Prior to the feel-good pieces that were written on Danso, had you really ever heard of any of these players? I hadn't, and yet they are all 26 years or older with hardly any active roster NFL experience. If you're looking for a comparison, C.J. Mosley is 26 years of age and already has 5 years of NFL experience as a backup.
It's difficult to really form a scouting report on many of these players because there isn't a lot to go off of. So, in Part II, prepare for more of a brief introduction to each player's background and the roster spot they'll be fighting for in training camp.
5. C.J. MOSLEY - BACKUP DEFENSIVE END
Mosley played in 12 games with the Browns last year, recording 18 tackles and no sacks. He went on the injured reserve in early December with an ankle injury, which means he didn't have the opportunity to be much of a contributor during the team's late-season heroics.
Despite Mosley being a veteran, having ties to Eric Mangini from his days with the Jets, and the apparent lack of depth the Browns have on the defensive line, I'd imagine that Mosley will be fighting for a roster spot this camp. At most, I see the Browns carrying 6-7 defensive linemen. If Rogers, Rubin, Smith, and Coleman occupy four of those spots and the team wants to hang on to prospects like Schaefering and Geathers, then things might start looking a little iffy for Mosley.
In the end, I think Mosley's experience will allow him to retain a roster spot. He looked sharp in the preseason last year when he saw playing time, and while he didn't have a sack last year, he at least penetrated a few times and was also the man to deliver a rib-crushing blow to Lions QB Matthew Stafford on his Hail Mary attempt. He can still be an asset on third down passing situations.
Final Roster Odds: 80%
6. BRIAN SCHAEFERING - BACKUP DEFENSIVE LINEMAN
I really liked what I saw from Schaefering last year, who was able to see significant playing time after injuries to players like Rogers, Coleman, and Mosley.
He showed quickness getting into the opposing team's backfield and seems like he'd be a good rotation player for either the defensive end or defensive tackle position depending on if Ryan uses variations of the 3-4.
Schaefering's most memorable game came in Week 14 against the Steelers, when he registered 5 tackles with 1.5 sacks on Ben Roethlisberger. He also shined in Week 17 with 4 tackles against the Jacksonville Jaguars. For only playing in 4-5 games last year after being on the practice squad, I'd like to see Schaefering grab a roster spot this year. In minicamp sessions, he was already seeing playing time in the DL rotation since Rogers was still rehabbing.
Final Roster Odds: 75%
7. CLIFTON GEATHERS - ROOKIE DEFENSIVE END
The Browns selected Geathers with their final pick in the sixth round of this year's draft. According to Pro Football Weekly, Geathers has "(very) rare arm length and overall size" but "(plays) too tall and does not sink his hips and anchor well against the run." You can't expect sixth-rounders to be winners, but Geathers' size already has people talking. You might be somewhat familiar with Clifton's brother Robert, who plays for the Cincinnati Bengals.
One of the early criticisms on Geathers since coming to the Browns has been his demeanor. In minicamp during a non-contact kickoff drill, he hammered into rookie punter Jon Thoma. Later in the week, he reportedly got into a fight with a teammate (an offensive lineman).
Geathers is a project, and if we could let him slip to the practice squad, we probably would. Whether or not that is a possibility will come down to how much Geathers is able to use his arms effectively by staying low and gaining leverage on the tackles he goes up against. If he makes progress, I envision him making the final roster and contributing on special teams. If he looks completely raw, then other teams might not be willing to waste a roster spot on him.
Final Roster Odds: 60%
Practice Squad Odds: 40%
8. TITUS ADAMS - BACKUP DEFENSIVE TACKLE
Listed as a nose tackle, Adams first entered the NFL in 2006 as a seventh-round draft pick with, you guessed it, Eric Mangini's New York Jets. He stayed on the team's practice squad most of the 2006 campaign.
Adams departed from the Jets when the New York Giants placed him on their active roster late in the 2006 season. Over the next few years, he spent time on several teams' practice squads, including the Giants', Chargers', Bengals', and then the Patriots'. His stay with New England lasted two years, and he was even brought up last December to the active roster, recording the only two tackles of his NFL career against he Carolina Panthers.
The Browns signed Adams at the end of last season after he was waived by Patriots. A brief scouting report indicates that he can clog up the running game but can't sustain a high energy level for an entire game and has trouble reaching the quarterback. If Rogers focuses on DE, Adams will compete for the backup nose tackle role.
Final Roster Odds: 10%
9. KWAKU DANSO - UNDRAFTED ROOKIE DEFENSIVE TACKLE
Danso will arguably be one of the most closely followed first-year players in this year's camp, despite the fact that he wasn't even drafted. He has already received press from the media for his compelling story and hard work ethic. If you haven't read the article, go here and check it out right now, because it is well worth it.
But there is no error. The Browns have indeed signed an undrafted free agent whose entire college career consists of three brief appearances at the end of ECU blowouts. And they did so because a few weeks earlier, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan – observing on East Carolina’s pro day – noticed Danso step through a door at 6-foot-5, 336 pounds and gasped "Who the hell is that?" to the Cleveland scouts standing beside him.
In the article, it says that Mangini told Ryan he could have one "project" player to develop. Through all of the players Ryan saw, Danso was the one that stuck in his mind, especially after bench-pressing 225 pounds 39 times. Even if Danso is a complete bust, which he may very well be with his lack of NFL experience, this has the potential to develop into one of those feel-good stories. If Danso simply doesn't have the untapped potential of an NFL lineman, then the only thing we've lost is one spot on the 80-man camp roster.
Final Roster Odds: 1%
Practice Squad Odds: 50%
10. KEITH GRENNAN - BACKUP DEFENSIVE END
Grennan began his NFL career in 2007 as a member of the San Diego Chargers when they brought him in as an undrafted free agent. He spent two years with the team, recording his only career tackle in 2008.
Prior to the 2009 offseason, Grennan was with the Browns. He spent most of last season on the team's practice squad, so this will actually be his second season with Mangini.
Grennan actually made some headlines last season as a member of the practice squad. He was the player who ruptured his patellar tendon during an "opportunity drill." Grennan had surgery, forcing him out of action for awhile. He should be recovered and ready for training camp, hoping to earn an opportunity to be on the team's practice squad.
Final Roster Odds: 5%
Practice Squad Odds: 60%
11. DERRECK ROBINSON - BACKUP DEFENSIVE END
Robinson debuted in the league way back in 2005 as an undrafted free agent with the Chargers, so he is no stranger to the league despite still being relatively unknown. Here is how his career has panned out thus far:
Apparently, Robinson has been better than just practice squad material, otherwise it's hard to imagine how he would have seen regular season action in each of his first three seasons despite being an UDFA. His best year came in 2006, when he played in 14 games, registering 14 tackles with 1.5 sacks and three passes defended. He was released by the Dolphins before the 2008 season, and was in camp with the Dallas Cowboys last year but didn't make the team's final roster. He was signed by the Browns in December last year. A brief scouting report indicates that he is decent at stopping the run but doesn't have a knack for making tackles or anticipating plays well.
Final Roster Odds: 10%
12. SWANSON MILLER - UNDRAFTED ROOKIE DEFENSIVE TACKLE
Playing two years at Oklahoma State, Miller saw action in 26 games and recorded 41 tackles, three sacks, two fumble recoveries, and two forced fumbles. I really don't have a lot to go on scouting-wise, so I had to defer to the archives of some our SB Nation affiliates. Here's what Burnt Orange Nation had to say about Miller prior to the 2009 season:
Backing him [Derek Burton] up may be JUCO transfer Swanson Miller, who is 6'4, 300 pounds and looks a bit more like an NT. Last season was Miller's first in the program, and he showed up in all 13 games. However, he apparently did not have a good spring (although he had a good spring game) and OSU fans would really like to see him make a big leap in his second season.
Stretching for more information, Miller "ran the 40 in 5.20 and 5.26 seconds, had a 27-inch vertical jump, a 7-foot broad jump, a 4.98-second short shuttle and did 22 reps in the bench press." That's all I've got folks, and it doesn't get much better for the next guy.
Final Roster Odds: <1%
Practice Squad Odds: 15%
13. BRIAN SANFORD - UNDRAFTED ROOKIE DEFENSIVE END
I found an interesting article on Sanford, in which he notes that he attended four of Eric Mangini's camps in Hartford before he went to college. Sanford returned to Mangini's camp this year as an instructor:
"I wanted to be like some of the guys here," Sanford said. "I wanted to be like (Browns defensive line coach Bryan Cox). The things he taught me, I took it with me. Working the camp now, I try to encourage the kids to do that because it helped me so much.
Sanford registered 86 tackles with eight sacks, three forced fumbles, and a blocked field goal during his time at Temple.
Final Roster Odds: <1%
Practice Squad Odds: 10%
DL Position Quality (Backups): Incomplete, not enough to go off of
This year's group of backups looks a lot different than last year's group, which featured the likes of Shaun Smith, Louis Leonard, Santonio Thomas, Melila Purcell, and Adam Hoppel. There seem to be a lot of players that we're taking fliers on, so hopefully a few of them pan out considering the ages of Rogers, Smith, and Coleman.
Remember that the order in which some of the players appear above doesn't hold much weight. There's really no way for me to legitimately declare that Adams is a better player than Robinson, or that Danso's odds are any better than Miller's or Sanford's.