Recently, Cleveland Plain Dealer sports reporter Tony Grossi wrote about his belief that the Browns are planning to use Peyton Hillis as a fullback in the team's new offense.
Reading that was enough to shock me out of my current NFL off-season blues, because it's an idea I had months ago, but dismissed because recent history shows the Browns are not exactly known for making smart moves.
But if Grossi is reporting the idea, that would seem to lend some credence–and hope–that the Browns are finally willing to use their strengths to fit their schemes. Let's take a look at this, and some other smart moves the Browns could make to improve in 2011.
Hillis proved his worth to Browns fans last year and since the start of the offseason, it has been generally assumed he will share touches with Montario Hardesty in the future.
The WCO requires a fullback that can rush, block and catch passes and Hillis is the only RB on the roster who possesses that skill set.
Moving Hillis to fullback is the ideal scenario because it would put Hillis and Hardesty on the field at the same time, giving Colt McCoy twice as many options out of the backfield. It would also eliminate any need to sign another FB.
Cribbs is getting older and had a disappointing 2010 season, but he still has plenty of big play ability left in him.
Cribbs is really at his best when he already has the football and can make people miss. As a change-of-pace back, Cribbs could be extremely effective taking pitches, catching screens and acting as a decoy on play-fakes.
He'll maintain his duties as return specialist, but also get eight to ten touches out of the backfield per game.
If the Browns made this move, they could probably get away without signing another RB, allowing them to focus on more pressing needs.
Recently, new head coach Pat Shurmur stated that pass-catching tight ends are essential to his offense.
At only 25, Miller is already an elite TE and just coming into his prime.
Miller and Ben Watson would instantly give the Browns the best TE duo in the league and make up for the lack of WR production.
The Browns were willing to overpay for Scott Fujita and Jake Delhomme last year and they should not hesitate to do the same with Miller, who would be much more valuable to the team than Fujita and Delhomme combined.
The Browns obviously need D-Lineman, but could use flashy play-makers just as much. A.J. Green is by far the best receiver in the draft. He’s not a speedster, but has excellent quickness which helps him to gain separation. Green would give the Browns their premiere wideout, who could stretch the field and open up lanes underneath for the other receivers.
Patrick Peterson is the cleanest pick in the entire draft. Any lingering concerns about him were erased at the combine, where he proved he has the athletic skills (and work ethic) to back up his tape. Peterson would immediately start at nickel before being paired with Haden.
Additionally, Prince Amukamara reminds me of a slightly bigger, faster version of Joe Haden, and would be a great pick if the Browns trade down. Either Peterson or Amukamara would immediately give Cleveland one of the NFL’s best DB units.
They are possession receivers who should be running short and intermediate routes.
Mohamed Massaquoi has decent speed, but horrible acceleration. He may be best suited for the No. 2 spot, although his constant struggles to gain adequate separation at the pro level might bump him down to No. 4.
Brian Robiskie has enough quickness to excel in shorter routes like slants and comebacks. RoBo won’t get far after he catches the ball and may not be the ideal slot receiver, but he would be better than Chansi Stuckey in the Browns new dink and dunk attack.
Every way you look at it, the Browns are in limbo at WR until they land a legit No. 1.