Cleveland Browns: 5 Players Whose Stock Is on the Rise After OTAs
You cannot win a job during OTAs but you sure can begin to lose one. Every practice is important for players who reside on a roster where most positions are up for grabs. The Cleveland Browns have competition all over the field, and it is already showing.
Without contact or a full complement of players, it is tough to tell how well each player is actually doing. That does not mean that guys can’t flash and catch coaches' eyes, however.
If you can make an impression this early in the offseason, then you are doing something right, and the Browns have some guys doing just that. Let’s look at five Browns players whose stocks are already on the rise.
He may have been a fourth-round draft pick, but he was the first to put a pen to paper and officially become a member of the Cleveland Browns. He signed a four-year deal worth $2.63 million last Thursday.
He won’t be working odd jobs to support his family any more.
Desir, a big corner that thrives in bump-and-run coverage, is also seeing his stock rise on the field. He is almost assured a roster spot and will be expected to contribute on special teams right away. If anyone in the Browns secondary goes down with an injury, Desir could also be pushed into action immediately.
The Browns lack depth at his position, so Desir will be expected to be ready at a moment’s notice. So far, he looks up to the task.
The kid with all the hype has certainly caused a stir already in his career. When he isn’t partying in Las Vegas or Los Angeles, he is doing his best to win a starting quarterback job on the field.
In just one week, Manziel went from taking reps with the third-team offense to the second team. He also took reps with the first team during 11-on-11 drills. These are extremely valuable reps because any work he gets with the first team will go a long way toward winning the job.
Once Brian Hoyer is fully cleared to participate in 11-on-11s then he will be the guy taking those reps, so Manziel has to make the most of that time now.
Off the field, Manziel gear is flying off the shelves, he is partying with Drake and people are trying to get pictures of him everywhere he goes. I think it is safe to say the kid is living the dream.
Safety Donte Whitner is back in his hometown and ready to make some noise for the team he grew up watching. And, according to defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil, he will be expected to make quite a bit of noise.
“We want to intimidate people,” O’Neil told George M. Thomas and Nate Ulrich of The Akron Beacon Journal. “That’s what we want to be on defense, so I think that Donte is going to be one part of the defense that helps us do that. Every great defense in the NFL has an enforcer. He’s ours.”
Whitner will obviously be asked to make the big hits and become the face of the Browns defense. He has been known for lowering the boom in the past and will try to continue that reputation in Cleveland.
“I’ve always been like this, from Glenville High School to little-league football,” Whitner said. “It’s part of the game that everybody can’t do and aren’t willing to put their body on the line and sacrifice, and it’s something I enjoy doing.”
O’Neil's defense is predicated on attacking from the linebacker position and leaving the corners and safeties in difficult situations. He needs a safety he can trust, and it looks like Whitner is the guy already.
The Browns used their sixth overall pick in 2013 on Barkevious Mingo, and he did not live up to the draft spot in his rookie year. While he was solid, he finished with just five sacks and one in the last eight games.
The Browns are hoping a new system and a year of experience will do Mingo a world of good. Jim O’Neil said that so far he has been very impressed with what Mingo has to offer.
#Browns DC Jim O'Neil said from what he has seen so far, he thinks Barkevious Mingo will be a dynamic pass rusher.— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) May 28, 2014
He later added that, while he has been impressed thus far, he needs to see him execute against NFL competition wearing a different uniform.
“Now that’s something that obviously he needs to prove on Sundays, but from what we’ve seen from drill work and what we’ve seen out here, we think he’s going to be a dynamic pass rusher in our defense,” O’Neil told Thomas and Ulrich of The Akron Beacon Journal.
Mingo is a versatile guy because he can rush the passer as well as drop into coverage and keep up with receivers. Where he struggled the most last year was against the run. That will be a huge area of focus this entire offseason.
In 2009 and 2010, Miles Austin was one of the most dynamic wide receivers in the game of football. That seems like a distant memory now. He has just one season with over 600 yards receiving since then and had just 244 in an injury-riddled 2013.
While he has yet to join team drills with the Browns, his stock is already on the rise. This time it is for something off the field.
Austin, who has worn number 19 nearly his entire career, reached out to Browns legend Bernie Kosar and asked if it was okay that he wears his old number. He did not have to ask, as the number is not retired, but he did because he knew how much Kosar means to Cleveland.
It was a small gesture but one that has gone a long way with fans. Even if Austin is not healthy enough to push the primary receiver spot, he has earned himself some grace from the fans with that move. Not only was it smart but it was classy.