I think the Browns front office has a real opportunity this offseason to make huge strides with this team. It all depends on their mindset. They need specific goals and then attack accordingly. Fortunately, everyone has an opinion on how best to address the team’s needs. If it were up to me, this is what I might do to address some of the glaring holes across the board:
First, I would tackle free agency. With Randy Lerner willing to help put a winner on the field, we can only assume there would be a healthy free agent budget. This year’s crop of free agents is definitely strong on the defensive side of the ball. That is where I would turn my attention. If you can bring in one solid player at each level of the defense, that would be a huge start. Also, if the price is right, and Chris Mortensen is correct, we could have a real shot at a player like Julius Peppers. A player that could instantly make us better.
Second, I would decide who I need to target for my first round pick. This player needs to be the “big name guy” fans are looking for. This isn’t the year to play it safe and pick a lineman, not in this spot anyway. This is where a Jimmy Clausen, Eric Berry, Brandon Graham or C.J. Spiller should be taken. A player with instant appeal and one who would inevitably provide much needed performance on the field. Someone like the guys above is a no-brainer. Any team would be lucky to snatch them up.
Finally, it is time to use your draft picks to fill in the holes. Again, I would conduct my draft like last year and bring in high quality, smart, character guys. The emphasis should be on lineman, offense and defense, but specifically offense. Get a solid right tackle and an interior guard to build a foundation for years of success. Scout hard and pick a guy with good work ethic and high potential. It isn’t a secret that the games are won in the trenches, and its in the trenches that we need the most help.
Doing these things won’t turn the franchise around overnight, but they will provide us the necessary players to compete now. We are at a turning point in the development of this team and only smart decisions will get us over the hump. Mike Holmgren and Eric Mangini are the right men for this job. Let’s just hope their success at other stops has followed them here.