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3 standouts from Browns minicamp

Deshaun Watson was the top player of the pass-oriented camp, but who else stood out in the three days of practice?


Before we dive into the list of top standouts from minicamp, let's make one thing clear.

The Browns had no bigger standout in the three practices than QB Deshaun Watson. He was the clear winner of the week and had multiple impressive moments each day, with Tuesday serving as his most crisp day of camp.

To learn more about how Watson looked, be sure to check out the notebook about his performance Tuesday and the synopsis from Thursday about how his week went.

This list will be about a few other players who flashed in addition to Watson. Don't forget that practices were mostly low-tempo, with the only true full-speed work coming in seven-on-seven periods.

1. WR Elijah Moore

The most interesting note about Moore's week was how many roles he appeared to carry in the offense.

Moore was positioned both in the slot, outside and even in the backfield throughout the seven-on-seven drills, which shows the Browns are taking a full dive into exploring the ways they can use his speed and versatility in the offense. The backfield positioning was particularly noteworthy and shows the Browns are ready to be as creative as possible when it comes to Moore's usage.

Moore, whom the Browns acquired in a trade with the Jets in March, also flashed with multiple athletic catches and was a constant target for Watson in red zone drills.

2. WR Jaelon Darden

Darden might've entered himself into the list of under-the-radar players to watch for training camp with the way he connected with Watson this week.

A fourth-round pick by the Buccaneers in 2021, Darden caught Watson's longest pass of his big day Tuesday during seven-on-seven drills and appeared to make the most of his reps when Watson was his QB. He also caught a touchdown during red zone drills in Wednesday's workout.

Darden will need to keep it going in training camp to carve a role in a crowded wide receiver room, but his value could be elevated with his abilities as a returner — he's averaged 9.4 yards per return across 52 career punt returns.

Check out the action from practice at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus as the Browns go through Veteran Minicamp

3. DE Za'Darius Smith

With no pads and no contact, the setting was difficult for any defenders to truly stand out during minicamp, but Smith offered perhaps the most noteworthy defensive takeaway from the week because of where he was positioned.

Rather than playing on the outside as an edge rusher, Smith was lined up in the interior at times throughout drills. Ogbo Okoronkwo, the other big defensive end addition of the offseason, was on the edge when Smith worked inside.

Minicamp is the time for coaches to tinker with various matchups, and it appears defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has big plans to use Smith on the inside for various packages of the Browns' rebuilt defense. The combination of Myles Garrett, Dalvin Tomlinson, Smith and Okoronkwo would be a handful for opposing offensive lines,

"I think Coach Schwartz and our defensive staff, you're always looking for matchups and to have versatility among that front," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "Really, all of our D-ends can rush inside, and that allows you game by game, to move the pieces around as you see fit."

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