Despite having five players to look at in Part II of our cornerback preview, this preview really isn't going to be very in-depth. At best, I see one of these five players making the roster.
That's a result of the team probably leaning toward carrying more safeties again due to the special teams contributors there, and because Mike Adams can play the position as well.
5. COYE FRANCIES - COMPETING FOR BACKUP CORNERBACK
After being a sixth-round draft pick by the Browns last year, Coye Francies had a good camp, including what many fans considered to be an impressive showing in the preseason. If you don't remember, here's how Francies' statistics panned out in those 2009 preseason games:
Game 1: 2 tackles, 1 pass defended, 1 interception
Game 2: 2 tackles, 1 pass defended
Game 3: 3 tackles, 1 pass defended
Game 4: 7 tackles
In my review of that first game, I gave Francies the game ball. After the second game, I noted that I loved how he seemed to be doing press coverage when our other defensive backs weren't. In the third game, he had a great pass defended in the end zone. In the final game, he gave up a couple of plays to former Browns receiver Brandon Rideau, but he also had two memorable shots on offensive players.
Unfortunately, none of Francies' production paid off during the regular season. He was on the 53-man roster the entire season, but he only had five tackles. A FanPost in the offseason asked if Francies was the forgotten man as cornerback as the Browns entered the 2010 campaign. In order to keep a guy on the roster that long and play him so little, it tells me that Francies still had to learn some things before he could see regular action, but the team also didn't want to risk losing him like they did CB Don Carey. Does that bode well for Francies in camp this year? Of all the players in this preview, I think he has the best chance of taking Brandon McDonald's spot for regular playing time.
Final Roster Odds: 55%
6. GERARD LAWSON - COMPETING FOR BACKUP CORNERBACK
I'm not sure that there's another player on the roster who has been on the 53-man roster the past two years and had as little of an impact as Gerard Lawson has had.
During the regular season, Lawson has not seen action at cornerback. He hasn't even seen much action as a defender on special teams, minus a play or two. The only reason it seems that he has been on the team is to be the backup kick/punt returner, which surely isn't worth a roster spot when several other players on our team are capable of fulfilling that duty.
I'm not sure if we've ever seen Lawson work as a gunner in the preseason, but that might just be Lawson's best chance at making the team for a third consecutive season. With rumors indicating that the staff wants to see Joshua Cribbs play less gunner early in games, Lawson is a viable candidate to replace him because he has been heralded as being one of, if not the fastest player on the team. The question is whether he has the technique/strength to shed blockers as a gunner.
Final Roster Odds: 40%
7. DEANGELO SMITH - COMPETING FOR BACKUP CORNERBACK
Believe it or not, DeAngelo Smith had a brief stint on the Browns' 53-man roster during the 2009 campaign. After the team announced their 53-man roster, they scouted the waiver wire and signed Smith after he was released by the Dallas Cowboys. He was a fifth-round pick by Dallas last year, but the Browns waived him about two weeks later.
Smith saw some action as a member of the Detroit Lions, playing in 7 games and recording 22 tackles. The Lions waived him this past April and the Browns were willing to take another flier on him.
The scouting report on him says that he's aggressive. We'll see just what type of player he is when he lines up against our talented receivers in camp.
Final Roster Odds: 5%
8. CHRIS ROBERSON - COMPETING FOR BACKUP CORNERBACK
I guess you could say that Roberson is a veteran, since he has been in the league since 2005 when he was a seventh-round draft pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Roberson has bounced around a bit, with the Browns being his fifth NFL team.
The other teams he has played for are the Miami Dolphins (2008 practice squad), Detroit Lions (1 tackle in the regular season), and the Philadelphia Eagles (brief stint on the 2009 practice squad). Chances are that if he hasn't caught on with any of the other teams that he's played for, he won't catch on with the Browns. He might have fun trying to defend rookie quarterback Colt McCoy on the third-string defense, so that one day he can say, "I lined up against the best quarterback in football."
Final Roster Odds: <1%
Practice Squad Odds: 10%
9. CHRIS CHANCELLOR - COMPETING FOR BACKUP CORNERBACK
Out of the five cornerbacks in today's preview, Chancellor is the only rookie.
After scanning over a scouting report or two from his college days, the generic assessment was that his strengths are his quickness and his ability to help defend the run.
I don't exactly know how critical size is at the cornerback position, but 5-9, 177 pounds seems pretty small compared to the norm, unless he has bulked up since his last weigh-in.
Final Roster Odds: <1%
Practice Squad Odds: 12%
Thanks to an adjustment in our original schedule, we have one more position to preview as we jump back to the trenches Monday and Tuesday with the offensive line.