Defensive lineman Malik McDowell hasn't played football in four years because of legal troubles. He'll be an interesting player to watch in training camp. (Cleveland Browns)
You must have an active subscription to read this story.
Click Here to subscribe Now!
Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland.
Hey Tony: DT training camp battle will be fun to watch. Assuming 4 make the 53-man, who do you think makes the cut?
-- Ace, Cleveland Heights, OH
Hey Ace: With seven legit defensive tackles competing for four spots, this position group is a free-for-all. Until further notice, I would rank them this way: 1. Andrew Billings, 2. Jordan Elliott, 3. Malik Jackson, 4. Tommy Togiai, 5. Marvin Wilson, 6. Damion Square, 7. Sheldon Day. Malik McDowell, GM Andrew Berry’s most controversial acquisition, was a 295-pound defensive tackle at Michigan State four years ago, but he is down to 280 and looked more like a defensive end at the recent rookie minicamp.
Hey Tony: I believe that the biggest opponent that the Browns will face this year is hype and expectations. Being such a young team, how confident are you that they can overcome this?
-- Rick, North Ridgeville, OH
Hey Rick: I think the Chiefs, Ravens, Packers, Cardinals, and Chargers are tougher opponents than hype and expectations. Most of the Browns’ core players learned after 2019 not to buy into the hype. They’re so much more mature now.
Hey Tony: Can the defense gel in time to earn the one seed and have home field for the playoffs?
-- Marc, Pickerington, OH
Hey Marc: The AFC North race figures to come down to two games. Nov. 28, Cleveland at Baltimore, and Dec. 12, Baltimore at Cleveland. In between those games, Baltimore plays at Pittsburgh and Cleveland has its bye. What a gift.
Hey Tony: Which veteran is most vulnerable of not making team?
-- Ken, Sylvania, OH
Hey Ken: I don’t like this question because my answer would sound as if I’m predicting gloom for a player. For an answer, I would say Mack Wilson needs to have a very good training camp.
Hey Tony: Will the Browns be having open tryouts for place kickers? I’m hoping we can get an upgrade there.
-- Todd, Wooster, OH
Hey Todd: Not a believer in Cody Parkey? He was 11 for 11 on PATs and field goals in the two post-season games. I’m OK with him. For insurance, the Browns signed Chase McLaughlin, formerly with the Jets, Jaguars, 49ers, Chargers and Colts.
Hey Tony: How will we stop the run with no D-line rotation and linebackers the size of safeties?
-- Russell, Canton, OH
Hey Russell: Well, they do have 16 defensive linemen from which to choose rotations at end and tackle. The collective size of the linebackers is a concern. I tabulated every team’s average weight at linebacker and the Browns’ was the lightest in the NFL at 227.3 pounds. Next four in the league belong to: 49ers (229.8), Colts (230.5), Vikings (234.1) and Bills (234.4). The Ravens have the heaviest average (246.7). What does it all mean? We shall see.
Hey Tony: Are you concerned that teams will stack their O-lines with 2 or 3 tight ends and run on our undersized linebackers?
-- Dave, Twinsburg OH
Hey Dave: Yes, I am. However, not every team will adjust with a smash-mouth running game. And if they do, I’m sure coordinator Joe Woods would adjust accordingly. But it is a concern.
Hey Tony: Any interest in bringing free agent Duke Johnson back?
-- Dave, Fairlawn, OH
Hey Dave: Really? None.
Hey Tony: Better kicker: Don Cockroft or Phil Dawson?
-- Phil, Massillon, OH
Hey Phil: Lou Groza was a Hall of Famer as a left tackle and place-kicker. Matt Bahr was money, too, but Dawson was the best pure place-kicker in Browns history. Statistically -- and in every other way -- Dawson was the best.
HeyTony: Other than Baker, what Browns players have the most to gain financially in the 2021 season with a great performance?
-- Jason, Weeki Wachee, FL
Hey Jason: Nick Chubb, Denzel Ward, Wyatt Teller. Other players whose current contracts run out after 2021 include: David Njoku, Jadeveon Clowney, Takk McKinley, Ronnie Harrison, Andrew Billings, KhaDarel Hodge, Rashard Higgins, and Malik Jackson.