Last season is best forgotten by the Browns and their loyal fan base, with the 1-15 effort firmly entrenched in the rearview mirror. But, after a decent draft, in which they took former Texas A&M star defensive end, Myles Garrett, first overall and former Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer in the second round, there is a sense the Browns may finally be moving out of the NFL’s dog house and on an upward trajectory.
Without getting too carried away on the back of minimal training camp news and one preseason game against the New Orleans Saints, let’s take a look at some of the players making an impression already.
1 QB - DeShone Kizer
There has been plenty said about his arm strength and physical athleticism since the Browns drafted the former Notre Dame slinger. In some good news for the Browns, he put some of his tools on display in the win over the Saints.
Kizer completed 11 of 18 passes for 184 yards which included a tremendous 45-yard touchdown to 5th round draft pick Jordan Payton inside the final two minutes of the game; he looked a capable, comfortable option under center.
The 52nd overall pick got the most game time of all the players involved the Brown's quarterback depth chart battle. He showed enough poise and a good enough understanding of Jackson's offense to get people talking at the very least.
Kizer topped out his night with a 52-yard pass to Richard Mullaney and looked far and away the best option at the position with both Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler failing to impress in their first hit-outs.
The early signs are that Osweiler seems to have not improved or fit better in Jackson's system than he did in Houston during his torrid season there last year. There remains little optimism that he could press his claims to be the starter.
Additionally, Cody Kessler, while solid without being flashy, looks more a career backup than a starting quarterback.
2 DE - Myles Garrett
The consensus best player in the 2017 NFL Draft, Garrett was quite rightly taken first overall by the Browns and in his first outing as an NFL defensive end, Myles Garrett looked right at home.
While he only saw a handful of snaps and did face some double teams from the New Orleans' offensive line during the game, Garrett managed two tackles, one of which was for a loss, and a hurry as he comfortably beat out Saints' left tackle Khalif Barnes and made Garrett Grayson look uncomfortable.
While Grayson is the third string quarterback behind Drew Brees and backup Chase Daniel, and Khalif Barnes sits behind Ryan Ramczyk on the depth chart at left tackle, the early signs were positive for Garrett.
Garrett told the Browns website: “I played my game well. I got to where I wanted to go and played hard. I got to where I was supposed to.”
3 DE - Nate Orchard
The 2015 second round Draft pick spent much of last season on the sideline with an ankle injury but made huge strides towards getting on the Browns roster against the Saints.
Orchard sits behind some decent talent on the end of the defensive line, including Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib, but the 24-year-old could prove a handy addition lower down the depth chart. He would likely be the sort of player to keep the starters on their toes with strong performances when he sees snaps.
The former linebacker seemed to fit the defensive scheme and look comfortable across the field, highlighted with a sack on Garrett Grayson.
Orchard might not be setting too many alarms buzzing at the moment, but there's a player in there, no doubt about it.
4 LB - Joe Schobert
Drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the former Wisconsin Badger caught coach Hue Jackson's eye in the win over the Saints playing at middle linebacker.
Jackson told the Brown's website players like Schobert are "guys who have been fighting for opportunities and they got them last night."
As things stand, Schobert is the second man on the Browns depth chart at the position behind Tank Carder, the four-year NFL veteran who previously played with the Buffalo Bills but on his performance against the Saints. Schobert recorded two tackles, a sack, a pass break, and a hurry on the quarterback. The signs are that Schobert could push Carder all the way for the starting spot on the Brown's roster come week one.
Which players stood out for you during the Browns first up pre-season win over the New Orleans Saints? Let us know in the comments below.
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