Washington Redskins defensive backs coach Raheem Morris is scheduled to interview with the Browns this week for their defensive-coordinator job, the Tampa Bay Times reported Wednesday.
The Redskins hired Morris last year after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired him as their head coach. When Morris joined the Redskins, they agreed to let him interview for any defensive-coordinator vacancies in the future, according to the report.
The Redskins finished the 2012 season ranked 30th in pass defense (281.9 passing yards allowed per game).
Morris, 36, coached the Buccaneers from 2009-11 and competed in the NFC South against new Browns coach Rob Chudzinski, who served as the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers for the past two seasons. The Buccaneers fired Morris after he compiled a record of 17-31 in three seasons.
Morris previously served as the Buccaneers’ defensive backs coach from 2007-08 and Kansas State University’s defensive coordinator in 2006. In 2002, he made his NFL coaching debut as the defensive quality control coach for the Buccaneers, who won Super Bowl XXXVII that season.
Morris used a 4-3 defense when he led the Buccaneers. The Browns employed a 4-3 scheme in each of the past two seasons under the guidance of defensive coordinator Dick Jauron, who’s not expected to be retained. But Chudzinski has indicated he favors hybrid defenses capable of alternating between 4-3 and 3-4 alignments.
Chudzinski also reportedly has San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano and Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker on his radar. New Chargers coach Mike McCoy reportedly wants to keep Pagano, and Tucker reportedly interviewed for the Jaguars’ coaching vacancy Monday. Last year, Pagano ran a 3-4 hybrid defense, and Tucker employed a 4-3 system.
In his first mock draft of the year, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. predicted the Browns will select Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner sixth overall.
The German-born Werner, who’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds by Florida State, finished last season with 40 tackles, including 13 sacks and a team-high 18 tackles for loss, and seven pass break-ups. Werner, a junior, was named the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2012. He started for the Seminoles in each of the past two seasons and played every game for the past three years.
But Kiper said Werner wouldn’t be a logical fit for the Browns if they decide to switch from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 scheme.
“Werner’s a 4-3 defensive end,” Kiper said Wednesday during a conference call. “That’s what he is. There are some guys who could play in both schemes obviously that you can look at. But they could also figure at that point, ‘OK, if we’re going to be a 3-4 team, then obviously it becomes a linebacker-driven defense.’ So we’ll have to see how it all shakes down.
“Werner, to me, with his pass-rush ability, his great motor, the way he established himself this year as a complete defensive end, kind of has a little bit of a Chris Long-type mode of operation out there. That’s who he kind of reminds me of. Chris Long was the second pick overall [in 2008] and has had a heck of a career in St. Louis so far.”
Kiper identified guard, cornerback and wide receiver as other positions the Browns might target at No. 6.
“If you look at the offensive line, you could certainly look at a Chance Warmack, the guard from Alabama,” Kiper said. “There are some other options that you have. You could certainly look at a cornerback at some point. Josh Gordon did a great job as a young, developing receiver, but you could look at a receiver at some point, [Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle] Patterson being the guy that people would look at in the early first round as maybe a little bit of stretch, but a guy with great upside.”
Kiper didn’t name Alabama’s Dee Milliner as an option for the Browns, but he’s the top-rated cornerback in the draft, which will be held April 25-27. Kiper has the Philadelphia Eagles picking Milliner at No. 4.
Browns kicker Phil Dawson is a finalist for the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission’s Professional Athlete of the Year award along with Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao of the Cavaliers. The winner will be announced Jan. 24 during the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel. Browns legend and radio analyst Doug Dieken will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. … The Browns formally announced two previously reported front-office hires: executive vice president-general counsel Sashi Brown and executive vice president-chief revenue officer Brent Stehlik, a Lakewood native and Mount Union graduate.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com.browns.abj.