Coaching Staff Taking Opportunity Seriously
The Senior Bowl has been traditionally known as a real-time primer from NFL teams to be able to scout and personally view talent on the field, an aspect the NFL Draft can not provide. The team that, seemingly, over the years, could have benefited the most from some advanced scouting, the Cleveland Browns, have barely ever sent scouts to this game. Confident in buying their cars before taking them out for a test drive, former –I stress the word “former”– Browns officials were content to evaluate talent from the comfort of Berea.
Head Coach Freddie Kitchens brought the staff to his home state to attend this year’s 2019 Reese’s Senior Bowl, this Saturday at 1:30 PST. Kitchens had a nice enough time reminiscing with his former coach, current NCAA Division IA Playoff National Champion Dabo Swinney, but he and General Manager John Dorsey immersed themselves in evaluating possible talent worthy of the seventeenth overall pick. (Did I just type that?)
Kitchens has been involving himself in the process of evaluating the entire team, something he admitted he had not done in a while. He admitted this was a “crucial” time in the season, piecing together potential talent while factoring in the current team needs and possible free agents and trades simultaneously. This is why Kitchens is intent and eager on finalizing his coaching staff soon.
While taking copious notes, Kitchens is still content on leaving defensive talent evaluations to his defensive coaches: “That’s why I hired good people, where they can become experts in their area and I can lean on them.”
The other expert on the Browns staff down in Mobile is Dorsey, who is keeping the process exactly the same as last year, even standing in the same spot he did last year to answer questions from the press.
“Process will always be the same. The only difference is that every draft class is different,” Dorsey said. “You have to measure the strengths and weaknesses of every draft class and see how they best fit into the organization. You understand what your team is all about, what you do in unrestricted free agency, what you do maybe in the trade market and how you work to acquire players – but the process has always been the same and it will never change.”
Three Senior Prospects
Scouting rookies is crucial, and Dorsey is known for his proclivity in choosing wisely. Whether it is going with his “buddy boy”, quarterback Baker Mayfield, finding diamond-in-the-rough linebacker Genard Avery, or reaching for undrafted rookie free agent Desmond Harrison who filled in nicely at left tackle, Dorsey is diligently examining all the senior prospects. Here are three on Dorsey’s radar:
Dorsey and Kitchens will have to decide whether or not to retain Harrison. Harrison, with his checkered past firmly behind him, still possesses first-round draft pick skills –although still raw. Dillard has been an anchor for the highly-ranked Cougars, appearing in all forty-two games, starting in thirty-nine. Dillard has experience, his last game battling arguably an NFL-caliber Ohio State defensive line in the Rose Bowl.
At 6’0″, 190, Ya-Sin has the size and speed to cover the bigger AFC North wide receivers. Ya-Sin was awarded a complete transfer mid-year when Presbyterian College announced it was moving down from FCS to Division II. He impressed Temple by earning a single-digit jersey number, a privilege given to the toughest players on the Owls. The Browns traditionally have gone with long-shots at defensive backs before (Pierre Decir), but, if there is any apprehension, Texas’s Kris Boyd might do nicely. Depending on Denzel Ward’s wellness, the Browns could either draft his partner or his replacement.
With Nick Bosa most assuredly going number one overall to The Arizona Cardinals (to the dismay of Ohio State/ Browns fans), one realistic prospect is Sweat. Sweat is versatile and knowledgeable enough to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 and a defensive end in a 4-3, which MSU did quite often. Longer and rangier than Myles Garrett, Sweat could provide a perfect bookend, taking the pressure of off Garrett and even competing with him for sacks.
The 2019 Reese’s Senior Bowl will be played Saturday, January 26, at 1:30, in Mobile, Alabama.