FRISCO, Texas – The record doesn't matter in this league – overlook any club in the NFL at your own peril.
That can be proven this week just by looking at my selections for this week's preview. The Browns might boast an ugly 0-8 record, but there is talent on this team. Despite all the trade rumors that swirled around them, Cleveland currently employs one of the best corners and one of the best offensive tackles in the entire league.
We're going to take a look at them. We're also going to take a look at a rookie pass rusher the Cowboys would've loved to get their hands on last spring in the draft.
Let's get into it:
Weapon:CB Joe Haden
This is a confident corner that challenges receivers -- competitive playmaker. Haden usually plays the star coverage. He can play in the slot when needed, but the club now has Tramon Williams in that role.
Haden throws his body around as a tackler but doesn't always wrap up. He's well-built with long arms and has good, functional strength. That strength comes in handy, as he uses his hands to jam receivers at the line. He can walk up nose-to-nose and handle the job.
The tape will show you loose hips and quick feet. He turns easily and can drive on the ball. He has smooth turns with acceleration and catch-up speed. Haden keeps position on the receiver, and that makes him a hard man to run away from due to his speed. He plays with an extended burst and can cover some ground. Shows range in the way he plays.
Haden will battle for ball, but it will go over the top of his head, too. If he has a problem at times, it's that he struggles against a receiver with size. But he is tough-minded and accepts a challenge. He does not shy away from contact. He has good body control and ball skills -- very comfortable in the way he plays.
This is an important note for a cornerback: Haden never plays like he is stressed. He shows football intelligence, as he doesn't get fooled on routes. This is not the type of corner that guesses on plays. He has a solid key and diagnose. He understands what the receiver is trying to do to him.
Through most of his career, he has been a durable player -- until last season when he suffered ankle, rib, finger and head injuries. He had surgery on his ankle in March but looks no worse for wear now. There is no question in my mind that he will be matched up against Dez Bryant and carry him all over the field.
Nemesis:OT Joe Thomas
Rumors were that he was on the trading block, they were just that – rumors. Thomas lines up at left tackle, where he has an outstanding combination of size, athletic ability and nasty style.
Thomas doesn't have the overall upper body power and strength of Tyron Smith, but he is a similar athlete. It's rare to see him on the ground, and he shows balance in the run game. He tends to catch and steer the defender off the line of scrimmage – he doesn't hammer opponents in the running game like Smith does.
He has a good change of direction on the second level and in the open field. This is a finisher that plays hard on every snap. He will drop his hips and break down on the linebacker. Can fit and finish. Runs well for his size. Top-level pass protector that has kick, range, and awareness.
Thomas plays the majority of his snaps in a two-point stance. He has anchor and balance, and he can handle both speed and power rushers. When he plays high, he loses his knee bend. He's an angular tackle with pass protection techniques. He slides his feet laterally and maintains contact with defender. Due to his veteran savvy, Thomas can generally push the defensive end up the field and by the quarterback. He maintains a good base.
There's no doubt Thomas is one of the top tackles in the league – very consistent in his technique and finish. He has had to deal with inconsistent play next to him at guard, but he has not let that affect him one bit. You have to be perfect technique-wise to get a rush on him. Doesn't make many mistakes.
Under the Radar:DE Emmanuel Ogbah
Ogbah was a target for the Cowboys to start the second Day of the 2016 NFL Draft. He was the fourth-ranked defensive end on their board, and he would have been a solid selection in that spot.
To this point in his rookie season, he has played multiple spot for the Browns in this 3-4 scheme for Ray Horton. He is listed as an outside linebacker, but I have seen him rush at end, nose and inside linebacker. He has 3.5 sacks through eight games.
Ogbah has outstanding initial quickness off the snap. He can get on the blocker in a hurry and has shown the ability to capture the edge and work around his man. He can get his shoulder pad past the blocker. Plays with his hands to free himself, as he has always shown upper body strength. His quickness will put tackles in bad blocking positions.
One of his best moves in college was the rip, and he has brought that with him to the NFL. He can close from the backside on the rush, and he will cover some ground and stay after the play. He will also work down the line and stay square. He doesn't get turned in the running game. Impressively, he can handle blockers around his feet -- plays with balance. Don't often see him on the ground or washed out of the play.
This rookie has the ability to go toe-to-toe with Tyron Smith, but with the way they like to move their rushers around, I believe he will get more of an opportunity on Doug Free's side.