Cleveland Browns

5 Undrafted Cleveland Browns Players Who Could Turn out to Be Gems

Will BurgeContributor IJune 20, 2014

5 Undrafted Cleveland Browns Players Who Could Turn out to Be Gems

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    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Undrafted free agents are an integral part of every NFL roster. If you don’t believe me, just ask the 2013 Seattle Seahawks. Their Super Bowl-winning roster was littered with them.

    If an undrafted free agent pans out, it was essentially an extra draft pick. The Cleveland Browns need all of the draft picks they can get to make the jump back to relevance.

    General manager Ray Farmer is looking for guys to fill roles not only on special teams, but on offense and defense as well. It wouldn’t be that far out of the realm of possibility to see an undrafted free agent as a starting wide receiver.

    Let’s take a look at five undrafted free agents who could end up being gems for the Cleveland Browns.

Connor Shaw

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    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    There was speculation that the Browns might draft South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw in the late rounds, so it was not that much of a surprise when they signed him as an undrafted free agent. Since his signing, he has been impressive and turning some heads.

    #browns undrafted free agent rookie I've been most impressed with: former SC quarterback Connor Shaw. Nice offseason.

    — Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) June 12, 2014

    Shaw is not going to push for a starting position, and he will most likely have to sit on the practice squad for a year or so, but that does not mean he doesn’t have a future with the team. The long-term plan for Shaw is to be the backup quarterback.

    Realistically, if Brian Hoyer is even halfway decent in 2014, the Browns will definitely have a market to trade him. Sooner or later, they need to make room for Johnny Manziel. Tyler Thigpen is 30 years old and not a long-term answer, either.

    Shaw will have an opportunity, and he just has to make the most of it. So far, he has.

Chandler Jones

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    USA TODAY Sports

    With all of the uncertainty surrounding wide receiver Josh Gordon, there is an opportunity for an undrafted free agent to grab some serious playing time. I said earlier that it would not surprise me if an undrafted free agent snagged a starting spot, and really, why not?

    The Browns released veteran wide receiver Earl Bennett, and Travis Benjamin could start training camp on the physically unable to perform list. Miles Austin is still easing his way back into action after being plagued by hamstring injuries last season, and Nate Burleson missed OTAs and mini-camp because of his arm injury.

    If there were ever a time for someone to make a run at a starting job, it is now. Chandler Jones knows that, and he is making the most of his opportunities.

    #Browns QB Brian Hoyer connected w/Chandler Jones for 55-60 yds on go route in simulated 11-on-11. Jones beat Josh Aubrey&Pierre Desir.

    — Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) June 10, 2014

    Jones put up video game-like numbers at San Jose State and is trying to convert some of that into the NFL game. He certainly shows the big-play potential.

Willie Snead

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    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Another receiver who has a legitimate shot at making an impact is Willie Snead from Ball State. He, too, put up huge numbers in college. He had 106 receptions for 1,516 yards and 15 touchdowns. That is called making an impact.

    He has been trying to carry over that mojo into this offseason with the Browns, and so far it's working.

    #Browns QB Brian Hoyer connected w/Chandler Jones for 55-60 yds on go route in simulated 11-on-11. Jones beat Josh Aubrey&Pierre Desir.

    — Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) June 10, 2014

    Snead is an intuitive combination of physicality and gracefulness and could end up as a very good possession guy in the NFL.

Isaiah Crowell

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    Mark Duncan/Associated Press

    Running back Isaiah Crowell is a kid who has the talent to be drafted in the first three rounds but wound up undrafted because of off-the-field issues. He is motivated by that.

    “It was kind of a wake-up call. I felt like I should have been drafted,” Crowell told Nate Ulrich of The Akron-Beacon Journal. “I can’t let it worry me. I can’t dwell on it. I just have to move on and work hard and just prove myself on the field.”

    While his talent is undeniable, the running back room is pretty crowded right now. It seems as though Ben Tate and Terrance West are locks to make the roster. That means Crowell is most likely fighting for one lone running back roster spot.

    He missed OTAs because of a hamstring injury but returned for mini-camp and looked very good. He is the type of player who is just interesting enough that it could be worth the gamble on a roster spot.

    He will also need to earn his keep on special teams if he wants a chance to play for the Browns in 2014.

Ray Agnew

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Fullback Ray Agnew has a chance to be a gem for a completely different reason than the rest of the guys we just went through. Agnew is the only true fullback currently on the Browns roster. If they decide they need a true run-blocker in the backfield, Agnew will be the guy.

    The Browns also have Chris Ogbonnaya, a converted running back, and MarQueis Gray, a tight end who can shift into the backfield if needed. Unfortunately, Ogbonnaya is too small to be effective, as he showed last season, and Gray is only a hybrid blocker.

    Agnew brings a true run-blocking mentality and thinks there is still a spot for guys like him in the league.

    "Fullback is still a very important position in the league," Agnew told Branson Wright of The Cleveland Plain Dealer. "With the exception of the Green Bay Packers, the past few Super Bowl champions all had a running game they could rely on. Seattle had one of the better running teams in the league, which means running is still important and fullbacks are still important."

    Fullbacks rarely get the publicity they deserve, and Agnew could become a key component to what looks like a potentially great running game in Cleveland.

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