Long-time members of the Orange and Brown Report used to gather weekly and discuss what happened to each of them via Friday musings. With another Friday upon us, this column will serve as a tribute to the community.
Each week, we’ll discuss a variety of topics from things happening behind the scenes to general thoughts about the Cleveland Browns. Basically, nothing will be off the table. If it affects the Browns in some way, we’ll muse on.
In this week’s tribute to the once-great and now-forgotten staple, an underlying theme in the locker room and player notes dominate the conversation:
1. Hue Jackson’s impact on the franchise can’t be overstated. The respect he demands from his players and those around the league is legit. But with any new coaching staff, there is a transition period. Prior to mini-camp, one source told the OBR there was concern the preconceived notions of the coaching staff meant some players were being favored over others. This could be due to off-season film study and the schematic preference of the coaching staff showing itself in OTA sessions.
2. Justin Gilbert and Barkevious Mingo find themselves on opposite sides of the spectrum regarding the staff’s approach. Gilbert will be given every chance to prove himself and finally realize his full potential. Meanwhile, Mingo is on the outside looking in at the linebacker rotation. With Paul Kruger and Nate Orchard getting first-team reps during OTAs and recent second-round pick Emmanuel Ogbah expected to receive a big role, Mingo’s status with the team remains in question.
3. Danny Shelton's sleeker build developed into one of the top stories from minicamp. The nose tackle revealed he lost 30 pounds this offseason and currently weighs 335 pounds. Fans can be cautiously optimistic about last year’s top pick, because Shelton should display better flexibility, pad level and explosiveness while playing at a lighter weight. Although, his weight still remains a concern.
4. Prior to the 2015 NFL draft, a former collegiate teammate told me Shelton “matured a ton” as a senior at Washington. Even so, this is the second time in two seasons the defensive lineman played near or over 360 pounds. Until he proves he can perform at a consistently high level and maintain his current build throughout an entire campaign, questions will linger about his overall dedication.
5. Last year’s other first-round pick, Cameron Erving, needed to do the opposite of Shelton. The Florida State product needed to get stronger and more physical this offseason. A full year in an NFL strength program should work wonders for the versatile blocker. Florida State doesn’t put a heavy emphasis on its strength and conditioning program. Even former FSU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston finally dedicated himself to a professional regimen during the offseason. Erving wasn’t ready for the professional ranks on many levels.
6. By being settled at one position—center—and improving his functional football strength, Erving should display marked improvement. The transition from left tackle to center to guard isn’t easy. Many wrongly assume it is, but there are major technique differences in playing each position. Erving can now concentrate on working in tight areas, being consistent stepping to both sides and making line calls. If the second-year blocker doesn’t excel, veteran John Greco could find himself snapping the ball.
7. While last year’s first-round picks disappointed during their rookie campaigns, this year’s top selection, Corey Coleman, shouldn’t experience similar issues. Here are the numbers to keep in mind for Coleman: 51 receptions, 656 yards and four touchdowns. Those are the rookie averages posted by the seven wide receivers selected between the 10th and 20th overall picks during the previous 10 drafts.
8. Those averages can be juxtaposed against the top rookie performances over the last 10 seasons. On average, the top first-year receiver managed 71 receptions for 1,011 yards and seven touchdowns. Coleman became the first receiver selected this season, but expectations should be held in check. In an offense where he will be featured, it shouldn’t be too difficult for the Baylor product to surpass the averages set by those selected within the same draft range. However, a 1,000-yard season might be asking for too much.
9. It shouldn’t come as a surprise when the team and local media made a big deal out of Browns alumni attending OTAs. This is a big step in the right direction to repair a fractured relationship between the team’s past and its present. The previous regime thumbed its nose at ex-players willing to help current players on and off the field.
10. Why didn’t a relatively inexperienced staff willingly accept those ex-players when Jackson already has? Because “they knew what they were doing.” That’s right. Help offered by some of the best the franchise ever put on the field was turned down or ignored. Jackson isn’t making the same mistake.