On Day 4 of the Pro Football Focus training camp tour, the PFF analysis team traveled to Berea, Ohio, to take in Cleveland Browns camp.
BEREA, Ohio – Weather struck once again on the PFF training camp tour, and for the second day in a row, we witnessed an indoor practice—this time from Berea, Ohio, the late-summer home of the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are a team stocked with youth, with 24 rookies currently on the roster—14 by way of 2016 draft picks after trades—and several interesting players to keep an eye on.
[More: Get the full PFF training camp tour schedule here.]
Same old RG III?
The first look at Robert Griffin III in the Cleveland offense was both encouraging and discouraging, depending on how you look at it. He was very much still the same player he was in Washington, which is to say an impressive athlete with all the arm talent you could wish for, but one also severely limited as a quarterback.
He very rarely made it far through his progression in the team portion of practice, and was usually on the move if he had to come off his first read. The good news is that the Browns seem to be only too aware of that, and are almost building it into the offensive system, with receiver routes designed to uncover later in the play than is usual, catering to the fact that the QB may well be on the move and looking for an open target several seconds into it.
When Griffin took aim at a target and delivered, he was reasonably accurate and threw a nice football, but the big question mark for him as a starter this season (assuming he wins the job, and he was getting the first reps with each drill in this session) is whether that limit to his work in the pocket can succeed at this level.
Josh McCown didn’t seem to do much wrong, and Cody Kessler made a couple of nice throws, but there was a visible difference between him and RG III or McCown in terms of stature and velocity of pass thrown. Kessler is clearly working with more physical limitations, therefore he needs to be on point when it comes to accuracy and the mental side of the game.
Coleman, Higgins, Pryor all showing flashes in camp
The Cleveland receiving corps is a fascinating group of imposing physical specimens, smaller, shifty players, and their group of rookies. Perhaps the best day came from Marlon Moore, who made several nice plays, including one very good catch and run in team drills. Corey Coleman displayed his impressive speed and burst, but dropped a couple of passes and looked to struggle with getting his head around the complex routes that he is being expected to run. That’s not a huge surprise given the Baylor system he is coming from, but there were hints of the same thing on occasion from Rashard Higgins (Colorado State) and some of the other receivers.
Terrelle Pryor is an imposing athlete who looks far more natural as a wide receiver than you might expect, at least as far as his route-running was concerned. Other than one play that saw him slip over on his break when going up against rookie CB Trey Caldwell, Pryor ran smooth and precise routes and gained good separation, but his hands looked far from natural and instinctive. He dropped a couple of passes, and on this display, at least, it seems like a big enough flaw that it could cap his progress at the position.
Open competitions throughout depth chart
Many positions on the Cleveland depth chart seem to be open competitions, though ironically, the highest-profile spot—QB—might be the one where that appears most predetermined. The entire defense seemed to rotate across positions against all of the offensive teams, seeing undrafted rookies going up against the first-team offense as well as the starting defenders. In fact, some of the best plays of the day on defense came from guys lower down on the depth chart against players they should have been major underdogs against in one-on-one competition.
– E.J. Bibbs made some of the best plays of the day as a receiver. The second-year TE from Iowa State had some nice hands catches, when many players around him seemed to be letting those hit the turf.
– Arguably the best two DB performances came from Jamar Taylor and Eric Patterson. Each had at least one nice pass breakup and displayed some close coverage against some of the bigger-named Browns receivers.
– The Browns' kickers certainly seemed to be practicing hanging the ball up at or just beyond the goal line to tempt return men into bringing the it out and being stopped short of the new 25-yard touchback mark. Teams will likely differ on how they approach this rule change, but the Browns certainly seem to be looking to take that approach.