Believe it or not, the Cleveland Browns once scored a 15-0 season and remain undefeated in the league. Of coarse that was 1948 and in a league called the All-American Football Conference (not the NFL). In recent times, the team has struggled to remain competitive with some monstrously successful teams of the modern era. In 2007, the Browns performed at fairly consistent level, earning a 10-6 score record and finishing second place in the AFC North. Under the guidance of head coach Romeo Crennel, will the team continue with their midrange success or compete for the championship? The answer may well lie in the NFL Draft.
Heading into the draft, the Cleveland Browns did not have a selection in the first three rounds. What was the result of the team’s draft pick? They got to choose linebacker Beau Bell from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, as well as tight end Martin Rucker from Missouri. Ahtyba Rubin from Iowa State was chosen as a defensive tackle, along with wide receiver Paul Hubbard from Wisconsin, and defensive end Alex Hall from St. Augustine’s.
Ever since the Browns have returned to active competition (they were deactivated by the NFL for three years) more emphasis has been placed on the draft as a portent of the season victory to come. Since 1999, the team has looked for key starters and reserves and in 2008, and has made major changes that have led to differing levels of success. However, in 2008 the draft choices have been noticeably different. How so? For one thing, this season was the first in nearly 20 years in which the team did not have a first-round pick. Furthermore, the team did not have a pick on the draft’s entire first day. Why the lack of change?
It may be because the team has been very well restructured and seem to be finally doing things right, after three decades of unevenness. Many fans believe that the Browns are one of the most improved teams in the NFL and that the lack of major draft acquisitions shows the team’s confidence. Many experts are still betting on the Browns for 2008, especially considering their 2007 season ending 10-6 score. Fans are crediting the managerial skills of Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel, as they have proven their ability to assess new talent. Consider how successful wide receiver Braylon Edwards and tight end Kellen Winslow have become in their Browns career. They also keep the talents of quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn.
In general, and even after a relatively quiet draft, the Cleveland Browns are considered one of the best teams in the NFL, thanks to their young offense. Their defense has been questionable and in fact was considered one of the lowest ranked defenses in the league last season. In 2008 the Browns hope to improve their defense with Ahtyba Rubin, as well as mainstays like Louis Leonard and Mike Adams.
The Cleveland Browns are facing a crucial year: whether to be taken seriously as one of the NFL’s top 10 or to remain as a perpetual wildcard team. One thing is for sure: the team is set and ready.
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