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1. John Hughes: Gambles Pay Off—Stock Up
Coming into the NFL dogged by character and work-ethic questions leaves Hughes plenty of room for a rise in stock.
While he will never be confused with Mario Williams in the pass-rushing department, Hughes has always been a run-stuffer.
John Hughes appears to have subdued critics—at least for the summer, though no one has truly gone on record raving about him.
However, with his baggage, quiet acknowledgement from ESPN Cleveland that he is still in contention for the starting DT spot and is at least a rotational player, is extremely good news.
Hughes and sixth-round pick Billy Winn both took rotational snaps behind veteran DT Scott Paxson.
While Paxson will probably be the titular starter, having Hughes ready in the rotation and on board as a pro is a huge (yes, pun intended) bonus for the Browns.
Hughes may never be an every-down DT—but these days, who is? Okay, maybe Casey Hampton. However, that’s a different system and he’s one season away from being a dinosaur.
2. Brian Schaefering: Stock Plunging Through Bad Timing
Schaefering wasn’t able to participate in OTAs as he continued to recover from his sports hernia surgery.
One wonders when the old saying that “you can’t lose your job to injury” is going to be dropped from the NFL lexicon, since it is patently false.
Brian has to come into camp healthy and up to speed, which is going to be difficult now that Hughes, Winn and Paxson are all ahead of him.
3. Billy Winn: Climbing the Charts
Winn’s stock dove during the draft, landing him in Cleveland in the sixth round. Since many ranked him as a third- or fourth-rounder, he was already on the way back up.
The Phil Taylor injury has thrust Winn into a legit battle for the starting LDT spot along with Hughes and Paxson.
Despite being the lower-drafted and therefore less-expensive option, Winn has a reputation as a more versatile all-around type of defensive lineman. That fact may thrust him ahead of pure run defender John Hughes.
Check out Winn's draft grade.