The Scout Report: Off-Season
S Sean Jones

Posted Jan 13, 2009


Scout.com recaps the Browns GM search to date, and their take on the Browns off-season needs...

 

While Eric Mangini was named as the replacement for fired coach Romeo Crennel on Thursday, the hunt for a general manager has been more challenging.

Randy Lerner is determined to have a general manager and head coach that are compatible. In the end, incompatibility contributed to the downfall of the Phil Savage-Crennel tandem.

Mangini recommended Ravens pro personnel director George Kokinis for the GM job in his interview with Lerner. Kokinis was interviewed by Lerner on Sunday in the New York area, according to local news reports.

The interview apparently went well, but should the Browns go with Kokinis, they may have to wait a while. With Baltimore's season still going, the Ravens have to give Cleveland permission to hire Kokinis.

That's not likely to happen with Baltimore scouting for its game against Pittsburgh this season. And should the Ravens advance to the Super Bowl, it's conceivable Kokinis won't be available until Feb. 2.

Kokinis would have duties he has never had before, such as running the draft, but even though he was not picking the players he has been part of the draft process in Baltimore.

Kokinis, the Ravens' sixth-year pro personnel director now in his 18th NFL season, was part of the Ravens entourage that worked out Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco in a pre-draft workout last year. The Ravens ended up drafting Flacco in the first round, and now he has them one victory from the AFC championship game.

The Browns are still talking with Patriots vice president of personnel Scott Pioli, but all signs point to Kokinis becoming general manager soon after the Ravens' season ends.

Pioli was Lerner's first choice as the search process began, but there were concerns about how Pioli and Mangini would work together and whether there would be any fallout from Spygate.

 

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We don't know what's going to happen with the G.M. and the coach. It's pretty tough for us." -- Browns tight end Kellen Winslow Jr.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

How much roster turnover there will be remains to be seen. The Browns still need a general manager, but new coach Eric Mangini made it clear the type of player he wants.

"I look for guys that are smart. I look for guys that are tough. I look for guys that are hardworking and I look for guys who are competitive," Mangini said. "And I don't mean just a little competitive. I mean they want to win whether they're playing checkers or in a sack race. And I want guys that are selfless."

FREE AGENT UPDATE: The key free agents are all on defense, starting with SS Sean Jones. The contracts are up on OLB Willie McGinest and ILB Andra Davis. Re-signing Jones would be a priority. S Mike Adams and RB Jason Wright also will be free agents.

FEELING A DRAFT: The Browns have the fifth pick in the draft. No matter who is hired as head coach, the Browns have to find a pass rusher. They wanted to improve the pass rush, and their sacks dropped from 28 in 2007 to 17 this year.

TEAM NEEDS

End/linebacker: Whether the new coach plays a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense will determine which position has to be filled first, but a pass rusher is the top need by far.

Running back: Jamal Lewis did not have a burst this year, and it might be time to replace him.

Right tackle: The Browns need an upgrade on the right side of their offensive line.

MEDICAL WATCH: For once, the Browns will not be lined up for postseason surgeries. This will be the first winter Kellen Winslow Jr. is healthy.


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