Why Kathleen Wood can help the Cleveland Browns

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 27: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns walks off the field, after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs on December 27, 2015 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 27: Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 of the Cleveland Browns walks off the field, after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs on December 27, 2015 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images) /

Many young Cleveland Browns have flopped due to off-the-field issues rather than skill

The Cleveland Browns have taken an interesting step by hiring two female scouts for the first time in their history. However, their background, especially Kathleen Wood’s, is equally important.

The Browns have hired a private investigator as a scout. This fan’s response is: THANK GOD!  WHAT KEPT YOU?

A private investigator can really help this team and here is why it is important. If you look at the most important screw-ups with player personnel, the most damage has been done by factors off the field, not their ability to play football.

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Let’s look at the biggest whiffs. Shall we start with Johnny Manziel? This fan is not the greatest scout on the staff of DPD, but my eyeballs tell me the kid had ability. He knew instinctively where to throw the ball coming out of a scramble, and he was deadly accurate with plenty of arm strength.  Hello. His problems were off the field.

A good private investigator would have an excellent chance of predicting whether there were substance abuse issues that would interfere with his ability to play professional football.

How about Justin Gilbert? This guy was blazing fast and had terrific skills, but something went wrong. Eventually he was suspended by the NFL for alleged substance abuse. Again, a private investigator would have a great chance to determine whether a problem existed and how it might impact his ability to play football.

More recently, Antonio Callaway had to leave the team because of an alleged failed drug test. Corey Coleman also had off the field issues. Josh Gordon is the king of slip-ups and suspensions.

So when are they going to stop drafting guys with problems? The Browns front office and ownership were blissfully unaware of these issues when the players were acquired. That is an issue, and it needs to be fixed.

Player after player can be named that had off the field issues — either drug related or behavior related — that hurt the team and prevented the player from contributing on the field. Yet the team knew nothing about it and did not suspect a thing.  Well, why not? Hire someone whose job is to suspect things and investigate.

The point is, these players were not necessarily scouted improperly on the field. They had ability, but the off-the-field issues were of such a degree that they interfered with their ability to play football.

The private investigator is not a prosecuting attorney. It’s not their job to ensure that the Browns select only choir boys to play football. Rather, their job should be to find out whether the off the field stuff is tolerable, or whether it is going to be a problem to the extent of actually interfering with on-the-field performance.

For example, if a star player likes to drink whiskey, but is able to manage it and stay out of legal problems, maybe the correct response is to find out what brand of whiskey he likes and pass it around to the rest of team. It’s not necessarily that partying is good or bad, it’s a question of whether it is going to lead to suspensions and illegal behavior or not.

Another issue is to estimate whether there is a chance of recovery or not. The Browns may have given up too early on some players that could have been helped. Cutting a player at the first sign of trouble may not be the right idea either. In some cases, players can be rehabilitated and helped. Ray Lewis of the Ravens comes to mind.

So Browns, given that the team has whiffed on millions and millions of dollars worth of prospects because of failing to estimate the impact of off-the-field issue, what say we hire someone who specializes in these issues?  That is where Kathleen Wood comes in.

Truthfully there should be several private investigators schooled in the latest methods of information gathering, psychological profiling and statistical prediction. Identify the players who are high risk, and avoid them. Or, if you do want to roll the dice occasionally on a high-risk prospect, make sure it is with a properly discounted day three pick rather than drafting question marks too early.

dark. Next. Riley Hecklinski, Kathleen Wood added as scouts

In short, a former private investigator turned scout is just the person who can help the Browns to avoid drafting players with too much baggage to become good football players.