Cleveland Sports Insiders

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Manziel’s Best-In-The-League Arm Strength

College Football statistics concern themselves with the realm of the past; they tell the story of what was with very little ability to project what will happen. Were one to use CFB statistics to forecast the future, one would conclude that Case Keenum was the most toolsy QB in history and that Ron Dayne would go on to run rampant over a National Football League unprepared for his Achillean might. College Football stats are the Herodotus of scouting: they chronicle what has happened, aren’t much concerned with what will, and they have a very tenuous relationship with a certain mistress named Truth.

If CFB stats are Herodotus, then game film and scouting might be called College Football’s Thucydides. The tale of the tape confronts us with past performances, and while it is incumbent upon the reader to determine what this means for the future, one can glean a much more complete narrative – how good or poor a QB’s footwork is, how accurate their throws are, whether they’re playing behind an offensive line that weighs a total of 750 pounds. The tape provided us with a conflicting narrative for Johnny Manziel – a QB with abysmal footwork but core strength that resulted in rather good arm strength. If his leg drive were better/existant at A&M, his arm strength might have received a much higher projection.

During his pro day, he demonstrated much-improved footwork. But the resulting improvement arm strength was something no one could have predicted:

Manziel, it seems, has thrown a football from Berea, OH all the way to Cameroon, Africa. Directly east of Nigeria, Cameroon seems like a very strange target for Johnny Manziel to throw to. As of yet, reports are unclear whether Manziel intended to throw the ball to Cameroon, or whether he was aiming for Nigeria and overshot.

While the accuracy issues pose a question, it remains clear that Johnny Manziel now has the single strongest arm in the league – a terrifying prospect both by virtue of his now boundless potential, but also because of the grave, grave health threat now posed to his receivers. If Manziel feels compelled to throw between defenders, the zip he could put on the ball would pose a certain prospect of death or dismemberment to any receivers targeted.

Even before Manziel’s Mach-24 performance, his NFL prospects were divisive, and the question arose whether he was more concerned about his branding than his performance. This literal salvo to the African market is sure to only increase that polarization in the upcoming months.

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Deluded Ralph Wonders What Happened to Johnny Puritan

It boggles comprehension how far from favor quillmanship has fallen. Once upon a Freer America, skill with the quill was the mark of a refined gentleman, and ‘beautiful prose’ once entailed aesthetics in the writing. Nowadays, in today’s frivolous insta-Frappucappucino, I-Want-It-All (and I want it now!), Heisenberg’s Uncertain Principles world, any meandering dullard can push out a thousand words with a BIC. Gone are the days when a fountain pen’s artisan keystrokes festooned a blog. I – I alone! – fight the terrible and necessary fight against eroding morals, striking each key not with ball-point hedonism but with the measured care of the fountain pen.

Yet my struggle is one not only of means but of ends; namely, I find myself deeply concerned with the lapsus virtus of a certain Johannes Futenball and the printing press of sin known as this same man’s Instant Gram chronicle. Namely: Continue reading


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The Sunday Drive with Santana, Salazar, Bauer and LeBron James

With Mother’s Day and Easter behind us, and with the Indians’ locomotive heading towards Father’s Day and the hopeful heat of summer, it’s time for me to dust off the trusty old Smith-Corona PWP 5000 Word Processor (look that one up) and start writing about Cleveland Sports again. With the off-season Cavs and Browns actually becoming more interesting than the in season Indians, there’s plenty to talk about in this week’s Sunday Drive.

I really don’t know where to begin with the Cleveland Indians, so I suppose I’ll start with Carlos Santana.  I was all for the Santana experiment when it started. I was excited even more to see Santana start there when the Tribe announced early in Spring Training that he was going to be the starter.

I’m less excited now.

This is when I wish I utilized my brain for my decision-making skills, and not my heart. Look. We all knew that learning the third base position at the major league level starting in December was a long-shot at best. Hell, I would even go so far as to say that it was an impossible shot, from December through March.

Instead, my trust for Francona-decisions allowed my sense and sensibilities to get thrown out the window. Instead, I kept thinking to myself, “Boy, if he gets out from behind the plate, his offense will improve.”

Think about that. On one hand, Santana won’t be catching all those games, so his legs should be fresh. Of course, he’s learning a new position…and third base to boot. I did talk about one offsetting the other, but my blind belief that he could overcome this without physically seeing him or talking with him was simply idiotic. Continue reading


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Haden Extension Fallout: Patrick Peterson’s Quintuple Factorial Demands

Earlier this morn, after the author had cracked for himself some eggs and roasted up a homestyle country breakfast, the brazen alarum bells of domestic politics sounded. According to Pro Football Talk, the Browns have signed Joe Haden to an extension through the 2019 season, with $22M guaranteed and an additional $23M guaranteed in case of injury – in short, Joe Haden is guaranteed $45M.

In this offseason, the Browns have added substantial help to the secondary, adding, in the first round of the draft, Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert and, in free agency, Ohio State safety, known by no one as Margrave Whitner of Hits. At this point, the Browns have – to the shock and awe of all – assembled what is on paper one of the best secondaries in the league in the next several years. And while a great secondary on paper isn’t a guarantee of success, it’s also not the guarantee of mediocrity that the Browns have had for over a decade. Browns fans are allowed to feel #blessed for at least few minutes.

Yet while the move eclipses Richard Sherman’s deal as the most lucrative guaranteed deal for a defensive back thus far this offseason, other premier cornerbacks in the league have their eyes on even bigger amounts. In response to Haden’s extension, Arizona Cardinals’ cornerback Patrick Peterson puts forward his own contract demands – demands not only outrageous, but wholly unprecedented. Continue reading


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2015 Mock Drafts: An Exercise in Antique Vase-Smashing

George Santayana is the only Spanish-American philosopher who has made any advancement into the American consciousness. ‘Any,’ of course, is the operative word in that sentence, given that he’s known for precisely one (1) sentence(s). “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” blithely repeat political analysts. Given that shows involving Charles Krauthammer and others like him are frequently as entertaining as they are incisive, said analysts frequently forget that they had uttered that same phrase only several seconds previous. “Those who do not remember what they said only several seconds previous are doomed to repeat it,” George Santayana never said.

Mock draftists have taken to heart Santayana’s words. With the memory of the 2014 NFL draft vividly implanted in the hearts and minds of America and now formally part of The Past, draft personages wish to ensure that we not only remember the past, but also apply its lessons to the future. Primary among these lessons: “The Draft happened.” Secondary: “The Draft will happen again.” Continue reading


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Initial thoughts on the Browns 2014 NFL Draft

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Gilbert and Manziel (photo: ClevelandBrowns.com)

There really isn’t anything like the NFL draft if you are an NFL fan. It’s the one day when all teams are truly on an even playing field, and it’s one of those rarified days that could seem like a bust by the end of the weekend, and turn into a goldmine if that fifth round pick pans out.

This year’s draft for Browns fans was something special.

The Johnny Manziel talk had been circulating for nearly a year, and for what seemed like eternity. Would the Browns take him with their #4 pick, as many speculated? We all know how important that franchise quarterback is, and Manziel had the moxie of one, but did he have the skill?

The Browns also had their “Major League” moment, when Kevin Costner’s ‘Draft Day’ came out a month ago, that had the Browns trading up, down and all around to get all the players that they wanted.

It all created buzz that hadn’t been around this team for years.

The Browns even stole the news-worthy stories when Josh Gordon‘s alleged pot outpouring was unearthed on Friday night, Day 2 of the NFL draft.

The Browns, who needed a receiver anyways, now perhaps needed two.

In the middle of this firestorm was Ray Farmer, a well-respected football mind who was running the draft for the first time. Continue reading


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Mock Drafts

Jeff Ellis, our resident Draft Expert will be creating the mock draft portion of our website, and you may also see some of us foray into it as well. Every time we update the Mock, we’ll throw up a quick post to let you know. You can find them by clicking the Mock Draft drop-down menu at the top of the page.

Right now, we currently have posted Jeff’s current NFL Mock. We will update as Jeff updates!

You can find his first Mock Draft here:

http://clevelandsportsinsiders.com/nfl-mock-draft/


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The Ellis Quarterback Metric

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McCarron excited to be at the top of the Ellis QB Metric (RONALD MARTINEZ/GETTY IMAGES)

Over the past two years I have talked about and worked on a formula taking the stats of college quarterbacks and trying to make a metric to judge which players would be the best pro quarterbacks. The thought started a year ago when I watched the Browns Brandon Weeden struggle as a rookie while Russell Wilson excelled in Seattle.

While I knew the answer and I had a bunch of numbers circulating in my head, the question was whether or not I could find which indictors are the most important, and how could I weight them to find a formula that would accurately show that measure.

I started by entering the data of every quarterback drafted in the top three rounds over the last decade. I then added every starting quarterback in the league, and over the last two years, I entered every prospect with a draft grade over fifth round or greater. I tried at least five or six models before settling on the one I have now. While it’s not perfect, it does seem to indicate a few things. Continue reading


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CSI 73: Post-Combine Draft talk

Mike and Jeff roll out talk about the recently completed NFL combine, and take a look at the rising and falling stock on several players on the draft board. Jeff and Mike discuss the following:

  • Winners of the NFL Combine
  • Has the combine shaken up the top ten, if at all
  • How did certain players performances affect the Brown position?
  • What would be an ideal outcome for the Browns first three picks
  • Other notes and delusions which may or may not be worth a listen
  • A little MLB draft talk before technology fights us to a close


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Carpe Diem: The Browns and Self-Imposed Powerlessness

“I grow old,” an elder murmurs.

It’s not the case that the Cleveland Browns have been merely terrible. It’s not the case that they have merely had the third-worst record through the first thirteen years of their existence of every expansion team in NFL history, operating in an era where rebuilding is only easier than previously. To answer this question, one must also ask whether, at any point in the last fourteen years, Browns fans have had a rational reason to believe they would be good.

“Kelly Holcomb!” we exclaimed, frantic, eleven years ago. “One must certainly believe in the ability and virtue of Kelly Holcomb! Behold the messiah, behold the 30-year-old Immanuel with his 3 games started and 10:12 TD:INT ratio!”

Ten years later, we scoff at having believed in the false prophet Holcomb. Yet these sneers transform into wide-eyed adulation when we lay our eyes upon our new savior, Brian Hoyer, who unlike Holcomb is a spry 29 years of age, sage, capable of imbuing all with Wisdom by means of his vast experience (Four games started!) and his miraculous 8:7 TD:INT ratio. “Brian Hoyer!” we cry. “One must certainly believe in the ability and virtue of Brian Hoyer!”

And Hoyer shall be called Wonderful, Counselor. Continue reading