BEREA—After seeing the Browns were abysmal against the pass, Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert made it a priority to revamp the secondary as the Browns finished 29th defending the pass in 2009.
The Browns traded for a starting cornerback and drafted one with the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft, as well.
Eric Wright has been solid at left cornerback since being drafted in the second-round of the 2007 NFL Draft and most likely will hold down the left side. Brandon McDonald and Mike Adams combined to start on the right side in 2009 with Adams replacing McDonald for the final six games.
Adams could end up at safety due to the inexperience at the position, but he was working mostly at cornerback in the OTAs and at minicamp.
Sheldon Brown or Joe Haden are expected to battle for the right cornerback spot with one ending up as the third cornerback in passing situations.
Many thought Haden—considered to be the best cornerback in the draft—would be high on the Browns’ wish list. However, after a slower than expected time in the 40-yard dash at the Indianapolis Combine and the Browns trade to acquire Brown, many thought the Browns would address another need with their first pick in the draft.
When it was all said and done, the Browns selected Haden after a much better time in his Pro Day at Florida.
However, recently NFL.com’s Mike Lombardi said:
“According to coaches around the league, Browns first-round pick Joe Haden has not been very impressive in camps and might not have enough speed to play corner. Maybe all that talk about some in the organization wanted to take Kyle Wilson over Haden was true.”
Haden comes to the Browns after not allowing a touchdown pass thrown his way in his four-year college career with the Gators.
Wright, Brown and Haden are expected to be the top three corners with Adams, McDonald and Francies battling for the fourth spot.
As the Browns prepare for training camp, here are the candidates to play cornerback:
Sheldon Brown (5-10, 200) – Brown was a key off-season acquisition as the ninth year veteran from South Carolina came over in the trade with LB Chris Gocong for LB Alex Hall and two draft choices. Brown is expected to step in and play at one of the cornerback positions immediately. Brown has started 128-straight NFL regular season games and had five interceptions in 2009. He was originally a second-round draft choice of the Eagles in the 2002 NFL Draft.
Eric Wright (5-10, 190)– Started all 16 games at left cornerback in 2009. He started 45 of 46 games in his first three years with the Browns with eight career interceptions. He had 65 tackles last season, which was fourth on the team, including four interceptions and 14 passes broken up.
Mike Adams (5-11, 200) – Adams finished the season as the Browns starting right cornerback. He had six starts at right cornerback and three at safety. He finished the season with 61 tackles, one sack, eight passes broen up and a fumble recovery. Adams is a very valuable player, who might end up playing more at safety with the inexperience at that position.
Brandon McDonald (5-10, 185) – McDonald was used as the whipping boy in 2009 after playing pretty respectable in his first two seasons with the Browns. He had 47 tackles, one sack, one interception and 10 passes broken up in ten starts in 2009 before being benched. He had one forced fumble last season and has eight career interceptions.
Coye Francies (6-0, 185) – Francies was active in six games and had two tackles and a pass broken up. He was inactive for seven of the final eight games in his rookie season.
Gerard Lawson (5-10, 195) – Lawson was active for five games and played only on special teams. He made the team as an undrafted free agent from Oregon State in 2008.
Ramzee Robinson (5-10, 190) – Claimed by the Browns off waivers on Dec. 2 from the Eagles and played in the final four games of the 2009 season with no tackles. Robinson played with the Lions and Eagles before joining the Browns out of Alabama.
Chris Roberson (5-11, 190) – Four year veteran from Eastern Michigan who signed as a free agent in the off-season.
DeAngelo Smith (5-11, 200) – Smith is in his second-year out of Cincinnati. The Browns signed him as a free agent after he was released by the Lions.
Joe Haden (5-11, 190) – The overall seventh pick in this year’s NFL Draft, Haden is being counted upon to contribute to step in and play right away. A slow time at the Indianapolis Combine had him fall off the radar for some teams, but he ran a much better time in his Pro Day and ended up being a top 10 pick.
Chris Chancellor (5-9, 180) – An undrafted rookie free agent from Clemson will try to catch someone’s eye in the preseason.