We all know the major position battle that everyone in the Browns fanbase as well as throughout the entirety of the media as a whole.
The Quarterback Position Battle.
Manziel vs Hoyer.
It is arguably one of the most noted battle occurring in all of the NFL. Ask the casual NFL fan about the Browns they would likely reply with something regarding “Johnny Football” and the “Career Backup” in Brian Hoyer.
Regardless, it remains one of the most intriguing Quarterback battles in the NFL.
For once, Browns fans we actually have two likely NFL Quarterbacks that can lead us to wins capably. That is exactly why my focus will not be on the QB battle as a whole. I am not saying it is unimportant by any sense of the word, but it remains overhyped in my honest opinion. There are arguably more important position battles as a whole, that could severely impact the offense and defense. Those are battles I will go into.
Starting with the defensive side of the ball, we have CB:
Justin Gilbert vs Buster Skrine
The Case for Justin Gilbert:
Gilbert, the Browns 8th overall pick (Yes, Browns Fans, believe it or not. Gilbert was selected with the Browns first 1st rounder and not Manziel), was a highly touted CB prospect out of Oklahoma State University (By many scouts and analysts he was the top CB prospect). He projects to be a dominant cover corner, and a sure handed CB who could very well collect his fair-share of Passes Defended and INT’s. Gilbert is a rookie, but in the perfect situation for a rookie. He would partner Haden, arguably a top 5 CB in the NFL. QB’s are blatantly going to be avoiding throwing to Haden’s side of the field, and thus Gilbert will be tested a lot. Assuming he’s up to the challenge,Gilbert has a chance to make some serious noise in the NFL early on.
Gilbert brings upside overall, as well as phenomenal tools for a rookie CB.
The Case for Buster Skrine:
Skrine had a respectable year with all things considered last season as the 2nd CB next to Haden. He represents a solid all around CB, and an experienced one at that. He has had his issues tackling as well as overall consistency. He, like most of the Browns defense last season, had an up and down year. He had his highs as well as his lows. Skrine has solid overall tools for a CB, but has yet to prove he absolutely up to the challenge next to Haden consistently.
Regardless, Skrine brings experience, NFL knowledge, and still all-around tools.
In general, the likelihood that both do not play is extremely low. While Skrine has his flaws, he had a respectable year next to Joe Haden. Gilbert was drafted to be the CB that dominates next to and feeds off the brilliance of Haden. In a sincere way, there is no way Gilbert does not eventually start, this competition is solely for who starts the year as the 2nd CB next to Haden. The likelihood overall is Skrine takes over the Nickel-Back Position, while Gilbert takes over the 2nd starting CB role.
Predicted Winner: Justin Gilbert
Gilbert simply brings the most upside as a whole, and his tools are superior for the 2nd CB spot. Bold as it may seem, I see Gilbert flourishing and even dominating to some stretch. Pro Bowls could potentially be in his future. Gilbert is just best suited for the role, while Skrine will attain the Nickel-back role.
Continuing on the Defensive Side of the Ball, we have ILB:
Craig Robertson vs Christian Kirksey
The Case for Craig Roberston:
This may or may not seem like a legitimate battle, but regardless the likelihood remains that one of these two will likely start. Robertson has struggled at times in his career, but is not bad overall. He’s had bright spots in his career, and like the majority of last season’s defense had its ups and downs. Robertson brings experience, knowledge, and attitude. He struggles in pass coverage and at times got burned where he honestly should not have.
Robertson brings overall ability, solid tackling ability, attitude
We progress to the offensive side of the ball, we have RB:
Ben Tate vs Terrance West
The Case for Ben Tate:
Ben Tate signed a 2-year deal with the Browns this past offseason, and is the assumed starter at RB this year, an apparent deep position for the Browns this year. Tate had a very admirable season with Houston following Arian Foster’s injury. He rushed for 771 yards on 181 attempts, with 4 TD’s. (4.3 YPA) Considering how all around bad the Houston Texans were as a team last season, these are very good stats. Ben Tate could flourish under Kyle Shanahan and as a whole is expected to have a big year.
Tate brings knowledge, experience, and grit. Overall is a tough runner, who is smart as well.
The case for Terrance West:
West is a hard runner, and one who dominated with Towson. His story is a unique one, but his dominance is obvious. He will get a legitimate shot to unseat Tate, and overall prove many people wrong. West is a tough, tough kid. He draws comparisons to a Running Back like Alfred Morris (A Pro Bowl RB who dominated in Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system). The qualities he brings are just as overall appealing to the Browns as Tate’s are. West will have a learning curve, as all rookies do, but he brings his overall attitude and ability immediately.
West brings attitude, grit, as well as ability. He brings intelligence as well as hard running.
Predicted Winner: Ben Tate
As a collective whole, both will play. Tate will likely get more carries than West as a whole, but West will still get around 8-10+ carries a game and I still expect him to thrive regardless. Both should bring a level of RunningBack play that the Browns have not seen in a long while.