What Offseason Moves Are Next for the Cleveland Browns with the Draft Complete?

Will Burge@WillBurgeContributor IMay 14, 2014

What Offseason Moves Are Next for the Cleveland Browns with the Draft Complete?

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    Now that the NFL draft is over and Johnny Manziel is in Cleveland, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that there is still work to be done with the Cleveland Browns. Sure, they added six players who all look to be contributing pieces, but there are still quite a few questions to be answered.

    No team can fix all its issues in one season—especially not a team that only won four games just one year ago. It takes time to put quality players in each and every spot. That is why teams like the Browns have to mask weaknesses with schemes or find guys that no one else thought of to fill a role.

    As minicamps start to ramp up, it will be interesting to see how many of the 11 undrafted free agents the Browns will bring in can make an impact. Most will be warm bodies to take reps but a few will inevitably make the squad.

    If the Browns are lucky—and good—they will even have one that becomes a regular contributor to the team. Let’s just hope it isn’t quarterback Connor Shaw because that would mean the season took a turn for the worse.

    So, let’s look at the next five things the Browns need to figure out now that the draft has concluded.

Control the Manziel Circus

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    Rookie minicamp is still just a few days away, but already the controversy surrounding rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel and the circus that follows him has reared its ugly head. The Browns have exercised their right to limit which media members can attend the rookie camp, which has some national media members in an uproar.


    Wow, the Browns told me the national media is barred from their rookie minicamp this weekend due to the team's "tight grip" on Manziel.

    — Bart Hubbuch (@HubbuchNYP) May 13, 2014


    The Browns are well within their right to decide who attends rookie minicamp, as it is not mandatory to let everyone in. That does not mean it is a good look to keep them out, either.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg and the Browns are going to have to walk on eggshells when it comes to Manziel. As they will soon find out, he is not as much of an issue as the attention that surrounds him.

    Both Manziel and the organization will be in the national spotlight with every move they make. Welcome to life with Johnny Football.

Conduct a Real Quarterback Competition

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    For years, the Browns have had the most interesting quarterback competitions. Most of the time they were between two bad-to-mediocre quarterbacks and made zero difference because they both eventually ended up hurt anyway.

    Sometimes the competitions were even decided by a coin flip. How fun is that?

    Two years ago, Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy were supposed to have a real quarterback competition, but the job was handed to Weeden. Sure, it took until the beginning of August for them to officially name him the starter, but it was obvious from the time minicamps started.

    Browns owner Jimmy Haslam told the media at the Hall of Fame Luncheon that there will be competition between Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer, but Hoyer is currently the starter. That is fine, but it better be a real competition.

    I understand they want Manziel to sit behind Hoyer, but they cannot manipulate this in any way. The best quarterback has to play. In the last ten years, pretty much only been Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco and Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay have actually sat and succeeded. Everyone else was thrown into the fire.

    If Manziel wins, all is fine. It is not like years past where the team had an awful line and no weapons. Even without Josh Gordon, Manziel has more surrounding him than any other rookie Browns quarterback.

    It is also fine if Hoyer wins. That will give Manziel time to sit and watch as Hoyer keeps the seat warm. Whoever the winner is will be perfectly fine, but they need to make sure it plays out fairly for once.

Find out Who Will Play Receiver

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    With the reports of Josh Gordon’s impending suspension, it makes the wide receiver spot a very tough one to predict. There are some nice complementary pieces, but who will actually start?

    Greg Little, a guy who just last week many thought wouldn’t make it through camp, may now be the front-runner for the primary receiver spot. Can Nate Burleson get healthy and snag that position?

    What about the undrafted free agents the Browns brought in? Dane Brugler of CBS Sports says to keep an eye on Chandler Jones from San Jose State.


    @FtblSickness@MikeKrupka Agree. Very productive: only WR in school history w/ 50+ catches each year. Plus his dad was a HC in NFL Europe

    — Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) May 13, 2014

    Maybe the Browns will look outside the organization. Santonio Holmes is still a free agent.

    Or perhaps a trade is in order. On Tuesday, the news broke that Andre Johnson is unhappy in Houston. He says that he may not return for team activities. The Browns should be blowing up Houston general manager Rick Smith’s phone as we speak.

Find Inside Linebacker Depth

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    I found it curious that of the 11 undrafted free agents the Browns will bring to camp, none are linebackers. They have one solid starting inside linebacker in Karlos Dansby and a combination at the other spot.

    Most likely Craig Robertson will play first and second down, and third-round draft pick Christian Kirksey will play third-down passing situations. Kirksey is not a big hitter and is almost a safety because of how slight he is. However, he is great in pass coverage, which is Robertson’s biggest weakness.

    Unfortunately, the Browns do not have much behind them. Robertson was an undrafted free agent, so I thought maybe the team would explore that route, but they did not. Look for the Browns to sign a veteran or pick up someone that gets cut from another squad.

    There are almost always productive players released for salary reasons in training camp, and the Browns will need to be active to grab the best ones.

Keep Their Guys out of Trouble

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    For the third offseason in a row the Browns found out they will lose a key piece of their team due to an NFL suspension. The Browns need to correct that culture, and it needs to start now.

    This is especially important with Johnny Manziel in the building and all the media scrutiny they will be under. The team is already thin at most spots and cannot afford any more losses to its roster.

    Josh Gordon is responsible for two of those suspensions and might possibly even be able to beat this one, which remains to be seen, but it is setting a messy precedent. They need to nip this in the bud and make sure the locker room knows that anything that hurts the team is unacceptable.

    The best locker rooms police themselves, and maybe the additions of Donte Whitner and Karlos Dansby will help the situation. They need leadership and direction for their young roster, and hopefully head coach Mike Pettine is the answer.