Raw, But Learning Fast

Carlton Mitchell's progress depends on learning to relax. Here's the latest on this intriguing wide receiver prospect.

Browns rookie receiver Carlton Mitchell is raw, but he is learning quickly.

Mitchell was a baseball player until his sophomore year at Gaither High School in Lutz, Fla., and then he decided to give football a whirl because his friends played football.

Mitchell started as a punter; catch the snap, punt the ball high and far. Do that well enough and he would make the team.

Then one time the long snapper snapped poorly. Mitchell scooped up the ball and acted instinctively.

"I took off running," Mitchell recalled. "The coach said, 'You want to play wide receiver?'"

Mitchell did not have to be asked twice. He also ended up playing defensive end and defensive back (a strange combination) in high school. Rivals.com ranked him as the 55th best receiver coming out of high school in 2007.

Being No. 55 isn't the kind of recognition that attracts attention from schools like Florida, USC and other traditional powerhouses, but it was good enough to get a call from South Florida.

Mitchell played only three seasons of college football and then, against the advice of friends, left a year early after catching 105 passes for 1,648 yards and nine touchdowns.

The Browns drafted Mitchell in the sixth round in April, No. 177 overall. Nineteen wide receivers were drafted before him.

"Carlton has gotten a little better every day," coach Eric Mangini said. "He's a hard worker. He has good speed and good size. He's making progress in terms of his assignments and adjustments."

The coaches like the way Mitchell runs and they say when he is running a go route he looks smooth and comfortable. On those plays he catches the ball with his hands. The coaches want him to relax more when he is facing the quarterback and the ball is thrown to him, whether he is moving across the field or running back toward the quarterback.

How quickly Mitchell learns to relax and make those catches consistently could determine whether he ends up on the practice squad or grabs a spot on the 53-man roster.

Mohammed Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie, Chansi Stuckey and Josh Cribbs seemingly have locked up roster spots. Mitchell is competing with Jake Allen, James Robinson, Syndric Steptoe and Johnathan Haggerty for a job.

Mitchell has been told to catch 150 passes a day from the Jugs gun and is complying with that order and getting better.

"In the NFL the speed is a lot different," Mitchell said. "They throw a lot of information at you, but if you sit down and study and have a strong mindset, things begin to fall into place. I'm learning on the run. Every day I try to take five or six things with me."

Mitchell said he is working on a stutter-step before making a cut on his pass route rather than just trying to beat the defender with sheer speed. He said he is also working on staying in his assigned lane when being used on special teams.

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