Editor's Note: Over the next two weeks, Nathan Zegura, Andrew Gribble and Anthony Poisal will be giving their takes and predictions on some of the hottest topics surrounding the Browns as they prepare for training camp.
The Browns have stars all over the field — enough for us to sometimes overlook the key contributors who will make up the backbone of the roster.
That's why we're talking about the under-the-radar players in today's installment of "10 for '21."
Zegura: If you've listened to Cleveland Browns Daily at all this year, you know my answer to this question is Curtis Weaver. Weaver joined the Browns after being waived by the Miami Dolphins following a foot injury early in camp last year, despite being the team's fifth-round pick. Weaver left Boise State as the Mountain West Conference's all-time leading sack artist with 34 career sacks. In his final year at Boise State, he was the MWC's Defensive Player of the Year as he notched 18.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. There has definitely been a buzz around Weaver this offseason in Berea, and a lot of it has to do with the work he put in off of the field. He really changed his diet and focused on getting into the best shape of his life and the result is that every time you mention Weaver, someone in the front office or coaching staff tells you that "he transformed his body." Weaver looked lean and explosive in the mandatory minicamp and has a natural feel for rushing the passer. As defensive line coach Chris Kiffin told me, "he just knows how to get to the quarterback" and now Weaver has a chance to show that he can do that against the very best this training camp. Nothing is guaranteed for Weaver, but I am very excited to see if he can earn his way onto this roster and get the chance to sack some NFL quarterbacks when it matters in 2021.
Poisal: I'll circle DT Jordan Elliott. Kiffin called him the guy "I'm most excited about" earlier this offseason, which is something not all position coaches say about a player before seeing them in training camp. Elliott, a 2020 third-round pick, lost 10 pounds over the offseason and was the only rookie who played in all 16 games last year. Starting jobs at DT are truly up for grabs for any of the eight players in the competition if they turn in a strong training camp and perform well in preseason games. Elliott will have competition from several veteran DTs — including Malik Jackson, Andrew Billings, Damion Square — but if he takes the leap Kiffin and the Browns foresee in his second year, he could position himself for heavy playing time sooner rather than later.
Gribble: I like yards and touchdowns, so I'm going to shift to the offense with my pick. I'm going with TE Harrison Bryant, who had the best season of any NFL rookie tight end in 2020 and is poised to grow within an offense that should thrive in 2021 thanks to its overall stability. Tight end is a difficult position for rookies, and Bryant's production tapered a bit as the season unfolded. Still, he was essentially an every-game starter for a Browns offense that regularly uses two and three tight ends at a time. There may not be a player on Cleveland's offense better positioned to take a leap, and Bryant has shown a tireless dedication to learn and master the offense. Targets and opportunities may be hard to come by in a loaded Browns offense, but Bryant should be ready when it's his turn to make a play.