Eric Mahl could be in a better situation than most un-drafted college football players.
With a new head coach in Cleveland preparing to install a brand new 3-4 defensive scheme and few holdovers on the Browns roster fitting that system, Mahl knows he is walking into a great opportunity.
"They are overhauling their defense, they are short on linebackers, and that could open up a chance for me," said Mahl. "I'm anxious to get to minicamp this weekend and show them what I can do."
The second-team All-Mid-American Conference selection will compete for a job at inside linebacker behind third-year pros Andra Davis and Ben Taylor, who are currently penciled in at the top of Romeo Crennel's depth chart.
"This is even more exciting for me because I grew up just an hour away," said Mahl, who played his high school football in Monroeville. "My parents are all pumped up because they love to travel to games, and the drive to Cleveland is actually shorter for them than the drive to Kent."
Mahl will be reunited in Cleveland with Kent State quarterback Joshua Cribbs, who also agreed to sign a rookie free-agent contract with the Browns Sunday night.
"It's going to be great to have Josh there with me," said Mahl. "We both played in the Las Vegas All-Star Classic after the season, and we got to know each other a whole lot better while we were out there. We've become good friends. And then with (former Akron quarterback) Charlie Frye and (former Bowling Green quarterback) Josh Harris also on the team, there will be plenty of familiar faces from the Mid-American Conference."
Kent State wide receiver Darrell Dowery Jr. and safety Abram Elam were in negotiations with NFL teams at press time. The Washington Redskins were among the teams showing an interest in signing Dowery.