Berea, Ohio – Team Browns made some of their juniors available to the media on Friday. It’s a fun day, talking to the players shortly after they enter the NFL locker room for the first time.
Consider Martin Emerson, the third-round pick and top team pick last month.
“When did you happen to be in the NFL?” I asked.
“When I saw my locker,” the Mississippi defender said. “He was there with all these other great players.”
Emerson had already texted Denzel Ward, a Nordonia producer who became a standout Pro Bowl player. Emerson played in the SEC, which is similar to the farm system for the NFL. He made several league teams in that conference during his three years in Starkville, Mississippi.
He knew he would be recruited. But still, seeing your name and jersey in the NFL locker… it’s a dream for many of these guys, and a day most of them will never forget.
How do you wear a helmet?
Brown brought in Malik Smith for the weekend as a test. He is the brother of Tyreke Smith, a defensive star from Ohio who was a fifth-round pick by Seattle. They both went to Cleveland Heights.
Malik Smith was a basketball player, averaging 16.5 points and 9.3 rebounds in high school. Recruited by UNC-Asheville, he averaged just 1.9 points as a freshman. He later moved to Bryant and then to Fisk, where he graduated with a degree in business. Playing basketball only as a new student.
What about football?
“Not since fifth grade,” Smith said. “I haven’t worn a helmet since. They were asking me what size I wanted for the shoulder and helmet pads – I don’t know.”
There is a history of basketball players becoming tight ends in the NFL. This is the route the 6-foot-4, 267-pound Smith wants to travel. Spotted by Brown on Ohio State Pro Day. Tyreke fueled his brother’s football dream and convinced the Buckeyes to be part of the group being vetted by scouts.
Brown loves his raw, athletic style. It looks in great condition.
“It’s all new to me,” Smith said. “They gave me the game manual and it looks like a bunch of squiggly lines. I got my business degree from Fisk. My brother thinks I can do it. I have to go for it.”
I can smack ’em
Jerome Ford could become more than just a back-up to fall back on. I realized when I asked the Cincinnati producer about playing special teams.
He said, “I did it.” “Love her.”
“I can do that,” he said. “But I prefer to run at full speed (when covering the kick) and hit someone who is still standing. You slapped them.”
I remember Kent State Producer Joshua Cribbs entering the NFL in the same position after being a non-drafted free agent. Ford began his career in Alabama.
“I went into the back room to run thinking I’d be the guy,” Ford said.
“I looked around and realized I wasn’t going to be the man,” he said with another laugh.
Like Ohio, Alabama is the factory of the NFL. In two years, Ford carried the ball 31 times for Alabama, averaging 4.9 yards and scoring three TDs. The small sample size showed talent. Since Nick Saban became coach, Alabama has usually been booming with RB major prospects.
Ford moved to Cincinnati (which recruited him heavily in high school) and became a star for the Bearcats. As a debutante, he was in cover teams along with appearing as a contestant member. In 2021, he rushed for 1,242 yards (average 6.2 yards) and 19 TDs. It became a fifth-round pick by Brown.
“I was getting a haircut (from a friend) at my house when I got the recruiting call,” Ford said. “I’ll do whatever they want. …I can catch the ball. I was a slot receiver in high school. Special teams…you name it.”
Another type of “catch the ball” receiver?
In 2016, the Browns held a media event like this for the beginners. I spent time with Richard Higgins. It was a fifth round pick. he was the the fourth The team drafted it that year.
“What kind of receiver are you?” Higgins asked.
“I am a Catch-The-Ball type of receiver,” he said.
Higgins has good hands at his best. Brown hopes third-placed David Bale will have the same traits – even though he doesn’t have the perfect NFL pace.
“For me, catching the ball is our number one job,” said Bale, who was this year’s top ten receiver at Purdue.
Bell’s statistics in 2021 are overwhelming. He got 93 passes, averaging 13.8 yards. He had huge games against good teams: Ohio State (11 catches, 102 yards), Michigan State (11 catches, 217 yards) and Iowa (11 catches, 240 yards).
With those numbers, you’d expect it to be drafted higher.
“I don’t look at it that way,” Bell said. “God put me in the perfect position. Brown has a great running game, a great passing game.”
With Amari Cooper being the only established receiver on the list, it’s a great opportunity for the 6-foot-2 receiver to play a lot at once.
Yes, he called Phil Dawson
This was new. I had never seen a kicker surrounded by a group of reporters on the first day the media was allowed to watch rookie camp. But that was the case with Cady York, the LSU kicker who drafted in the fourth round.
He actually made a trip to FirstEnergy for a kick-starter on the shores of Lake Erie.
“It was fantastic,” York said. “Really, there was more wind when I usually kicked at LSU.”
York knows bad weather is coming. Had a 40-minute phone conversation with Phil Dawson, Brown’s last kicker. Weather and wind were part of the discussion. Dawson told York of a science that monitors the field to judge the currents of the winds.
Since Brown decided not to quit Dawson after the 2012 season, they’ve cycled nine kickers in nine years – including twice Cody Parkey (2016, 2020).
Dawson started when the team returned in 1999 until 2012. Some fans want Brown to hire Dawson as their kicking coach. He already has a job – head football coach at Hyde Park High School in Austin, Texas.
York quickly learns that kickers are a big problem in Cleveland. Dawson is revered. The Browns training complex is located on Lou Groza Blvd. , named after the great first kicker of the Browns.
You can also do that
Donovan Peoples Jones said Michael Woods II. The draft in the sixth round was talking about another selection in the sixth round, a receiver just like him. Peoples-Jones (DPJ) was captured in 2020. In his final season in Michigan, the DPJ had 34 passes averaging 12.9 yards.
Woods had 35 passes, averaging 11.4 yards.
Receivers coach Chad O’Shea Woods told how the DPJ “played 40 percent of fast picks as a beginner”. In fact, it was 34 percent. But the point where the selection is from the sixth round does not prevent the novice from being on the field.
“I’m big,” said the 6-foot-1 woodland. “I’m a 3-level receiver. I can do it short. I can do it moderately. I can do it long. … I can block it.”
All the rookies were excited. They encounter fans at the airport and hotel, and fall in love with their men in orange helmets. Everyone is excited now at Berea.
“Everyone told me Doug Pound is really crazy,” Woods said. “We’ll give them a reason to be crazy.”
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