Originally posted on WhoDeyFans  |  Last updated 5/16/12

The AFC North is always tough, and 2011 was no exception. All four teams were in the top 10 in overall defense. They made up half of the AFC playoff teams, going a combined 25-15 outside the division. Even the Browns were an almost respectable 4-6 outside the AFC North.

2012 should be similar. So getting a better look at the rest of the division to see what should be coming our way this year is wise. Let’s begin an examination of the division by looking at the team at the other end of I-71.

OFFENSE (2011) Overall 29th Passing 24th Rushing 28th TDs 30th DEFENSE (2011) Overall 10th Passing 2nd Rushing 30th Sacks 23rd INTs 28th TDs 5th 2012 DRAFT PICKS 1.3 Trent Richardson RB 1.22 Brandon Weeden QB 2.5 Mitchell Schwartz OT 3.24 John Hughes DT 4.5 Travis Benjamin WR 4.25 James-Michael Johnson ILB 5.25 Ryan Miller OG 6.34 Emmanuel Acho OLB 6.35 Billy Winn DE 7.38 Trevin Wade CB 7.40 Brad Smelly FB TOP PLAYERS Joe Haden
Joe Thomas
Philip Taylor
Jabaal Sheard
D’Qwell Jackson FA ADDITIONS Frostee Rucker
Juqua Parker FA LOSSES Payton Hillis
Mike Adams
Tony Pashos
Eric Steinbach

A quick look at the results from the Browns’ 2011 campaign shows that they were all defense. All passing defense, actually. Their rushing defense was abysmal, with opponents running on them for 4.4 yds/carry and nearly 150 yds/game. However, they did do a good job of holding opponents to field goals.

The entire offense was just as bad. The Browns simply could not score, which makes winning difficult (as reflected in their 4-12 record). The loss of Peyton Hillis for much of the season hurt them significantly, and no other RB could pick up the slack. Greg Little also provided much less punch than the team had hoped.

This lack of potency on offense was the shaping factor in the Browns’ draft strategy. Six of their eleven picks went to the offense, including four of the first five picks. As we know, Trent Richardson was viewed as the best answer to the Browns’ offensive woes. To further aid the running game, they also used their 2nd round pick on a new right tackle and cut ties with Tony Pashos.

As I stated after the draft, the selection of Brandon Weeden was a terrible investment in my opinion and really hurt their draft. Blaming Colt McCoy for the offense was silly because he simply had no weapons around him. Greg Little led all receivers with 709 yds. I expect Weeden to be no better than McCoy and eventually just another entry on a long list of failed QBs in Cleveland.

Two other notable moves involve trying to improve the run-stopping ability of the defensive line by drafting DT John Hughes and DE Frostee Rucker. Hughes will be a good rotational player. (The Browns took him six spots ahead of Brandon Thompson, but I think the Bengals got the better player.)

The move I question more, though, is the planned use of Rucker. I don’t blame him for finding a starting gig, which he was not going to get in Cincinnati. But I’m not sure that using him as a starter is playing to his strength. Maybe he will prove me wrong, but I suspect the Browns will not get the full impact out of Rucker that they hope. I’m not saying he will be bad, but I am not sure he will be all that good either.

Any improvement for Cleveland will come almost entirely from Trent Richardson, a significant burden for a rookie. Weeden is just beginning the learning curve that McCoy had gotten through, and his mistakes will cost the team at times. He does not have as solid of a defense to bail him out like Dalton had, nor is he quite as tenacious as Dalton. And with no other real playmakers selected, the Browns will be left either depending heavily on TR or hoping that Little or Cribbs or Massaquoi or Moore emerge as a receiving threat (which I don’t see coming).

Bottom line, TR will make some impact for the team overall, but not so much against the stout defenses of the AFC North. Another draft picking in the top 10 is staring Cleveland in the face.

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Kobe has worst game of his career against Warriors

Rams WR Stedman Bailey in hospital after being shot in head

Furious Brad Stevens blasts Celtics after lackluster game

Did Bryce Harper deserve the MVP?

Duke 5-star commit posts moving message after successful surgery

Ex-LSU commit still supports Les Miles


Report: Ray Lewis gave Bills pregame pep talk

Report: Marshawn Lynch out a few weeks to recover

Peyton Manning to miss at least two more weeks

Notre Dame DT: Committee 'spit in our faces' with ranking

LaRon Landry suspended indefinitely by NFL

Don’t blame Mike Pettine for benching Johnny Manziel. Blame Johnny.

Six MLB teams that will be most active at Winter Meetings

Breaking down the NFL playoff picture heading into Week 12

Nick Young seems to take shot at Kobe Bryant

WATCH: College basketball player makes 3-pointer while wobbly from concussion

The five most overrated teams in the Week 13 coaches' poll

Clemson WR calls South Carolina fans 'rude'

Jonathan Lucroy trade market bolstered by weak catching market

Michigan State lists two starting QBs on depth chart

10 storylines for Week 13 of the college football season

LISTEN: Browns fan cries on radio while ripping Johnny Manziel

Texas A&M QB Kyle Allen says he was injured vs. Alabama

Report: Maple Leafs are no longer the NHL’s most valuable franchise

Ranking the 10 best games of 2015 college football rivalry week

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The five most overrated teams in the Week 13 coaches' poll

10 storylines for Week 13 of the college football season

Ranking the 10 best games of 2015 college football rivalry week

Examining the Mavericks' hot start

Johnny Bench(ed): Manziel demoted to third string

Mike Trout, four years in

Tom Brady on ‘Rex Ryan!’ line call: It’s ‘in the playbook’

Five NFL teams trending downward

Not so fast, USC: Eagles Chip Kelly buys Philly-area home

The five best hockey fights from Week 7

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker