2014 Depth Chart: Cleveland Browns
[Chart last updated: 7/2/14… see update notes from 7/2/14]
• In the chart we grade by the position we feel the player is likely to play. In the case of Paul McQuistan, the tackle depth is so limited we feel that’s his most logical location. As a result of injuries to Russell Okung, for the Seahawks last year, he played both LT and LG. Now as a tackle McQuistan was very poor (-23.2 grade) but as a guard he’s perfectly capable (and rated a -1.2 in 2013). If they do play him inside a two grade jump to “average starter” is what we’d expect the difference to be.
• Both Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor were on the cusp of the “good starter” category but in the end we accepted the same argument about both; they are too limited in what they can do and not quite good enough at what they do well to be considered more than average. Rubin is an excellent run defender but so poor at getting pressure on the quarterback we don’t believe it balances to more than the grade we’ve allocated. With Taylor his pass rush is acceptable for his position but his run defense, while good, isn’t enough for us to think it warrants the next level. John Hughes is the comparison we’d make. His run defense (if anything) was better than Rubin’s while his pass rush wasn’t so poor as to move him down a level. He may not be the starter (although “starter” in a defensive rotation isn’t that relevant), but our opinion is if he was he’d be a good one.
• I keep asking myself if we’ve been too kind to Barkevious Mingo. When I saw him in training camp he looked like he was on a different planet to the other pass rushers, but after returning from his injury he never played like the player I saw in August. It’s one thing to give players a pass after returning from injury when you’ve see them do it on an NFL field, but he hasn’t yet and his “average” grade, based on pure performance, is remarkably generous. Watch this space and if he plays at the same level this year I’ll consider myself rebuked.
1. Left and Right Guard
The Browns were quick off the mark in stating second round draftee Joel Bitonio will initially be tried inside. There was some speculation after Mitchell Schwartz’s so-so sophomore year he’d be moved inside if Cleveland took a tackle in the draft. That isn’t happening — at least so far — so it will leave, Bitonio, John Greco, Jason Pinkston, Garrett Gilkey and possibly the aforementioned McQuistan fighting for places.
On the basis of previous performance Greco should be safe (if not entirely secure) and Bitonio will be given the chance to win the other job. Just guessing here but moving both positions and sides may be a step too far for a rookie so perhaps it’s Bitonio at LG and Greco at RG to get the OTA’s going. However, if experience if valued over performance it may be Greco on the left and Pinkston on the right.
2. Left Inside Linebacker
The Browns clearly like Craig Robertson because they never seem too keen to replace him, but for the last two years, after bright starts, his form has just disintegrated. I thought after 2012 they’d keep Kaluka Maiava but Robertson was their choice and he ended the year with a -18.1 grade. This year he’s only got the presence of third-rounder Christian Kirksey to contend with but unless he improves markedly (or Kirksey is poor) that might be a mismatch.
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