Earlier today, we looked at five Browns players whose stock has improved since the start of training camp. In this post, we’ll look at the opposite: five players whose stock has declined since the start of camp. These are players who typically had something to prove, but have not been able to make an impact either due to injury or performance.
1. QB Cody Kessler: Have you ever had a TV show or movie that you like or used to like? And then, you hear about the next season or a sequel, and that it is going to be new and improved this time around? Then, you strap yourself into your chair, you start watching, and after a few minutes, you kind of look around and say, “...but it’s still the same thing.” That’s the feeling I get with Kessler.
His big flaws last season were that he didn’t have the arm strength necessary to make the big throws downfield, and that he was too passive in trying to lead the offense. Head coach Hue Jackson made a point of wanting more out of Kessler, which is why he benched him the second half of a prime time game against Baltimore. When training camp started this year, it was Kessler’s job to begin with, but he still had to prove that his abilities as a quarterback had made significant progress from a year ago. Instead, we saw more of the same. There is a place for his skillset on an NFL roster, but as far as a starting quarterback goes, he’s not fit for that.
2. TE David Njoku: It’s all good-and-fun to get hyped up over a player’s athleticism, and that’s all we heard about during OTA’s and minicamp. When training camp started, Njoku got off to a bad start when he was stripped by two defenders in the same practice. We’re more-than-willing to bypass one lackluster day of practice...but then, Njoku had a drop or two the next day. Then another drop the next day. And another.
For a team that appears to be lacking in the wide receiver department, the tight end position was viewed as the strength of the receiving game. Njoku has all the time in the world to improve his consistency catching the football, but the point here is that his string of mishaps has taken all the buzz surrounding him away, while fellow first-round picks Myles Garrett and Jabrill Peppers have either been able to improve or maintain their stock.
3. OT Roderick Johnson: A fifth-round pick in this year’s draft, the Browns said early on that Johnson would work at left tackle, although many thought he could still get a shot to compete at right tackle. Instead, Johnson has not entered the right tackle mix at all, and when Joe Thomas has had his rest days in camp (which is pretty much every other day), the left tackle reps have gone to either Cameron Erving or Shon Coleman.
Making matters worse is that Johnson has drawn a bit of bad luck. Because he’s on the second-team offense and the Browns had first overall pick Myles Garrett on the second-team defense for most of camp, the two were squaring off very often. Almost every practice, there were headlines about how Garrett was beating Johnson for sacks multiple times. Then, you start to look at the fact that Erving will probably stay on the team as a backup tackle/guard, and John Greco seems healthy and will be a backup guard along with Spencer Drango. That’s eight linemen already, and all of a sudden, Johnson’s chances at making the roster, despite being a fifth-round pick, seem pretty shaky.
4. DL Caleb Brantley: The Browns had a crowded defensive line coming into camp this year, and Brantley had a lot to prove due to his reputation of playing with inconsistent effort. Unfortunately, he had to have surgery on one of his fingers, forcing him to miss the past 1-2 weeks of action. Meanwhile, players like Desmond Bryant and Trevon Coley have improved their stock, while someone like Jamie Meder has had the opportunity to showcase his ability to be a stable defensive tackle.
5. S Calvin Pryor: I see where Pryor is headed, and it’s down the same exact path that veteran Rahim Moore was on last year before he was cut by the team. Despite having the most experience on the team at safety, and Ed Reynolds going down with an early camp injury that’ll keep him out six weeks, the team’s top three players at safety have been Derrick Kindred, Ibraheim Campbell, and Jabrill Peppers. During Friday’s scrimmage, Pryor also missed a tackle as the last line of defense, leading to a 37-yard run by Isaiah Crowell.