Analysis: Evaluating the Rookies

Will the Browns rookies make a difference as the team tries to take the next step in 2008? Between rookie camp, OTAs, and mini-camp, Lane Adkins has had a lengthy opportunity to study the Browns new draft picks on the field. Lane Adkins scouts the Browns newest acquisitions and lets you know where they're at in their development...

With OTAs and mini-camp concluded, and draft selection contract talks on-going, here's a recap of where the Browns new players are at on the field...

* ILB Beau Bell continues to slowly work his way onto radar for playing time with the Browns. After starting out at a snails pace in the rookie camps, the rookie linebacker is gaining knowledge of the defense and calls. While still somewhat slow in reacting, Bell has displayed signs of 'getting it' as his awareness and instincts are in the early stages of being re-shaped for the pro game. With approximately ten weeks until the start of the regular season, Bell will have ample opportunity to get into the flow of the defense and make the impact hoped for by the Browns organization.

* TE Martin Rucker is indeed an interesting prospect. Long and lean, Rucker can catch the football and can be lined up in the flank thanks to his better-than-average speed for the position. Interestingly, the Cleveland offense is set up to utilize his type of ability in numerous ways. While the rookie has faced some early struggles in blocking and route running/recognition, he has impressed the staff with his willingness to work hard. If this tight end continues on the path of improvement he has shown to this point, he will contribute on special teams and possibly see time in the offensive scheme.

* WR Paul Hubbard has been up-and-down in the early going. As could be expected for most rookies, Hubbard is an unpolished product who possesses good speed and quickness, but must improve his route-running and utilize his hands better in the receiving game. In non-contact drills, Hubbard has gained knowledge of blocking assignments and could development into a solid blocker. At this time, Hubbard has an up-hill battle in front of him to secure a roster spot in training camp, as Travis Wilson and Kevin Kasper have been effective in camp sessions.

* NT Ahtyba Rubin is physically strong and his upper body strength is solid. A player evaluator at camp told me that the consensus is that his lower body could use work. Rubin's inexperience shows at times during drills, as linemen on occasion can pinch the nose tackle off the play. Despite this issue, Rubin has a high motor and doesn't quit on a play. As in the case of most linemen, a true read cannot be established until the battle in the trenches commences with the pads on. A look based on technique, recognition, strength and quickness in non-contact, Rubin possesses the qualities teams need in the interior defensive line. Once in pads, we will know if Rubin is a player or just another guy.

* OLB Alex Hall is physically gifted. He is long and lean, his arm span is tremendous and has displayed at times that he can get his long arms on a lineman and work past him. Being long and lean, one does not get the impression he is strong, but this rookie shows surprising strength on the bull. Hall is a raw talent that requires plenty of work. His recognition is slow but improving, he is a liability against the pass but has the overall physical capabilities to run well. I don't see this rookie making the final cut, unless he shows much more in training camp sessions. The possibility does exist if the team fully believes he is going to be a factor at some point in the future and don't feel he can slide onto the practice squad


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