Bill Smith’s College Player Rating System

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By Bill Smith

To see more analysis like this 6 days a week, visit my site

We all like to evaluate how badly our favorite teams have screwed up the draft. I though you might like to see how I evaluate players. I will be doing a draft rap up here on the Browns and other teams after the draft.

This outlines the system I have used for more than 40 years in evaluating college players for the NFL draft. The system is based on a point system. A number of years ago, I was in Indy the week of the Combine. I ran into a couple of Colt scouts in the hotel lobby. I suggested that they look at a C that I really liked but would probably not be drafted. He wasn’t drafted but the Colts signed him as a rookie undrafted free agent. The player was Jeff Saturday. All he has done is become an all pro for many years and the captain of the O line for Payton Manning. I found him using this system.

To use it, there are a few rules that must be followed.


Only use the first half of games except for all star games. That eliminates players taking quarters off or taking unnecessary risks from a blowout.

The point system is used. A single play can generate no more than 5 points for any player.

It is impossible to effectively grade O and D line live. Slow motion is necessary to evaluate plays in these areas.

To get a reliable grade for a player, you must see at least 8 quarters of play. With 4 quarters you can get a good idea but to be sure the more games the better. That also balances the quality of opponents.

Only grade the seniors and probable juniors entering the draft. It is almost impossible to evaluate all 22 players on every play unless you have no life what so ever. Most seasons I wait until the under classmen have declared to do my detailed study of players.

Only award positive or negative numbers for above (or below) average plays. An average player is expected to make average plays regularly. This is one subjective area of the evaluation. However, if you are consistent with your grading, you can compare players in the same position on different teams.

Up to 2 pluses or minuses can be awarded for a play. For example a 5 yard penalty is -1 (pn-) while anything more than 5 yards is -2 (pn=). These are still within the 5 point rule.

Credit the player that deserves credit. An interception that bounces off a players hands and is picked is charged to the receiver not the passer. The D player that forces a QB into the arms of another gets half a sack as does the tackler.


OL 1 point each—p-Pass block r-Run block (lineman pulls or blocks down field and makes the block) d-Drive block NOTE: If a lineman pulls and misses the block he gets 0 on the play not a -.

Scoring for “skill” players (includes the above plus the following):

QB 1 point each as am al (accuracy in short, medium and long passes) tou (touch) xr (avoid rush) r(run)

QB 2 points each aw (awareness/looking off the safety) rd (reading D finding open receiver)

QB -3 points each x(interception) fl (fumble)

RB/WR 1 point each c (catch) r (run) v (vision) add a + for each tackle broken b (block) a (attempted catch of a bad ball) o (get open) d- (drop)

RB/WR 2 points each yac (yards after catch/contact) e (effort) aw (awareness) fl (fumble) fr (fumble of another recovered)

Miscellaneous (Defense or offense)

1 point each t (tackle) ms mm ml (man coverage short, med, long) z (zone) pb (pass blocked) pd (pass defended down field) r (run d) p (pass rush)

2 points each h (hurry QB to inc. pass) aw rd (read play) s (sack) fr (fumble recovered)

3 points each x (interception) xc (interception caused by rush or tipped ball) fc (fumble caused) bkp (blocked punt) bkk (blocked kick)

Only for those that are really into evaluating DBs: If a sack occurs after 4 seconds of the snap, each DB gets a G (group sack) worth one point to each.

In addition, the pn is a minus as described above but if a player causes a penalty he gets a pc (penalty caused) worth one point for a 5 yard and 2 pts for more than 5 yards.

Now I am sure that everyone wants to know what is a good score and what is a bad one. That like beauty is in the eye of the evaluator. O line and D players should average more than 8 points in a half. QB and RBs should get 12+ to be considered very good. WR vary a lot depending on how many times they are thrown to. Those are scores according to my evaluations. Yours may well differ depending on what you call an above average play. It is a tool to rank different players in the same position. However, if you see a player that is not well thought of that scores very high in all games seen, he is probably going to be a steal in the draft.

One last thing. The scores for each player should be listed in order that the games were played. A good player that shows consistent improvement from 5 to 7 to 9 to 11 points during the season moves ahead of a player that is level or moves down from early to late. When you have players with different numbers of games evaluated, use the average score per game for each.

This is a lot of work and not many will want to do it. However, it also works for evaluating pro players but their scores should be a little higher to be considered above average. I hope you at least try this system and would love to know what you think after you have.

This system is copyrighted by W.E. Smith. It is posted here for the private use of our readers and may not be reproduced in any other forum, form or on the net without the written permission of the author.

Please join me for the best Sports Talk anywhere on the Internet and hear his sports show Monday-Friday 8-10 EST on

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

My email is [email protected]

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Why has Bill Belichick’s coaching tree as been so barren?

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Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England P...
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As I predicted months ago, Bronco Owner Bowlen fired HC Josh McDaniels this week. This is what I said on this site on March 17, 2009:

The key story is that Bowlen blew it when he fired Mike Shanahan and blew it again in hiring the 32 year old McDaniels. McDaniels is not mature enough to be a head coach in the NFL. It was a bad hire and this is only the first screwup for which McD will be responsible.

That was written before the Broncos went 6-0 to start the 09 season. That start was followed by a 2-8 record to end 09 and a 3-9 start to the 2010 schedule.

It was obvious to me that McD was not nearly ready for the head job. But that is only the latest example of the failures of the Belichick disciples. Here is the major list of NFL head coaches that have come from the Belichick system:

Josh McDaniels – Fired after less than 2 years

Eric Mangini Browns (2009-?) – Was so bad at judging talent that he lost his GM control after a year and now is on the hot seat again.

Romeo Crennel Browns (2005-2008) – You would have thought that after the Crennel disaster the Browns owner would have had more sense than to hire another Beilchick clone.

Al Groh, New York Jets (2000) – Groh was lucky to survive a year.

Nick Saban, Miami Dolphins (2005–2006) – A much better college coach than pro.

Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions (2009–?) – Schwartz is on the hot seat and will probably go after the season.

Something that should be noted is that after going 36-44 as HC of the Browns, it took Belichick 4 seasons to be named HC of the Patriots. That team was in such disarray that they were looking for someone with some experience that would actually take the job.

The question becomes why does one of the most successful coaches in the history of the league have such a meager coaching tree?

There are a couple of major reasons. The greatest is “Belichick attitude.” The Belichick clones come in with the Hoodie Attitude. That is an attitude of secrecy and take a dictatorial control over the locker room and the players. They are unwilling (or unable) to accept others ideas or adjust their “system” to the current talent available.

That may work with 18-20 year old boys but very quickly loses an NFL locker room filled with veteran players. They will not put up with being treated like children. The attitude only works if you have 5 Super Bowl rings as head coach.

One result of the attitude is the desire by the clone to dump talented veterans that refuse to buy into the system. Both McDaniels and Mangini have done that recently. The result is a steep decline in talent on the roster and generates losses. The NFL stands for Not For Long if you don’t win.

The attitude of “do it my way or else” also inhibits making half time adjustments. Because they are convinced that their system is perfect, they will continue to do the things that have not worked in the second half. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is one definition of insanity.

When a clone is questioned by the media or the ownership, they tend to stand firm and refuse to make changes. That tends to irritate the owners and hasten the firing.

Another reason is the lack of preparation. Belichick is by nature a control freak. He is not willing to take the time to teach his underlings. He dictates the game plan and they are only a middle man between him and the team to execute it. The assistants don’t participate in the formulation of the plan or even the research of the opponent upon which it is based. Because they are not involved, they do not learn the reasons behind the strategy.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits His first non-fiction work is at the publisher now and he has also published several novels on

and edits .

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  • “Bill Belichick Empathizes With Josh McDaniels, Other Fired Coaches” and related posts (
  • Leading Off: Under the Hoodie, the Patriots Hum (
  • No shock: Lightning rod Belichick better than ever (
  • You: Josh McDaniels Fired: Where Will Wonder Boy Coach in 2011? (
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  • Published: Mar 27th, 2010
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Niblets for March 2010–We're BACK!

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Best comment of the month: “The retired NFL players are pawns in the CBA negotiations.”

by Marvin Cobb on Mar 19th, 2010

Well said, Bill. Thank you for speaking up for us old timers, as we continue to find our voice and stand up for ourselves. The Independent Advocates for Retired Players are gathering for the second year in a row in Las Vegas next month to educate and inspire our fellow former players to find our voices and stand up for better pensions and a reformed disability system that takes into account our unique health challenges. Again, thank you for your support.

I really appreciate all the comments we get. Your comments keep me writing this site. Marvin, I can not add anything to what you have said. Too often both the owners and active players seem to forget that it was the Jim Browns and thousands of other players that have made the game what it is today. Had it not been for them, the current guys would not be getting anything close to the money they enjoy.


Updates on previous columns:

What does the Williams’ case mean for the NFL’s drug policy?

We should know in 6 weeks the outcome in Minnesota state court. Hennepin County Judge Gary Larson has set an April 2nd deadline for both sides filing their final briefs and said that he would have a decision within 6 weeks of that date. On the line is every professional and college sports drug policy in the country. While this one judge will not be the final arbiter, it will one side the advantage of precedence.

American Needle v. NFL

We are still waiting for the decision of the US Supreme Court on this case. If the NFL loses the entire nature of professional leagues will be changed. We will keep you advised.

Does the NFL need to change the overtime rules?

The rule change was approved 28-4. That sounds very close to the vote on the last Collective Bargaining Agreement (30-2) and look how nicely that turned out.

The retired NFL players are pawns in the CBA negotiations.

Hopefully the new CBA will include more for the retired players. I have outlined DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA’s options on dated March 18th. I outlined the leagues options and what a 2011 season without a CBA might look like in the article dated March 22nd. Check that out.


Niblets fresh from the cob:

Cleveland goes 19-0 and wins the 2010 Super Bowl–kind of.

Unfortunately that was not the Cleveland Browns, it was my Cleveland team in the Elway League. If you are missing fantasy football, try a free league at It lets you trade players and draft choices, draft, and play a season a month. It’s great fun and it is absolutely free.

The nature of the 2010 NFL Draft

“It was the best of times and the worst of times.” No, I am not rewriting the great novels of history but this draft is exactly that. There are not a lot of big school top picks or the traditional senior “name brands” that the casual fan will recognize in this draft. Part of that is because there are so many juniors coming out this year. But this draft is the deepest draft I have seen in the last 10 years. Understand that I have been studying the draft since 1960 so I am kind of new at this.

The D prospects are particularly deep with a lot of small school guys that are outstanding prospects. Check out my “under the radar” columns in the blog area for the guys that I think will be real steals in the later rounds of the draft.

The NFL teams are taking advantage of the uncapped year.

Teams have used this uncapped year to eliminate bad contracts for overpaid players and cut their total salary liability. 12 teams are now under the 2090 minimum salary and more are headed there soon. DeMaurice Smith once said the NFLPA would never agree to a salary cap in the future. He is now preaching the value of a salary cap. That shows us all how much the economic downturn has impacted the teams.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Your fantasy football doesn’t have to be over. Run a pro football franchise all year long for free at . Tell them Coach Smith sent you.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio Monday afternoons at 1 Eastern. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

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  • Published: Sep 12th, 2009
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Almost Pro–a novel by W.E. Smith Chapter 1-1

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NOTE:  If you want to see more, let me know.

Chapter 1 An Ace in the hole.

The first thing that Bob May noticed in the office of Marice Morton was the five inch high brass nameplate on the front of the desk. It read “Ace Morton.” Bob wondered how narcissistic did a person have to be to name himself “Ace”?

“Coach May, welcome to Ace Plumbing and the Indianapolis Roughnecks. Just call me Ace!” That comment erased all doubt about the issue. It brought up the question of how long before the team’s name would be changed to the “Ace’s Wild.”

“Thank you for giving me your time…” Bob had to swallow hard before he could manage to get the next word out without an accompanying chuckle. “…Ace.”

“What kind of offense have you run before?”

“I’ve run several kinds of offense. I believe that we should build the offense around the strengths of…” Logic was cut off by arrogance.

“We run a power I. Have you run that before?”

“Yes, but how good is your offensive…”

“Good! It’s settled then. See you on the field this afternoon.” Ace waved his hand like he was brushing a fly away from his fruit salad. As Bob rose and began to leave, Ace stopped him. “Son, what kind of vehicle do you drive?”

“A mini-van. Why?”
“Well, sometimes we need to car pool to a game out of state. You will be able to give several players a ride. Good!”

“Great.” Bob barely whispered his response. It was so soft that it failed to reach Ace’s over sized and undoubtedly overly sensitive ears.

After a quick late lunch which would have to serve as diner as well, Bob pulled into the parking lot of James Franklin High School Athletic Facility. He looked around at the cars in the lot. There was a wide variety of trucks but not many cars. A few were newer but the majority were much older and many were in bad shape.

“My kind of team—hungry!” He walked into the locker room of the visitors of Franklin and a familiar smell twinged his nostrils. The smell would have knocked those that have never ventured into a football locker room right off their feet. It was a combination of ninety year old dried sweat, slightly mildewed pads, and fifty gallons of Icy-Hot.

The room was littered with men in all levels of dress and undress. There seemed to be three basic body types—spindly, severely over weight, and obese. Ace was holding court in a corner of the room.

“Gentlemen, I want to introduce our new Offensive Coordinator—Bob May. Bob comes to us from the Columbus Crush. He has just opened a consulting company here. I want you to give him a big Roughneck welcome.”

In unison, the choir from hell began a chant “Roughnecks, Roughnecks is our name. Roughnecks, Roughnecks is our game. GO ROUGHNECKS!” Bob hoped they could play better than they could chant. He chuckled to himself thinking that was the ugliest group of cheerleaders he had ever seen.

“Mr. May will also be Assistant Head Coach replacing both jobs that the traitor Barnsnider had.” The coach’s voice instantly changed from that of an infuriated drill Sargent to a more conversational tone. “That traitor left to become head coach of the Indianapolis Arrows.”

“Now, let’s hit the field and show our new coach what we’re made of!”

The two coaches sat together watching the “practice” which was supposed to be run by the quarterback coach Tom Knight and the defensive coordinator Mark Miller. Instead, the inmates were running the asylum. The practice quickly degenerated into a ragtag scrimmage with the quarterback, Jamil “Wheels” Martin, calling the plays. Naturally, all the plays were long passes to his cousin known as the Tyrone “the jet” Simpson. While his speed was legendary, so were his stone hands. A variety of passes bounced off his helmet, shoulder pads, and hands.

“Bob, these are our returning players. I wanted you to get a look at the team before our tryout. We have forty-six on the roster now from last year. We have a tryout scheduled for Saturday to find a few more. The league lets us carry a maximum of fifty-five active and six cab squad players. So, all we need to find Saturday is about fifteen new bodies.”

May sat there in disbelief watching the pathetic display going on below him. Finally, he could take no more.

“HOLD IT!” May flew down the bleachers next to the practice field past a startled offensive line and grabbed the ball out of the center’s hands. “Offense, huddle up. Gentlemen, we have about a half hour of sunlight left. Let’s try to use that time to accomplish something.

“I want to see a 1-6-1.” There were eleven pairs of eyes looking at him like he had just landed from Mars. “1-6-1!” Still no reaction from the assembled players. “X and Z run 1’s and Y runs a 6!”

“Coach, what is a 1?”

“1 is a slant and 6 is a dig pattern. Got it?”

“Yea.” The response was about as convincing as that of five year old standing behind a broken vase that says he has no idea what happened.

“1-6-1 break!” Jet who was playing the X receiver strolled aimlessly through the defensive backfield. Y and Z ran into each other running slants over the middle. The pass fluttered to a spot of grass devoid of players on offense or defense like a bird that has consumed too many fermented yaupon berries. May buried his face in his hands. His receivers were the three stooges.

“HOLD IT! What was that?” He struggled to get control of his temper and tried his best to not to laugh at the ineptitude. “85 you were the X, right?”

“Coach, you can call me Jet. Yea, but because of my speed, I always deep.”

“Jet, I could care less about your speed. You could run a two second forty yard dash and it does us no good if you don’t catch the ball.”

“I’ve been working on that Coach.”

“For how long?”

“All six years I have been on the team.”

“Work harder. Now 85 and 89 run a 1 and 80 runs a 6. DO IT!”

After more than twenty repetitions, the team was finally able to complete a five yard pass.

When darkness fell, May went back to Ace’s office to talk to the head coach.

“Bob, here is our offensive play book.” The pair of five inch binders were overstuffed with pages.

“You actually use all these plays?”

“Of course we do. We very seldom call the same play twice in a game.”

“Do you practice all of them?”

“Well,” The pause told May all he had to know. “We try to make practice fun. If we drill them too much, they just don’t show up to practice.”

“Do you let those that miss practice play that week?”

“We have to if we want to win. Wheels is the only quarterback we have.”

That night Bob went over his play encyclopedia. He picked out forty plays that seemed to be possible for the developmentally challenged team to master. He then viewed the video tapes that passed for the team films of last years games. He fast forwarded past the defense because he could not stand to watch. Unfortunately, he had to watch the offense. It was a horror film. The offensive line missed blocks then fought with each other in the huddle. It was a good thing that Wheels was fast because he was running for his life all night. The running game was a joke. The backs couldn’t hit the hole if it had been the size of the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. That didn’t really matter because there was no hole most of the time. He turned off the television after having watched only two of the wins and two of the losses. He just couldn’t take any more. He was reminded of a comment by the Tampa Bay coach McKay when he was asked about the execution of his offense. His response was “that’s not a a half bad idea!”

Bob couldn’t sleep thinking about the challenge that he faced. If he couldn’t turn the offense around, the Roughnecks would be playing an awful lot of defense awfully. That was the stuff of nightmares.

Friday, he couldn’t concentrate on his business because he was drowning in the quicksand of offensive offense. He stopped at Krispy Kreme to get a couple of dozen donuts. It was going to take a more than one dozen to get him through more of the football follies that he felt he had to watch that night. He drove by an ABC Liquors. He had not ever been much of a drinker but wondered if a quart of Cutty Sark might make the team look a little better. It couldn’t hurt but he decided against it.

The tapes did not get any better. As the year wore on the weak defense wore down and the line got fatter and sloppier. The early games he had watched last night had been bad. There were no politically correct words he could think of to describe the last few games. The play was worse than dreadful.

Saturday morning Bob went to the office about an hour before the tryout to make copies of the minimalist version of the play book. Bill Willis, the reserve QB came in the meeting room.

“Coach, can I talk to you?”

“Sure. What can I do for you—It’s Bill isn’t it?”

“Yes Sir. I know Coach Moron likes Wheels but I started for three years at Indiana Central College. Wheels has a great arm but you never know where the ball is going. Last year we were 4 and 6. We lost four games because Wheels threw interceptions that were run back for touchdowns. I know I can play at this level but Moron won’t give me a chance.”

In the following hour, Bill brought Coach May up to speed on the mismatched collection of personalities that made up the Roughnecks. The team had three players that had been the last cut in the NFL. Jet was one of those players. The other two were on defense. Four others had been invited to an NFL camp after their college experience. Seven others had some college experience but the rest were basically ex-high school level players.

The rumor was that Jet had been cut not for his stone hands. May found that very had to believe. Jet had been cut for his habitually bad attitude. May found that very easy to believe. And belief in what he heard from every source on the team. It was no different that a new consulting client. The consultant must learn the truth as quickly as possible if the project is going to help the client.

At noon the tryout began. More than two hundred showed up at the tryout and a few of them passed the eyeball test. As the position coaches ran the tryout, Bob and Mark Miller sat watching the meat market. A young man in a hoodie was running around the field like he owned the patent on grass.

“Who is that?”

“Oh, you haven’t met Jack yet? That is Ace’s older son. He used to coach the defensive backs but I though since you were new you could use him on offense. He is your wide receivers coach. Good luck with that!” A couple of things bothered Bob. First, the chuckle at the end of Mark’s indicated what Bob’s Dad had always told him—never do business with a widow or an idiot son. He also wondered if the younger son was named Ten.

A defensive end prospect caught Mark’s eye. He stood six-four and weighed two-sixty and had the body of Adonis. When he ran the 40 in under 4.6 seconds, Mark’s face glowed.

“One-twenty-one looks like a keeper. We need a monster at end.”

“He certainly looks the part, but let’s see how he plays in pads.”

In shorts, helmets and shoulder pads 121 could not be blocked. He got around the offensive tackle on every pass play. He was the one that made the two hand tab that simulated a tackle on any run to his side of the field.

“I’ve found my starting right end!”

“We’ll see.” There were twenty-four players that were invited to the first practice of full team. Sixteen were offensive and Bob finally saw some potential on his side of the ball. He liked a short slow skinny kid that was trying out for wide receiver. The kid didn’t have much athletic ability but he ran great patterns. No matter who tried to cover him, he was always open. The best part was he caught everything thrown anywhere in his zip code. As the players that were kept were leaving the field, Bob pulled the kid aside.

“You looked really good out there. Where did you learn to catch like that?”

“My Dad was my high school coach and college. My older brother was his quarterback. I was the designated catcher for eight years starting when I was eight.”

“You have a great chance to make this team. What’s your name”

“I would love to play for you. I’m Mike Sherman.”

“You are Bobby Sherman’s little brother.”

“Yea.” The tone of his answer indicated he was not too excited about playing with his older brother.
“What is your brother doing now?”

“He got a job after he got cut from the Patriots last year.”

“Here is my card. Have him call me.”

Copyright W.E. Smith  2008 All rights reserved.

Vegas projects the Browns to win 7 games(???)

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According to the over/under wins list put out by the odds makers in Vegas, the Browns are going to win 7 games but the Bengals are going to win only 6. These numbers look off to me.

The Browns are going to have a new QB, offensive and defensive system, key players on both sides of the ball. They traded their best receiver away and are shopping their only other starting pass catcher on EBAY without a minimum. And their other starting WR is suspended indefinitely by the Commissioner. They also have a new younger version of what they hope is Bill Belichick II in New England and not Bill Belichick I, the guy that they fired in Cleveland.

The Bengals have a quality experienced QB, the same O and D systems, and a coach that reportedly the players love to play for but is on the hot seat unless they win. My gut tells me that the Bengals are a lot closer to winning 7 or 8 games than the Browns are.

WR Braylon Edwards will have a lot of company when he runs patterns because he is the only deep threat the Browns have. Rookie WR Mohamed Massaquoi has speed but questionable hands. There should be real race to see who drops more passes. After Massaquoi drops more than his share, look for OSU rookie Brian Robiskie or vet Mike Furrey to get into the starting lineup. UFA Robert Royal figures to start at TE by default. He may be the only TE healthy enough to play.

The current depth chart shows turnstile UFA John St. Clair starting at RT. He has gotten QB broken everyplace he has played. Just like last year, the Browns may need 4 or 5 QBs this season if he starts.

The D line still lacks any help for pro bowl NT Shaun Rogers to stop the run. In the AFC North, if you can’t stop the run, you will be on the field a L O N G time. The linebacking corps is anything but settled. It will be a week to week game of who did you sack recently? The backfield looks less strong than it did last year as SS Jones was allowed to leave. Look for ex Jet SS Abram Elam to start. The corner opposite Eric Wright is up for grabs. Don’t look for any great improvement there. Without much of a pass rush, whoever plays will have to cover the opposition long enough to establish voting rights in Ohio on every play.

The best chances for a Browns win will be against Detroit, Kansas City, and Oakland. The rest of their games will be toss ups or worse. For entertainment purposes only BET THE UNDER.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

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