Training camp for the Cleveland Browns has officially started. The team reported to the Greenbriar facility in West Virginia on Saturday, with the first official day of practice occurring on Sunday.
Training camp is an opportunity for players who are on the bubble to showcase why they deserve to be on the 53-man roster come week 1. After the conclusion of the 2023 NFL Draft, Cleveland was active in the UDFA player pool signing players. Cleveland picked up quality names but these three players are one’s Browns fans should keep a close eye on:
FS Ronnie Hickman
If you are familiar with Ohio State Buckeyes football, you are likely familiar with free safety Ronnie Hickman. At one point, Hickman was considered to be a day 2 or 3 pick coming out of college. But for some mysterious reason, Hickman went undrafted.
Despite dealing with multiple defensive coordinators and multiple defensive schemes throughout his Ohio State tenure, he was able to put together a solid campaign in his last season with the Buckeyes. Hickman is known for his aggressive playstyle in terms of being physical and involvement in the running game in terms of run fits. Hickman isn’t as solid in pass coverage but he has shown his ability to hold his own.
Hickman could be one of those guys that could sneak onto the roster as the 4th free safety despite the Browns signing veteran safety Rodney McLeod in free agency. Hickman can play either free or strong safety in Schwartz’s scheme and he’s someone to keep a close eye on.
LB Mohamoud Diabate
Preparing for the NFL draft, scouting linebackers didn’t include Mohamoud Diabete. After research and film watch, he has a good chance of making the 53-man roster.
Diabete spent 3 seasons with the Florida Gators before transferring to the Utah Utes for his last season. Diabete put together a fantastic campaign during his lone tenure with the Utes. The first thing that stood out from watching his tape is how he is good from sideline to sideline, he also has the athletic tools to be a solid run defender but there is room for improvement, as always.
Cleveland seems high on Diabate considering the guaranteed money amount of $250K. It’s rare that an undrafted free agent gets that much money but it seems as though Cleveland has high hopes for him. He is likely going to get a fair share of opportunities in the preseason so be on the lookout for him.
DE Lonnie Phelps
Sticking with the defenders, enter defensive end Lonnie Phelps. Before transferring to the University of Kansas Jayhawks, Phelps spent two seasons at Miami University in Ohio. He made second and third All-MAC teams during his tenure with the Redhawks and made second-team all-Big 12 with the Jayhawks.
On tape, he plays with a high motor and it shows in the way he wins his reps. Phelps is also a solid run defender, however, he does have some lower body stiffness and has some issues shedding blocks.
Phelps has a ton of upside as a player and Cleveland recognizes it. Like Diabete, Phelps was offered a lucrative contract to sign with Cleveland. As far as the edge rusher position room goes, it doesn’t hurt to add more players to the room but GM Andrew Berry has been active at the position all offseason. Rushers with a high upside can’t be counted out, however.
Phelps will get plenty of opportunities in camp and the preseason to make the roster, and if he doesn’t play meaningful snaps on defense he can contribute on special teams.
Which of the three do you think has the best chance to make the Browns 53-man roster out of camp?