Browns Only 5 Players Away According to PFF and ESPN
The Cleveland Browns didn’t even make the playoffs, much less be in competition for the Super Bowl, yet a study by Pro Football Focus, published on ESPN, says that the Browns are only 5 players away. That is good enough for 7th best of the 30 teams that are not in the Super Bowl.
You read that right, basically PFF has ranked the Cleveland Browns with the 9th best roster in the NFL. Besides the two Super Bowl teams the Browns are only ranked below the Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles and the Detroit Lions. Here is how they decided on their rankings:
"What makes a Super Bowl contender? When Pro Football Focus analyzed the 28 teams that played in the conference championship games for the 2007 to 2013 seasons, it found that, on average, 40 percent of those rosters were composed of good/elite players (you had to play 250-plus snaps to qualify). Using that methodology, PFF determined how many above-average players stood between your team and contending for this year’s Super Bowl."
With PFF’s rankings, you can click on each team’s name to see what some of the ESPN experts had to say about where they had players ranked. Only Joe Thomas and Joel Bitonio were ranked by PFF as Elite while a number of players, including surprisingly John Greco were ranked as Good. Joe Haden, the guy playing in the Pro Bowl right now with one of the biggest contracts of all cornerbacks, was only rated as Average. According to their rankings the Browns should be Contending.
Joel Bitonio was rated as the best value for the team while Ahtyba Rubin was the team’s worst value.
Of the Browns 5 players that they are away we can all agree that quarterback is one of them. Here is what Kevin Seifert had to say about the Browns QB situation:
"The Browns’ master plan here is in tatters. First-round draft choice Johnny Manziel‘s rookie year was so bad (5.1 Total QBR) that he can’t be counted on as a starter for 2015. Meanwhile, veteran Brian Hoyer‘s midseason fade can’t give the Browns much confidence in their fallback candidate. His 25.9 QBR from Weeks 11-17 ranked ahead of just two qualified quarterbacks (Robert Griffin III and Blake Bortles). The good news is the Browns have only $2.3 million in cap space committed to the position in 2015. – Grade = D"
No one would argue with anything that Seifert had to say. Hoyer wasn’t impressive enough to keep Manziel on the bench and Manziel’s time on the field was the only thing worse than his off the field issues. In the end Manziel’s play made fans excited when undrafted Connor Shaw started in Week 17. The Browns don’t have a ton of options moving forward. They could try to draft someone, including Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston, or sign someone, where Hoyer is joined by Ryan Mallett, Mark Sanchez and Jake Locker atop the free agent list. No for sure options there.
Jeremy Fowler lists the Browns primary needs as outside linebacker, quarterback and wide receiver. We all agree about the QB spot, although we all want different solutions, so lets look at the other two spots. Fowler notes that the OLB 3 some of Barkevious Mingo, Jabaal Sheard and Paul Kruger only combined for 15 sacks, 11 along by Kruger. Sheard is a free agent and could be replaced while Mingo is going into his all important 3rd season. All 3 OLBs were ranked as Average by PFF.
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The receiver need seem pretty obvious to most but an interesting note from the PFF study: Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel were both ranked as two of the Browns 7 Good players. So while a bigger receiver, with the ability to high point the ball as well as be a threat in the redzone, is important, the Browns actually have some good talent there.
The Browns were the highest ranked non-playoff team. Their roster was ranked ahead of playoff teams the Carolina Panthers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are the lowest rated playoff team at #20 while Jacksonville Jaguars are ranked last.
Take a look at their post and see if it changes your thoughts about the Browns roster. With their 10 draft picks and their cap space it is fair to say that the Browns have the ability to add at least 5 more impact players.
What do you think about the Browns roster after this research?