WHAT WENT RIGHT
Rookie classes aren't supposed to be graded for three years, but the Browns can make an exception on their top three picks.
Defensive tackle Phil Taylor, chosen 21st overall after the Browns moved down and then back up in the first round, was an anchor inside along with four-year veteran Ahtyba Rubin. Second-round pick Jabaal Sheard has given the defense quickness at end the Browns haven't had since Kamerion Wimbley was a rookie in 2006.
The Browns passed on Julio Jones in the first round when they made the draft-day trade with the Falcons, then got their receiver with the 59th pick by choosing Greg Little. Little caught 61 passes. He has strength to break tackles and run after the catch, and he should benefit from an offseason program.
Overall, the defense showed improvement from a year ago. It ranked 10th in total yards allowed, and more important, sixth in points allowed. Both were the best finishes for the Browns in the expansion era.
WHAT WENT WRONG
The defense was a bright spot. The offense was a disappointment. Tracing the cause of why the Browns scored only 218 points in their first year using the West Coast offense is the major task for coach Pat Shurmur, team president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert.
Peyton Hillis did not match his production of a year ago, dropping from 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2010 to 587 yards and three touchdowns in 2011. No one else filled the gap. Hillis was hampered by injury problems that caused him to miss six games, and he had off-the-field issues that included a lingering contract dispute. Now the Browns must decide whether to re-sign him or let him go in free agency. They do not seem enthusiastic about re-signing him.
A back injury to Eric Steinbach in training camp forced Shurmur to use rookie Jason Pinkston at left guard. Pinkston never played guard at Pitt. The right side of the line, with Shawn Lauvao at guard and Tony Pashos at tackle, struggled at times.
Problems in the run offense coupled with a suspect offensive line and lack of a deep threat at receiver, such as Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown with the Steelers, makes judging quarterback Colt McCoy difficult for the Browns brain trust.
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