All of the Cleveland Browns’ offseason activities leading up to training camp are in the books. Shortly after training camp starts, we will look at five players whose stocks have dropped, and five players whose stocks have risen.
Through the team’s OTAs and minicamps to date, it’s almost impossible for anyone’s stock to be down, particularly since we know the order of the rep distributions in those sessions don’t mean anything. But, we can take a look at five winners from the Browns’ offseason programs — that is, players who appear to have boosted their stock a little.
Note: This list is in no particular order.
- QB Brock Osweiler - The fact that Osweiler is on this list is not an indictment of the other three quarterbacks on the roster. But when Osweiler was first acquired by the Browns, I think a lot of us loved the 2nd round pick, but laughed at the notion that Osweiler would actually stay with the club long enough to compete for the starting QB job. He is still here, and the press has been more good than bad through the offseason programs. After having seen all the quarterbacks, over the weekend, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer said, “Of the three quarterbacks, I'd start Osweiler if the season opened tomorrow.”
- WR Ricardo Louis - Cleveland really wanted Corey Coleman, their first-round pick from a year ago, to take advantage of as many offseason reps as possible so he could be a key element of the offense this year. But instead, he fell on a football and has had to defer those reps to Louis, last year’s fourth-round pick. Kenny Britt has also had some rest, creating more opportunities for Louis. He will work with Brandon Marshall soon, and has boasted about the progress he’s made from year one to year two. In the limited work we’ve seen from him at minicamp, there’s a more polished feel to him.
- TE David Njoku - Of the team’s three first-round picks, Njoku has been able to make the biggest impact so far, in part because the team said goodbye to Gary Barnidge and didn’t really have a proven talent on the depth chart at tight end. During offseason programs, any form of athleticism or acrobatic catches will be the talk of camp, simply because there isn’t much else to talk about in non-contact work. Njoku has had the majority of the offense’s highlight-reel plays.
- DE Emmanuel Ogbah - After a strong finish to his 2016 rookie campaign, Ogbah was busy batting away passes this past week during minicamp. Changes in defensive coordinators can sometimes hurt players because they’ll be asked to play a position that isn’t comfortable to them, but Cleveland has already said they envision him as their left defensive end -- and with Myles Garrett’s foot issues, there could be a greater reliance on Ogbah to begin the year.
- DC Gregg Williams - Whether it be the way he gives it to local reporters, his defensive philosophies, or his demeanor in general, Williams has seemed to win everyone over so far. But on a grander scale, the fact that Cleveland could be in a lot of 4-2-5 defensive sets seems to fit the team’s personnel strengths so well. I got so tired of Cleveland trying to make the 3-4 defense work when they didn’t have enough linebackers or the right defensive linemen to make it work.
Now, after years of not having a quality set of linebackers, Cleveland has two of them — Christian Kirksey and Jamie Collins. And that is all they’ll need, because more times than not, the rest of the lineup will be made up of defensive backs and defensive linemen. Making sure everyone on defense learns two position is a good idea too — maybe it’s more common in the NFL than I think (i.e. an assumed practice) and teams just don’t talk about it as much. Cleveland’s upgrade in personnel on this side of the ball has been tremendous, which is something we couldn’t have imagined after the team did nothing in free agency prior to the draft.