April 27, 2012; Berea, OH, USA; Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden pose with jerseys at a press conference after being selected in the 2012 NFL Draft at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

Cleveland Browns 2012 Team Preview

The Cleveland Browns are coming off of a rough year in 2011 but they were able to re-load with young talent in the 2012 NFL Draft. Cleveland held two first-round picks and added rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden from Oklahoma State and Alabama running back Trent Richardson. The Browns will heavily rely on both rookies to get the team moving in the right direction.

What can we expect from the Browns in 2012? Let’s find out.

2011 Record: 4-12

Key Additions: Frostee Rucker, DE — Juqua Parker, DE

Key Losses: Peyton Hillis, RB — Jayme Mitchell, DE — Mike Adams, S — Artis Hicks, OG

Offense:The Browns offense has been atrocious over the past few seasons. Since 2008, Cleveland has not finished higher than 29th in total offense and 30th in scoring offense. It’s safe to say that the Browns hope the new blood from Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson can create a spark to get the ball moving and points on the board. Cleveland hopes that Weeden can use his maturity to come in right away and make an impact but he will need to have some help from wide receivers Greg Little and Mohammed Massoquoi if he is going to have any success.

The Browns wide receivers led the NFL in drops last season and they need to drastically improve if Weeden is going to have any chance at success.

Cleveland will also need to see improved play from their offensive line group to protect Weeden and create running lanes for Richardson to run through. The Browns will rely heavily on a Richardson rushing attack so the offensive line will get s lot of work.

Defense: The Browns defensive unit was horrible against the run last season. Cleveland gave up 147.4 rushing yards per game to opposing running backs last season and that will need to change if the Browns defense is going to improve. They have some talented defensive backs in Joe Haden and Dimitri Patterson but they get no help from the front seven.

Thankfully for Cleveland, they have Jabaal Sheard who has show a lot of promise on the defensive line along with Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin. The team also added free agent defensive ends Frostee Rucker and Juqua Parker in an effort to improve their front seven. If Cleveland is improved in their rush defense then the Browns defense could instantly look like a formidable group.

Breakout Player: Jordan Cameron, tight end. With a shaky group of wide receivers and a young quarterback, how can you not expect a tight end to be poised for a breakout season — especially when that tight end is Cameron. He is an athletic, big-bodied guy who can stretch the field and create mismatches for the opposing defenders. Rookie Brandon Weeden will need to get comfortable early in games and a young quarterback loves nothing more than a trusty tight end as his security blanket.

Everything is setting up well for Cameron to shine.

2012 Prediction: Cleveland is a team that is still in complete re-building mode. They hope to experience the same kind of success that the Cincinnati Bengals had last season with a pair of rookies running the show but the Browns roster doesn’t have nearly the same amount of talent. Cleveland has a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball and this year will be another struggle.
Record Prediction: 5-11

Overview: The Browns are still a few years away from being a relevant team in the bigger NFL picture. They will struggle mightily in 2012 but as long as they get some good signs from Weeden under center and Trent Richardson in the backfield the team will be heading in the right direction. Cleveland will likely finish with a top five pick in the 2013 NFL Draft so they can continue to add promising young talent to their roster as rebuilding mode keeps going strong.

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