Five Thoughts about Rookie Minicamp
It’s not the same as the NFL Regular Season Opener, but the rookies for the Cleveland Browns are finishing up their minicamp practices. There are a ton of moving parts between now and when the rosters become (mostly) final in September. However, a few things stood out pertaining to this group at this point in time.
#1 – Setting a Different Tone in 2015
In addition to getting a pair of first round picks who play in the trenches, the Browns might have put practices in a much different light from where they were in 2014. Instead of a glorified quarterback and a perceived entitled cornerback, the team has two linemen who are strong, proud, and humble on the field. This should hopefully rub off on their teammates – who can help usher in the mantra “Play Like a Brown” that coach Pettine has been completely behind.
#2 – Connor Shaw has the only realistic shot at making this roster at Quarterback
This should come as no surprise, as it will likely be Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel, and either Shaw or Thaddeus Lewis round out the signal caller position. Rakeem Cato and Justin Worley would need a miracle at this point; they were likely signed for an outside shot at this roster and to help coaches see which receivers stood out.
#3 – Might We See the Next Taylor Gabriel?
This offseason, the Browns picked up a pair of possession receivers in free agency and drafted Vincent Mayle – who will have thumb surgery in the near future. That gives way for an undrafted rookie to open the eyes of the coaching staff and steal a roster spot (the way Gabriel did in 2014). A possible candidate for this is Paul Browning, who had tremendous production at a small school (Colorado State Pueblo). Hopefully, for Paul’s sake, the learning curve is not too steep.
#4 – Is the Team Ready for a Rookie Kicker?
Part of the roster moves made by the Browns in the past week was the release of veteran kicker Garrett Hartley. Could Marvin Kloss (the undrafted rookie from South Florida) be the next in line to take the duties as a team’s kicker? He still has a long ways to go, and
there’s a fair chance that Ray Farmer grabs another veteran this summer – but Kloss is in the driver’s seat for a starting gig in the NFL.
#5 – Emmanuel Bibbs and His Role
I really like the tight end and his chances at competing for a spot on the roster. The Browns entered the draft with three veterans, and then drafted Malcom Johnson (who serves more of an H-back role), Randall Telfer (who is currently battling a foot injury) and signed Bibbs. At this point, none have displayed tremendous athleticism at the professional level – so the job appears to be wide open. If Gary Barnidge is released, Johnson plays a different position, and Telfer cannot participate – Bibbs might be a new target for the Browns’ signal caller.
Conclusion: Despite the regular season not starting for four months, the Browns vehemently want success now. Winning the offseason is great; provided that mentality continues over into the fall and winter. I still like where this roster is headed – and this rookie class has several terrific guys leading the way.