Cleveland Browns 4 Round Mock Draft. Predictions and Preferences.

It’s March 13th, 2019. NFL fans around the globe are anxious about the first day of free agency. It has become a holiday for football fans for several years now, but particularly for Cleveland Browns fans. It tends to be the only consistent time the Browns look good in front of the rest of the league. They’ll walk away with 2 or 3 of the top 10 free agents in hopes these players can change their environment for good. Little did the fans know, the Browns were about to make their big move the night before the new offseason began.

Right before many fans went to bed that night, news broke that shook Cleveland, the NFL, and all the world of sports. The Browns just traded for star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. This would be the biggest name in professional sports to come to Cleveland since LeBron James returned in 2014. Christmas came early to The Land. Browns fans began fantasizing about another championship parade for Cleveland. This time in February with the streets filled with orange and brown. The float with the team is coming down Euclid Avenue and fans cheer as Baker Mayfield lifts the Lombardi Trophy to the sky. It would finally happen!! The time of suffering for the Dawg Pound is over!! It’s our turn! Right?!

Right?!

Well, hopefully one day soon.

It’s December 29th, 2019. Browns fans continue to guzzle down alcohol with their dinner to help ease the pain of a disappointing season. The hopes for a Super Bowl title will have to wait another year. The team only won 6 games and didn’t make the playoffs for what would be the 17th straight season. They ended their 2019 campaign with a loss to the 1-14 Cincinnati Bengals.

Local news erupts during the evenings hours. Owner Jimmy Haslam has fired head coach Freddie Kitchens after one season. This would mean for many of the players it would be their 4th different coach in 3 seasons. But this time, it seems the players are very upbeat about the move. A few days later, general manager John Dorsey resigns. Cleveland would face another Haslam full reset.

It’s March 20th, 2020. The COVID-19 epidemic has cancelled all sporting events. Cleveland sports fans saw the Cavaliers’ season come to a halt and the Indians having to delay Opening Day. New head coach Kevin Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry have the opportunity to bring the city hope again. The new regime was already different from the others. This Browns team had answer at quarterback and star power many teams would love to acquire. They just needed to fill the rest of the puzzle of what would hopefully be a consistent winner. Easier said then done.

Berry and Stefanski hit the ground running in free agency. They added key veterans to both the offensive line and the defense. They gave Baker Mayfield another offensive weapon in Austin Hooper, who became the highest paid tight end in NFL history when he signed. And just like many other offseasons, the fans were starting to become optimistic again. Once again, the Browns make Cleveland proud. At least for the time being.

Now comes the biggest challenge for the new regime: Draft Day. The past two drafts, John Dorsey was able to find a handful of impactful players that would help change the course of the franchise. However, he also made some bad picks in the mid-rounds that would cost the team an opportunity to add more quality talent to an overall strong roster. Not every team is going to get all their picks right, but the better teams walk away making the best of their picks. It’s been a long time since Cleveland had an overall great draft.

Cleveland’s offseason priority should always be to capitalize on the draft. This draft could be one of the most important moments for the young careers of Kevin Stefanski and Andrew Berry. They have the pieces to be a playoff team now, but need more talent to help guarentee it happens. If they want to see that championship parade sometime in the next 3 years, it starts here. Here my predictions and preferences for the first 4 rounds of the Cleveland Browns 2020 draft:

Key Additions: TE Austin Hooper, T Jake Conklin, FB Andy Janovich, LB B.J. Goodson, QB Case Keenum, CB Donovan Olumba, DT Andrew Billings, S Karl Joseph, CB Kevin Johnson, and DE Adrian Clayborn.

Key Departures: LB Christian Kirksey, LB Joe Schobert, S Damarius Randall, CB TJ Carrie, TE Ricky Seals-Jones, and S Morgan Burnett.

Key Needs: LT, RG, LB, S, and WR

Browns, Round 1 Pick 10

**TRADE**

Browns send the 10th and the 97th overall pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for the 21st, 53rd, and the 168th pick along with a 2021 1st rounder.

Making a mock draft is similar to making predictions in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. You think you have a somewhat idea what will happen, and one trade or selection completely throws most of it off. Not that anyone was going to get a multi round prediction 100% correct anyway. Rarely I include trades for the sake of trying not to over complicate things, but this year I’m pretty certain we will see one when the Browns are on the clock.

Let me explain this trade. Browns are sitting in a pretty position in this draft. The mainstream analysts will go on and on about the quarterback class in this draft. What you haven’t heard enough is how deep this year is for offensive tackles and wide receivers. From the 1st round to the 4th round it is loaded with potential starter talent. When the Browns are on the clock they have a critical choice. They have a major hole at left tackle that hasn’t been filled since Joe Thomas retired. There is a good chance that one if not two of the top offensive tackles will be taken before their pick. On the other hand, all the wide receivers are still in play. They could select the top receiver and pair them with Beckham and Landry. Think about it. That’s tempting. Baker wouldn’t know where to start with all that talent. However, the Browns have multiple needs and could use more picks. It is in the front office best interest to trade down.

In Philadelphia, their front office has been working for a while to find Carson Wentz a dynamic wide receiver. There has been plenty of trade talk but no luck. They decide it’s time to go all in and make one of the biggest splashes of the weekend. They want to trade up and select the next star wide receiver that will help bloster their offense for the next 5 or more years. They are moving up 11 spots so they have to send a hefty package of picks to tempt the Browns in trading down to the 21st pick. They will need to present the Browns a similar offer the Atlanta Falcons gave Cleveland in 2011 when they moved up from 27th to 6th to select Julio Jones. Eagles call the Browns to make their aggressive move to get their guy. They will send the 21st pick, their 1st rounder in 2021, their 3rd round pick, and their 5th round pick from New England. Cleveland offers their 97th pick from Houston in the deal for Eagles 2nd round pick instead of taking their 3rd rounder. Philly accepts the edited trade offer and the deal is done. Eagles will land either Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb and the city of brotherly love will celebrate. Fast forward a little later, the Browns are on the clock at the 21st pick.

Browns, Round 1 Pick 21: T Josh Jones, Houston

One of the top reasons the Browns had such a disappointing season in 2019 was the 29th ranked offensive line. Despite Nick Chubb’s Pro Bowl performance, the offensive line was tough to watch. The Browns can’t walk away from this draft without an answer at left tackle. If they do, you can already write of the next season. Sure you could trade for Trent Williams who wants way too much money or you could offer Jason Peterson a short term deal, but I think it would be best to find an affordable long term answer now.

Jones’ name has remained under the radar as far as offensive tackles go in this draft. An aggressive player with a high motor that gives 100% on every play. No quit in style. He was recruited by former Houston coach Tom Herman and stayed after Herman left for the University of Texas job. His teammates appreciated his loyalty to the program and voted to make him captain his senior season.

Analysts and scouts have stressed he has serious potential but needs to get stronger. Fortunately, Kevin Stefanski hired one of the best offensive line coaches in Bill Callahan who can help prepare Jones for the pro level. He has solid speed but needs to improve on his foot work.

So out of all the offensive line prospects, what made me believe the Browns would select Josh Jones here? Andrew Berry has stated recently he wants to build the team around football players that fit well on and off the field. Jones’ personality and playing style already fits the mold Berry is describing. An upbeat player who is pushing himself and his teammates to perform at the top of their game each day. That includes practice. A perfect locker room guy. On top of that, he is heavily favored in the analytics department. Pro Football Focus rated him the 14th overall player in the class and 4th among offensive line men. Jones is also 1 out of 3 potential 1st round offensive tackles that primary played the left side last season.

There are a few other options here including Boise State tackle Ezra Cleveland and Bama safety Xavier McKinney. Let’s say for a second I’m wrong about the trade with the Eagles and they only trade down a few spots, is Josh Jones still a serious option for Cleveland at that point? Absolutely, but they may trade down again to add some more picks and then select him.

Browns, 2nd Round Pick 41: WR Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado

I do believe Cleveland will be picking a receiver early in the draft. Outside the LSU brothers they don’t have any serious depth. Shenault is 6’1 with great mix of speed, size, and strength. Highlight reel hands and averaged 24 yards a reception. On paper he looks like a quality addition. The only unfortunate thing about him is the comparisons he’s drawing which include Sammy Watkins and Greg Little. Two college receivers that burned competition in space but didn’t develop well in the NFL.

Browns take a chance on Shenault due to his size and hands. His explosiveness could be useful when defenses are covering Landry and Beckham close. Giving Baker another playmaker on the field should make defenses frustrated.

Browns, 2nd Round Pick 53 (from Eagles): DT Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M

Browns defensive line faced injury issues last season which hurt them the last 6 games. Andrew Berry has added depth via free agency for both defensive end and tackle, but they could use a younger, long-term option on the inside. Sheldon Richardson had a solid first season with Cleveland but who knows how much he has left in the tank. Larry Ogunjobi continues to stay consistent and former Bengal Andrew Billings signed a one year deal. Madubuike is undersized for an NFL defensive tackle but what scouts like about him is his speed and athleticism. One of the better defensive linemen in the class when it comes to pass rush and containing scrambling quarterbacks. Some analysts believe he could be more productive if moved to defensive end. He brings plenty of options but also has plenty of work to prepare for the next level.

Browns, Round 3 Pick 74: LB Akeem Davis Gaither, Appalachian State

As of right now, the Browns have 2 for sure starting linebackers in Mack Wilson and newly acquired B.J. Goodson. Gaither is a tad undersized but makes it up with his speed and athleticism. He had at least 5.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for a loss in both his junior and senior season. A Texas kid who was a former 5 star high school recruit. He would be useful on the outside to help with the pass rush. An explosive prospect that could help Cleveland in the long run.

Browns, Round 4 Pick 115: CB Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi St.

Cleveland added more cornerback back depth in free agency but could use a younger, long-term option. Terrence Mitchell isn’t guarenteed to be on the team on week 1 and Denzel Ward continues to deal with injury issues. Dantzler was one of the toughest cornerbacks in the SEC. He gave both Alabama and LSU issues last season. His man to man coverage ability is off the charts. Analytics department really digs his potential. Some analysts believe he could be picked higher than the 4th round but his tackling issues could make him drop to the lower rounds. There are some questions whether or not he would be a better dime corner than an every down option. If available, Browns take the chance on him here.

Alright, now it’s my turn to be the Browns the first four rounds.

Me, Round 1 Pick 10: T Andrew Thomas, Georgia

Once upon a time, there was a Browns general manager named Phil Savage. He sat in the war room as an assistant gm to the Baltimore Ravens in 1996 when they selected soon-to-be Hall of Famer Jonathan Odgen. The attitude in the room with that pick was to get someone to solidify the offensive line and would be part of the team the next 10 years. Fast forward to 2007 when Savage was running the Browns war room. They are sitting with the 3rd overall pick with some critical roster holes to fill. Despite a questionable quarterback situation, the front office came down to two decisions, Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson and Wisconsin left tackle Joe Thomas. Little did they know they were deciding between two soon-to-be Hall of Famers. When it came down to decision time, Savage told the room if they didn’t solidify the offensive line it wouldn’t matter what else they did that offseason. They wanted a permanent answer for their left tackle position and someone who would be there for the next 10 years. After the Browns selected Joe Thomas with the 3rd overall pick, they went on to have the best offensive line in 2007. Savage’s era in Cleveland did not end well, but he remains one of the better scouts at evaluating talent in the league. His comment about solidifying the offensive line will always remain true when it comes to building a great football team. Browns have not seen an o-line work that well since. Well, it’s time to change that.

Browns haven’t found their answer to left tackle since Joe Thomas retired. It absolutely hurt Baker Mayfield’s game last season and it will continue to until there is some legit protection there. I’m honestly not against trading down due to the Browns have multiple holes that need to be filled. But it is mandatory to find the answer to left tackle this coming draft weekend. If you can find a guarenteed answer at ten then lock him up.

Andrew Thomas was a force in the SEC. The former teammate of Nick Chubb’s excelled in the run game and was solid in pass protection. In Stefanski’s system the Browns will be running the ball more often than the previous few seasons. You won’t see better run blocker in this class than Thomas. I sat and watched much film on the top tackles in this draft. While Tristian Wirfs and Jedrick Willis are hot names, they struggled in key games. While Andrew Thomas gave Alabama and LSU headaches. They struggled to get through the left edge the whole game. On top of all this, the analytics are in his favor as he is rated the top offensive tackle in the class.

Hypothetically, if a team did want to trade up for the pick and the offer was too good to pass up then I would do it. In that scenario, Alabama safety Xavier McKinney would be my pick and I would trade back up to the 1st round to get either Josh Jones or Ezra Cleveland. But all temptation aside, if I’m the Browns sitting at ten and decide to use the pick, I’m putting a Thomas on the left side again. You’re welcome, Baker.

Me, Round 2 Pick 41: WR Tee Higgins, Clemson

I agree with getting a receiver here early in the draft. You need all the receiver depth you can get in this league. Higgins is 6’4 target with decent speed and possession hands. He came in clutch for Clemson down the stretch. He would fit well as the second receiver so the Browns could move Landry in the slot.

Me, Round 3 Pick 74: LB Malik Harrison , Ohio State

As previously mentioned, Browns have a hole at linebacker. Harrison is the makings of a sexy pick. Most Browns fans are Buckeyes fans, he hits really hard, and could fit in either linebacker position. There is some concern about his size but that’s what they said about my dude Mack Wilson last year. Bring in a young force with plenty of potential that will be a fan favorite for the next 5 years or more.

Me, Round 3 Pick 97 (from Texans): S Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois

Every year there is a draft prospect I really like that could go as high as the first round or as low as the sixth. This year, it’s Jeremy Chinn. I have seen some mock drafts where he falls around the 3rd or 4th round. I did see one claiming the Tennessee Titans were drafting him with their first pick. No matter where he goes, he has the physical gifts to be a dynamic safety in the NFL. The issue that’s putting his stock in limbo is his extremely low football IQ. Usually, that is something I would ask the Browns to move on from a prospect at that point. They’ve been hurt enough by that in the past. But not many of these players with low football IQs have the skill set this kid provides. Cleveland needs a long term option at safety and more playmakers on defense. Draft him and have him spend extra time with coaches, veterans, and in the film room. In the case he is not available here, I would go with Kentucky guard Logan Stenberg.

Me, Round 4 Pick 115: LB Joe Bachie, Michigan State

Back in 2016, the Browns were linebacker needy and there was a Big Ten prospect out of Wisconsin named Joe Schobert I really liked. Watching his film I just thought he would fit perfectly in Cleveland. As luck would have it, the Browns agreed with me and took him in the 4th round. He was an impact player and a leader in the locker room. Unfortunately, Andrew Berry was unwilling to meet his price and he signed with Jacksonville. I’m encouraging the Browns again to go with a Big Ten linebacker in the 4th round. Bachie meets the standard of a Browns linebacker. Hard hitting, leader, and has played his whole playing career in nasty mid-west weather. A group with him, Malik Harrison, B.J. Goodson, and Mack Wilson gives the linebacker group a serious chance. Other options to consider with this pick or later rounds include Oregon guard Shane Lemieux and Fresno State guard Netane Muti. Browns still need answer for right guard.

Cleveland Browns 2020 Offseason Needs

Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stafanski photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Alright. You know the story! Browns owner Jimmy Haslam pushes the reset button AGAIN! You have a new coach, general manager, and direction. The players try to find a way to manage, the other fans make fun of the team, the local sports analysts act as comedians towards the whole thing, and the fans resume excitement when training camp starts as if nothing catastrophic happened. Again, you know the story. The fans will be sitting through yet another Haslam experiment.

However, it’s still the Cleveland Browns and somehow we still care. Maybe it’s because instead of back to back 4 win seasons the team has had at least 6 wins the past 2 seasons. Maybe it’s because they have the quarterback with the most commercials since Peyton Manning. Or maybe it’s because the defender who slammed a Steeler with their own helmet is eligible to return. Honestly, I don’t 100% know why we care so much. I won’t tell you Kevin Stefanski and Andrew Berry are a for sure thing, but I can tell you the team is a good offseason away from the playoffs. Still one of the most talented rosters in the league. They just needed some better leadership. So here’s a quick breakdown of their top offseason needs:

OFFENSIVE LINE

There is a good reason I capitalized this one. Despite Nick Chubb’s impressive season and Baker Mayfield being the first Browns quarterback since Tim Couch to start all 16 games, the o-line was trash. Rated 29th overall in the league and was the biggest eye sore on the team all season. Despite all the praise the former general manager got, offensive line was never John Dorsey’s strong point. For starters, the team lacked depth from the beginning. After injuries the team struggled to keep any protection for Mayfield, not that it made much of a difference anyway. They drafted one lineman and he was injured most of the season. The rest were players just fighting to keep their careers going. Looking ahead, they have 2 starters worth keeping around, Pro Bowler Joe Bitonio and center Jason Tretter, who signed a 3 year extension in the middle of the season. Other than that they don’t really have anyone. Chris Hubbard is on an expiring contract, Greg Robinson could go to prison for 20 years, and anyone who played right guard last season is pretty much cut.

Recent reports have stated the team could potentially spend large amounts of money on a few free agents to improve the line. In the past, they have had success with signing veteran o-linemen to long, expensive deals. But now and then you’ll get that one that doesn’t pan out. Browns need to avoid that at all cost, but still should spend for quality. The draft has a few star potential left tackles in the first round this year. They’re still looking for a permanent replacement for Joe Thomas. Some big trade rumors have emerged about Redskins’ Trent Williams and Eagles’ Jason Peters, but I wouldn’t bank on either one happening. Then again, I doubted the Odell Beckham rumors too and looked what happened. Bottom line, Cleveland needs to pick 3 new starters and plenty of back up options if they want to see this line succeed right away.

Safety

During the Hugh Jackson era, safety was a big concern. Teams were making passing plays over the weak backfield like it was nothing. When John Dorsey took over it got fixed. Now it’s an issue again. Damarious Randall will test free agency and most likely will be gone. It is a toss up whether Andrew Berry decides to retain Morgan Burnett or not. Juston Burris and Sheldrick Redwine were decent during the last few games of the season, but didn’t show too much promise as long term options. They don’t want to overlook this position. Every great team has a duo of safeties that help contain the pass game. Unless the Browns want to get lit up again like in 2016 and 17, I suggest grab a few guys that can consistently hold down the role.

Linebacker

Browns will be back to using 3 linebackers and, unfortunately, Joe Schobert is on his way out. Mack Wilson is the only guaranteed starter left on the team. Christian Kirkseyhas been cut and signed with the Packers. Grabbing a few free agents and trying to find a gem in the draft would be one way to go. A good mix of veteran leadership and youth tends to go well for defenses. Browns could use all the help they can get on the defensive side of the ball.

A 3rd and 4th Wide Receiver

Browns marched into the 2019 season believing to have the best wide receiver group in the NFL. Turned out to be a little disappointing. Odell Beckham Jr had a decent season and his best friend Jarvis Landry was a Pro Bowler again. However, they were the only receivers that really did anything all season. Rishard Higgins never really saw the field and isn’t expected to return this season. Antonio Callaway was cut, failed another drug test, and signed with the XFL. Damion Ratley made some noise but never got too many chances. These days, the 3rd wide receiver is critical for most offenses. With all the injuries, it’s important to have mad depth at all positions especially the ones who get knocked around the most. Both Beckham and Landry had surgeries recently. It would be fitting to make sure there is quality back up in case they would need more procedures.

Backup Quarterback

One of the biggest fears for Browns fans is to have the team go on a run and suddenly Baker takes a hit that takes him out for long period of time, or worse, the season. Browns dodged a major bullet last season with Baker staying healthy. Garrett Gilbert was the only backup option and had very little experience at the pro level.

Thankfully, recent reports state that the new front office has signing quarterback number 2 as a high priority when free agency opens. Case Keenum, Chase Daniels, and Marcus Mariota have been a few names mentioned as options. Looking back at the past few seasons, it should be noted when the Eagles won the Super Bowl with Nick Foles in 2018 and the Titans going to the AFC Championship with Ryan Tannehill this past January. The right man could save an entire season should they need him.

Beef Up the Defensive Line

Watching the Browns defensive line was like a rollercoaster. Some games went well and others not so much. Myles Garrett had a disappointing season but was suspended the last 6 games of the season. Olivier Vernon was injured much of the season but didn’t perform up to par when he did play. Sheldon Richardson was solid on and off the field. One of the few bright spots on the line. Larry Ogunjobi put up almost the exact same statistics as he did in 2018.

Last draft, John Dorsey did not take advantage of a deep defensive line class. The team is entering the offseason with minimal depth and potentially a need for a new starting defensive end. Every top NFL team has a strong front 7 on the defensive side of the ball. It is vital to address these positions if they plan on competing for playoff position. Otherwise, they’ll continue to struggle to pressure opposing team quarterbacks and have issues against the run.

Backup Cornerbacks

One of John Dorsey’s strong points was giving his teams quality cornerback depth. It had helped the Browns plenty while dealing with Denzel Ward’s consistent injuries. As of right now, Ward and Greedy Williams are penciled as the starters with veteran Terrance Mitchell as the only reliable backup. It isn’t for sure Mitchell will make the team after the preseason and Ward’s multiple concussions give the organization plenty of concern about his future. It would be wise to grab a couple quality free agents and a sleeper in the draft to help be prepared for anything. It’s a passing league so they need to have as talented of a cornerback squad as possible.

Resign Kareem Hunt

Running back careers seem to be getting shorter with every new generation. Browns have a special player in Nick Chubb. But every good back needs a reliable backup. One of the few things that did go right for the Browns last year was the Chubb and Hunt rotation. It was weapon that irritated defenses and was, unfortunately, not used enough. John Dorseyz who was the reason Hunt signed with the team, is gone. But the Cleveland kid wants to stay home the rest of his career.

There are many different directions Andrew Berry could go with this, but hear me out. Hunt is still young, he is healthy with no history of injuries at the pro level, he wants to make his hometown proud, he produced when he played, and he seems to have a great relationship with the other players. There is a case to be made that he may go cheaper than many expected 2 seasons ago when he was tearing it up in Kansas City. Chubb likes working along side him. Seriously?! What’s the argument against it?! I am aware there was a recent legal problem, but nothing major. Keep him before he goes somewhere where he can hurt you.

*On March 16th, Browns put a 2nd round tender on Hunt.

Tight End depth

One of the few things the Browns have done right since their return in 1999 is always having a reliable tight end or two. Last season, Austin Seferian-Jenkins came out as the top tight end until his injury. Former 1st rounder David Njoku can’t stay healthy and has burned bridges within the organization. Recently, Demetrius Harris was cut. Keeping Jenkins makes sense but they need to make sure they have plenty of backup in case he goes down again. In Minnesota, Stefanski preferred to use blocking tight ends with possession hands for the red zone. Kyle Rudolph thrived in his system. It would be best for Cleveland to sign a veteran or two and draft a young prospect.

*On March 16th, Browns agreed to terms with former Atlanta Falcon Austin Hooper, making him the best paid tight end in the league.

Favorite Noise of 2019

Top 10 Albums

10. Patience– Mannequin Pussy

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9. Fear Inoculum– Tool

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8. The Valley– Whitechapel

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7. Macro– Jinjer

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6. Sociopathic Concstructs– Abnormality

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5. Gidim– Rings of Saturn

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4. Love Exchange Failure– White Ward

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3. Vile Nilotic Rites– Nile

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2. Humanicide– Death Angel

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1. The Battle of Yaldabaoth– Infant Annihilator

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Best Live Performance: Slayer

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For the third and last time, I will be giving SLAYER the best live performance of the year. Metal lost one of their titans for good in December. Some of my best memories will be seeing the legendary thrashers dominate the stage. The second cycle of the final tour was better than the previous year. Playing personal favorites such as Temptation and Gemini was bitter sweet! It’s a shame the younger generations won’t get to experience something as beautiful as a SLAYER show. I will give credit to other bands I saw kill it live this year including Korn, Whitesnake, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Dying Fetus.

Best EP: Desolation– Portals

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I had the honor of booking these guys twice in 2019. Both shows were a success. I am proud to call them friends. This release was nasty to say the least. One review hit the nail on the head explaining this isn’t some boring breakdown deathcore band. Portals rights heavy riffs and grooves that are sex to the ears. These guys continue working hard on stage and in the studio. A full length release is in the works and I can only imagine the brutalness in the making. If you haven’t checked these guys out, YouTube them NOW!

Best Local Release: Low Life– Freely Spoken

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This was a tough call. So many good local releases this year. Some of my favorites include Featherweight, Olathia, In Malum, Goosed, Dynamo Love, Big Ugly, Curse Them, and Trephine. So how does the Kent rapper pull the best local release? For the record, I am very picky with rap. So if I like you, you’re at least half way decent. I think the main reason Freely Spoken pulls off the best local release of the year is watching his journey to get to this point. Every artist has a story, and his is interesting one to say the list. Honestly, I don’t even know half of it. This kid works his ass off day in and day out to give the people something to talk about. Not only has he made an impact on local rap but hardcore and metal as well. He has a loyal following that would do anything he asked and shows their support at every show. In 2019, he played multiple shows outside of Ohio including a few in California. His name is out there.

The album itself has good production, great lyrics, and includes an Albert Fish reference (my favorite serial killer). It pumps you up and it hits you on a personal level. This “low life” is just one of us trying to make it somewhere with his art. Keep it up Feely! GREAT start!

 

Top 10 Songs:

10. “Cold”- Korn

9. “The Signal Fire”- Killswitch Engage featuring Howard Jones

8. “Anguish”- Featherweight

7. “Ravensflight”- Amon Amarth

6. “Old News/New Fire”- Lo-Pan

5. “Maiden Mother Crone”- Bask

4. “Welcome Home”- Hellyeah

3. “Broken Halo”- Baroness

2. “Plaguebearer”- Infant Annihilator

1. “Curb Stomp”- Abnormality

Top 10 Most Anticipated for 2020:

10. Grajo

These Spain doom metallers are one of my underground favorites. Last August, they released a video of them tracking demos for the next album. It was just a minute long clip but it kept my ears craving for more. Looking forward to the new release.

9. Divitius

The year 2019 came and went without anything new from the djent rising stars from Portland, Oregon. On December 30th, the band announced their new EP, “Primordial” would be released on April 17th. New song “Memento Mori” available on all streaming platforms, and it is fantastic to say the least.

8. Anthrax

The thrash legends are hinting at their heaviest album yet. Their last two since the return of Joey Belladona have been some of their best releases of their 30 year career. Let’s see if they live up to the hype. At this rate, I think they will.

7. Testament

These thrash legends have hinted at a diverse album with a little something of everything in the mix. Some fans may get nervous about those comments, but come on!! It’s freaking Testament for crying out loud!!! You can throw out an doubt! New album will drop on April 3rd.

6. Code Orange

Pittsburgh hardcore kids had been hinting about new music in December. On January 10th, the band announced the album and title track, “Underneath”. The song was one of their more interesting releases, but I don’t define a whole album by one song. Anxious to hear the rest. “Underneath” will be released on March 10th.

5. Meshuggah

Word got out around September that they were in the studio. I really hope it’s true. The past few albums have been stellar and I hope it continues to get better. The only change I would recommend to them is more trips to North America on the next tour cycle.

4. Lamb of God

Now that they’re done touring with Slayer, they can focus on their next release. Band members have hinted at a late 2020 release for over a year now. A video recently surfaced of the band’s new drummer in the studio. Looks promising. I’m ready for some new Lamb of God!!!

3. Megadeth

The legendary Megadeth took a break for most of 2020 while Dave Mustaine was busy kicking cancer’s ass. Now the focus is on touring and finishing the new album. Both Mustaine and Ellefson have been talking up this record. The world needs new Megadeth!!

2. Gojira

If you read my Best Noise of 2018 last year you may remember I had Gojira as number 1 most anticipated for 2019. In the notes I mentioned that if Tool did indeed release an album, they would be number 1 and Gojira would be number 2 in my book. Well hell froze over and Tool put out their album after thirteen years. Gojira, however, did not release anything new. They instead toured with Slipknot and other big names, which is fantastic for their sake. New Gojira is over due. They said there would be a smaller release gap between albums and it’s looking like the same amount of time. I’m getting antsy.

1. Iron Maiden

The producer of their last release, “Book of Souls”, posted on his twitter page he just finished recording an album for a very loud and famous band from August to November. This sparked rumors that Iron Maiden had secretly been in the studio. If that’s the case, and I believe it is, we could have a treat coming in 2020. I don’t know how many albums these guys have left in them, but I’ll take as much Maiden music as I can get. “Book of Souls” was a grade A release and I hope they build a good follow up. I know many fans are on the fence about their albums the past 10 even 20 years, but this is still one of the best bands in the history of music. Anything they write is worth hearing out. HAIL MAIDEN!!!

Halloween Films Ranked, So Far . . .

Micheal Myers

Tis the season!!! Halloween has finally arrived and if you’re anything like me, you’ll spend the whole day watching a variety of horror films. Anything from cult classics, slashers, vampires, zombies, splatters, monsters, and anything just purely disgusting!! What a time to be alive!!

But you can’t go through the Halloween season without watching . . . well . . anything from the Halloween franchise. It has been almost 41 years since John Carpenter created one of the best horror flicks in history, and would eventually start one of the best film franchises in Hollywood. It was recently announced by Carpenter and his writers that not one, but two new Halloween films are in the making. Halloween Kills in 2020 and Halloween Ends in 2021.

But before we start debating how everything will supposedly come to an end, here is my extremely bias, personal ranking of the Halloween movies so far from worst to best:

11. Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

Let’s get this one out of the way. Rick Rosenthal, who directed Halloween II, gets hired to direct the follow up to Halloween H20. He did a great job last time, so wouldn’t he do the same this time around? NOPE!!! This film was a mistake from day one! I don’t expect any successful film franchise to be perfect, but this one was a absolute blunder.

For starters, it turned out that there was some conflict between Jamie Lee Curtis and the writers. The actress wanted this to be the final Halloween movie ever made, and only agreed to do it if they didn’t hint at a potential sequel at the end of the movie. They were also not allowed to kill off Micheal thanks to a clause set up by Moustapha Akkad. This may have resulted in the poor introduction where Micheal kills off Laurie Strode right off the bat. I wasn’t a fan of that. After all these years THAT is how Strode dies.

I honestly didn’t mind the idea of having a reality show at the Myers’ house where Micheal goes on a killing spree. However, you can have a decent idea and not come through, and that’s what happened here. Poor acting and camera work throughout the whole film. On top of all that, that same group of sorry writers had a sequel written and, thankfully, they didn’t go through with it. At the same time I am glad it wasn’t the last film of the franchise because Michael deserves much better.

Last year, I read an interview with John Carpenter where he admitted he never watched any of the Halloween movies that weren’t his own, except for one. That’s right, THIS one. The terrible camera work and the lame speech from Busta Rhymes at the end seemed to scare him more than the movie itself. They called it resurrection but it should have stayed at rest.

10. Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

The first Halloween film of the 1990’s could have went better for fans that waited 6 years for another sequel. I could dig the idea of Jamie Lloyd having a son that is targeted by Michael, the Tommy Doyle character all grown up and played by Paul Rudd, the last film that would include Donald Pleasence playing Dr. Sam Loomis, and the cute redhead who played Kara Strode. Honestly, most of the movie wasn’t too bad, but the ending was rushed and ruins the whole film.

It was similar to Resurrection where they had a decent idea and didn’t capitalize on it. Did the writers really need to throw in a random cult that was obsessed with Micheal’s evil nature?! The whole curse of Thorn was a large stretch too. I am no Hollywood writer but as a fan you have to wonder if they had better screen play options. The scene before Michael’s return to Smith’s Grove was too random. All of a sudden everyone and their mom are in the cult. All of a sudden Tommy and Loomis are drugged up and can’t remember anything within the past hour. It all just happened with no real explanation and they cut to Smith’s Grove. Not what I would expect from high paid Hollywood writers.

You have Tommy Doyle who has an obsession with Michael. There could have been a story line where Doyle and the Strodes reveal secrets of Michael’s past while trying to avoid him. Put that along with one last stand off with Dr. Loomis. Just an example. Something that would have been a fitting back story to the Halloween saga.

My point being, The Curse of Michael Myers I felt was random and a reach. The previous films before it had a solid story line with brutal kill scenes. This one seemed to lack both.

9. Halloween II (2009)

I do enjoy Rob Zombie’s music and some of the horror films he has created over the years. However, his Halloween II was disappointing to say the least. The movie does include some of Myers’ goriest kills in the whole franchise. It does tend to keep you on your seat throughout the film. But the whole story leaves much to question why he went the bizarre direction he did with this one.

For starters, I didn’t dig the whole “time to come home” thing. I don’t mean to be a dick but I think that was just to keep his wife in the story, since her character died in the first one. I do understand he did not want to make another Halloween movie after this one, and he did what he needed to do to make that happen. There were two big issues I had with the film.

One, never once has adult Michael ever said a word in any of the films. In this one, Zombie had him say “DIE!”, in the final scene. I’m all for breaking tradition and trying something new, but there are just some things that shouldn’t be touched. Michael Myers is the silent killer and should stay that way. It keeps the mystery of the character. The second issue I had with the film was how it ended. The way Michael dies and Laurie’s reaction to the whole thing just was odd. After all Laurie goes through with him, she decides to tell him she loves him while he’s dying. Then puts his mask on and walks outside to the trigger happy police. I know she was a psychotic mess but what the hell went through her mind there?! I mean she does go to an insane asylum at the very end, but still!! But it wouldn’t be a Rob Zombie movie without stepping over boundaries.

8. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

The only Halloween film to not feature Michael and the last one John Carpenter did until he returned to the franchise in 2018. Instead of making a movie of a slasher, Carpenter and his team turned their attention to a science fiction tale about a company owner using popular Halloween masks to kill children on Halloween night. Carpenter wanted this movie, along with the previous two, to start an anthology series of horror movies based on Halloween night. All different stories, characters, and potential sequels. However, Season of the Witch did not receive good reception from the viewers, and Carpenter’s plans for the series were eventually scrapped.

Even though many fans really didn’t dig this one, I actually don’t mind it. It does start off pretty slow but I thought the story line was well put together. I think the lack of horror and odd special effects really hurt the film. When the audience wants to watch something scary, they tend to prefer the best special effects possible with a less complex story line. That was not the case for Halloween III. I’m not one who likes Hollywood to remake everything, but a remake of this film maybe something to consider. If you get the right people and re-arrange the story a bit, you could have a solid horror flick. However, there is a fan base the film has that many horror flicks don’t, and that says something.

7. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Micheal Myers (1989)

The second film involving Michael attempting to kill his niece, Jamie Lloyd. Halloween 5 had some solid kill scenes and supposedly was going to be the goriest of the franchise. But at the time the film makers were fighting an X rating and had to cut down on the violence. It makes you wonder if we’ll see a release with the original production. The only real downside to this film is that it is essentially a watered down version of Halloween 4 with the same objective and less action. This made fans feel they were just going through the motions with the previous films.

My biggest criticism with this one is how they portrayed Jamie’s character. The telepathic episodes and her inability to speak seemed like an odd direction to go. After the fantastic cliff hanger they gave the fans with the previous one, it was a disappointing way to continue the series. The big positive I will give this film was the coffin in the attic scene, where Jamie for a minute excepts her fate at her uncle’s hands and asks for him to remove his mask before he attempts to kill her. He does so and the camera shoots at Michael’s cheek where a tear begins to move down it. This would be the first real emotional connection Michael gives any person in the series. Such an iconic scene.

6. Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

The first Halloween to feature Jamie Lee Curtis since Halloween II and the first one not to include Donald Pleasence (Dr. Loomis). This would be a direct sequel to Halloween II, dismissing the timeline of four through six. Micheal Myers finds his sister 20 years after the deadly Halloween night in Haddonfield.

All in all, many fans are on the fence about this one. The majority of reviews seem to be overall positive and I am right there with them. This isn’t the best film of the franchise but it’s far from the worst. The return of Laurie Strode and new story line gave the fans a breathe of fresh air. I think there were a lot of fans that went into it thinking it was going to compare well with the original. If that’s your thought process going into it, you will be disappointed. It’s a solid sequel but doesn’t touch the likes of what John Carpenter and his writers did. This movie is more looked at as Laurie’s revenge as she tries to fight Michael back this time around. Just to have Laurie back in the picture brought so much nostalgia to it, which I think fans enjoyed the most.

5. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

The first Halloween film that John Carpenter was not involved in and the first one not to include the Laurie Strode character. After Halloween III disappointed many fans, Moustapha Akkad was determined to continue the series and bring Michael back. This time, the story was centered around Jamie Lloyd, Michael’s niece and Laurie’s daughter.

Despite the poor reviews when it was first released in 1988, it still stands as one of the favorites among the fans. What I enjoyed more about this film was the writers expanding Michael’s abilities. He became stronger and craftier in this film, which made him seem almost invincible. Danielle Harris, who played Jamie Lloyd, was a fantastic child actor who put on a tremendous performance. And of course, the movie had what I believe to be the best cliff hanger of the whole franchise.

The only thing I really couldn’t stand about this one was Michael’s doofy mask! Seriously! It is the worst mask of the series! Plain, white, and smooth. It looks like it had a liposuction to get all the blood and wrinkles off from the last murder streak. Fans missed the guy but they didn’t have to bring him back looking like a mime with black eyes! How could he even see with that thing is beyond me.

4. Halloween (2007)

Dimension films was desperate for a positive turn for the franchise. Remember, the previous release at the time was Halloween: Resurrection. So yeah, they needed something to help attract a new generation of viewers. They recruited rocker and horror film maker Rob Zombie to help remake the original. Zombie was given advice from John Carpenter to make this film his own. He did just that and came through.

Rob Zombie’s Halloween starts with a whole back story on how Michael became the killer we know and love. We are introduced to young Michael’s abusive life, events leading to his first murders, and his time at Smith’s Grove. Zombie also provided more brutal killings for the night he came home. He also included a desire for Michael wanting to reconnect with his younger sister while fighting the urge to slice her to pieces.

What I appreciate the most about this film is how much Zombie changed the characters to fit his style. In the original, Laurie Strode is a scholar student that tends to keep to herself except when she’s with her small group of friends. In this one, Laurie is an obnoxious, outgoing individual that isn’t necessarily known for her brain. Professor Loomis was also given a serious character change from being a doctor that generally cared about protecting the public from Michael to a greedy writer that used his experience with Michael to gain wealth. I give some serious kudos to Zombie for casting Danielle Harris to play Annie. It helped give the old school fans more nostalgia to see her return to the series.

In my opinion, Rob Zombie delivered with a fresh restart that fans were craving. It was more edging, more violent, and brought back the horror of the Michael Myers character. The only thing that hurt Zombie the most regarding this film was following it up with a subpar sequel. I think fans that really enjoyed the first one expected a little more with the second one. However, that is not to take away the fact this still sits as one of the best slasher films of the 2000’s and brought new life to the franchise.

3. Halloween (2018)

Out of all my rankings here, this one maybe the most controversial with the fans. Critics loved it, but the fans stood divided. Some felt it was the best Halloween in a long time and some felt it was the worst. I saw the movie the night it was released into theaters and I left overjoyed. There are many reasons I really enjoyed it, but the number one reason was this movie gave you a similar vibe to the original.

The movie was made to be a sequel to the original, 40 years after the night he returned home. It is the first Halloween to have Jamie Lee Curtis and John Carpenter both involved since Halloween II in 1981. Michael escapes again and goes up against Laurie Strode who seeks revenge while protecting her family from him.

One of the main complaints from fans was the lack of violence and action. To be technical, there were probably just as many kills from this one then the first two films combined. I also expected there to be more killing, but watching it for the first time I realized that may have been done intentionally to set up for more action sequences with the sequels following it. The main focus with this one was Michael’s return and his reunion with Laurie.

I felt this was one of the better written films of the whole Halloween saga. It was more realistic and didn’t have an over the top story line like many of the sequels before it. You also got much nostalgia from previous John Carpenter Halloween movies such as similar murders to the ones in the first two movies, the kids wearing masks from Halloween III, the use of the ghost costume, and the granddaughter, Alison, being 17 years-old just like Laurie was the original. The more I watch it, the more Easter eggs I find from previous films.

We will find out the next two years if the two sequels following it can live up to the hype. As long as Carpenter is involved I think they have a shot at being something special. Classic horror movies are having a hard time developing new sequels to reach the new generation of viewers. This could be a huge step towards something special or a disappointing turn for die-hard fans.

2. Halloween II (1981)

Direct sequels to classic movies don’t always work out. Fortunately, this one did. I really don’t have a specific reason, but this one stands as my favorite out of the whole series. I love how they started right where they left off at the end of the first one as a continuation of that night of terror. Most sequels would have fast forward to modern times or set a whole new scene.

The revelation when Loomis finds out Laurie is Michael’s sister is the most iconic part of the film. It is up there with Darth Vader revealing to Luke Skywalker that he’s his father. NOT THE SAME THING!!! I don’t want any Star Wars fans coming after me. But similar in the way once the secret was revealed it made sense to the audience why things unfolded the way they did. Michael’s mission was clear and, unfortunately for him, it set up for him to be found.

This was suppose to be the final movie to feature Michael Myers, but thankfully that did not happen. You can’t kill the bogeyman!

1. Halloween (1978)

Ah yes! The very first one tops the list for plenty of reasons. The 1970’s was a decade where horror movies took a huge turning point. Classics such as The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Carrie, The Omen, and Dawn of the Dead scared the living hell out of society! These films inspired many other classic and modern day horror movies we see today. Along with this group, Halloween made its mark at the tail end of the 1970’s. It was known as the biggest slasher film since Psycho.

There are many factors that made this movie so successful. The camera work, the lighting, the music, and scenery all really meshed well together. It was like an ordinary neighborhood in an ordinary house where things went terribly wrong. The mystery behind Michael really grabbed the audience. Why at such a young age did he want to kill? Why is he wearing a mask? Why doesn’t he speak? What is his motive? It was a plot you didn’t see in many movies back at that time. Maybe even the first of its kind. But I am not a film expert so I don’t want to assume.

I think one of the reasons it was viewed as so horrifying, especially back in that time period, is the thought that something like this could really happen. You watch many horror films and much of the action is completely unrealistic. Zombies aren’t just going to come out of nowhere and kill you. Carrie, a movie made from a Stephen King book about a girl with telekinetic powers, would never happen. However, a masked man with a knife going around killing teenagers on Halloween night could happen. If you are a teenager or young adult who lived in a similar quiet neighborhood as Haddonfield, that could terrify you.

No matter what way you look at it, when it comes to horror movies Halloween will stand the test of time. They could make up to 30 different sequels, and fans will still refer to the original as a pioneer to classic horror flicks. Michael Myers will forever be an iconic part of the Halloween season. Do you believe in the bogeyman? Because I love him!

Offseason Predictions for the 2020 Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland Indians ended their 2019 campaign with 93 wins and no playoff birth. Reminds me of the same disappointment I felt in 2005 when the team won 95 games and fell short of the postseason. Even though this was not the result the fans wanted, there are many positives for the 2020 season. With a few good offseason moves and, hopefully, less injuries the Indians could find themselves back into October baseball next year.

Starting Pitchers

Assuming everyone enters the next season healthy, the starting rotation could look this:

Corey Kluber

Shane Bieber

Mike Clevinger

Zach Plesac

Aaron Civale

This might not be the rotation Francona has to start the season, but I think right now those five give them the best chance to compete. Plesac and Civale are coming off an impressive rookie season where they were dominate during a playoff race. Bieber showed the league he was more than just a solid 3 or 4 rotation guy. He would be the ace on most ball clubs. If it wasn’t for an early season injury for Clevinger, we might be talking about his first Cy Young award right now.

Looking ahead, if Kluber gets back up to speed it’s looking like Adam Plutko is the odd man out. Plutko has solid stuff but has been inconsistent and tends to give up more home runs than the other guys. It is too early to rule Carlos Crassco out of the rotation for next season. If he can continue to win his battle over leukemia, he could possibly build back up the stamina during spring traing. Until then, he is at least a solid bullpen option.

Unfortunately, expect the Tribe to part ways with Danny Salazar. It would have been a great comeback story, but I think the time has come for both sides to move on.

Bold prediction: Indians sign some veteran starters to minor league deals. This would be insurance in case they have to deal with multiple injuries again. Plesac and Civale helped save the Tribe’s season after excessive injuries banged up the starting rotation. May not be as lucky next time, so they’ll be prepared. Jefry Rodriguez and Adam Plutko will face off for the long reliever spot in the bullpen.

Bullpen

Tribe’s relief squad for 2019 could be best described as a Cedar Point rollercoaster. When they were at their best they were on top of the league. On their worst days it seemed like they couldn’t do anything right. Closer Brad Hand had a remarkable 1st half and a forgetful 2nd half. The team went without him for the last few weeks of the season due to a tired arm. Honestly can’t remember the last closer to be that absent for the Tribe during a playoff run.

Fortunately, I think things will turn around for the better. Two names to watch out for next season: James Karinchak and Logan Allen. The two top reliever prospects on the team could make a serious impact in the late innings. Maybe something similar to what Cody Allen and Andrew Miller did from 2016 to 2018. Nick Wittgren, Hunter Wood, Nick Goody, Adam Cimber, Tyler Olsen, and Oliver Perez could all have an important role moving forward. There is that chance Carassco will be significant part of that group as well.

Bold prediction: Even after an overall successful season, Indians decide to move on from Brad Hand. They’ll trade him for another reliever and a prospect. Tyler Clippard and Dan Otero could be in spring training in February, but with younger, better arms available the front office may make the decision to move on from them. Hand traded or not, I expect the Indians to acquire a quality veteran arm for the pen.

Infield

Unless the front office has other plans, I expect most of the current infield to stay. Roberto Perez was one of the better power hitting catchers in the league and Kevin Plawecki fit in perfectly as his backup. First baseman Carlos Santana had an MVP caliber season. Even after battling injuries, both Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez had successful seasons.

Many Tribe fans won’t like hearing this but I believe Jason Kipnis time with the team has reached the end. I think they’ll decline his option and let him take his career somewhere else.

Rookies Yu Chang and Bobby Bradley could be key players off the bench in 2020. It’s not for sure they’ll have spot on the Opening Day roster, but both have had some quality playing time in the major league level this past season. That will help prepare them for the next step. Both prospects have potential to be quality hitters.

Another guy fans should look out for is Christian Arroyo. He was the other player that came with reliever Hunter Wood in that mid-season trade with Tampa Bay. Arroyo’s season was cut short due to injury but Chris Antonetti believes he has plenty to bring to Cleveland. The San Francisco Giants selected Arroyo with their 1st round pick in 2013. The Giants made the decision to move on from him due to his offensive struggles. Maybe he can bounce back with the Tribe and potentially be their new starting second basemen.

Bold prediction: I will warn fans, expect to hear Francisco Lindor trade talk in the offseason, but I don’t imagine any sort of serious deal going down. He is the leader in the locker room and the bat they need if they want any chance of winning a World Series next year. If they do trade him it won’t be until trade deadline in the final season of his contract. I know, I hate the thought too. Otherwise, teams will have to give up multiple present and future assets for the Indians to even consider such a deal.

But I do predict a trade. Next season could potentially be the last season to go all in for a while. So the Indians need to make a move. It will be Christmas in Cleveland when the news breaks out the Indians have made a trade with the Kansas City Royals for second basemen Whit Merrifield. The Royals need some youth and realistically Merrifield will be available. Tribe will be one of the few teams that will meet their price. This would be a game changer.

Outfield

A quick summary of the Indians outfield for 2019. The good, the bad, the ugly:

Starting with the ugly

Tyler Naquin tears his ACL during a playoff run

Bradley Zimmer only saw playing time dring the last week of the season. They hoped he would return sooner but he kept having setbacks.

Leonys Martin’s return was so disappointing, he had to sign with a team in Japan after he was cut. Indians have officially lost that trade.

The bad

Former All-Star Carlos Gonzalez didn’t pan out at all. He was later cut and signed a minor league deal with the Cubs.

Jake Bauers hits for the cycle and then continued to struggle at the plate. He was sent down to AAA Columbus after the blockbuster trade deadline trade. Yandy Diaz didn’t have a much better season for Tampa Bay. That trade was a wash.

The good

Indians added Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes at the trade deadline.

Jordan Luplow was superb against southpaws.

Oscar Mercado helped bring new life into the team.

In the end, Indians have a quality outfield going into next season. The only question remains is which players make the cut? One guy to watch out for is prospect Daniel Johnson whom they got in the Yan Gomes trade. He just had a stellar minor league season and many are sold on his potential. I don’t expect them to rush him, but he may pull a Mercado and find his way up sooner than later.

Bold prediction: Expect Luplow, Mercado, Naquin, and Reyes to be on the Opening Day roster. I will be shocked if Jake Bauers is still with the team when they report to spring training. I think they’ll trade him. I’m a fan of Greg Allen but I believe there is a short leash on him going into next season. If he doesn’t start producing at the plate then he will slowly put himself out of the team’s future plans. I see Bradley Zimmer starting off in AAA Columbus and eventually finding his way back to Cleveland. I don’t think they want to rush him and risk more injury.

My biggest prediction for outfield comes with a big signing. Normally when the Indians rent a player for the last few months of the season, they don’t bring him back. This time they do. With Jason Kipnis not returning, you loose a voice in the locker room. It’s important to keep your locker room up beat and focused. You need certain characters to keep a team going through a long season, and then some.

That being said, they do their locker room and lineup a big favor. Yasiel Puig signs a 2-year, 30 million deal with a team option to stay in Cleveland. He will do it to stay with a team he likes and a chance to win a championship. Indians go all in 2020.

Cleveland Browns: Top 10 Offseason Acquisitions

After a successful offseason, the Cleveland Browns are set to start training camp. Fans are hopeful that this will be the season that ends the 17 year playoff drought and the start of a dynasty. With all that being said, here are my top 10 additions to the team roster:

10. K Austin Seibert

Last season was possibly the worst season for kickers in NFL history. More extra points and field goals were missed than in previous seasons, and there were more kickers consistently on the injury list. That in itself showed the importance and value of a good kicker in the game.

Browns have not had an established starting kicker since they let Phil Dawson (who is currently a free agent) go in 2013. Four of the Browns losses last season were by 3 points or less. Obviously, the Browns entered the offseason trying to find a long term answer for the position.

Austin Seibert had much success at Oklahoma, but just because the Browns used a draft pick on him does not hand him the job. He will have to battle it out against last season’s starter Greg Joseph, who came in mid-season after Zane Gonzalez was cut. Seibert has great kicking accuracy, and holds the college football record for most extra points and field goal attempts. Only time will tell if Seibert can be a new fan favorite in Cleveland.

9. S Morgan Burnett

Browns had a hole at safety after trading Jabrill Peppers to the Giants. Since then they have added plenty of options. They traded for Eric Murray from the Cheifs, they drafted Sheldrick Redwine out of Miami, and Jermaine Whitehead turned some heads at mini camp. But let’s not forget about a key veteran they added in free agency in Morgan Burnett.

In case you don’t know the story, Burnett started for the Pittsburgh Steelers last season and decided he didn’t want to deal with the team’s locker room issues any longer. He demanded a trade but ended up getting waived instead. As a result, he signed a three year deal with the good guys in Cleveland! Mainly because he was familiar with the front office that drafted him in Green Bay.

As of right now, it is a toss up who starts opposite of Damarius Randall. But Burnett brings experience and leadership that can help the Browns on the defensive side of the ball. If he does indeed make the week 1 roster, he may have an important role on the team.

8. DT Sheldon Richardson

Browns needed to add some power next to Larry Ogunjobi, and they did just that. Richardson is joining the Browns after a solid season with the Minnesota Vikings where he registered 48 total tackles including 4.5 sacks. Browns defensive line was inconsistent blocking up the middle last season. Hopefully adding Richardson will change that.

7. LB Mack Wilson

I must warn you, I’m being very bias with this one. Wilson was one of my favorite players in the draft. When the Browns selected Sione Takitaki in the 3rd round, I thought for sure Wilson was not in the Browns’ plans. As luck would have it, he slipped to the 5th round where Cleveland selected him.

Wilson may not do much early in the regular season but in due time he will be a fan favorite. Above average speed and field awareness for a linebacker his size. He stood out among rookies in minicamp. Hopefully my expectations are right and fans get to see what I’ve been preaching about since the draft.

6. TE Demetrius Harris

Possibly the most underrated acquisition this offseason. Browns hands down have one of the best receiving groups in the league, and Harris could be a secret weapon for Baker. In Kansas City, he was mainly used for the red zone where he caught 3 touchdowns last season. But in Freddie Kitchens offensive scheme it will be easy to assume he could take on a bigger role. Possibly similar to what Darren Fells did last season. At 6’7 with better speed and hands than most tight ends, it’s obvious why Harris would be favorable target down the stretch.

5. CB Greedy Williams

Browns 1st pick in the draft did not come until the 2nd round due to the Odell Beckham trade. John Dorsey hit a home run drafting Denzel Ward with the 4th overall pick in the 2018 draft. He was determined to find a long term starter on the opposite end of Ward. With many cornerbacks already taken in the first 2 rounds, Williams somehow slipped to the Browns on the 46th overall pick.

Williams was an All-SEC player with 71 tackles, 8 interceptions, and 28 pass deflections in the 2 seasons he started in LSU. He played all 24 games.

It is still up in the air if Williams earns a starting spot right out of the gate. With Terrance Mitchell and T.J. Carrie also in the mix, coaching staff may lean towards starting the season off with more experienced players. However, if he has fantastic camp and preseason, he could convince the team to start him week one just like Ward did last season.

4. DE Oliver Vernon

Browns needed to give Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi some more help on the defensive line. They gave them a big boost adding Vernon in the mix. He is coming off a Pro Bowl season in which he had 23 tackles 7 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.

Vernon was overshadowed by the Odell Beckham hype, but provides an extremely important part to the team’s success. Browns defense was inconsistent pressuring opposing quarterbacks last season. They’re coverage squad was worn down as a result. With Vernon on the opposite side of Garrett, it should create a nightmare for offensive lines.

3. RB Kareem Hunt

Even though Browns fell short of making the playoffs, they made headlines last January when they signed troubled running back Kareem Hunt. Every football fan knows the story. Hunt was having a memorable season with the Kansas City Chiefs, when videos surfaced of him committing violent actions towards a woman. As a result, Chiefs decided to part ways with their young star leaving his career in question. Lucky for him, the guy who drafted him was willing to give him a second chance with his new team.

Hunt will start the season off with an 8 game suspension due to his actions. That will make it about a full year since he last took the field. Since his signing he has pushed himself to better himself. One more bad slip could cost him his career.

This is a low risk, high reward situation for Cleveland. They’re not paying him money players of his caliber get and they have another star studded back in Nick Chubb. Best case scenario, after the suspension Hunt helps lead his hometown team to a playoff run. Worst case scenario, he is rusty and not to his peak in ability in which Chubb would take over. There is also a chance it could be Josh Gordon all over again and another fine player destroys everything he worked for.

But I would like a happy ending here and I believe in grace. The organization has his back and there is no doubt he wants to join the hype with his city. The positives are he is working hard on himself and he’s healthy. Any team in the league would benefit to have his talent.

2. WR Odell Beckham Jr.

I know, you’re probably shocked he’s not number 1, but I’ll get to that. A few seasons ago the Browns didn’t have a consistent realiable wide receiver. The first trade John Dorsey did as general manager was trade for Jarvis Laundry. He then drafted Antonio Callaway and the team continued to use Rashard Higgins as the second receiver. Even though things looked better on the field, Dorsey knew Baker Mayfield would need more weapons if the offense was going to succeed. Last March, Dorsey put all his chips in and acquired one of the top receivers in the league.

Along with all the hype, there are also plenty of questions surrounding Beckham’s new situation. Here are things football fans have to remember:

1. He knows his teammates. Landry is a close friend and he has been hanging around Mayfield since before he was traded. Before he was a Cleveland Brown he was aware that the team was building something special. The new leadership and direction will help him mentally, on and off the field.

2. Despite some of the drama in New York, he did not give up. We have seen superstars before when things get messy in an organization. They refuse to play, they whine to the media, and they demand trades. Beckham was the exact opposite. He tried to make it work. The hustle on every play, trying to connect with players and coaches, and do whatever he could to improve the direction of the team. He signed long term to be a Giant for his career and lead the team to their next super bowl victory. Fortunately for the Browns, Giants had other ideas.

3. Beckham is about winning and only winning! This is a guy who still hasn’t let go of the junior high basketball championship he lost. It’s win or go home, which is the attitude every successful NFL franchise has to have. The only thing on his mind is winning Cleveland a super bowl. The biggest star athlete since LeBron James returned in 2014. Can OBJ do the same thing James did in 2016?!

1. Coach Freddie Kitchens

I know he isn’t technically a acquisition and he doesn’t play on the field. But given the circumstances, this team needed a head coach more than anything else. Look at every successful winning team in the history of pro football. What did they all have in common? A leader on the sidelines.

A former All-Pro Browns player once told me that the team’s main problem for over a decade was that there were no “football guys” running the team. He was exactly right. They had tried business executives, men knowledgeable about the game, but never anyone who breathed it. When Jimmy Haslam hired John Dorsey, not only was it his first good move but that was the first time since 2002 the team had a front office run by a football guy.

Dorsey had played the game and was head of scouting and player personnel on successful teams. Bottomline, he is a football guy. He knows talent when he sees it and he knows what it takes to create a winning organization.

It took the Browns 30 different starting quarterbacks to find their franchise quarterback. Why? There are many reasons, but what made Baker Mayfield different from all the others? His accuracy? His throws outside the pocket? His vision? All of those really do stand out compared to the others, but there is one thing in particular: he’s a football guy.

Mayfield isn’t just good at throwing a football and reading defenses. He is a leader that helps improve his teammates around him along with himself. He knows the game and what it takes to win. There are skilled quarterbacks that can win you games and lose focus when it matters the most. Then there are quarterbacks that lead dynasties.

Browns are on their 6th new head coach the past decade and 9th since the 1999 revival (not including interims). That is a terrible stretch. No stability. Even though those men loved the game, they were not cut out to be head coaches. Pat Shurmur is the only one out of that group that is currently a head coach somewhere else, but is only entering his second season with the team. Romeo Crennel did get a second chance at head coaching with the Kansas City Chiefs but it was worse than his stint with the Browns.

Freddie Kitchens successful coaching career goes beyond his offensive coordinator duties from last season. He learned under the likes of Nick Saban, Bill Parcel, and Bruce Arians. He worked with many successful assistant coaches as well. When the Browns hired him they were the only team that did not struggle to fill their coaching staff. Many coaches left great situations to join Kitchens. Why? They know him and believe in him. They were also on board with the direction of the front office.

Browns needed a football guy on the sidelines and in the locker room. They got that with hiring Freddie Kitchens. One step closer to bringing back a winning football franchise in Cleveland.

It is time to give Terry Francona and the front office the credit they deserve.

Imagine if you will, traveling back in time to February when the Indians arrive in Goodyear, Arizona. You sit a bunch of anxious Cleveland Indians fans down and begin talking about the upcoming season. You reveal to them you’re from the future and you are going to tell them how the first half of the season panned out for their beloved Tribe. They don’t question a single thing you just told them. Again, we’re just using our imagination here.

You start by telling them how the starting pitching rotation is doing, which the fans think are the best in baseball. You mention Kluber fractured his arm, Carrasco has leukemia (get well, brother), Bauer is NOT an All-Star, Clevinger has missed most of the season due to injury, and Shane Bieber is the lone All-Star in the group. You tell them Indians sign former All-Stars Hanley Ramirez and Carlos Gonzalez, but later release them along with Leonys Martin. You make them more concerned by mentioning Jose Ramirez goes on a 2 month slump, while Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor miss the first few weeks of the season.

The look of horror on their faces. They start debating in their heads if they should start selling their tickets. The season hasn’t even started and they are slowly starting to move on to the Browns (who they didn’t know would get OBJ at that time). A complete disappointment.

That’s when you tell them the Tribe sits 5.5 games out of first place in the divison, and currently hold position of one of the wild card spots. They also have 4 All-Stars and one of the best bullpens in the game.

For the first time in that conversation with those fans, they did not believe you.

Let’s be honest. How many teams would have the kind of success the Indians are having after all those problems? Very few. With all the struggles and turmoil early in the season, it takes true baseball professionals to get a team refocused. Tito Francona’s leadership in the clubhouse and the job Chris Antonetti has done to keep major league talent in the organization has much to do with the team’s current position. Here are some factors that have helped the Cleveland Indians this season:

Drafting consistently well

The MLB draft is not as hyped up like the other sports. In professional baseball a prospect will typically be in the minor leagues for at least 3 seasons before they make their major league debut. Much of the players drafted may never make it to the show. One of the few things that has changed in the past 20 years is that we’re seeing more 1st round picks pan out in the major league level. That wasn’t always the case.

During the Francona era the Indians have done well with drafting and developing players. Since Francona took the job back in 2013, he has never asked more from the younger players than he asked of them this season. Back in 2016, the Cleveland Indians drafted 3 pitchers that helped save the rotation this season. All-Star Shane Bieber (8-3, 3.45 ERA), Zach Plesac (3-3, 4.00 ERA), and Aaron Civale (1-0, 0.00 ERA). Cleveland didn’t plan on bringing either of them up at this point in their careers, but thankfully they were ready. Bieber proved himself last year in his rookie year and continues to improve during his successful sophomore campaign.

Rookie first basemen Bobby Bradley has had a slow start but is showing signs he could be a big part of the Indians future. Bradley was a 3rd round pick in 2014. The everyday lineup consisting of Roberto Perez, Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Tyler Naquin were all developed within the organization.

These players have grown and played with each other for several seasons. This is critical when building a winning team. They build chemistry and communication skills that will help on the field. You draft a bunch of duds then they won’t see the major league level and you’re not building the proper relationships. It is important for Cleveland to keep the mold and add to it.

Winning recent trades

Starting last season, some fans were concerned with some of the trade decisions the front office has made. Some time has passed and we can see the Indians front office made the better end of the deals. Let’s look back at last trade deadline where Indians sent top prospect Francisco Mejia to the San Diego Padres for Adam Cimber and closer Brad Hand. Cody Allen and Andrew Miller signed elsewhere in the offseason making Hand the permanent closer. He has been one if not the best closer in the league and is one of the four All-Stars on the team. Cimber has had his ups and downs but continues to be an important part of a strong bullpen. Mejia is the back up catcher and is hitting .211, 2 HRs, and 6 RBIs this season for San Diego.

Another trade the Indians made before the deadline was acquiring Oscar Mercado from the St. Louis Cardinals. After Leonys Martin didn’t work out in center field, Mercado became the savior. A new fan favorite and one of the top rookies in the league.

Fast forward to the offseason. Indians trade back up shortstop Erik Gonzalez to the Pirates for infielder Max Moroff and outfielder Jordan Luplow. Moroff started the season with Cleveland but was later sent down to Columbus. Luplow has become the team’s secret weapon against left handed pitchers hitting .313, 8 HRs, and 17 RBIs. Gonzalez has struggled in Pittsburgh just hitting .216 with 2 RBIs.

Tribe decided it was time to move on from Yan Gomes and make Roberto Perez the starter. Gomes went the Nationals for starting pitcher Jefry Rodriguez and outfielder Daniel Johnson. Rodriguez joined the Indians rotation after Mike Clevinger’s was injured earlier in the season. Unfortunately, Rodriguez sustained an injury himself in June. He has a 1-5 record with a 4.74 ERA this season. Some of his best outings happened when the offense was still struggling. Johnson started out in Double-A Akron and moved up to Triple-A Columbus. He was one of two representatives at the Futures Game for the Indians.

So did the Indians do the right thing moving on from Gomes? Let’s compare the statistics:

Yan Gomes: .211, 3 HRs, 20 RBIs

Roberto Perez: .256, 16 HRs, 36 RBIs

I think it’s clear. Tribe robbed the Nationals.

Indians would then make a 3 way trade with the Mariners and Rays which would send Jake Bauers and Carlos Santana to Cleveland. Edwin Encarnacion was sent to Seattle and was then traded to the Yankees in June. Even though he continues to be one of the better home run hitters in the league, he has struggled since being traded to New York only batting .127. Yandy Diaz was sent to Tampa Bay in the deal. Interesting enough, Diaz and Bauers are having similar seasons:

Yandy Diaz: .277, 11 HR, 32 RBI

Jake Bauers: .245, 11 HR, 36 RBI

It will be interesting to see how their seasons play out. The biggest acquisition of the trade was the return of Carlos Santana. The reunion has helped in the clubhouse and on the field. He was awarded to start first base for the American League in the All-Star Game and a participant in the Home Run Derby. His first ever All-Star selection is coming off the best half of hitting in his career.

The last trade the Indians made before spring training was a bigger deal than many anticipated. They made a trade with the Miami Marlins for relief pitcher Nick Wittgren. He did not make the team in the beginning of the season but eventually found his way to be a setup option in a strong bullpen. Wittgren is 3-0 with a 3.24 ERA.

You breakdown each of these trades and you can see the Indians front office made some critical moves that were overlooked. Fans often complain about the odd offseason, but these trades prove the Indians set themselves up better making these deals.

Turning Lindor into a leader

There was plenty of commotion in the offseason concerning large contracts. Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, and Mike Trout signed deals of over $300 million dollars. This set up for other stars to ask for a similar contract. Unfortunately for the Indians, shortstop Francisco Lindor is expected to ask for such a deal. When Indians owner Paul Dolan was asked about signing Lindor to a similar extension his response was, “Enjoy him”. One of the worst quotes in Cleveland sports history if you ask me. How an owner of a sports franchise can respond that way and think it was smart is beyond me. If you want fans to come to the games you have to secure your best talent. Otherwise, they’ll spend their hard earned money elsewhere.

Indians President Chris Antonetti made an interesting comment during the offseason. He said that if they want to sign a player to a long term contract they have to perform on the field and contribute to the locker room. Lindor is one of the best shortstops in the game but was known as a fun, chill kid in the clubhouse. It is possible that comment from the team president was hint of concern with Lindor’s status with the team.

The season didn’t start well for the Cleveland star. A calf injury kept him out of spring training, and just as he was progressing an ankle injury set him back. He rejoined the team on April 20th and was still able to make the All-Star team. Not only did he bounce back on the field, he became the biggest voice on the team. He helped bring his teammates up when they were struggling early in the season and continued to become a spark in critical moments. Camera’s have caught Lindor lecturing teammates that weren’t giving their all on every play. Somewhere down the line the kid became the captain. Hopefully this will help him stay in Cleveland.

A team full of young talent that want to show the league they belong here

Indians lost much of their veteran support in the offseason. Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Edwin Encarnacion, Micheal Brantley, Yan Gomes, Josh Donaldson, Melky Cabrera, Josh Tomlin, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Raja Davis are all wearing different uniforms. Brantley is the only one in the group that made the All-Star team. Encarnacion is one of the home run leaders with 25 dingers. The rest have been decent at best.

Many baseball fans would look at this list and assume the Indians were in rebuild mode, but that is not the case. With the exception of a few rookies, most of this team has at least 3 seasons under their belt. In other professional sports, such as basketball and football, younger teams tend to be the worst in their leagues. Not so in baseball. You can be a winning team with a mix of veterans and young players.

Most of the Indians everyday lineup consist of players trying to make their mark in the game. They got a lot to prove and are willing to do anything it takes to get the job done. You can teach many things in life, but you can’t teach determination and hustle. If someone wants something bad enough they’ll do what it takes.

Jake Bauers, Tyler Naquin, Oscar Mercado, Kevin Plawecki, Mike Freeman, Jordan Luplow, Greg Allen, and Bobby Bradley will all be critical to the team’s success the rest of the season. Every winning team needs those role players who will embrace the spotlight and come through in the clutch. Roberto Perez in 2016 is a perfect example. Yan Gomes goes down with injury just before the playoffs and Perez has to be the man behind the plate. He came up huge in that World Series run.

Last season, the Indians relied on power hitting veterans to take them to the promise land and it didn’t end well. Those players knew no matter what there was a good contract waiting for them somewhere. This time around, the team has faster, younger players that are eager for their turn on the diamond. Nothing is guaranteed. How they respond will help determine if we’ll have October baseball in Cleveland. So far, this young group has done a heck of a job.

Cleveland Cavaliers Mock Draft 2019. Predictions, Preferences, and Trades.

Cleveland’s second post-LeBron era started rough, but not as rough as the first time around. Last time King James left the Cavs, they had a weak core with a bleak future. Fortunately, the balls rolled Cleveland’s way and the landed the 1st and 4th pick of the 2011 NBA Draft. However, the 2018-19 season was the exact opposite. The team currently has a core of young players to build on along with key veteran players who want to help the team succeed. Despite having the second best chances at the 1st pick, their first round pick dropped to the 5th overall pick in the lottery. Both the 2010-11 and the 2018-19 teams had the second worst record in the league with 19 wins. Go figure.

Cavaliers shocked the league in early May hiring University of Michigan’s John Beilein as their new coach. With his background it was clear what the Cavs were planning to do. Develop the young talent and find any possible way to win. Beilein has a reputation of winning anywhere he coaches.

With the offseason just around the corner, Cavaliers have many question marks regarding their roster. A handful of salary heavy contracts could be moved for their benefit. The team is also expected to debate whether to extend or move expiring contracts. Whatever they decide to do has to bring an immediate, positive impact to the team. Their last attempt at rebuilding was a disaster, and we would still be feeling effects of it if it wasn’t for LeBron’s return in 2014. The next chapter of Cavaliers basketball starts on draft night.

Cavaliers Mock Draft

5th Pick, F Cameron Reddish, Duke

Cleveland fell short of landing a top 3 pick in the draft. Fortunately, the 5th overall pick has been used on several Hall of Fame ballers in the past. It is possible, but the Cavs have to get it right which is a stretch judging by their draft history. Yet I ask fans to remain hopeful.

The one thing the front office continues to do consistently since Dan Gilbert has owned the team is keeping their high picks secret. There have been many reports on potential picks here, but it all could be a smokescreen.

Before the college basketball season started, many thought Reddish and North Carolina’s Nessir Little would be the potential best prospects for this draft. Reddish’s teammates Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett stole the show and reshaped draft boards across the league. Reddish had a slow season start but progressively got better. He averaged 13.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, and shot 35.6% from the field.

There is alot to like from Reddish. An offensive powerhouse, great passing skills, and quick hands on the defensive end. It is no secret Cleveland is eyeing a new wing man. Reddish seems more fitting for what Kobe Altman wants to bring to the team. His hustle would mesh well with Sexton and Osman on the backcourt.

26th Pick (from Rockets), C Daniel Gafford, Arkansas

Cavs received this pick back at the trade deadline knowing it will be a low pick. It is likely they trade up or use this pick as a trade piece. But with the chance they decide to pick here, I think they go big! Tristan Thompson was consistently hurt, John Henson never saw the court after he was traded to Cleveland, and Ante Zizic’s future with the team seems uncertain. Cavs need a center project.

Gafford averaged 16.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2 blocks with the Razorbacks last season. Even with the solid offensive numbers, he is predicted to be a more of a defensive force at the pro level. There have been some comparisons to Chris “Birdman” Anderson. If that’s true, Cavs could really use that kind of defensive skill off the bench.

My picks for the Cavaliers

5th Pick, G Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech

Cavs were one of the better defensive efficiency teams in the league last season, but still could use more defensive playmaking. They were also inconsistent from the field. Culver is a two-way player that helps both those needs. A 3-point specialist with above average defensive skills. There are some analysts that say he will be a solid role player but no star potential. I’m no expert, but with his frame and some work he could be a similar player to someone like Klay Thompson.

There is a debate whether or not he is available with this pick. I think the Lakers with the 4th pick go a different direction and we’ll still see his name on the board when the Cavs are on the clock. Culver averaged 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.7 assists for the Red Raiders.

26th Pick, F Cameron Johnson, North Carolina

In order to win in the NBA these days you need to have accurate shooters to help spread the floor. Cavaliers were middle of the pack from the 3-point line and one of the worst in overall shooting percentage last season. Taking Cameron Johnson here is a low risk high reward situation. You could debate that there are better options here for the Cavaliers system, but you can’t deny that they need more efficient scorers on the team and that is what Johnson brings to the table.

Johnson averaged 16.9 PPG, made 50.6 % of his shots, and shot 45.7% from behind the arc in his senior season. One of the best shooters in college basketball last season. His defense was solid but will need some work to prepare for the pro level. The main concern teams have is his age. Most of these prospects range from age 18 to 21, and Johnson will be turning 23 soon. It is tough to pin point who will come out big near the end of the 1st round, but I see Johnson as a quality pick here.

Trades

Despite the tough season, Cavs have some attractive trade pieces. Some contracts are expiring and some could be bought out to save other teams some salary cap room. Free agency is not a for sure thing. Yes, money talks but NBA players heavily consider atmosphere and location. That being said, Cleveland is not the sexiest place to play if you’re a star basketball player. Adding pieces via trade maybe the only choice the team has this season to getting some better talent on the roster. Good news for fans, it was reported recently that the team has no plans on trading their biggest contract, Kevin Love. His presence on and off the court should help the rebuilding process. But Kevin is going to need some more help.

Possible Draft Day Trade: Cavs get a veteran and more picks

Celtics receive:

C Tristian Thompson

G Brandon Knight

26th overall pick

Cavaliers receive:

F Gordon Hayward

14th overall pick

20th overall pick

22nd overall pick

Potential protected future 1st round pick

There is no secret Boston wants Anthony Davis. However, they currently do not have the cap room and they need to find the cap room fast if they have any chance of getting him. Hayward is owed over $30 million per year for the next 3 seasons. Dumping that contract gives Boston the opportunity to potentially land Davis in the near future. Hayward is still a great player, but he doesn’t mesh well with the pieces Boston currently has. Building the team around him and Kyrie just didn’t work out.

There are very few teams with the cap room to take Hayward’s massive contract. Cleveland being one of them. If Boston wants them to take in the whole deal they have to give the Cavs something else. That something else would be their 3 first round picks of this draft plus a future one. I would anticipate Boston makes the future pick protected but Cleveland could encourage to make it unprotected given the circumstances.

Cavs accepting this trade would be HUGE for the immediate future. Hayward would be a great fit with Love to help lead and improve the team. They would have 3 picks in the top 20 of the draft and give themselves 4 prospects to help mold their future, assuming they make the right picks. Players such as Cedi Osman and Colin Sexton could learn a lot from Hayward. Celtics get the expiring contract of Tristian Thompson, a bench scorer in Brandon Knight, and a low first round pick. Ultimately they get the cap space to add a superstar player. Yes, that could hurt the Cavs in conference play, but overall it’s a win-win situation for both teams.

Possible J.R. Smith trade: Cavs get a young shooter

Rockets receive G J.R. Smith

Kings receive G Eric Gordon and 2 2nd round picks from Cavs

Cavs receive G Bogdan Bogdanovic

These three again?! Yep! Possibly. If you can remember, these three teams pulled a trade near trade deadline that helped give Cavs their second 1st round pick for the upcoming draft. In this scenario, they work out a potential trade that helps swap a set of guards. To be clear, in order for this trade to work Cavs would have to make roster adjustments because their over the luxury tax. Later in the offseason this trade has better chance at happening because of all the potential roster moves.

Rockets are looking for new pieces and really like Smith. There is a chance Rockets could trade for Smith just to buy him out, but his arrogant attitude and trash talking seem to be a good fit for Houston. Kings need any help they can get and Gordon is coming off a solid season. There are no promises that Harrison Barnes accepts his player option, so it might be best for Sacramento to invest in another veteran scoring option. Cavs would receive the 6’6 sharp shooter Bogdanovic who is coming off an exceptional rookie campaign. Another young piece to help build this team and give Coach Belein another offensive weapon.

Realistic, huge trade possibility: Cavs go BIG

Rockets receive:

C Tristian Thompson

G J.R. Smith

C Ante Zizic

Cavaliers receive:

C Clint Capela

G Eric Gordon

There is a FIRE SALE in Houston! After another failed attempt at dethroning the Golden State Warriors from the West, Rockets GM Daryl Morey said that every player on the roster is up for trade. It is safe to say James Harden and Chris Paul will be unlikely be traded, but that team needs a roster overhaul if they have any chance of winning the Western conference next season.

Cavaliers are one of the few teams Houston can make a trade with to help dump cap room. I know on paper this trade looks lopsided Cleveland’s way, but hear me out on this. Tristian Thompson is an expiring contract and when healthy can play as the Rockets starting center. Houston actually likes J.R. Smith. Whether they decide to keep him will remain to be seen, but they’re interested in acquiring him. Rockets could either keep Zizic to develop him or cut ties with him.

Cavs obviously get two major pieces here. One of the best centers in the league with Capela and an offensive weapon with Gordon. Capela still has 4 years left on his contract. This would be a move that gets the Cavs back in playoff talk. Yes, I said the P word. The Eastern Conference is improving but is still not up with the West. This trade would put the Cavs in position to compete for a low or mid seed, barring injuries of course. If this does happen, it will be their biggest trade since acquiring Kevin Love (I don’t count the Kyrie trade).

Unrealistic but possible trade idea: Kevin Love reports are a smokescreen and Cavs break fans hearts for a possible better future plan.

Thunder receives:

F Kevin Love

G J.R. Smith

G Brandon Knight

Cavaliers recieve:

C Steven Adams

G Dennis Schroder

F Jerami Grant

I believe the reports stating Love is not for sale, and I perfer he stays in Cleveland. But we’ve seen this before and if the front office finds a deal they can’t refuse, they’ll pull the trigger. So what would lead to a trade like this?

Let’s start by putting ourselves in the Thunder’s shoes. Oklahoma City has been a top 10 team in the league the past 5 or so seasons. Despite having one of the best rosters every season, they haven’t won the West conference since the 2011-12 season. Westbrook is always in MVP talks. Paul George signed long term and just had his best season with the team. But they couldn’t make it out of the first round of the playoffs. Something has to change.

There is speculation that Kevin Durant could return to his former team in the offseason, but in this scenario let’s say Durant stays in Golden State or goes elsewhere. You know OKC needs another piece to help Westbrook and George. Steven Adams is one of the better centers in the league, but does not provide that offensive spark against the better teams. This is where Kevin Love makes sense. When healthy, he is one of the best third wheel option to have along with other NBA stars. We saw it in the second LeBron-era.

Thunder goes all in hoping Love is that missing piece that will get them back into the the Finals. OKC would take Smith and Knight’s contracts to help blossom the bench.

Cavaliers get 3 starters out of the deal. Steven Adams at center, Jerami Grant at power forward, and Dennis Schroder at point guard. This would move Colin Sexton to the bench which the Cavs are seriously debating for next season. If Cavs decide to hold on to Tristian Thompson they could move Grant to small forward and put Thompson at power forward. This would give Cavs more experienced veterans on the team that would help the rebuild process. The big risk with this move for Cleveland would be the team chemistry and morale. Love is a huge part of the team and locker room. Sending him elsewhere for 3 players that aren’t on the same page could potentially hurt the team’s performance next season. On paper it looks like a win on both sides, but both carry some serious risk. I wouldn’t place a bet on such a trade.

Reasoning Behind Heavy Metal being the Fastest Growing Genre in the World

metalfans

According to the Alternative Press, New York based digital music distribution, Tunecore, has released the 2018 streaming and download numbers. They revealed that heavy metal was the fastest growing genre in world with a whopping 154 percent increase! Metal fans can rejoice and head bang! As exciting as it is for a metal fan like me to see such a report, one has to wonder why all of a sudden in 2018 and 19 are we seeing a spike in metal streaming?! I have a few ideas.

Heavy metal is the superior genre!

It’s about damn time!!! I have preached the name of metal for several years and the people are FINALLY listening! No other genre is worthy!!! SSLLLLAAAYYYEEERRRR!!!!!

Okay, I’m just being bias. Here are some REAL reasons for why metal is rocking the streaming platforms.

The world sucks and we need something to pick us up.

It’s no secret, we live in dark, cruel world. Turn on the news it makes you think things get worse and worse everyday. Here in the States, people are working an unholy amount of hours and are still broke. Anxiety and depression plague society. The government sucks, not that it has ever been great in our lifetime. People seem to get more arrogant and foolish everyday. With all that being said, in some places it’s even worse.

So what takes the edge off when we face our everyday obstacles? Heavy music with the message we need to hear. There’s something about blasting your favorite tracks or albums that just makes everything better. Music has always been that way. But what makes metal standout from the other genres is the connection between the musicians and fans. The music created helps remind the fans that people have faced or are facing similar daily struggles in your life, and that you will always be bigger than your problems. You won’t get that message from pop hits on the radio. Metal speaks out against the world’s poor standards and traditions. It helps put us in the mindset to keep pressing forward.

Younger generation is tired of being told what to do.

To be clear, I ‘m not talking about teenage rebellion. Stick it to the old people, man!!!! No, hear me out on this. My generation was shown more advertising and product placement than any generation in history. The generation after mine will be shown even more. In some ways it is not a bad thing, but in other ways American corporations have used advertising to brainwash and manipulate youth to help gain profit.

According to the media platforms they’re exposed to, in order to be accepted you have to think a certain way, buy certain products, and create an image that is fitting for the peers around you. Basically, you do all this to try to be accepted by a world that doesn’t care about you anyway, and now they have your money which is all they ever wanted. On top of that you’re really not thinking for yourself. In that case are you really you?

I have reason to believe that the majority of the streamers are from ages 13 to 37, since they grew up with the technology. Imagine if you will, a junior high student that has been surrounded by all this commercialism and peer pressure, and they’re looking for an escape from it all. Honestly, depending on the type of person they are there are many different options they may approach to fill their need. But would I be too crazy to suggest that many of these teenagers may have stumbled upon some brutal music that changed their world? A type of music that was against the ways of the world and telling their listener to be themselves. There is a chance that the digital age has helped us introduce heavy metal to the younger generation. If so, that’s a huge win.

 

People craving REAL music.

I’m not saying anything outside metal is not real music. But let’s be honest, how much real musicianship and effort is being put into the popular music these days? Let’s reflect back to 1990’s rap and pop music. If you play some songs from that era and listen carefully you can point out all the instrumentation that is going on in the tracks. You can hear guitar, bass, saxophone, drums, some had drum machines, tambourines, ect. Were there quality lyrics? Rarely, but mostly lazy and shitty. I can at least admit that the producers at that time were trying to keep it interesting for the fans.

I can’t pin point the exact time, but somewhere in the late 2000’s some big wigs in the music industry figured out the music didn’t need to be that complicated to sell. A new wave of rap and pop artists came out, and their writers wrote less lyrics and producers had the same beat placed on every track. You say I’m over exaggerating and getting older, but I literally can’t tell the difference between one hit and the next! It’s literally same drum beat! And auto tune for the lazy kids that can’t sing!

At some point, people started getting bored hearing that water down bullshit on the radio. So with their streaming subscription they researched something else. Now that something else could be blues, jazz, latin, or maybe even polka. But no doubt in my mind there were some individuals that found the mystic tales of Iron Maiden fascinating. Maybe they heard the shredding progressions of Animals as Leaders as cool new discovery. There are many possibilities here. Bottom line, people like music and the direction that popular music is going is completely trash. Not sorry. That only entertains drunks on the dance floor. As long as people are looking, metal will find its way in some lucky fans heart.

 

Terrestrial radio is rotting.

Back in the day, radio was the way you find new music. People tuned in everyday to hear their favorite disc jockeys play their favorite tunes, listen to interviews, and even get some comedy during the time slot. It was a simpler time. Then one day it went down hill. The United States government recognized in the 1990’s that the population was much larger than the baby boomer generation. Not only that, many of them enjoyed rebellious rock ‘n roll. They would listen to bands such as Rage Against the Machine that warned them about corruption in congress. The government feared for an uprising and they knew how powerful music is, so they took action. Terrestrial radio started pushing pretty, pink bubblegum pop music down on the ears of their listeners. It was encouraged to the youth at the time that this was the cool and acceptable music. Call me conspiracy theorists if you want, but I encourage you to look it up. Music radio shows started loosing quality. It was the same hits over and over again. There were rock stations, but if they didn’t sell out to another format then they were stuck in the classic era.

Today, many stations are switching to just talk shows because it’s what keeps the listeners tuned in. CBS and iHeart Radio have both filed for bankruptcy. Your car radio is just not the place to find music anymore. A nice podcast or internet station can fill that void. I found this MHIORadio.com that plays heavy metal. You should probably check it out.

For those that don’t want to take the time looking for online radio or podcasts, I believe they start using streaming services to fill the void. They can listen to any song or album that they wish at the palm of their hand or on the office computer. There might not be a goofy disc jockey but you have more music and it’s uncensored!

Streaming services are opening doors for artists.

If you are old enough to remember, discovering new music took more money and effort than it does today. Outside the radio, if you wanted to find new bands to listen to you read the monthly metal magazines, you bought albums at the record store that you were willing to take a chance on (mostly for their album art), some of your peers made recommendations, or you saw the band perform on stage with other bands you enjoy. If you were a new band, you had to bust your ass to get any kind of attention from your local scene.

Thanks to social media and streaming services, finding new music is easier than it’s ever been. New bands can interact more with the public for their shows and music. Yes, the whole streaming royalties are complete bullshit, but to have it available anywhere in the world is a plus. I do believe the sudden rise in heavy metal streaming has something to do with band discovery. Metal fans are always looking for new music. When they’re bored they can crack open a beer and research new bands to check out. When they do find something that meets their satisfaction, they share it on social media for fellow headbangers to also enjoy. In the end, YOU CAN’T KILL THE METAL!

Seth Lipocky has a heavy metal internet radio show on Sunday nights called Sunday Bloody Sunday. It airs from 8 to 11 PM EST on MHIORadio.com.

Cleveland Browns 2019 Draft Recap

Cleveland_Browns

For the very first time I decided to write a recap following my Cleveland Browns mock draft. We’ll take a look and see how John Dorsey improved the roster. But first let’s look back on my predictions and preferences.

Players I thought the Browns would draft in the first 4 rounds:

DT Dre’mont Jones, Ohio State (Broncos, Rnd 3, Pick 8)

CB Justin Layne, Michigan State (Steelers, Rnd 3, Pick 20)

G Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin (undrafted, signed with Lions)

For starters, my bold prediction of the Browns trading Duke Johnson and their 3rd round pick to Eagles for their 2nd rounder did not happen. Surprisingly, Browns didn’t trade Johnson at all, and Coach Kitchens expects him at training camp this summer. Not a loss for Cleveland since Johnson is a great weapon to have in the backfield. Both players I thought Cleveland would pick in the 2nd round slipped to the third round. Broncos blossom their defensive line with Jones from THE Ohio State University. One prediction I had was right. If the Browns didn’t pick Layne, the Steelers were going to scoop him up. Not a fan of that. Layne could be valuable in Pittsburgh. I was surprised Benzschawel wasn’t drafted at all. Thought for sure he was a solid Day 3 selection. Browns did not draft o-line until the 6th round with OT Drew Forbes.

Players I wanted the Browns to draft in the first 4 rounds:

LB Mack Wilson, Alabama (Browns, Rnd 5, Pick 17)

CB JoeJuan Williams, Vanderbilt (Patriots, Rnd 2, Pick 13)

T Isaiah Prince, Ohio State (Dolphins, Rnd 6, Pick 30)

Browns grabbed my dude Wilson but not until the 5th round. Bill Belichick saw the potential with Williams and traded up to grab him. I’m calling it, Williams will be a multi Pro Bowler with New England. Prince fell to the near bottom of the 6th round when Miami decided to grab him. A solid pick for the Dolphins that late in the draft.

Day 3 players I encouraged the Browns to consider:

QB Will Grier, West Virginia (Panthers, Rnd 3, Pick 37)

RB Bennie Snell, Kentucky (Steelers, Rnd 4, Pick 20)

DE Joe Jackson, Miami (Cowboys, Rnd 5, Pick 27)

DT Khalen Saunders, Western Illinois (Chiefs, Rnd 3, Pick 21)

EDGE Jalen Jelks, Oregon (Cowboys, Rnd 7, Pick 27)

S Jaquan Johnson, Miami (Bills, Rnd 6, Pick 8)

Panthers got a solid back up picking Grier with their conditional 3rd round pick. It should give Carolina some good insurance for the next few years. God forbid something happens to Newton. I was NOT HAPPY to see Snell go to Pittsburgh. I have preached about his potential since mid-season. To see a player of his caliber go to the rival hurts. Snell went higher than I expected. One thing the Cowboys do well is find defensive gems in the draft and develop them. They continued to do that this past weekend drafting both Jackson and Jelks. They went with power and speed with those picks which will only improve their defensive game in due time. Saunders was picked much earlier than I anticipated, and to a team that will be a major threat to the Browns in the AFC. Chiefs get a potential major weapon next to Frank Clark on that defensive line. Browns did not draft Jaquan Johnson, but did draft his former teammate Sheldrick Redwine. Bills obtained a valuable pick with Johnson in the 6th round. He may not start out of the gate, but I see him making the roster.

Cleveland Browns 2019 Draft Picks:

CB Greedy Williams, LSU (Rnd 2, Pick 14)

I am still shocked Williams slipped this far in the draft. I thought for sure he was going to be picked in the 1st round. Not only that, their were a few cornerbacks taken before him in the 2nd round. Dorsey had to make the aggressive move and trade up a few spots to get their guy. Browns needed to get a long term plan opposite of Denzel Ward. Williams has speed and athletic ability to start in the NFL. He was one of if not the best cornerback in this draft with man coverage. One of the reasons he may have slipped was because of his lack of playing time in college. He did start his sophomore and junior season, but sat out the bowl game for the draft. I think some teams felt they needed to see more before they were sold on him, but I’m just speculating. THEIR LOSS! Browns picked a potential star on the defensive side of the ball. We know fellow LSU Tigers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry approve.

Pick Grade: A

LB Sione Takitaki, BYU (Rnd 3, Pick 17)

This was an interesting pick right here. Takitaki started his college career on a bad note. Getting in fights, missing practice, and stealing from campus almost ruined his football career. He then settled down with a good woman and left the game for a season to focus on academics. When he returned, his reputation was completely changed and the team made him captain his senior season. He led the Cougars in 2018 with 118 tackles (9 for a loss and 3 sacks). Takitaki has great burst of energy and tackling ability. Something the Browns have struggled with defensively for the past few seasons. However, his lack of speed and use of space in the game need to be recognized. Many scouts saw him as a 7th round pick or an undrafted free agent. There were some that suggested his skills being more valuable on special teams. I trust John Dorsey and I’m rooting for this kid. But in a few years will the team be looking back on this pick and wish they went with someone else? Only time will tell.

Pick Grade: C

S Sheldrick Redwine, Miami (Rnd 4, Pick 17)

I previously mentioned that I really dug Redwine’s former teammate Jaquan Johnson. However, I can’t argue with the Browns here. Redwine was a safer pick that helps add depth in that defensive backfield. He mostly played safety, but also played well at corner for the Hurricanes. That gives the Browns an option to move him around if needed. He has good size, ball awareness, and power to hit receivers. Coaches will work on his ability to close out on receivers and playing with his back to the ball. All in all, a solid pick for Cleveland.

Pick Grade: B

LB Mack Wilson, Alabama (Rnd 5, Pick 17)

It was odd watching Wilson fall to the 5th round, and I thought for sure one of the Browns rivals would snag him. But as luck would have it, the good guys picked him with their first 5th round pick. Freddie Kitchens is a big fan and seized the opportunity to make him a Brown. Many analysts had him as a late 1st round to a mid 2nd round pick. I honestly don’t know what went down in Nashville, but the Browns may have potentially drafted their future starting linebacker with this pick. Wilson is great with the blitz and in coverage. He would fit perfectly in the middle with their 4-3 scheme. I’m going to be biased and say this was the Browns 2nd best pick in the draft next to Greedy Williams.

Pick Grade: A

K Austin Seibert, Oklahoma (Rnd 5, Pick 32)

Browns did something I didn’t think they would do, but I’m glad they did. DRAFTED A KICKER!!! Not just a kicker, but handled Oklahoma’s kickoffs, punts, and placekicker duties during his sophomore season. He’s the whole special teams package! With Oklahoma being the offensive power house they were during his tenure there, he really didn’t get many chances to kick from distance. His longest field goal was 56 in his senior season. Most of his misses were due to bad ball placement. Four out of eight of the Browns losses last season came from 4 points or less. We won’t know until the fall if Seibert works out or not, but Browns needed some options outside of Greg Joseph. We’re still hurting after letting Phil Dawson (who is currently a free agent) go six years ago.

Pick Grade: B

OT Drew Forbes, Southeast Missouri State (Rnd 6, Pick 17)

Browns finally pick an offensive linemen late in the draft. Forbes played left tackle for the Red Hawks. He has been praised for toughness and athletic ability. There is a chance he will be more valuable in the pros at guard than tackle. Forbes will be a project for sure, but if he can continue to bring that determination and toughness to Cleveland, we may see him help protect Baker one day.

Pick Grade: C

CB Donnie Lewis, Tulane (Rnd 7, Pick 7)

If Lewis makes the team in September, it will most likely be on the practice squad. He was great at getting to the ball, but struggled constantly keeping up with receivers. Lewis gave up a high number of touchdowns his whole collegiate career. Browns may use him more on special teams if anything.

Pick Grade: C-

Draft Pros:
Browns entered the draft with lack of depth at linebacker and defensive back. No more! Greedy Williams could potentially start Week 1, but will have competition with Terrance Mitchell and T.J. Carrie. Christian Kirksey, Joe Schobert, and Genard Avery are most likely the starting linebackers as of right now, but that could change with Takitaki and Wilson in the mix. The preseason will decide if Austin Seibert will be part of the Browns 2019 plans. It is vitally important to have a consistent starting kicker on the team. Overall, Dorsey added important building blocks to help continue to mold the team into a winner.

Draft Cons:

There is still plenty of time to address other roster needs either in undrafted free agency and in preseason cuts. I wasn’t concerned that a quarterback was not picked this past weekend, but they need to find a solid backup for Baker. Anything could happen and it is best to be prepared. I was surprised an offensive lineman wasn’t taken until the 6th round. Dorsey did add a few in free agency, but with Zeitler no longer on the team and Austin Corbett’s status unknown, that leaves some concern for the right guard position. Not drafting a defensive linemen was interesting. The starting defensive line is stacked, but it lacks depth on both the sides and interior. There is no for sure replacement for Emmanuel Ogbah at the moment. Hopefully 2018 3rd round pick Chad Thomas can come in and be valuable asset after spending all last season on the practice squad. Anthony Zettel is another option that could fill the void. Only time will tell if Trevon Conley will be able to be a reliable back up to the defensive tackles.

Even though some positions were not addressed during the draft, it’s better to go with talent you believe in as a front office than reach and take a major risk. The Cleveland Browns had a top ten draft if not a top five in the league. Personally, I don’t like to say it but I’m just being honest, I think they were second ranked in the division with Pissburgh having a slightly better draft. That team just east of Cleveland drafted more players that will be able to make an immediate impact sooner than later. But my opinion could change with time just like everyone else. All in all, it was another successful draft from John Dorsey and his crew.

Draft Grade: B+