The Cleveland Browns organization is faced with an all-too-familiar task this offseason,...
Five Cleveland Browns You Haven’t Heard of Who Could Make Headlines in Training Camp
Every year, careers are made during NFL training camps. For the Cleveland Browns, this season will be no different, as dozens of undrafted free agents, rookies and veterans will battle it out in late July to earn a spot on the 53-man roster on opening day.
With a new coaching staff and new system, the playing field is level for undrafted players, and they will have to lay it all out on the field to impress the Browns coaching staff. When all is said and done, a roster will be finished, and there will be some hard cuts made. So who are five players you probably haven’t heard of that could be surprise additions to the 2014 roster?
Royce Adams, CB, 6’0″, 190, 26-years old
A graduate of Glenville High School in Cleveland, the same school attended by Cleveland Browns safety Donte Whitner, Adams was brought in specifically by head coach Mike Pettine and defensive coordinator Jim O’ Neil.
Adams played under Pettine in New York while he was a defensive coordinator there, but when it came down to the wire, he barely missed the final cut. After tearing his ACL in 2013, he had become an afterthought to most, but O’Neil made the call and brought him in for a tryout. Adams may be one of the hardest workers you will ever find on and off a football field, and he wants badly to play for his hometown team. If the Browns are looking for a corner who “Plays Like a Brown,” they would be foolish to pass on Adams.
Isaiah Crowell, RB, 5’11”, 209, 21-years old
Before felony weapons charges derailed his promising career, Crowell was considered the best running back in the state of Georgia, and won the SEC Freshman of the Year award while leading the Bulldogs to the conference title game. After the charges, Crowell found himself without a team, eventually joining up with Alabama State. While there, he continued to impress, averaging 6.6 yards per carry and dominating the competition along the way. With a chip on his shoulder from going undrafted, Crowell claims to be working harder than ever and staying humble, waiting for his chance to duke it out with the likes of Ben Tate and Terrence West in NFL training camp.
Chandler Jones, WR, 5’9″, 185, 22-years old
Despite his smaller stature, Jones became San Jose’s all-time leader in receptions (248), receiving yards (3,087) and touchdown receptions (29) during his collegiate career there. His father, Mike Jones, played seven years while in the NFL, and he is now a coach at Tennessee State.
Those bloodlines show up in a big way when it comes to the former Spartan, as Jones turned heads in mini-camps with his consistent hands and crisp routes. With a 4.34 40-yard dash time, Jones has the blazing speed that can make him a deep threat in much the same way that Donnie Avery has become. While in mini-camp, Jones lined up outside and impressed coaches with his ability to get open deep and locate the ball. With Josh Gordon likely out and Andrew Hawkins in the slot, Jones could see a lot of looks on the outside.
Chris Faulk, OL, 6’6″, 317, 24-years old
The likely starters at offensive guard are rookie Joel Bitonio and veteran John Greco, but one impressive training camp can change all of that. The former LSU guard had the unfortunate luck of tearing his ACL during his final season with the Tigers, with a slow recovery time, the Browns chose to shut down their undrafted free agent for the 2013 season to avoid injury. Upon being undrafted, Gil Brandt and Dan Pompeii of NFL.com proclaimed Faulk a steal, while Brandt declared that he would have been a high-round pick if not for his injury. Faulk is a strong, athletic lineman with great size and long arms. If he doesn’t challenge for guard, he could become a primary backup to Mitchell Schwartz should he struggle.
Darwin Cook, S, 5’11”, 195, 23-years old
A lot of players “get it” at the end, and in 2013, Cook certainly picked it up. Finishing among the Big 12 leaders in INTs, forced fumbles and tackles during his final season at West Virginia, the Cookie Monster seemingly gobbled up every loose ball that came his way.
With an aggressive physicality that Pettine covets, as well as a habit of creating turnovers, Cook could find himself challenging Tashaun Gipson for the starting role during training camp. While the staff is reportedly high on Gipson after mini-camps, the tape from 2013 shows differently, as he was out of position in many key situations. When the gloves are off during training camp and Cook lights up his first ball-carrier, heads are going to turn, and it should come as no surprise if you see Cook out there in the Browns secondary sooner than later.
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