts upfield following the catch.
Michigan State's Dion Sims is an intriguing player who's huge 6'5", 262-pound build and soft hands are an inviting target for quarterbacks.
The Spartan showed well at this year's combine, coming in lighter than expected, posting a respectable 4.75-second 40 and finishing fourth with a 35" vertical jump.
The downside is that he participated in only two games as a senior, and there are serious durability questions because of a variety of injuries.
Gavin Escobar, Chris Gragg and Jake Stoneburner all lived up to their pre-combine evaluations. Talented athletes with a very good upside that need a year or two to be groomed into Sunday ready NFL tight ends.
One word can describe the quarterback class at this year's NFL Scouting Combine: inconsistent.
Geno Smith, Mike Glennon, Tyler Bray an EJ Manuel all underwhelmed. No underdog did much to up their stock either. USC's Matt Barkley may have been the smartest one of them all by deciding not to throw.
The combine was like this past NCAA season—flashes of brilliance with the inability to wow for any lengthy stretches.
Smith put up the fastest 40 for a QB at 4.59 seconds, but threw hanging long balls that pro cornerbacks or safeties would drool over.
Glennon possesses exceptional size for a signal-caller at 6'7" and owns a powerful arm. His trouble comes with accuracy and footwork, two areas where he struggled over the weekend.
The moral of this story is that Brandon Weeden can take a deep sigh of relief. Cleveland's brain trust will have to look outside the draft to find his replacement.
The biggest takeaway for the Browns from Lucas Oil Stadium is that Weeden may not be perfect, but there is no better starting option coming out of college in 2013.
Defense: Front Seven
Requiring a dominant pass-rusher for Ray Horton's 3-4 defense means that the Browns were paying extra close attention to the outside linebackers and defensive ends over the weekend.
Possible sixth-overall pick Jarvis Jones did not compete in any drills due to his primary focus at Lucas Oil Stadium of undergoing medical exams for his spinal stenosis.
Another often mentioned first-round choice for the Browns is DE/OLB Damontre Moore from Texas A&M.
The Aggie disappointed in the power department, only benching 225 pounds 12 times and placed 22nd in the 40-yard dash with a 4.95 time. He also pulled up lame in the second 40 attempt, clutching his hamstring.
Moore is a proven quarterback attacker, but his combine results may force the Browns scouting staff to reassess if he has the strength and motor needed to succeed in Horton's system.
Undergoing shoulder surgery next week certainly did not slow down hybrid defender Dion Jordan.
The Oregon Duck could leap up into a top-10 pick and should really interest the Browns following a terrific combine showing.
Putting up one of the fastest 40 times (4.69 seconds) was just the beginning. He excelled in both defensive end and linebacker drills.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock commented, "When I see (Jordan) play I see a young Aldon Smith...he needs to gain 20 pounds."
Versatility, check. Athleticism, check. Gets after the QB, check. Outside of needing to bulk up his 6'6", 248-pound body what isn't to like about him joining Cleveland's new aggressive multi-front 'D'?
Raw, athletic and unlimited potential are all words that describe Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah. The pride of Brigham Young only started playing football when he arrived at the college from Ghana and was originally on the track and field team.
Ziggy's solid 4.74 second 40 and smooth footwork during drills furthered his draft elevation that started during an impressive Senior Bowl week.
He's less experienced than Dion Jordon, but looks to be much more durable. Could this BYU Cougar jump all the way to No. 6?
Another standout effort came from outside linebacker Jamie Collins who nearly leapt out of the stadium during his 11'7" broad jump.
Collins is projected by CBS Sports as a second-to-third round selection and may have done enough to push himself even higher.
The Southern Mississippi senior also was one of the top combine performers in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and three-cone drill.
Someone that Joe Banner and Michael Lombardi should keep an eye on for sure.
Defensive backs do not hit the field until Tuesday morning. Be sure to check out my new complete Cleveland Browns mock draft this Wednesday.
Follow Andy McNamara on Twitter @AndyMc81
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