INDIANAPOLIS -- The scouting combine is the official kickoff of draft season in the NFL, but it is also the one place that brings everyone in the league together and signifies the true start of the NFL year. Every draft expert is in town, as are all of the top NFL Insiders.
We were lucky enough to have the Professor John Clayton join Cleveland Browns Daily this week to share his extreme optimism for the direction of the John Dorsey-Hue Jackson led organization.
Asked about the new-look front office, Clayton said, "I like it. I think it gets back to the basics of scouting … particularly with John Dorsey, a good solid football guy. I think they are lucky to get Eliot Wolf and (Alonzo) Highsmith. They come over from Green Bay … they have histories together. I think it's a good pairing and I think it is gonna be a good group."
Clayton was also excited about the fact the Browns have retained Jackson: "I think that he's a good coach and it was an unfair situation he was in … plus one of the bonuses of keeping Hue, is you get to keep Gregg Williams and Gregg Williams is such a good coach."
As for the focus of the Browns' offseason improvement plan, Clayton said it starts with "working on the back end of the defense, the secondary." He added that with $111 million in cap room, the Browns will be active in free agency and "you figure they will go for a cornerback and so it's a matter of which cornerback they go for. Will it be Malcolm Butler, is it going to be … Trumaine Johnson because he is going to come in at $14 million and you're not going to outbid them."
Johnson could hit the market after being franchised the last two seasons by the Los Angeles Rams, who just acquired Marcus Peters in a trade with the Chiefs. Johnson is regarded by many as the top free agent cornerback available and played for Williams for multiple seasons with the Rams.
Clayton also expects the Browns to go after a free safety either in free agency, the draft or via trade because, "John Dorsey knows the value of a great free safety. He was there with Eric Berry (in Kansas City)."
Clayton said he does not expect Rams free safety Lamarcus Joyner to be available in free agency, but noted other prominent players around the league could become available in the coming weeks. In the draft, the consensus top defensive back, Minkah Fitzpatrick, is able to play both free safety and cornerback, making him incredibly attractive to the Browns.
Clayton said the combination of Dorsey and Jackson will be a successful one for the Browns. The Browns will clearly be on the right path if, "obviously settling the quarterback position, trying to upgrade the WR position, upgrading the spots on the defense, because again, the biggest thing is that if Gregg Williams can get this defense between 15th and 18th, that's gonna be huge. If they can do that and get to five or six wins, I think that's a huge jump."