‘Playbook’: Browns must address offense during offseason

The Browns tilted the balance of their draft picks to the defensive side of the ball last year (DT Phil Taylor  and DE Jabaal Sheard), but after a dreadful season offensively, this offseason will probably have to be pushed in the other direction.

A lot of holes were exposed with Cleveland’s O in 2011, and most drives were deflated quickly because of a disconnect between quarterbacks and receivers. How do they address those needs heading into the draft and free agency?

Let’s take a look two of the possibilities:

Potential picks: WR Justin Blackmon or QB Robert Griffin III

The Blackmon route: If the Browns go with Blackmon, it could be viewed as an endorsement of QB Colt McCoy. At the same time, it’s hard to back the record of a quarterback who led the NFL’s 29th-ranked passing offense.

At the very least the Browns need to up the competition alongside of McCoy, and there are options in free agency for that. Chase Daniel or Kyle Orton could be had for a more budget-friendly price than Matt Flynn and his skyrocketing stock.

If the Browns invest in wide receiver, the quarterback will need time to get him the ball. Cleveland’s offensive line took a step back with the injury to LG Eric Steinbach last season, and veteran pluggers such as Cincinnati’s Bobbie Williams, Philadelphia’s Evan Mathis and Pittsburgh’s Doug Legursky are available to fill those holes.

The Griffin route: If the Browns somehow obtain Griffin, potentially trading up to No. 2 to get him, their cupboard remains bare at receiver.

There are a few receivers we like in later rounds this year (such as route-runner extraordinaire Patrick Edwards, for example). We just don’t trust the Browns’ ability to hit the mark on anything less than a game-breaker. The Browns have invested plenty in wideouts in later rounds in recent years — including Brian Robiskie, Mohamed Massaquoi and Greg Little — with little success.

Yet, it would be a shock to see Cleveland break the bank for a big-name receiver. Maybe Mario Manningham or Early Doucet could be in their price range – with or without Blackmon in the mix.

“Playbook” — the ultimate football Xs and Os show – aired Thursday and Friday on NFL Network during the season. Check the NFL Network broadcast schedule for further details. Follow “Playbook” on Twitter @NFLN_Playbook.

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