Looking out at the seventy-four young players taking the field at the Cleveland Browns indoor training facility in Berea, Ohio, one can't help but realize that precious few will see the field as a Cleveland Brown – much less as an NFL player for any team.
After being the best of the best in their respective schools, they are now being told that their hands are too small or their technique doesn't stack up. A merciful Romeo Crennel promised the media that he will let the players know Sunday if they have made the cut. But today, these young men and their parents are living their dream. There are stories all over this practice field.
Take Kyle Lockett, for instance - a nose tackle prospect who attended Urbana, a small liberal arts college in Ohio. His mother had flown in from New Jersey just to see her 6'3", 200 pound son as he pursued his goal of becoming an NFL player. Despite the fact that only two or three of the 54 tryout players will be offered a contract, they hold out hope. If Cleveland tells Kyle tomorrow that he will not be one of those players, Baltimore has expressed interest in taking a look at him.
Famed Browns alumnus Joe DeLamielleure's son Tod, a linebacker out of Hofstra, is giving his dream one last shot after a career as a firefighter while Asa Matthews, another linebacker with a very familiar name, attempts to live up to number 57 jersey he was given. He is, perhaps, unaware of the irony.
James Banks battles through a drill where balls are fired out at him automatically. He struggles to pull the ball in and "look it into the tuck" – as his coach yells at him. His odds of becoming a wide receiver have just decreased, particularly as Paul Hubbard, the Wisconsin wide receiver chosen in the sixth round of performs the same drill flawlessly.
It is difficult to tell which of these tryout players show any promise. As Romeo Crennel says, "everyone looks good in shorts." But even to the untrained eye, the difference in skill level between the draftees/free agents and the tryout players is unmistakable – both on the practice field and off.
Fourth round draft pick Martin Rucker fielded the questions fired at him from reporters with as much ease as he did the balls fired at him on the field. He was drilled about his blocking skills, to which he answered honestly and openly. Blocking was a secondary activity for him at Missouri, but Romeo is withholding judgment until he sees with Rucker can do in training camp.
Beau Bell showed leadership potential as he shouted out signals on the field, and seemed more comfortable in drills than the other players. One can only assume that his current status is assured on a day dedicated to determining who may continue to practice with the team.
While many of these players will have their football dreams end tomorrow, fans can continue to dream the big dream. Though everyone likes a feel-good story about a tryout player breaking into the NFL, it's comforting to know that this Cleveland Browns team has finally amassed enough talent for that to be an unlikely scenario in Berea.