Cleveland Browns rookie mini-camp is set to start on Friday and excitement is floating through the air. Coaches, media and fans alike, are all looking forward to their first glimpse at the 2013 Browns' rookie crop. The headliner will be Barkevious Mingo, our pass-rush weapon extraordinaire.
However, there are gems to be found, and each year the pressure of the offseason helps to create a few diamonds for every NFL roster. Last year was no exception as the Browns saw the likes of L.J. Fort, Craig Robertson, Tashaun Gipson, and Johnson Bademosi emerge as UDFAs that secured a roster spot. I hope to provide a comprehensive but succinct look into this year's UDFA crop with all statistics courtesy of NFLDraftScout.com, unless otherwise cited or linked.
Cordell Roberson (WR) - Steven F. Austin University
Cordell Robertson possesses impressive size, agility and solid production. At 6'4", he used his size to his advantage, especially in the red zone. During his senior season in 2012 Robertson hauled in 77 receptions for 9 TD's, 1,006 yards and etched his name on the Walter Payton Player of the Year Award watch list.
"He finished his career at Stephen F. Austin University (2009-12) as the school's all-time leader in receptions (221), receiving yards (3,191) and touchdown catches (39)... His 39 touchdown receptions also set a Southland Conference record."
If you haven't seen this video and interview courtesy of NFL Draft Zone, I suggest you take the time to do so. His wide receiver coach credits his success to working hard to do the little things right and his ability to overcome adversity in his life.
Josh Aubrey (DB) - Steven F. Austin University
"4x All Conference selection who started 46 of the 47 games in which he saw action and totaled 255 tackles, seven interceptions, 29 passes defensed and 3.5 sacks... As a senior he recorded 65 tackles, two interceptions, eight passes defensed, two sacks, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble."
If you haven't read this interview over at NFL Draft Zone, it's short and sweet and worth the 2 minutes because there's really no film out there on Aubrey that I could find, so any information is good until we see him in pads this offseason, and most notably this Friday. What I like about his statistics was his ability to get his hands on the ball by deflecting 29 passes in 47 games.
Perez Ashford (WR) - Northern Illinois
One of my most anticipated UDFA's to follow this season based on a few criteria:
1) Catching and route running ability
2) The need for a developmental slot WR with play-maker ability
3) The fantastic analysis done by Matt Waldman convinced me he's worth some hype
4) Local Boy - Shaker Heights High Graduate
I see Ashford likely being placed on the practice squad, but as seen in this YouTube highlight video in Matt's piece above, Perez has some skills that could demand a closer look from the Browns coaching staff. While I do not advocate watching highlight film, he shows a natural, almost effortless ability to track the ball in the air, then go up in traffic to catch the ball with his hands while maintaining field awareness and controlling his body. He doesn't have breakaway speed but seems to run good routes and catches the ball exceptionally well with his hands.
Mike Edwards (WR) - University of Texas El Paso
When looking at the athletic measureables from his pro day, Mike Edwards doesn't pop off the charts as an overly explosive athlete. However, when you put on this film found on YouTube, you see a play-maker type that matches the productions numbers from his two seasons at UTEP: 101 receptions for 1,477 yards and 11 touchdowns. Edwards also helped Mt San Antonio College win the 2010 State and National Championship before transferring to UTEP.
For the Browns, he factors into the developmental, slot receiver role and is destined for the practice if he is able to emerge during camp.
Aaron Adams (OT) - Eastern Kentucky University
"Adams, a 6-5, 295-pound offensive tackle, was one of just two Ohio Valley Conference players to be recognized as a preseason first team All-America selection. The native of Lake Worth, Fla., started all 12 games at right tackle last season and helped EKU rush for more than 200 yards in six contests. A 2011 first team All-OVC pick, Adams also earned the team's Offensive Colonel Core Value award following his junior season"
Adams will be one of many in the mix for depth at OL. There's not any specific film that I could find on just him so it boils down to what he can do to separate himself from the likes of Cave, Gilkey, and Faulk.
Justin Staples (DL) - Illinois
Justin attended St. Edward High School which makes him a "local boy" with some hometown support. His productivity, however, was never anything to get excited about while at Illinois.
I never scouted him and don't have access to his film, so it's hard to do anything but speculate about his potential fit here in Cleveland. I am inclined to think that with the depth and talent we already have across the front 7, Staples would really have to surprise Horton to find himself in contention for a roster spot.
Travis Tannahill (TE) - Kansas State
From a Kansas.com blog:
"Kansas State tight end Travis Tannahill is a superstitious guy. He grows his beard out every November, he tries to cut his hair as little as possible during the football season and he never changes or washes his gameday shirt when the Wildcats are on a winning streak".
Well, at least we have that going for us.
Dominique Croom (WR) - University of Central Arkansas
Another newly added undrafted free agent that I know very little about. The film available on Croom is similar to telecaster type film in that it shows you 2 vantage points for each play and is worth the look. He seems to be another smaller type WR that does well tracking the ball in traffic, catching with his hands and shows athletic ability and body control.
Ricky Tunstall (DB) - University of Delaware
Ricky is one of my favorite players in the UDFA group. He seems to have been a versatile defender who showed ability to cover, roam as a free safety, had a nose for the ball, took really good angles and didn't shy away from contact. He would be an excellent pawn to insert into Horton's defensive scheme where versatile players who can hit and run fast are in demand. Whether or not he's ready to step up and compete at the NFL level remains to be answered, but he could be a player to stash on the practice squad or emerge to push 6th round draft pick Jamoris Slaughter.
"Four year letterman at the University of Delaware (2009-12)... Saw action in 44 contests with 12 starts, registering 101 tackles, nine interceptions, eight passes defensed and one sack... Returned two of his interceptions for touchdowns, including a 91-yard return"
These soundtracks are not work appropriate ( and again I don't advocate for basing an evaluation of a player off highlight films ) but take a look at these two highlight videos which offer some of the only looks at the new Browns safety: 1 / 2.
Caylin Hauptmann (OG) - Florida International University
I don't know much about Caylin, but here is an excerpt from his NFL.com Draft Profile:
"The graduate of Beverly Hills High School in Los Angeles and one-time karate proficient has, indeed, made an impact clear across the country in Miami, as well as making an impression on NFL scouts. Not only did Hauptmann play football at C.C., but he also threw spot put for the track squad. That natural strength, combined with nice agility, got him onto the field right away for the Panthers; he started 12 games at left tackle that season. Hauptmann then started all 13 games on the blind side in 2011, garnering second-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors for his play."
07/18/12 - 2012 OUTLAND TROPHY PRESEASON WATCH LIST: Caylin Hauptmann, FIU, OT, has been selected to the Preseason Outland Trophy Watch List for the 2012 college football season, which goes to the best interior lineman in college football, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America. Hauptmann, a 6-4, 312-pound senior, anchors a senior-laden FIU offensive line that has helped the Panthers break several team rushing records the past two seasons.
With Hauptmann at left tackle the past two seasons, the Panthers broke the program rushing record with 2,438 yards in 2010 and established the program's second-best rushing mark last year with 1,893 yards. The FIU offensive line also allowed the second-fewest sacks (15) in program history in 2011.
Garrett Hoskins (TE) - Eastern Michigan
"Garrett Hoskins, Eastern Michigan, has been selected Second Team All-Mid-American Conference for the 2012 college football season. Hoskins played in all 12 games in 2012, leading the team in catches with 38 receptions for 542 yards and three touchdowns. His three touchdowns ranked second most among the All-MAC tight end nominees. Named 2012 Mid-Season All-MAC by Phil Steele, Hoskins finished with an average of 14.3 yards per catch."
Jamaine Cook (RB) - Youngstown State University
While I have been made aware that "the sickness" from Pittsburgh has crept over the Ohio border and infected our good friends in Youngstown, I still get excited to watch "local" kids get a shot to come back to Cleveland; you know, for the "good guys". I am not sure where he fits, but we'll soon see.
Take a look at one of Jamaine's only YouTube videos here.
"Jamaine Cook - Played four years Youngtown State University (2009-12) and finished second in school history with 4,052 rushing yards and 20 individual 100-yard rushing performances, while adding 39 touchdowns on 811 attempts... Totaled more than 1,200 rushing yards and 11 rushing scores in each of his three seasons as a starter... Rushed for 1,279 yards with 15 touchdowns on 279 carries in 2012... Attended Midpark High School in Middleburg Heights, Ohio"
Chris Faulk (OL) - Louisiana State University
Faulk had hoped to go as high as the 3rd round in this year's draft, but two torn ligaments changed his reality:
"Faulk, who is 6-feet-6 and 325 pounds, had hopes of going as high as the third round. He was rated the No. 11 offensive tackle and the No. 112 player overall by NFLdraftscout.com. Going into the 2012 season Faulk was judged to be a sure first-round pick by the end of the season. But he tore two ligaments in his right knee during practice after LSU's season opener."
His NFL.com Draft Profile can be read here and mostly describes a player that decided to come out early, who has potential and size, but will have lots of competition along the offensive line, which is a good thing. I think he is a guy that we will want to legitimately sneak onto the practice squad and develop but if he comes into camp in shape and completely recovered from his injury, he could be a kid who realizes his potential sooner than later and finds a roster spot.
Martin Wallace (OL) - Temple University
Another big OL for the Browns to investigate, that's as much as I can tell you.
Braxston Cave (OL) - Notre Dame University
Going into the draft, Cave was ranked as high as the fifth overall center and projected to be picked in the 5ht or 6th rounds. The Browns should be happy to have landed him due to his versatility on the OL and a back-up potential for Mack, if needed. Check out his NFL.com Draft Profile here.
Paipai Falemalu (DL) - University of Hawaii
I'm not embarrassed to say that I live in Hawaii but couldn't tell you the first thing about Paipai because unlike the faithful, unwavering local fans, I don't watch UH football. He seems like he has some explosion to him based on his pro day measureables and this excellent - but long - 2012 highlight video.
"Four year letterman at the University of Hawaii (2009-12)... Totaled 161 career tackles, 16.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumble in 41 contests... Tied for the team lead with 56 tackles as a senior, while adding five sacks"
Dave Kruger (DL) - Utah
How can you not like the little brother of newly acquired OLB, Paul Kruger? Just before the draft both Dave Kruger and his brother Joe discussed the possibility of landing on the same team following the draft with desertnews.com. In fact, his family talked about how thrilled they would be if any of the brothers ended up playing on the same team. According to this same article, Browns defensive line coach Joe Cullen told Dave the organization really liked him.
"Kruger, like Lotulelei, has never been a stats monster. He's averaged just 29 tackles over his three seasons as a starter and has only four sacks during that time. His length, strength and durability, however, will be sure to intrigue NFL scouts looking for either an interior run-plugger for the 4-3 or as a classic five-technique defensive end for the 3-4 capable of setting the edge"
Keenan Davis (WR) - Iowa
"Appeared in 48 games at the University of Iowa (2009-12)... Totaled 112 career receptions for 1,470 yards and seven touchdowns... As a senior, registered 47 receptions for 571 yards with one touchdown"
Here is his 2012 film vs Michigan State and Penn State.
Here is his 2011 film vs Pittsburgh and Oklahoma.
Tommy Smith (LB) - Boise State
Smith was a recent addition to the camp invite list. According to Jay Tust over at KTVB.com in Idaho, Smith could play fullback or ILB:
"Smith will attended the Browns rookie mini-camp this Friday through Sunday. Depending on his performance, Smith could be invited back for OTAs. Although Cleveland is intrigued by Smith's ability to play fullback, a source says he is being brought in specifically to tryout at inside linebacker."
"Smith, a redshirt senior linebacker from Atlanta, was the Broncos' third-leading tackler during the regular season, finishing with 55 (32 solo). He recorded four TFLs, a sack and broke up three passes"
Mike Niam (LB) - Wofford
Niam has been invited on a tryout basis to the Browns, and could very well be competing with Smith for a contract as an outside linebacker for training camp. Niam has ties to the area after growing up in Hudson. From the Akron Beacon Journal:
"The 6-foot-2, 243-pound Niam believes he caught the attention of the Browns during the NFL Super Regional Combine April 7-8 at Cowboys Stadium. He posted a time of 4.73 in the 40-yard dash and bench-pressed 225 pounds 25 times. Niam’s extensive experience playing inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme certainly won’t hurt his chances with the Browns, either."
Ryan McWethy (S) - Wisconsin Platteville
According to Ryan's Wisconsin Platteville Football Profile:
"Led the team with 84 tackles with a team-best 52 solo tackles. McWethy tallied a career-high 18 tackles against UW-Eau Claire (Sept. 20) and a career-best 10 solo tackles at No. 16 UW-Oshkosh (Oct. 13). He registered two and a half of his 12 tackles for a loss versus No. 4 UW-Whitewater (Sept. 29). He recorded two interceptions and three pass break-ups.
In his 30-game career in the Orange and Blue, McWethy tallied 180 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, and five interceptions."
Jay Taft, from the Rockford Register Star, gave a good summary of McWethy here.
He seems to have some size and speed, but as a converted S from Quarterback I wonder how well he can adjust to NFL talent and game speed.
Which of the undrafted free agents (or camp invitees) are you most looking forward to?