It should come as no surprise to anyone that a team that lacked depth in many areas, such as the 2011 Browns, would wind up relying heavily on rookies to fill the voids they couldn't close with more experienced players.
Over the course of the 2011 season, we saw the majority of the Browns' rookies not only wind up logging significant playing time, but in many cases even wind up in a starting role for some or all of the season.
Sending rookies out into the maelstrom that is NFL football is always a risky proposition.
While some players do thrive right off the bat and some would never get there no matter how many seasons they had to ease in, most (even if they can ultimately hack it in the NFL even as rookies) would always have been better off if not immediately thrust into a starting role in their first season of professional football.
But desperation—which the Browns know quite a bit about—creates both opportunities and land mines. Browns rookies stumbled into both during the 2011 season.
Some fared exceptionally well and far better than expected. Some struggled but hung in there. And still others, well, found themselves straight-up face-planting in the face of such tremendous pressure on a stage bigger than they'd ever been on before.
That leads us to the final grades for the Browns' 2011 draft picks in their first NFL season. Because it seemed unfair to evaluate these youngsters on the same scale we would use for seasoned veterans, grades are not for their overall play alone, but rather for how they played compared to their draft slot and how well they did given that it was their first NFL season.
Please share your own Rookie Report Cards in the comments below!
- This piece addresses drafted rookies only, and does not touch on undrafted free agents whom the Browns signed in 2011.
- Fourth-round pick TE Jordan Cameron and seventh-round pick S Eric Hagg were not gradable due to the fact that neither saw enough playing time for us to make any sort of accurate assessment of their overall performance.
- For the record, I liked what little I saw of Hagg (who was unfortunately plagued by injuries for much of the season) when he was healthy. As for Cameron, there was so little to go on that it was impossible to form an opinion.