5 Players Who Could Find Themselves on the Cleveland Browns' Practice Squad
While some fans pay them no mind, the practice squad of an NFL franchise is an important component to success. Players such as linebacker James Harrison and tackle Jason Peters are just a few of the practice squad success stories. The Cleveland Browns are hoping they will have one of those stories on their squad this year.
A practice squad player’s life is not like that of a normal NFL player. They do not get to dress for the games on Sunday and act as an extra body during practice. It’s not exactly the luxurious life average fans imagine when thinking about the NFL.
Despite that, these guys are still NFL players and can work their way off of the practice squad.
So who will be on the practice squad for the Browns this season? There are quite a few candidates that are already on the roster and possibly even more who have not yet joined the squad. Let’s look at five guys who could grab a spot on the practice squad for the Browns.
At one time in his collegiate career running back Isaiah Crowell was projected to be a high draft pick. That was when he was rushing for 850 yards and five touchdowns at the University of Georgia in 2011. That was also before a gun charge and a transfer to Alabama State.
The charges were eventually dropped, but the stench of a questionable personality remained. He tumbled out of the draft and the Browns brought him in as a guy with high upside. The problem is that he must find a roster spot on a team which signed Ben Tate and drafted Terrance West this offseason.
While there is still a very real chance he makes the roster, he is a perfect candidate for the practice squad. That is not so simple either, however. If the Browns cut him he would have to pass all the way through waivers before the Browns could place him on the practice squad.
With the natural ability that Crowell possesses that seems like it may be a long shot.
Another undrafted guy who produced great numbers in college that the Browns are giving a chance is wide receiver Chandler Jones. He is the all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns for San Jose State. He accomplished all that as a walk-on.
Jones, who is no stranger to taking the rough path, will have to do it again in the NFL. He has a legitimate shot to not only make the squad but also make an impact in 2014. Josh Gordon’s looming suspension has created a void at the receiver position.
If Jones cannot snag a spot on the roster then he is a prime candidate for the practice squad. He is just 5’9” tall and does not have blazing speed. He would probably pass through waivers much easier than a physical specimen like Isaiah Crowell.
Wide receiver Jonathon Krause is another guy who will be vying for a roster spot with the Browns. He too is looking to snag some of the targets that will be left behind in the wake of Josh Gordon’s suspension whenever that finally comes down.
Krause is not a huge target, he is just 6’1” tall, and he does not have the speed to light up the radar gun. Instead, Krause just produced numbers in the SEC that made the Browns take notice. He had 42 catches for 714 yards and three touchdowns in 2013 for Vanderbilt.
He also has the added dimension of being a dangerous kick returner which makes him more valuable than a regular receiver.
While he may not have the ability to make the roster right now, he is an intriguing prospect for future years. The Browns will most likely try and stash the dual threat on the practice squad and hope he can develop into a Jacoby Jones type weapon in the future.
After being one of the most hyped prospects in the country heading into Florida State in 2009, defensive lineman Jacobbi McDaniel was scrutinized throughout his entire collegiate career.
While he was certainly productive, he missed most of 2011 and all of 2012 with an ankle injury and never posted the stats many thought he would. McDaniel is trying to finally realize the potential that most scouts envisioned.
McDaniel is a big man. He is 6’0” and 306 pounds but has great feet and moves very quickly. “I came to Cleveland with one thing on my mind—to turn my dream into reality,” McDaniel told Ira Schoffel of the Tallahassee Democrat.
The Browns are very deep on the defensive line and it could be a real struggle for McDaniel to snag a spot. More than likely, he will be a guy the Browns end up cutting late in camp. Then they will have to cross their fingers and wait to see if he makes it all the way through waivers.
If he does, and that is not guaranteed, then the Browns will have a very good developmental defensive lineman on their practice squad.
There were a number of mock drafts which predicted the Browns would select South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw late in the 2013 draft. While that did not happen, they made sure they still got their hands on him before camp kicked off.
The Browns brought in Shaw as an undrafted free agent and so far he has looked very good. There is most likely not a spot for him on the roster but that does not mean he has no future with the team.
The long-term goal for Shaw is to stash him on the practice squad for a season or two until the Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel situation plays out. The future of the Browns is obviously Manziel so sooner or later Hoyer will not be a part of the franchise.
Whether he plays well in 2013 and the Browns decide to trade him or he does not play well and the Browns go in a different direction, it is tough to envision a situation where Hoyer is with the Browns past the 2015 season.
The Browns are hoping that by the time Hoyer is ready to head out the door, Shaw is ready to step into a backup quarterback role. In the mean time he will probably have to settle for studying in the quarterback meetings and taking the scrap reps in practice.