CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – The Browns kicked off rookie minicamp on Friday.
Here are some observations and Top Takeaways from day 1 of camp and the only media availability for the weekend.
1. As far as actual practice goes, there isn’t much insight or analysis to offer as the session was essentially a football clinic with just 27 players – nine draft picks, 13 undrafted free agents, three tryouts and two members of the active roster – participating. Like last year, this camp is an opportunity for position coaches to get hands on with their young players and that’s exactly what we saw Friday.
2. Prior to the start of camp Friday morning, the Browns announced the signing of a dozen undrafted rookie free agents: West Florida safety D’Anthony Bell, Delta State cornerback Junior Faulk, Miami (Fla.) receiver Mike Harley Jr., Washington State receiver Travell Harris, Virginia Tech center Brock Hoffman, Appalachian State cornerback Shaun Jolly, Coastal Carolina linebacker Silas Kelly, Louisiana State defensive tackle Glen Logan, Florida Atlantic tight end Zaire Mitchell-Paden, Illinois defensive tackle Rodrick Perry II, Boston College offensive tackle Ben Petrula and Norther Iowa receiver Isaiah Weston.
3. A familiar quarterback was invited for a tryout – former Georgia QB Jake Fromm. Alcorn State rookie Felix Harper was also brought in to try out.
“Just to take a look at them,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said. Translation: someone needed to throw footballs this weekend.
4. The third player who is receiving a tryout this weekend is Cleveland native Malik Smith, a tight end from Fisk University. He is the older brother of former Ohio State defensive end and Seahawks fifth-round pick Tyreke Smith. The older Smith, who caught the Browns attention at Ohio State’s Pro Day in Columbus, is another former college basketball player turned tight end.
5. Outside of fourth-round pick Cade York, receiver David Bell has the potential to have the greatest impact as a rookie this season. Bell looked sharp and made a positive first impression Friday running routes and catching footballs. “Organizationally, we are very excited to add David,” Stefanski said. “He did a nice job today. He does not say a lot. He is pretty reserved, but he is very intelligent, did a nice job with what we gave him today and I expect him to continue to take strides every day.” Bell, who fell to the third round, looks and sounds like a perfect fit. “No, no, I don't wish I went a little bit higher,” Bell said. “God put me in this perfect situation, come to the Browns, be in a phenomenal offense, got a great run game, a great passing game, and arguably the best quarterback in the league right now. So I'm just really looking forward for the opportunity to get out there and hopefully, I have that chance to start at Week 1.”
6. Perrion Winfrey believes in destiny, and it appears he is destined to be the Browns version of the energizer bunny. “I’ve played with that energy my whole life,” Winfrey said. “There’s not one game I go into not juiced up. That’s just who I am as a person every single day. Yesterday, I came here on no hours of sleep. I couldn’t sleep the night before the plane arrived.
I stayed up all night packing my clothes, sitting at the table waiting for my mom to wake up…I’m just juiced up. That’s me.” Winfrey spoke of his motivation watching nine defensive linemen get picked before him and how he lost his voice temporarily from barking so much after being selected by the Browns. With a relatively thin and young defensive tackle group, Winfrey will get an opportunity to compete for playing time. “I feel like we all have equal opportunity to come in and try to prove right away who the starter belongs to and who should be the starter, so I definitely feels like it’s a blessing knowing that I have a chance to start this year,” Winfrey said. At 6-4, 290 pounds, No. 97 is hard to miss. If he is able to play as well as he talks, Winfrey is going to be a lot of fun to watch in the coming years.
7. Martin Emerson Jr. was a surprise pick 68th overall but the corner already feels at home in the secondary thanks to Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome II. “That helps a lot, just knowing that I’m coming in with guys that are going to help me get better, want me to excel,” Emerson said. Emerson will wear No. 23, worn by 2010 Browns first round pick Joe Haden, which is an honor for him. “I watched him growing up,” Emerson said. “Florida was my favorite college team growing up so I know about Joe Haden, also in the league, too, he has a long, great career.” With Ward and Newsome holding things down outside, Emerson could find opportunity in the slot. “Coach told me to learn outside first, but also learn nickel, too, he did tell me to learn nickel, so I don't know, we'll see.”
8. The Browns listed seventh round pick Dawson Deaton as a guard on their rookie camp roster and Stefanski confirmed that Deaton will be used as an interior lineman and not just at center.
9. Marus Santons-Silva will be a player to watch come training camp. The basketball forward turned NFL tight end caught several teams eyes – the Colts and Ravens among them – before he signed with the Browns following a tryout. “They typically have great ball skills as basketball players,” Stefanski said. “You are thinking about them in and around the hoop – and the ability to snatch the ball. Then it is their ability to use their length. Some of the guys – you can think about (Pro Football Hall of Fame TE) Tony Gonzalez – using their length and body position. When they enter the ball into the post, similar to a stick route, hey, you can stick your hands out and go grab it. A lot of those things apply from basketball to the tight end position.”
10. Running back Tre Harbison was waived with a non-football injury designation on Friday.