The leap from year one to year two is critical for any NFL player, particularly a high draft pick.
Watching Christian Kirksey's growth in his second season will be particularly interesting. The former third round pick has become a solid inside linebacker for the Browns, but can Kirksey break into the starting lineup?
Kirksey spoke of his development and more during an interview with Bull & Fox on 92.3 The Fan on Tuesday.
The 22 year old had a few good one-liners in the 10-minute piece, stating that Johnny Manziel is making progress, Josh McCown is "having fun" and LeBron James would be a "dominant possession receiver" in the NFL, but here are the best four questions and answers from the interview. You can listen to the full audio here.
Bull & Fox: We hear guys say all the time, 'You have to get used to the speed. It's a big jump from college to the NFL.' Now that you're coming into year two, what's the biggest difference in OTAs and leading up to the season, year two versus year one?
Christian Kirksey: "It's a lot easier for you as far as knowing what to do, what to expect. You're adjusting to the speed of the game when you're coming in as a rookie. Your head is wandering, your head is spinning. You really don't know how [tough] it is yet until you get into the game and everything is thrown at you. The second year, you're more comfortable in your role and you're more comfortable with the playbook. The biggest adjustment for me is just making sure I try to be a leader on the field and be more sound and smart with the details."
B&F: Your defensive coordinator, Jim O'Neill, and your head coach, Mike Pettine, they're both in their second years in their jobs as well. They were rookies at their positions, in a way, last year. Do you notice a difference in either one of those guys from year one to year two?
CK: "They're getting better. I'm not sure what they do to learn better coaching tactics or techniques or whatever, but those guys are out there every day bringing energy and positive vibes to the team. Jim O'Neill and Coach Pettine are doing an awesome job, and I'm happy to play for them."
B&F: Talk to us about Jim O'Neill a little bit. We've heard lots of good things about this guy coming over from Buffalo, we've seen at practice when we're out there covering you guys, you see them in games in the NFL Films shows they have, and he's just so energetic on the sidelines. It's almost like he's one of you guys. Talk a little bit about the relationship you have, especially being a young guy, with Jim O'Neill.
CK: "When you come in as a rookie, you have to get a certain feel for coaches. Sometimes you can be a little nervous, a little scared to say the wrong thing. But when I first walked in the building, Jim O'Neill brings so much energy in and such a positive vibe that you can relax and just go out there and have fun because he's out there having fun with you. He's calling plays, laughing, telling you to get hyped for this play, 'Let's see you make a play.' He makes you want to continue to play football. He's a good coach, he's a good guy. The players love him."
B&F: How much can you take from OTAs going into training camp ... How much value do you think the OTAs have?
CK: "OTAs have a lot of value. First of all, you get acquainted with new rookies coming in, you get acquainted with some of the new veterans coming in, and you build a closer bond with the guys you've already been here with. You can take OTAs and learn from your mistakes. [You can] clean up and polish everything. A lot of times, you watch film, learn smaller details. I think OTAs are really big, even though it's voluntary, on getting momentum going into training camp and into the season."