In Part 1 of our Browns cornerback preview for training camp, we looked at the four players most likely to see playing time. In Part 2 of 3, we’ll take a look at Tavierre Thomas, A.J. Green, and Donnie Lewis Jr.
5. Tavierre Thomas - Special Teams CB
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 205 lbs | Age: 24
Experience: 3 years | College: Ferris State
Since entering the league in 2018, Tavierre Thomas has been a special teams player on gameday. Claimed off waivers near the start of the regular season two years ago, Thomas has been a reliable gunner for the Browns, and I don’t expect that to change this year, especially when you hear about this from Pro Football Focus:
Without there being any preseason games, Thomas is the type of player who will stick to what he does best, rather than the team trying to utilize him on defense too.
Final Roster Odds: 75%
6. A.J. Green - Undrafted Rookie CB
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 198 lbs | Age: 22
Experience: Rookie | College: Oklahoma State
Even though he went undrafted, A.J. Green is one player who Browns fans can’t stop talking about (and no, it’s not because he has the same name as the Bengals wide receiver). Cleveland showed how much they coveted Green as an undrated free agent when they gave him $145,000 guaranteed, which is unheard of for an undrafted free agent.
Cleveland Browns wanted Oklahoma State corner A.J. Green badly. They signed him to a free agent deal that includes $145,000 guaranteed, with $130,000 base salary guarantee and $15,000 signing bonus, according to a league source— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) April 26, 2020
Green was the 23rd-ranked cornerback in this year’s draft class by Dane Brugler, who projected him to be a 5th or 6th round pick.
A three-year starter at Oklahoma State, Green was the left cornerback in defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’ scheme. He entered his senior season with third-round draft grades from several NFL teams and although his play in 2019 was uneven, he did a nice job vs. the best receivers on the schedule, specifically Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and Baylor’s Denzel Mims. Green loves to challenge receivers, jamming at the line and closing with burst on plays in front of him. He competes with confidence, but he tends to overthink concepts and draws flags due to his guessing. Overall, Green has a projectable frame and moves with the muscle twitch to pester receivers from press, but he struggles to recover after false steps and must improve his discipline to see steady playing time in the NFL, projecting as a backup.
According to Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network, Green has some technique issues that need to be worked out:
Green struggles with tackling and his lack of length is a consistent sore spot for his play. A physical presence, Green can effectively reroute receivers — if he gets framed evenly on the play. Green is too over-reactive and unbalanced at the LOS and needs to reel himself in so that he’s better able to dictate reps. A three-year starter, there’s some significant muscle memory habits to break moving forward.
Green will be given a shot to compete with Terrance Mitchell for the team’s backup cornerback spot. Mitchell has the definite edge in experience there, but the team has already shown some intrigue in the rookie — if he seizes the opportunity, the team could trade off the potential of a youngster vs. Mitchell’s experience at the end of the day. Green’s ability to contribute on special teams could also be a factor, if he can reduce the need for someone like KhaDarel Hodge to occupy a roster spot.
Final Roster Odds: 50%
7. Donnie Lewis Jr. - Backup CB
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 190 lbs | Age: 24
Experience: 1 year | College: Tulane
Donnie Lewis Jr. was a 7th round pick by the Browns last season, and was on the team’s practice squad for the majority of the year. Last year, he was Dane Brugler’s 39th-ranked cornerback in the draft. Here’s what he had to say about him heading into the 2019 NFL Draft:
A two-star recruit out of high school, Donald “Donnie” Lewis Jr. lettered in basketball, football and track at Central, earning All-State honors with six interceptions as a senior. At only 150 pounds, he wasn’t highly recruited and committed to Tulane over Louisiana-Lafayette. He started 44 games for the Green Wave, tallying double-digit passes defended each of the last three years (often following the opponent’s top receiver). Lewis loves to compete in press-man, showing nimble feet to mirror-and-match and decent length to challenge receivers. A former receiver in high school, he is quick to locate and plays the ball with timing and savvy to consistently crowd the catch point. While he plays quick, he isn’t explosive and his finishing strength is a concern, often getting muscled off the top of routes. Overall, Lewis’ play strength will be an issue (in coverage and run support) at the NFL level, but his competitive demeanor and ball radar are appealing traits.
Lewis has a chance to stick around on the practice squad again, but with the rest of the talent on the team and Green hogging all the buzz, making the final roster seems unlikely for him.
Final Roster Odds: 10%
Will A.J. Green make the Browns’ final roster?
This poll is closed
Yes, and he’ll see playing time on defense
Yes, but he’ll only be a special teamer to start off (or inactive)
No (maybe the practice squad)