The Cleveland Browns have completed nine days of training camp. Here is a look at five players whose stock has improved since the start of camp.
1. QB Brock Osweiler: It might seem like I am cheating with this one since he was just named the starting quarterback Monday morning, but I promise that Osweiler’s inclusion on this list was planned for the past several days. Osweiler arrived in Cleveland with a stock that seemed to be rock-bottom. The league was laughing when the Browns first acquired Osweiler, because the team’s press release exclaimed, “We acquired a second round pick!,” with a mere footnote at the bottom basically saying, “We also had to take on this dude’s $16 million salary to make the trade happen.”
Osweiler persevered, though, passing second-year quarterback Cody Kessler on the depth chart and preventing rookie DeShone Kizer from stepping in front of him for now. It hasn’t been a lights out camp for Osweiler, and some could say that his rise to the top of more of an indication of how unimpressive the other quarterbacks have been.
2. RB Matthew Dayes: Heading into camp, I thought George Atkinson stood a fair chance to make the Browns’ 53-man roster as the third running back, with the rookie Dayes needing to unseat him. Head coach Hue Jackson must have been impressed at Dayes’ performance in the earlier offseason programs, though, because Cleveland decided to quickly waive Atkinson, followed by Jackson expressing some pretty lavish praise for the team’s seventh-round pick.
It’s also worth noting that throughout camp, we’ve seen very little of Duke Johnson at running back, as he’s focused his attention of lining up as a slot receiver. The Browns appear to be envisioning Isaiah Crowell as the lead back, Johnson as the backup on the depth chart who really ends up in the slot a lot, and perhaps Dayes as the guy who spells Crowell on running downs.
3. DE Myles Garrett: This type of article is typically meant to highlight lower-profile players, which makes Garrett an atypical choice to include. However, his inclusion is indicative of just how dominant of a camp he’s had to date.
Coming off of a foot injury, Garrett returned looking 100 percent from the get-go, bringing a confidence, charisma, work ethic, and the results one could only dream of from a first overall pick. Every practice, he’s beating rookie offensive tackle Rod Johnson for touch sacks. His one day against veteran left tackle Joe Thomas was quite the spectacle. And then at last Friday’s stadium scrimmage, he logged four touch sacks in what was an abbreviated type of game.
4. DT Desmond Bryant: Coming off of a torn pectoral last season, a lot of questions faced the 31-year old veteran entering this year’s camp. With all the young talent (Garrett, Larry Ogunjobi, and Caleb Brantley) that the team drafted, would Bryant still have a spot on the team, especially if he came to camp with any limited effects of being out a year?
Instead, Bryant has had no health issues in camp as the team let him work his way back up to the first-team defense. When I saw he and Garrett on the field at the same time during the scrimmage (Garrett at defensive end, Bryant at defensive tackle), Bryant flourished to the point where I was convinced he’s 100 percent making this team and starting in 2017.
5. MLB James Burgess: There are a few more under-the-radar guys who fans might like to see here from like WR Jordan Leslie, WR Rannell Hall, DL Trevon Coley, or FS Derrick Kindred, but ultimately, I decided to go with someone who not as many people are taking about in Burgress. An undrafted free agent who Cleveland also expressed some interest in last year, Burgress has had some of the bigger hits in camp. During Friday’s scrimmage, I saw him making several solid tackles with the second-team defense against the first-team offense.
We haven’t seen much of a change at middle linebacker on the depth chart, with Tank Carder and Joe Schobert ahead of him, but Burgess could be elevating his stock against the likes of Dominique Alexander and Kenneth Olugbode, especially if he can turn in a good performance against the Saints this Thursday.