Thursday, October 8, 2015, 6:11pm
The Cleveland Browns officially break training camp today. Preparation for the regular season moves to the next phase. This time provides a good chance to look back at the highlights and lowlights of training camp.
Best player: WR Brian Hartline. Practiced hard, practiced well and was there every day. Availability is part of dependability, after all. Hartline is a clear pro and a solid addition.
The story added a close second WR Travis Benjamin. It never really made sense that some thought Benjamin was on the bubble to make the roster when camp started. After seeing him in camp, it makes less sense. Benjamin is vastly improved as a receiver and his speed is something the offense and punt return units badly need. Brown WRs are buried down our WR list but Hartine always attracted targets in Miami. The QB situation is an unstable one but Hartline, who isn't getting a lot of draft attention, could be a waiver wire claim at some point if he continues to play well.
The Miami Dolphins overhauled their wide receiver group this offseason, with the exception of promising second-year player, Jarvis Landry. Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, and Brandon Gibson are all out of Miami, and have been "replaced" by Greg Jennings, Kenny Stills, and DeVante Parker.
Three new receivers, three better fits for Ryan Tannehill, according to head coach Joe Philbin. He is confident the trio of Jennings, Stills, and Parker are better for Tannehill than the previous trio of Wallace, Hartline, and Gibson.
"I do think it’s a better skill set to match [Tannehill]," Philbin told the Palm Beach Post.
As expected, first-round pick DeVante Parker should be a big part of the offense this season. Philbin had great things to say about Stills' speed and called Parker and Jennings QB-friendly guys. A combination of these three receivers, plus Landry, the story said, should give Tannehill the weapons he needs. Add in newly-acquired tight end Jordan Cameron and the Dolphins look like a dangerous offense. As a result, Tannehill finds himself ranked 10th on our QB list. If he can produce QB1 numbers, he could be a real steal with an ADP of the ninth round in 12-team leagues.
Sunday, July 26, 2015, 4:32pm
MManamon: I’m going with Brian Hartline. Dwayne Bowe, to me, has never consistently lived up to the moniker of the No. 1 receiver. He’s had good seasons, but not great ones year after year. He did not have a single touchdown last season and he was targeted 93 times, just less than six per game, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
After catching 72 and 81 passes in 2010 and ’11, Bowe has caught 59, 57 and 60 the last three seasons. Whether it’s a function of the Kansas City offense or whether it’s a function of Bowe being in a decline will play out. Andy Reid is a pretty good offensive coach and he preferred Jeremy Maclin.
Hartline’s receptions in Miami dropped in 2014 as well, from 74 and 76 in 2012 and ’13 to 47 in ’14. But unlike Bowe, Hartline’s targets dropped precipitously.
In 2013 and 2012, he was targeted 130 and 125 times. Last season he was thrown to 62 times.
McManamon has some questions about where Bowe is at this stage of his career, while Hartline is just a year removed from a career season. The author added that Hartline's hard-nosed, consistent play will certainly help the Browns in terms of what they can expect. Our rankings disagree with this, though, and we project Bowe to have a much better season.
Browns writer Nathan Zegura said that WR Taylor Gabriel "has been the star of the offseason." Zegura went on to say, "He is going to push to be a starter in two-wide receiver sets. He has been that good, consistently generating separation and getting down the field against all comers."
We reached out to Zegura on Twitter and asked him to rank Dwayne Bowe, Brian Hartline, Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel in expected 2015 receiving yardage and he replied: "So tough. Depends on if Gabriel can win #2 job. Right now, I'd go Bowe, Hawk, Gabriel, Hartline. Gabriel could lead if he becomes an every down WR." This is a camp battle to monitor. For now, consider adding Gabriel in the waning rounds. His big-play ability makes him an ideal candidate for best ball formats.
While most NFL players are vacationing this month, Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry and his buddy and former LSU teammate, Odell Beckham Jr. (the NFL offensive Rookie of the Year) are pushing themselves through grueling morning workout at well-regarded trainer Pete Bommarito’s Performance Systems facility in Davie.
Landry is determined to improve his speed to prove he’s more than a slot receiver.
Is his speed better? “Absolutely,” Landry said this week. “I can’t wait to show it.”
Landry flashed that explosiveness when he caught a deep ball from Ryan Tannehill during the Dolphins’ minicamp last month.
“You can see the difference with Jarvis,” Bommarito said. “There’s a difference between straight line speed and football speed. He’s excelled at both.”
Landry was the #42 WR in standard formats and #30 in PPR, so as a high-volume slot receiver, he's going to have more value in PPR formats. The Dolphins lost four of their top six most-targeted players: Mike Wallace, Charles Clay, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson. They have been replaced by Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings, DeVante Parker and Jordan Cameron, but Landry's role should expand as well. He only played 62% of the snaps on the season, and didn't start playing consistent starter's snaps until Week 9. Over the final nine weeks, Landry was the #15 WR in PPR formats (and #23 in standard). He is currently the 24th WR off the board in early PPR drafts.
Cleveland Browns Daily hosts Nathan Zegura and Matt Wilhelm did not sugarcoat their feelings for Taylor Gabriel: They both think he’s been the best wide receiver on the team during the offseason program and that he could shatter the 621 receiving yards he posted as a rookie.
"Johnny's been great,'' DeFilippo said after the second rookie camp practice Saturday. "He's been fantastic. What he wants to talk about, before he stepped foot back in this building is his business. All I know is Johnny the football player, and he's been awesome. He's been working hard, very hard with myself and (quarterbacks coach Kevin O'Connell), and doing what we want him to do on the field."
Hard enough to become a successful NFL quarterback?
"All I know is this: From the moment he stepped in this building from the last two weeks, he's been nothing but a consummate professional,'' DeFilippo said. "He's spent every hour that he's been allowed to spend in this building. We give them worksheets every Tuesday and every Friday, and they're done to the unbelievable detail that we need an NFL quarterback to do. From that standpoint, like I said I can't predict the future, but all I can do is tell you right now Johnny Manziel is putting himself in a position to be a quarterback in the NFL."
There is certainly opportunity in Cleveland for playing time, but it isn't a great situation for a young quarterback given the unexciting receiving options (namely Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline, who combined to catch two touchdowns last season). By all accounts, it does appear that Manziel is on his way to turning his career around. He finished a rehab program, moved to the suburbs and has earned praise from his teammates and coordinator.
Johnny Manziel is fresh out of a 10-week stay in a rehab facility. McCown is a stable veteran with a career completion percentage near 60. This wasn't difficult.
"We just look back to when he was in Chicago, when he had a pretty good supporting cast around him, and he was able to be more than functional. He had a very successful year," Pettine said on WKRK-FM, via the Beacon Journal. "When you build the team right, it minimizes the importance of the quarterback."
The problem here is that while in Chicago, McCown was throwing to Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett and now he'll be targeting Dwayne Bowe, Brian Hartline and Rob Housler. That's a serious downgrade at all three positions. McCown didn't play particularly well with Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans in 2014, there's no reason to believe that he's going to make a passing game go with Bowe, Hartline and Housler.
Even though the Browns have revamped their passing game with wide receivers Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe, coach Mike Pettine has been clear Cleveland will go as far as Crowell – and fellow rookie Terrance West – can take them.
Instead of developing a rivalry for who gets the most carries, Crowell and West have embraced each other, and have even made a pact together. Somehow they kept it under the social media radar, but Crowell flew up to Baltimore this offseason to get some workouts in with West, and, in turn, West flew down to Atlanta.
That pact? Both Crowell and West want to rush for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Crowell said the offense is generally similar to last season’s scheme, but there will be distinctions.
Two hints from Crowell: The pass protection is different and we will see him more as a receiver out of the backfield.
Once the Browns were done with Ben Tate (Week 11), Crowell out-touched Terrance West 90 to 68 over the final seven games, but West had the last laugh, turning 20 touches into 106 yards and a TD against the Ravens in Week 17. (A seemingly healthy Crowell touched the ball five times for 22 yards.) The Cleveland running backs averaged 26.6 carries per game, so if the new offense does indeed feature the backs as receivers, there should be 30 or so touches for Crowell and West to split each week. Last season, HC Mike Pettine was handing out touches based on practice performance, so Crowell's current ADP (in the 5th round) seems steep given his uncertain workload and Cleveland's projected offensive struggles.
A breakthrough season would be improving on the 84 receptions for 758 yards and 5 TDs he had last year as a rookie. There’s a good chance that happens now that TE Charles Clay and WRs Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson are gone. Tannehill is familiar with Landry, and Landry showed he’s got good NFL skills. He’s got good hands and can get YAC (Yards After Catch).
Landry was the #42 WR in standard formats and #30 in PPR, so as a high-volume slot receiver, he's going to have more value in PPR formats. The Dolphins lost four of their top six most-targeted players: Mike Wallace, Charles Clay, Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson. They have been replaced by Kenny Stills and Jordan Cameron, but Landry's role should expand as well. He only played 62 percent of the snaps on the season, and didn't start playing consistent starter's snaps until Week 9. Over the final nine weeks, Landry was the #15 WR in PPR formats (and #23 in standard). He is currently the 24th WR off the board in early PPR drafts.
Bowe should start opposite Brian Hartline with Andrew Hawkins manning the slot. He hasn't finished in the top 40 since 2011, and while his QB play in Kansas City wasn't great, it's not like Josh McCown is an upgrade over Alex Smith. We're expecting more disappointing numbers from Bowe in 2015.
Stills has been extremely efficient in his short career, posting the #1 FP/target (in both formats) as a rookie. He followed that up with a #9 (PPR) finish in the same category last season. Some of this has to do with the productivity of the Saints’ passing game, but Stills was by far the most productive wideout in New Orleans the last two seasons. He joins a Miami receiving corps that is in transition. Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline are gone, so there are starter’s snaps available opposite Jarvis Landry. It’s definitely a quarterback downgrade, though he should see an uptick from the 5.5 T/G he averaged in 2014.
Update: He signed a two-year, $6 million contract.
After averaging 132 targets in the previous two seasons, Hartline's looks were cut in half in 2014 with the emergence of rookie WR Jarvis Landry. Hartline averaged 75 catches for 1,050 yards from 2012-2013, so he gives the Browns a functional, starter-caliber receiver. If this doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, it's because it wasn't meant to be. Hartline may be able to provide 70+ catches and 1,000 yards, but he only has 12 touchdowns in 92 career games, so he'll be more useful in PPR formats than in standard leagues.
Brian Hartline has been released, the Palm Beach Post has confirmed.
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