December 18, 2014

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Browns notes: Kokinis focused on NFL Draft, says he’ll be more than ready for it

BEREA — New general manager George Kokinis tried to ease the concern among some Browns fans that he won’t be prepared for the NFL Draft in April. Kokinis was a college scout in his early days in the league, but has been on the pro personnel side since 2000.
“We are going to build this team through the draft,” Kokinis, the former Ravens executive, said Monday. “There’s no doubt about it and that’s what I believe in.
“We want to build something solid here, something concrete. There’s going to be some bumps in the road and you’ve got to be able to fall back on something. We are going to get some young, hungry talent in here.”
After a series of trades last year, the Browns are left with picks in the first, second, fourth and sixth rounds. They could try to acquire another pick or two by trading a player or two from their roster.
“We’ve got to make sure we do a good job on whatever picks we have,” Kokinis said.
Kokinis said he’s capable of running the draft despite having been focused on the NFL. He said he’s been in 17 draft rooms and learned plenty.
“The college process is something I’m very familiar with, it’s not foreign to me,” he said. “I’ve been in all the meetings, and I know how they work. I’ve actually used the same style as they do in the college meetings when I ran the free-agency meetings.”
Kokinis also said it’s an advantage that former Browns general manager Phil Savage installed the Baltimore scouting system in Cleveland.
“That’s why I don’t feel anxious about starting at this point for any reason,” Kokinis said. “I feel good about my preparation in terms of the college side of it and we’ll move forward toward the draft.”
Neither Kokinis nor coach Eric Mangini attended the Senior Bowl last week in Mobile, Ala., which is considered an important piece in draft preparation. But Kokinis wasn’t worried.
“Our scouts and people were there and once they come in, I’m going to rely on them,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a matter of being behind.”

QB decision

Kokinis tried to make a joke, and threw in a touch of sarcasm, when asked if he’d have two quarterbacks next year.
“We’re going to have two quarterbacks on the roster, that’s for sure,” he said.
The questioner meant Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson specifically, and if they could coexist for another season. Kokinis said it’s too early to make a decision.
“Both of those quarterbacks have skill level, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “The best teams fit their personnel to the system. For me to sit here and say we’re going to pick one over the other, I need to be more familiar with what Brian (Daboll, offensive coordinator) and Coach Mangini want to do.
“It’s tough for me to come up here and say we’re going to pick him because I think he’s got a stronger arm. I can’t do that right now.”

Going, going, gone

Vice chairman Bob Kain, an adviser to owner Randy Lerner, is the latest person to leave the organization. Kain, a former CEO at IMG, was with the Browns for 21/2 years and also helped with Lerner’s soccer team, Aston Villa.
“Randy and I both agree that I’ve done what I can do for both teams,” Kain told Cleveland.com.
Since the end of the season, the Browns have fired general manager Phil Savage and coach Romeo Crennel. They’ve also laid off at least 15 people throughout the organization.
Director of player personnel T.J. McCreight reportedly had been fired last week, but the team issued a release Monday saying it had accepted his resignation.
“After the two parties took the weekend to discuss his role with the Browns moving forward, McCreight opted to resign from his position with the team,” the statement said.
Rob Chudzinski, who served as offensive coordinator for the last two seasons, was hired by San Diego as assistant head coach/tight ends coach. Chudzinski was with the Chargers before he joined the Browns.
The Chargers also hired Mike Sullivan, who served as assistant offensive line coach for two seasons.

Staying busy

Mangini said he’s been interviewing coaches as he tries to fill out his staff. He’s yet to name assistants to coach linebackers, offensive line, receivers, running backs and tight ends.
He, Daboll and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan have also been evaluating the Cleveland roster.
“We’ll look at the players not just in terms of how they played last year, but how we project them into our system, talk about where they are medically, try to go through the whole player and get an understanding of the complete player,” Mangini said. “That will help us shape the needs, the musts, the game plan moving forward in free agency and the draft.”
Getting to know you
An awkward scene played out at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards last week when nose tackle Shaun Rogers and Mangini walked past each other without introducing themselves.
On Monday, Mangini said he’s had limited interaction with the players.
“Guys that have been in the building have come up and said hello,” he said. “My goal is to have the coaching staff in place, the general manager in place, then be able to reach out to the players and talk to each one individually.”

Quotable

“George is one of the most dedicated and loyal associates I’ve had the privilege of working with in my career. His work ethic is the best anyone can have. He is very well-prepared for this opportunity, and he deserves it. Knowing how competitive George is, it will make the games against the Browns very intense but also enjoyable because of my respect for him,” — Ravens executive vice president/general manager Ozzie Newsome.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.