BEREA, OH - MAY 12: Quarterback Brandon Weeden #3 of the Cleveland Browns warms up prior to the start of the second day of minicamp at Cleveland Browns training facility on May 12, 2012 in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
"The Sunday Five" is a loosely-titled piece where I talk about five NFL- or Browns-related topics related to this past week. In today's edition, we take a look back at the team's offseason programs, a hypothetical that only makes sense to ask in the dead of the offseason, the buzz that fullback Brad Smelley has created, and more.
The Browns wrapped up their first rookie minicamp this past week under head coach Pat Shurmur, but the vibe certainly didn't seem like one of a "rookie" minicamp because of five players: QB Brandon Weeden, RB Trent Richardson, WR Travis Benjamin, WR Josh Cooper, and FB Brad Smelley. Weeden and Richardson stood out the most among those players because they will be the team's starting backfield come September. The fact that the media had such positive things to say about these two players has to say something, right? Weeden and Richardson were both complemented for the way they performed in camp, as well as the way they conducted themselves in interviews. Right after the conclusion of rookie minicamp, Weeden and Richardson went to LA for the NFLPA Rookie Premiere event, where you can see SB Nation's interviews with them here.
Why mention the other three players (Benjamin, Cooper, and Smelley)? Well, Cooper and Smelley seem like they were brought along as the security blankets for Weeden and Richardson. As most everyone knows, Cooper was one of Weeden's top receiving targets at Oklahoma State (when Weeden wasn't passing to some guy named Justin Blackmon), and was making some noise in rookie minicamp. So was Smelley, who was one of Trent Richardson's blockers in Alabama and could seemingly pose a threat to last year's fourth-round fullback Owen Marecic. A team doesn't have to feel obligated to commit to a guy just because he was a fourth rounder. If Smelley works well with Richardson, why break up the duo?
The last of the three guys is Benjamin. Although he doesn't have ties to the team's top two draft prospects, his speed -- and the fact that he was only drafted wide receiver -- made him stand out. He also has the potential to be a kick or punt returner, something that could develop into a long-term storyline with Joshua Cribbs. The next offseason activity for Shurmur begins this Tuesday, on May 22, and will last until Thursday, May 24. This will be the team's first organized team activity (OTA) sessions of the offseason. How OTA's differ from minicamps is still a little unclear to me, but it will represent the first time the entire team is in attendance.
I was listening to the radio the other day -- maybe Bull & Fox on 92.3 The Fan -- and a hypothetical question was asked. Out of these three players, who do you see having the best chance at being a Hall of Famer: Browns RB Trent Richardson, Indians 2B Jason Kipnis, or Cavaliers PG Kyrie Irving? Moving past the problems with comparing sports, judging players this early in their careers, etc, let's play along anyway. My pick would be Richardson. For Kipnis, he'd either have to be a defensive stud (Omar Vizquel) or the right combination of offense and defense (Roberto Alomar), and I don't see that being the case. Irving is coming off of a great rookie season, but I think there are very few elite players to be Hall of Famers in basketball. Richardson will be the team's featured back right off the bat and is known for carrying a large load, meaning he might be the type of guy who puts up impressive stats. If he does that for a long time and helps turns this franchise around, I think he'd have the best chance among those three players.
Smith now enters a crowded backfield vying for the third RB spot where he'll compete with Josh Vauhan, Tauren Poole, Lyndon Rowells and Princeton McCarty- out of those players my bet is still on Poole to win the 3RB spot.
The Browns have signed a lot of undrafted free agents, some of whom we seem to know a little bit about (i.e. Cooper), but there are others who might be pretty foreign to us. Over the next few days, we're going to try to go in "rapid-fire" mode with posts on each of the team's undrafted free agents, in hopes that everyone will be a little more "emotionally invested" in these players by the time more offseason activities roll around, right up to training camp.