Cliff Avril Would Be Phenomenal Acquisition For Cleveland Browns

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IMarch 6, 2013

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 24:  Defensive lineman Cliff Avril #92 of the Detroit Lions reacts in the first half while taking on the Green Bay Packers during the Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field on November 24, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns are reportedly interested in landing Cliff Avril—one of the top free agents in 2013—to rush the passer in the team's 3-4 scheme, which would be a tremendous coup for the Browns. 

According to the Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot:

The Browns will pursue two of the biggest-name pass-rushers in free agency in Baltimore's Paul Kruger and Detroit's Cliff Avril, league sources told The Plain Dealer...the Browns might have the inside track, because their new defensive line coach Joe Cullen helped draft Avril, 26, in Detroit in 2008 and developed him as a rookie. 

Some may wonder if Avril, a defensive end for the Detroit Lions since he entered the league in 2008, would be a wise choice. If he's signed, he'll need to play as an outside linebacker in Ray Horton's 3-4 scheme, a role he has never performed in the NFL

Let's not forget that Avril was an outside linebacker at Purdue before switching to become a defensive end in his final two seasons, accumulating 12.5 sacks in that capacity with the Boilermakers.

At 6'3" and 260 pounds, the pass-rushing specialist has ideal size for a 3-4 outside linebacker. He was always a bit on the small size to play on the edge as a defensive end in 4-3 schemes, which is why he struggled against the run in Detroit. 

But there has never been any doubt about Avril's ability to rush the passer.

In five seasons with the Lions, he racked up 39.5 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, one interception (which he returned for a touchdown) and five fumble recoveries, one of which he ran back for a touchdown.

He's really stepped up his game in the past three seasons as a pass-rushing specialist, tallying 29 sacks and nine forced fumbles.

Given the big bodies that Cleveland already possesses for its defensive ends and tackles, Avril won't have any issues against the run. He will need to play disciplined on the edge, making sure to turn all the action back inside, but that's never been a problem for him. 

His raw speed and explosive first step will be a tremendous boon for the Browns in 2013 if he signs on with Cleveland. It isn't improbable that Avril will log double-digit sack totals and he's always had a nose for the ball, which is why he has so many forced fumbles.

If the Browns can land Avril, the team will have one of the premier pass-rushers in the NFL at its disposal. It would be a phenomenal acquisition for the club and, if there's any way to make it happen, new general manager Mike Lombardi needs to pull the trigger.


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