We heard a lot of barking from the Dawgpound when Scouts Inc. recently ranked the Cleveland Browns dead last in the NFL and a prime candidate for the No. 1 overall pick in 2012.
This week the AFC North blog caught up with Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson, who did the rankings, to get his thoughts on why Cleveland is due for a terrible 2011 season.
Matt, you ruffled a lot of feathers in Cleveland, where they're getting optimistic about their Browns. Can you elaborate on your No. 32 ranking?
Williamson: This is another one I've backtracked a little from. Now I would move the Browns from No. 32 to No. 31 and put Washington at 32. But overall it's a tough thing to ask right now. There's a ton of free agency where players are going to move around. But there are big worries. The Browns are in a tough division, although their schedule overall is reasonably easy. But that's not something I looked into a whole lot when I did these rankings. I just think in this league you need to stop the pass and be able to pass. Their passing game is still among the worst in the league. How much offense can they generate? Colt McCoy still has a lot to prove. I don't think there's a real high ceiling and they don't have anyone dangerous that scares you. I love the Greg Little pick, but he didn't even play football last year. I think their draft tells you everything you need to know -- that they are building for the long term. They are getting quantity versus quality, which is smart because their roster is so weak. If you look at how they're going to defend the pass, they don't have any pass-rushers. I love Joe Haden and I think their secondary is pretty good and will only get better. But their front four is still a really big worry to me, especially their pass-rushers.
As of right now, before free agency, which AFC North team has more talent: Cleveland or Cincinnati?
Williamson: Cincinnati. They're pretty equal at the quarterback position. Of course, Carson Palmer would be better than McCoy. But McCoy is a little better than Andy Dalton, although there's not light years in between those guys. I like the left side of the offensive line a lot better in Cleveland, but overall the offensive lines are close. Cincy has way more offensive weapons. I think the Bengals are loaded with weapons right now. Cincinnati's defense is average across the board, but there's potential to be better. Some of those young guys may step up. It's hard to say [before free agency], but I would take the Bengals' defense over the Browns' defense.