Every NFL team has its core players. Players a team can build around, they are the teams foundation. The more core players a team has, the better the foundation.
Looking at the Cleveland Browns roster, they are still a few key players away from being a playoff team team. They need to find a franchise quarterback first, along with a safety, cornerback, right tackle and possibly a number one wide receiver and an inside linebacker. A big back to compliment Jerome Harrison is more of a luxury than a real need. Josh Cribbs should be able to step into a bigger role on offense next year with more carries.
Who are the players Mike Holmgren will build around starting with free agency and then the draft? First you have to start with left tackle Joe Thomas. He’s a yearly pro bowl player yet to reach his peak. Guard Eric Steinbach, center Alex Mack and guard Rex Hadnot give the Browns a good nucleus to build around on the offensive line. Hadnot needs to be resigned. Jerome Harrison has proved he can be a valuable cog in the running game and Mohamed Massaquoi is a keeper at wide receiver. Cribbs is wanting a huge raise and is definitely worth every penny. Give him more carries at running back and he will prove how versatile he is.Tight end Evan Moore was a nice find and a keeper. Lawrence Vickers is a pro bowl caliber fullback and is developing into a leader as well.
Defensively, you have to start with Eric Wright at corner back. He is getting better each year and is still very young. OLB Matt Roth joined the Browns about mid season and was probably their best player on defense. He needs to be resigned. On the defensive line, Shaun Rogers is a great talent that will probably move to end now that Ahtyba Rubin has proven he can do the job at NT. It’s a shame it took Rogers getting hurt to find this out. Robaire Smith still has a few years left and he was the Browns best DE last year. D’Qwell Jackson is coming back from a shoulder injury and the Browns need to resign him. Kameron Wimbley impressed Eric Mangini with his improvement at OLB and he is still young and learning.
Lets see, that’s nine on offense and seven on defense by my count. Not a bad start considering young players such as WR Brian Robiskie, DL Brian Schaefering, LB Jason Trusnil, WR Chansi Stuckey, LB Kaluka Maiava, special teams demon Blake Costanzo and LB Marcus Bernard are all young and could be key pieces in the foundation as well. Not to mention punter Dave Zastudil, kicker Phil Dawson and long snapper Ryan Pontbriand are as good as any in the NFL.
The Browns do indeed have a nice foundation for Holmgren to build on. Mangini should be applauded for his work in this area. Now lets get the final pieces.Article originally posted on http://www.nfltouchdown.com/