Browns Mailbag

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Browns Mailbag: Does free agency or draft make more sense when it comes to adding talent at wide receiver?

After one of the slowest weeks on the NFL calendar, we’re fired up to answer five of your questions on this sunny Friday in Berea.

We’re hoping it’s just as pleasant at the Combine next week in Indianapolis.

Are the Browns going to get any wideouts though the draft or free agency? - Mark T., Sanford, North Carolina

I imagine they’ll use both avenues in some sense over the next couple of months. It’s just impossible to predict how “marquee” the names will be in either category. The Browns looked like they were in serious trouble at wide receiver in the middle of last season after a string of injuries, but the unit rebounded nicely and served as one of the team’s strengths during its strong finish to 2018. Jarvis Landry led the way for a group that featured a number of players getting regular looks in the passing game. Baker Mayfield didn’t discriminate in his distribution of the ball, and that often resulted in four or five receivers getting a handful of catches in each game.

That said, there’s always room to improve. If the Browns look for more wide receivers in free agency -- something they did earlier this week with the signing of Jaelen Strong -- there a couple of notable names, including the Chargers’ Tyrell Williams, who was a thorn in Cleveland’s side Week 6, and a couple of deep threats in John Brown (Ravens) and Robby Anderson (Jets) who could be had at a reasonable price. The Browns still have a few weeks to negotiate with Breshad Perriman, who was a pleasant surprise during the second half of the season, before he hits the open market.

The draft presents a few intriguing options for the Browns. At No. 17, the Browns could very well end up with the first receiver taken in the draft if they go in that direction. Most peg Ole Miss’ D.K. Metcalf as the top of the group, and he’d give Cleveland something it doesn’t have in a true physical specimen at the position. But they could also land that type of size in the later rounds, whether it be Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry or Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler. It remains to be seen, but odds are favorable the Browns will have a few more bodies at the position than they do now when training camp begins in late July.

Did John Dorsey have any of his present staff or scouts with him in Kansas City? -- Jim W., St. Joseph, Michigan

A few months after Dorsey was hired, he added three scouts to the staff who came from Kansas City: Jimmy Noel (Assistant Director, Pro Scouting), Matt Donahoe (scout) and Dan Zegers (personnel coordinator).

I thought that the game clock stopped whenever a player with the ball went out of bounds. It doesn’t seem like that anymore. What’s the current rule? -- William T., Medina

The general assumption is the clock stops whenever a player runs out of bounds. That’s correct, but only to an extent. The clock restarts when the ball is spotted for the vast majority of the game. The exceptions are after the 2-minute warning in the first half and after the 5-minute mark in the fourth quarter, when it doesn’t restart until the snap of the ball.

Do you think the Browns would consider getting Jeffery Simmons in the second round if he falls that far? -- Austin S., Ashtabula

Simmons, a talented defensive tackle out of Mississippi State, was considered a first-round lock before suffering a torn ACL during a pre-draft workout. Some still believe Simmons could be a first-rounder despite the injury, and that definitely wouldn’t be the first time that sort of pick was made. A recent comparison I like to draw when projecting Simmons is cornerback Sidney Jones. Considered a top-15 lock coming out of Washington, Jones tore his Achilles tendon during his Pro Day workout. Jones understandably fell in the draft but not too, too far. The Eagles snagged him with the 43rd pick. For what it’s worth, the Browns hold the 49th pick.

News broke today Simmons won’t be at next week’s NFL Combine at all because of his recent surgery. Still, teams will have plenty of time to get their own medical analysis of the situation to best gauge when to take a chance on the extremely talented defensive tackle.

According to what I read about the Josh Gordon trade, the seventh-round pick to New England was conditional. If he was not active for 10 games the pick went to the Patriots. He was active for 10 games so the Browns keep the pick. Is this correct? -- Frank H., Brecksville

The pick wasn’t conditional. The Browns traded Gordon and the seventh-round pick they received from San Francisco in the Shon Coleman trade for New England’s fifth-rounder.

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