Grading Every Cleveland Browns Starter's 2013 Regular Season

Will Burge@WillBurgeContributor IDecember 30, 2013

Grading Every Cleveland Browns Starter's 2013 Regular Season

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    It was a rocky season for the Cleveland Browns to say the least. While no one was envisioning a Super Bowl this season, they were also not thinking 4-12 either.

    So here they sit, locked into the fourth overall pick in the 2014 draft and hoping for next year to be “the year” once again.

    This year was not “the year” for plenty of reasons. A lot of those reasons are the names on the Browns’ 53-man roster.

    Each week throughout the season we assigned position groups grades, and now it's time for their final grades of the year. These year-end grades are determined by an average of all the grades assigned throughout the 16 games of the regular-season schedule.

    It’s time to find out who passed and who failed for the Browns in 2013.


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    Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

    Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer: C

    Astonishingly, the Browns quarterbacks ended up with a very average grade for the 2013 season.

    Obviously, they were helped by Brian Hoyer’s short stint as the starter, Weeden’s relief performance against Buffalo and Jason Campbell’s phenomenal game in New England.

    Campbell, the guy who took most of the snaps as starter for the Browns, finished with 11 touchdowns, eight interceptions and completed 57 percent of his passes. That sounds about average to me.

    Previous position grades: D+, C+, C+, A, B, D+, F, A, A, D, D, F, A, D+, D-, D

Running Back

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    Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

    Willis McGahee, Trent Richardson, Chris Ogbonnaya and Edwin Baker: C-

    The Cleveland Browns running backs can thank Edwin Baker for saving their season. He finished the final three weeks strong and brought their grade up one full letter.

    Baker was the lone ray of light this season in the backfield. He finished with 43 rushes for 171 yards and two touchdowns. That is an average of four yards per attempt.

    The Browns rushing offense entered Week 17 as the 27th-ranked unit in the NFL but was bogged down buy terrible seasons by Trent Richardson and Willis McGahee.

    Previous position grades: C-, C-, D+, B-, B+, B+, D, C-, D, C-, D-, F, D-, B, B+, B

Wide Receiver

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Josh Gordon, Davone Bess, Travis Benjamin, Josh Cooper, Brian Tyms and Greg Little: C+

    Even Josh Gordon leading the NFL in receiving yards, which was a first for a Cleveland Browns receiver, and rewriting the NFL record books could not pull this groups grade up to a “B.”

    Gordon on his own would be an “A+” any day of the week. The problem was a supporting cast that never made any impact whatsoever.

    Travis Benjamin was underutilized before he was injured, Davone Bess was an absolute flop and Greg Little made zero impact this season besides dropping touchdown passes.

    Previous position grades: D, D, A-, B+, A-, C+, D, C, B+, C-, C+, F, A+, C-, D, C-

Tight End

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    Jordan Cameron, Gary Barnidge and MarQueis Gray: B-

    2013 was the year of resurgence at tight end in Cleveland. After being criticized all last season for failing to live up to lofty expectations, former basketball player and freak athlete Jordan Cameron finally came into his own.

    He finished the season with 80 catches for 917 yards and seven touchdowns. That is good enough to be the second-highest receiving tight end in the NFL and tied for the 12th-most receiving touchdowns overall.

    Previous position grades: A-, A-, A, A, C+, B, B+, B+, B, C-, D-, F, A+, D+, D, B-

Offensive Line

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    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

    Joe Thomas, Oniel Cousins, Garrett Gilkey, Alex Mack, Shawn Lauvao, Jason Pinkston and Mitchell Schwartz: D+

    The Browns never really found a rhythm on the offensive line in 2013 after expecting it to be a strength heading into the season.

    The line allowed 49 sacks, which was among the worst five offensive lines in the league. Not only that, but they couldn’t not block for their running backs to save their lives until the final two weeks.

    The Browns entered Week 17 averaging just 87 yards per game. To put that in perspective, Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy averaged 98 yards per game by himself this season.

    Previous position grades: F, D+, D+, C+, C-, A-, B, A+, A, D, D+, F, B+, B+, D+, C

Defensive Line

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    Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

    Phil Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin, Desmond Bryant, John Hughes, Armonty Bryant and Billy Winn: C+

    Through the first nine weeks of the season this unit was as dominant as anyone in the entire league. Unfortunately, injuries and a steady decline in production made for a poor end to the season.

    Despite having nearly a three-game stretch with no sacks, the defense still finished with 40 sacks on the year. It also finished 16th in the league in rushing defense.

    Those numbers don’t seem horrible until you realize it was a top-three team in both categories less than two months ago.

    Previous position grades: A+, B-, B-, A-, C+, C+, C+, B+, A, C+, D-, F, B-, C+, D-, F

Outside Linebacker

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    David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    Paul Kruger, Quentin Groves, Jabaal Sheard and Barkevious Mingo: C

    It was a terribly up-and-down year for the unit which was supposed to create all the pressure in defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s offense.

    Barkevious Mingo’s five sacks and Paul Kruger’s 4.5 sacks were not exactly what the team had imagined when it constructed the pass-rushing unit. Jabaal Sheard had a nice season with 5.5 sacks and a fumble recovery despite playing through injuries.

    This unit had a lot to do with the defensive demise late in the year.

    Previous position grades: A-, A-, B, B-, C, C+, C+, B+, B, C-, D-, F, A+, B, C-, D-

Inside Linebacker

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    Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

    Craig Robertson, Tank Carder and D’Qwell Jackson: D+

    D’Qwell Jackson was his typical solid self in 2013. He is never flashy and won't make the Pro Bowl but is always dependable and will deliver above-average linebacker play. He led the Browns with 141 tackles.

    Craig Robertson, on the other hand, was utterly exposed this season and will probably be looking for a backup job elsewhere in 2014.

    He is up for a new contract, and I can’t imagine anyone offering him a shot at a starting position after he was so abysmal in pass coverage all season.

    Previous position grades: B, A-, B-, C+, C-, D-, D-, D, A+, B+, B-, C-, F, C-, D, D+, D


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    Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

    Buster Skrine, Leon McFadden, Jordan Poyer and Joe Haden: B-

    It’s funny how the secondary was the biggest concern for Browns fans entering the 2013 season, and yet it ended up being the most consistent unit.

    Joe Haden was selected to his first Pro Bowl and had a dominant year, intercepting four passes and returning one for a touchdown. He took on the best receivers in the NFL every week, and they rarely got the better of him.

    Buster Skrine took a huge step in his development in 2013 and wasn’t just a serviceable second corner but a darn good one. He finished with just one interception but was among the NFL leaders in passes defended.

    Previous position grades: C-, C, A, A, A, B-, D+, B, C+, A+, D+, F, C+, C-, C, B


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    David Welker/Getty Images

    Tashaun Gipson and T.J. Ward: B-

    There were plenty of question marks surrounding the safety position entering the 2013 season as well. Can T.J. Ward stay healthy and finally be the playmaker everyone thought he could?

    Can Tashaun Gipson handle a starting free safety position and not allow big plays?

    Yes and yes were the answers. Ward was voted a Pro Bowl alternate, and Gipson had five interceptions. When he snagged the football he made it count, too. He averaged 28 yards per interception return and took one back for a touchdown.

    Previous position grades: C+, B, B-, C+, A, B+, B, B-, B, C, C+, F, C, A-, D, B-

Special Teams

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    Billy Cundiff, Travis Benjamin, Spencer Lanning, Fozzy Whittaker, Jordan Poyer and coverage units: C+

    It almost hurts to think what might have been if Travis Benjamin had not been lost for the year early in the season. He was lighting the return world on fire week after week with his vision and speed.

    Kicker Billy Cundiff was surprisingly solid all season long as well. His did not have the biggest leg in the world, but the Browns knew what they were getting into when they signed him.

    Punter Spencer Lanning is a borderline Pro Bowler in my opinion. He has been amazingly consistent and was third in the NFL at putting punts inside the 20-yard line.

    Previous position grades: C+, C+, A+, D+, A+, B-, B, C, B, D+, C, F, F, C, C, A, C