Cleveland Browns: 5 Undrafted Free Agents That Will Make the Biggest Impact
The Cleveland Browns signed 18 undrafted free agents, and out of that entire group, we will break down the five who can make the biggest impact in 2013.
Although Joe Banner, Michael Lombardi and Co. made only five selections during the NFL entry draft, they stockpiled raw college recruits who are going to participate in the team's rookie minicamp, May 10-12.
Below is a list of the players inked to a contract:
Aaron Adams (offensive tackle)
Perez Ashford (wide receiver)
Josh Aubrey (cornerback)
Braxston Cave (center)
Jamaine Cook (running back)
Dominique Croom (wide receiver)
Keenan Davis (wide receiver)
Michael Edwards (wide receiver)
Paipai Falemalu (defensive end)
Chris Faulk (offensive tackle)
Caylin Hauptmann (offensive tackle)
Garrett Hoskins (tight end)
Dave Kruger (defensive tackle)—younger brother of Browns linebacker Paul Kruger.
Cordell Roberson (wide receiver)
Justin Staples (defensive end)
Travis Tannahill (tight end)
Ricky Tunstall (safety)
Martin Wallace (offensive tackle)
The final slide is going to outline which players won't make it past camp, and all statistics are courtesy of ClevelandBrowns.com
Remember, Browns fans, legends such as Josh Cribbs and Phil Dawson were both undrafted.
Also, 15 undrafted players are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is more than the total amount of Heisman Trophy winners enshrined.
5. David Kruger (DT)
The brother of high-profile outside linebacker free-agent signing Paul Kruger, David joins a deep and talented defensive line.
Kruger brings the desirable size for a bookend in a 3-4 base at 6'5" and 300 pounds. However, best-case scenario for him in 2013 is to earn a second-string spot. Even that may be optimistic.
Ahtyba Rubin, Desmond Bryant, Phil Taylor and Billy Winn are all experienced, agile big men who can rotate around the front three.
The Utah Utes DT did produce some impressive numbers over his collegiate career to take note of: 116 tackles, 3.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a single forced fumble are nothing to ignore.
Playing in 37 of a possible 49 games also gives the senior a solid base of football action to draw from. Overall, a smart depth addition by the Browns.
4. Perez Ashford (WR/KR)
Travis Benjamin is the heir apparent as kick/punt returner with the departure of Josh Cribbs.
The slenderly built Benjamin ran a punt back 93 yards for an impressive score in 2012, but can he handle the pounding that comes from being on special teams? At only 175 pounds, having someone else to help share some of the return duties may be ideal.
Cleveland acquired Dion Lewis in a trade with Philadelphia during this offseason as a reserve running back. However, he too has had some return experience.
It is in this area of uncertainty where recently signed undrafted free agent Perez Ashford has the best chance to impact this club.
The Browns are deep at wide receiver having added Davone Bess and David Nelson to a group that already included Josh Gordon, Greg Little, Jordan Norwood, Josh Cooper and Benjamin.
Ashford is a local kid from Shaker Heights, Ohio and is a sturdy 5'11", 182 pounds.
In 48 games with Northern Illinois, he amassed 410 yards as a sporadic returner and collected total all-purpose yards, which included receiving and rushing, of 1,685.
3. Travis Tannahill (TE)
No star power was added to Cleveland's tight end group during this offseason as it appears that Jordan Cameron is going to be given the reins as the go-to offensive weapon at that position.
Journeymen TE signings of Gary Barnidge and Kellen Davis are not locks by any means to automatically be rewarded with significant playing time. 2012 draft pick Brad Smelley remains in limbo as an undersized tight end or an oversized fullback.
All that equals the perfect opportunity for Travis Tannahill to catch the eye of his coaches with a strong training camp. At 6'3" and 253 pounds, he was a four-year letterman at Kansas State and was selected as a first-team All-Big 12 as a senior.
Tannahill brings the valuable combination of being a reliable receiver (42 receptions and three touchdowns in 51 collegiate games) and a dependable run blocker.
2. Braxston Cave (C)
Even with the selection of guard/tackle Garrett Gilkey in the seventh round and the impending return of last season's starting left guard Jason Pinkston, the Browns still lack depth on the offensive line.
Braxston Cave is a center by trade, and since Alex Mack currently has no backup, this seems like the most logical landing spot. He was also Notre Dame's long snapper.
However, the four-year letterman for the Fighting Irish possesses a flexible frame at 6'3" and 304 pounds that could allow him to slide over as a tackle or even guard if an injury occurred.
Cave played in 35 collegiate matchups and was on a line that helped his club average over 200 total yards per game.
1. Josh Aubrey (CB)
Josh Aubrey saw a lot of action as a four-time all-conference cornerback, starting 46 of 47 career games for Stephen F. Austin.
The Lumberjacks senior is a solid 5'11" and 202 pounds who isn't afraid to hit—255 total tackles and 3.5 sacks is proof of that.
Aubrey is also a ball hawk. Overall, he gobbled up seven passes for interceptions and defended 29 throws.
At a position lacking size (Buster Skrine, Chris Owens and third-round draft pick Leon McFadden are all under 5'10"), the Tyler, Texas native could be a dark horse to earn a backup spot.
Who Won't Make It Past Camp?
As nice as it would be to offer everyone a job, the fact is that several of the 18 signed undrafted free agents won't make it past rookie or training camp.
The most likely victims will come at positions of depth. For the Browns, those areas include wide receiver, running back and the defensive line.
Dominique Croom, Keenan Davis, Michael Edwards and Cordell Roberson are all going to be sent packing from Berea. As discussed earlier, Perez Ashford is the exception because of his kick/punt return abilities.
Josh Gordon, Greg Little, Davone Bess, David Nelson, Jordan Norwood, Travis Benjamin and Josh Cooper are all battling for playing time, and there just isn't enough room for rookies.
Despite finishing second in Youngstown State history with 4,052 career rushing yards, Jamaine Cook is simply the odd man out at running back.
Trent Richardson, Montario Hardesty, Chris Ogbonnaya and Dion Lewis fill out a crowded RB depth chart. No room for this Cook in the kitchen.
Under the old coaching staff's 4-3 defense Paipai Falemalu and Justin Staples would have had a much better chance to crack the roster.
However, defensive coordinator Ray Horton already has a plethora of linemen for his 3-4 base.
Even if it is going to be a multiple front system the Browns have invested heavily in Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo. Jabaal Sheard, Quentin Groves, Billy Winn and Ahtyba Rubin are also expected to be swinging around to different spots on the front seven.
Unfortunately for Falemalu and Staples, they shall end up as discarded training camp punching bags.
Follow Andy McNamara on Twitter @AndyMc81
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