Browns

2016 Browns Rookies: The Meh Club

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

One of the glimmers of hope for the 2016 Cleveland Browns was that the team had 14 rookie players selected from the NFL Draft. The Browns front office is banking on those rookies forming the foundation upon which to build a new era of successful Browns football.

One season is an incredibly small sample size especially for players new to the NFL. Still, the collection of draft picks by the Harvard Brain Trust has left Browns fans saying a collective “Meh” thus far.

Best hopes for star players

Emmanual Ogbah is one player that might need an exclusion from this discussion. After having a few good moments early in the season, Ogbah broke out over the last few weeks when defensive co-ordinator Ray Horton started moving him around and giving him more responsibilities. His strength was his ability to get into the backfield as his six sacks and numerous quarterback hurries demonstrated. He finished fourth among all rookies in sacks for 2016 and fourth in tackles for a rookie defensive end. There are still some lingering concerns as 3.5 of his sacks came against one team (two games versus Cincinnati Bengals).

Corey Coleman had a disappointing year especially after a big Week 2 five reception, 104 yard game against the Baltimore Ravens. Coleman would miss the next six weeks and never match those numbers (three receptions, 41 yards would be his game high after returning from injury). He would even show some frustration to the media when he noted the problems of having so many different quarterbacks. Still, he has a potentially good skill set that could be refined to make him worth that first-round pick.

At least they got playing time

Cody Kessler wound up having a better season statistically than both the Top 2 picks in the NFL Draft; Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. Both of those quarterbacks still have a much higher ceiling than Kessler, who had issues making plays down the field. But, for one season, he can say with confidence that the only rookie quarterback that was better than him was Dak Prescott.

kessler-versus-wentz

Carl Nassib had sacks in both the first and last week of the season, but only a half sack the rest of the year. After many hoping he could show up as a mid-round steal, Nassib was largely invisible on the field on the whole the vast majority of the season.

Joe Schobert wants to prove he can be consistent. Sure, he only had 11 tackles on the season, but they came in eight different games. He was active and appears he can be a useful backup but expecting anything more might be folly.

Ricardo Louis was the best of the late-round wide receiver picks. He returned kicks and he caught more passes than any other rookie outside Coleman. Of course, that still only netted him 18 for the year. After a somewhat promising four-game set from Week 3 through Week 6, he struggled before being phased out of the passing game.

Derrick Kindred arrived early in the year by laying some hard hits on opponents. It was obvious early on that coverage would not be his forte, but, man, he can lay some licks. The problem is that Horton’s schemes often utilize both safeties in rotating roles, which put him in precarious positions for his skillset.

Seth Devalve can bank on the fact that learning tight end at the NFL is a difficult proposition that can take some time to master. There was still some hope he could provide more in the passing game though he was the offensive version of Schobert. He might not have put up big stats (10 receptions on the season) but he caught a pass in each of the last seven games for the Browns.

Spencer Drango was the offensive version of Kindred in that he had an obvious strong suit (run-blocking), but his weakness (pass-blocking) was a big part of the required job.

Not sure how to evaluate players who didn’t play

Rashard Higgins and Jordan Payton couldn’t beat out Ricardo Louis or Andrew Hawkins for playing time, so they did not see the field much.

Shon Coleman couldn’t beat out Austin Pasztor, Spencer Drango, Alvin Bailey, Cam Erving, or Jonathan Cooper for playing time. An Erving injury in Week 17 finally saw him get his first extensive look at right tackle. He did not fare terribly, but one half of football does not a season make.

Gone before we got to know them

Trey Caldwell and Scooby Wright were cut.

stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com

stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com

  • Jeremy Humbert

    How many 70 yard td “passes” actually only traveled 2yds?

  • Jeremy Humbert

    Being lost may speak to finding a rhythm with your qb, where to go or how fast to break. He looked tentative to me, and almost disinterested, which could be from being disconnected from a terrible team.

  • Jeremy Humbert

    It is soooo difficult to rate a class this big, playing for such a sorry team. I would say that the playing time that most had was good experience in learning to play hard and overcome dissapointment. With more pieces, and help from positions around them, there are a few guys that might mature into really good players. Kinda like playing Tekken on hard the first 16 fights, and then backing it down to medium. Ogbah was easily neutralized without rushing threats on the other side, Coleman started to put it together, then the hand and a loss of fire. We will see how these guys look after next year as well.

  • scripty

    I am not disagreeing with any of the assessments. I would just add that relying on immediate production from NFL rookies is a hallmark of a loser franchise/fanbase. No matter how much “on the job training” is available, rookies struggle. That is why throughout NFL history, there is a direct relationship with rookie playing time and losing.

    Now, do teams need to wait 2.5-3 seasons to evaluate rookies like years goneby? No. I think due to more playing time by the professional age, we can more quickly identify if they have certain skillsets. But ultimately they need to learn to navigate the quicker and extremely more complex NFL game.

    You get what you pay for, I think ultimately Ogbah will be a low level pro bowler. Coleman will be a middle of the pack #2 receiver. Nassib will be a very good rotational front 7 guy (think Ravens era Paul Kruger). Kindred and DeValve will likely be worthy 2-deep players. Kessler will be a career back-up. That said, I’ll leave it to others to debate if that’s accecptable or not.

    I’d love to have this exact same discussion 52 weeks from now and see what’s changed. We could also now do a similar dive into the class of 2015.

  • scripty

    One of the key traits we need to learn, is how these men handle competition. One reason quality teams get good production from younger players is twofold. Yes, these teams might have better coaching and talent evaluation. Also – young players learn the level of competiion is high to get on the field. When that barrier is removed, we see players not invest as much of themselves as they are gifted time and roles. I hope this group continues to improve despite having this lack of struggle for playing time.

  • scripty

    I think Ogbah will be a bit better than Sheard. I never saw Sheard get off blockers on run plays, which I saw Ogbah do as the season progressed. That means we can have him out there more and worry less about situational formations.

  • scripty

    We were also told he had a more diverse route tree, despite not seeing that at Baylor (we were told he ran X route tree b/c that was his role but he could do more). Now, with the exception of Amari Cooper, most rookies have pedestrian route skills.

    But he is going to have to show it. It’s all there for his taking.

  • Pat Leonard

    Agreed, I don’t think it’s even a question. Ogbah is our most physically gifted rookie pass rusher since… Kamerion Wimbley, maybe?

  • scripty

    Wimbley was so one-dimensional. Ogbah demonstrated the ability to see plays, stay home, shed blocks, get out for screens. I’m not saying he’s Von Miller but he showed he has the potential.

    I’d say rookie Gerard Warren was the best Browns rookie and the most impactful overall season by any Browns defensive player since 1999. Rest of his career he was meh, but rookie Warren was a force.

  • Garry_Owen

    Half?

  • RGB

    107 days until the draft.

  • Garry_Owen

    “we would probably get a bounty”

    We already hired Gregg Williams.

  • Pat Leonard

    asdfwefasdesafdjffl

  • Garry_Owen
  • Chris

    Where does Ogbah fit in a 4-3? Defensive end? Then address the other DE in the first two rounds and rotate Nassib?

  • tigersbrowns2

    it is only my opinion that the 9 players in your first 2 groups were all good draft picks & only time will bear this out .

  • tigersbrowns2

    good post … i’m in this camp as well .

  • CBiscuit

    Unfortunately for this team, the quantity approach has been iffy at best.

    “Cream” isn’t the thing that has been floating to the top.

  • CBiscuit

    Too soon!

    (although it is the quicker picker upper)

  • Pat Leonard

    Yessir. A rotation of Ogbah, Myles Garrett, Nassib, and Nate Orchard could potentially be pretty filthy.

  • mgbode

    how often a QB throws a TD

  • mgbode

    many of the guys were playing better by year’s end

    we’ll see what the coaches do. I have often read that the first offseason between their rookie year and 2nd year is the most crucial time for young player development

  • Harv

    No door closings here, not implying he won’t be productive. Just not seeing something physical that was promised to justify the trade down. Not yet seeing a guy who looks like a dominant receiver in this division. If they had overall #2 and ended up (THIS year) with “a nice piece,” a “solid receiver,” Webster Slaughter or his ilk, that’s no bueno. Not what a franchise denuded of top talent needed from the first round, not when the division is filled with game dominators.

  • Pat Leonard
  • Harv

    “many of the guys were playing better by year’s end.” Just disagree. Certainly not true for Coleman. And re the defensive rookies, that’s probably what cost the DC his job.

  • Pat Leonard

    If he isn’t that player by year three, then I will wholeheartedly agree with you.

  • tigersbrowns2

    i remember saying directly after the draft that 3 players (Kessler , Louis & Devalve) were selected higher than they should’ve been & we’d see if the HBT knew something that other teams didn’t & it might be a good measuring stick on the genius of the HBT.

    in my mind , Kessler & Devalve will prove to be solid players … we’ve seen Kessler’s composure & accuracy … it would be nice to see what he can do behind a good O-line & throwing to a polished receiving corps. i think Devavlve is going to surprise some folks … i like his hands & speed & think he’ll be a big contributor for years to come.

    Louis is an incomplete right now … he has good size & real nice speed , but came from a college that ran the ball much more than they threw … right now he looks like nothing but a kick returner.

  • Harv

    Courtney Brown dominated more than any of those guys for much of his rookie year.

  • mgbode

    Joe Gilbert broke down Coleman’s game a few weeks ago. The main issues were with the QBs not delivering him the ball.

    I do agree that it is a stretch to put him there, but he did show wiggle and explosion at times. He just didn’t do it often enough and didn’t get those game-breaking plays. It was a tough year w/ the injury and QB-rotations, but I won’t be as kind with the evaluation next year.

  • mgbode

    I wish we got to see more healthy Courtney Brown. He was so good.

  • mgbode

    Yep, laying the ground work so that we can revisit this each year.

  • tigersbrowns2

    we may not want to admit it , but Trent Richardson was also pretty good his rookie year.

  • BenRM

    I know man. It’s sad.

  • mgbode

    I think one of those guys is gonna have to be SOLB. Otherwise, who is? (don’t you dare say Demario Davis)

  • Chris
  • mgbode

    Fair, I was too quick with that wording. only Ogbah and Kessler really improved with reps

    though I wouldn’t say having mid-round guys (Schobert, Kindred) be who they are is what cost Horton his job

  • tigersbrowns2

    LMAO … no , i’m not patting myself on the back … just reflecting.

  • Chris
  • tigersbrowns2

    oh , brother …

  • tigersbrowns2

    “excuse me , sir … but there is a 39.683 % probability that i may have to kick your ass , but my 1.9757 % success rate may not allow me too … watch your step , Buster !” https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e1913d32fb89a81204caf38e921a2c084c9cb6dd3320de02bb77fe2980a51345.jpg

  • Garry_Owen

    He’s got you. Game. Set. Match. It’s okay to walk away. Tomorrow’s another day.

  • tigersbrowns2

    i can take it …

  • Chris
  • tigersbrowns2

    i gotta admit , i think i’ve seen every episode of the Brady Bunch.

  • Garry_Owen

    Good. ‘Cause you’re taking it, brother. On the chin. Upside the head. To the solar plexus. And I think I caught a couple of kidney shots in there.

  • tigersbrowns2
  • tigersbrowns2

    okay , let’s clear the air … in no way was i patting myself on the back … i brought up what i said directly after the draft.

    so , how am i right about the HBT in regards to Kessler , Devalve & Louis ?? … they haven’t proved anything yet.

    maybe it came out wrong … in any case , commence with the beatings.

  • RGB

    NFL Combine March 3-6.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hey , something good did come out of this … #TeamSunnyside has found their fight song … yes !!!! c’mon , sing it with me … https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/121e9cda708e0be28a20241755011a88e538c546e9f7022e8717f47e3be4fdac.jpg

  • Saggy

    What level is that pun?