On the day of the first Browns preseason matchup against the Green Bay Packers (7:30 on NFL Network), we take a look at Browns rookies who may catch your eye tonight as you watch the game. Some of these guys you may have never heard of, you may not even know that the Browns signed them, but they will be sure to make their mark on the field.
When the Browns traded the sixth overall pick in the draft to Atlanta, instead of picking a much-needed receiver, I, like many Browns fans, was scratching my head.
When the Browns drafted Phil Taylor from Baylor (I still love the way that rhymes), I was even more perplexed.
But as you're watching the Browns this preseason, it's going to be hard to miss this guy. At 6'3", 334 pounds, the guy is a massive target, much like his overpaid predecessor Shaun Rogers, but will be able to replicate Rogers' performance. As he rumbles onto the field and takes on numerous blockers, Taylor from Baylor will be a great value for the 21st pick in the draft.
After losing his 2010 season to suspension, Greg Little became a bit of an afterthought to NFL teams. The Browns were prepared enough to make a great selection on drafting him.
Desperately, and I can't emphasize that enough, DESPERATELY needing a receiver, the Browns passed on Alabama receiver Julio Jones, and instead took little with their second pick in the second round.
The long target the Browns are looking for, the 6'3" Little could be the playmaker Colt McCoy needs. He doesn't have blazing speed, but he's athletic enough to be a deep threat, something the Browns have lacked. Look out for number 15 tonight and throughout the rest of this season.
At Stanford, this guy was a flat-out stud.
As my high school football coach, Jim Pletcher, would say: "This guy is a football player."
A starter on both sides of the ball at Stanford, Marecic is a coach's dream. A tireless worker and fighter, with brains to boot, Marecic will do whatever is asked of him. He will not only be an effective blocker, but he'll be able to catch balls and run out of the backfield.
As a rookie he will start at fullback and he will be MORE effective than Lawrence Vickers. This could be the best pick the Browns made in their 2011 draft. You'll no doubt be hearing this name a lot this season.
There has been a lot of buzz about Skrine at Browns Training Camp.
Out of University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Skrine is one of those names you may not have heard of before he arrived in Berea.
Well, there are a few things you might want to know about this guy. Skrine is tiny. He's 5'9" and weighs 185 pounds. Like most little guys, he's scrappy and extremely competitive. He's not scared of the bigger receivers and is often skilled enough to shut them down. Oh, and he runs a 4.29 40-yard dash.
No wonder he's making waves at Browns camp. He will certainly be making plays in an underrated Browns secondary, and is a guy you should definitely keep your eye on.
It's a shame this guy went to Pittsburgh. He immediately puts off Browns fans with the city of Pittsburgh somewhere in his resume. But this is a guy that I think could be a major player on one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.
Let's face it, as much as I like Tony Pashos, and as much as I think he'll do for the Browns this season, he's getting up there in age. Although Pinkston was a left tackle at Pittsburgh, I think it's safe to say Joe Thomas will prevent Pinkston from filling that hole for years to come.
This behemoth of a man, 6'3", 317 pounds, may not be getting a lot of press in Berea, but he could be the right tackle of the future. Opening the holes for Pittsburgh stand out running back Dion Lewis, and protecting QB Tino Sunseri, Pinkston is going to make an impression on the Browns this preseason. After Pashos plays his one quarter of action tonight, I think we will all be pleasantly surprised out of what we see from Pinkston.
The Browns did their homework again, signing Kentucky Wide Receiver Chris Matthews as an undrafted free agent.
Matthews is a lengthy guy, standing 6'5" and weighing only about 215 pounds, which is the biggest receiver the Browns have at this point. He's not incredibly agile, but his long legs lead to great top end speed. As you can see in the video, the guy has hops as well. He may not get many reps, but when he is in the game, he could be a huge target for Jarrett Brown.
This guy intrigues the h-e-double hockey sticks out of me.
First of all, going into my freshman year in college, and having gone through the admissions process, not once have I heard of Hillsdale College, even as an academic institution, much less a football institution. The Browns really, really, really must have something up their sleeves with this guy, to have found him out of such an obscure place.
Looking at his college statistics it's clear that he racked up the numbers, with 9,544 passing yards, 67 touchdowns, and 812 completions, but who was he playing against? Looking at Hillsdale's schedule the answer was...no one. But still, to sign a Quarterback out of Hillsdale College, the Browns really must know something we don't.
If this guy gets on the field, I cannot wait to see what he can come up with at the NFL level.
Technically, this guy is not a rookie. He's had small gigs with the Bears and Eagles, but for the sake of this article, and with as little experience as he's had, he is a rookie. With Browns punter Reggie Hodges out for the season with a torn achilles injury, the Browns were in need of a punter. Richmond McGee from the University of Texas is what they came up with.
McGee is definitely one of those names you've never heard of, that is unless you're a Texas Longhorn fan, but could be one of the most important "rookies" on this roster. In his first job as a starting punter, McGee will have to replace a very reliable Reggie Hodges, who (as we learned in the Saints game last season), can also make plays on the run.
The Browns have always been known to have good special teams, with Joshua Cribbs being the focal point, but McGee will definitely have a lot of pressure placed on him this season. The preseason should be a great indicator as to what this guy can do.
(Sorry for the video, it's the only one I could find, and it shows at least a bit of what McGee's leg strength looks like.)