BEREA, Ohio--With the recent success of Cleveland pro sports teams, the Browns might have a little work to do to regain the interest of the sports fans in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won the NBA Championship, the Monsters won the Calder Cup in hockey and the Indians are currently in first place in their division.
The Browns have long been the darling of the Cleveland sports fan, but after continual years of trying to rebuild with little success and coming off a 3-13 season with yet a new coach and front office regime, the Browns are vying for attention from the other sports.
With that said, we offer five of the most intriguing players to watch as training camp opens on Friday.
1. QB Robert Griffin III--It has to start with the quarterback and all eyes will be on Griffin III to see if he can return to his historical rookie season. He is likely the biggest unknown coming into camp as it's not sure what Griffin III will do when the pads are put on.
Hue Jackson thinks he can design an offense that fits Griffin's strengths. Although Jackson hasn't named Griffin the starter, it will be an upset if he isn't the starter coming out of the preseason. Griffin was inconsistent during the off-season program, but Jackson's task will be to design an offense that will maximize Griffin's arm strength and running ability, while helping him to improve his ability to play in the pocket.
If Griffin can get his career back on track and play like the No. 2 overall pick that he was, at just 26 he could be the answer at quarterback the Browns have long been looking for.
2. WR Terrelle Pryor--There is no question that Pryor is one of the most gifted athletes on the Browns roster. At 6-4, 223 pounds and with the ability to run a 40-yard dash in the 4.3-4.4 range, NFL coaches have tried to figure out how best to use him. It appears that Jackson thinks Pryor can be a play maker for the Browns and could very well use him as he used Mohamed Sanu in Cincinnati. Pryor tried to transition from quarterback to wide receiver during training camp last year and after injuring his hamstring early in camp, never really was able to have the opportunity. He caught one pass for 42 yards at the end of the season. This year, Pryor has had a full off-season as a receiver and looked much more comfortable in the spring practices.
3. RB Duke Johnson, Jr.-- Johnson showed flashes as a rookie, but really never exploded on the scene. Johnson, Jr. finished with 61 receptions for 534 yards. He averaged just 3.6 yards rushing with just 379 yards and no touchdowns. It is unclear if he can be more than just a pass receiving back and if he is durable enough to be the featured back. Jackson will likely utilize Johnson, Jr. along with another back, whether it be Isaiah Crowell, Terrell Watson or another back in the running game. Johnson, Jr. has the potential to be one of the biggest playmakers on the Browns offense.
4. LB Emmanuel Ogbah-- Ogbah was drafted in the second-round and if he is the player the Browns are counting upon to be a disrupter coming off the edge as a pass rusher. Nate Orchard showed promise at the end of last season and if Ogbah can make the transition from a defensive end to outside linebacker quickly, the Browns defense will be better from Day One.
5. WR Corey Coleman -- Being the top pick in the most recent draft for the Browns, Coleman will have high expectations. He showed his athleticism and explosiveness in the spring, but it was without the fear of being hit. Coleman has 4.38 speed and has over a 40 inch vertical leaping ability. Coleman should provide the ability to electrify the Browns offense and is expected to step in almost immediately, but transitioning from college to the NFL is a big jump.
C Cameron Erving--The 19th overall pick in 2015 didn't live up to the expectations for him, but he has spent the past seven months preparing to step in at center and try to fill the big shoes of departed Pro Bowl center Alex Mack. If Erving can handle the duties in front of him, the Browns offensive line should continue to be a solid unit.
DL Xavier Cooper-- With the devastating injury to Desmond Bryant, the Browns need someone on the defensive line to step up quickly. Cooper was a third-round pick last year and finished with 1.5 sacks with no starts in 2015. Cooper has a golden opportunity in front of him to seize the chance to win a starting position at defensive end.
LB Scooby Wright--He could be the steal of the draft as the Arizona linebacker was a force in college and was one of the most decorated inside linebackers in the country in 2014, but had an injury-filled season last year allowing the Browns to draft him in the seventh-round. The Browns could use help inside and Wright has the chance to show what he can do.