5 storylines to watch as Browns open rookie minicamp

The Browns rookies reported to Berea on Thursday for their first minicamp, which kicks off Friday afternoon and runs through the weekend.

Here are five storylines to watch over the next few days.

1. New beginnings

The Browns became the first team in four years to land three first-round picks. Those selections — defensive end Myles Garrett (No. 1), safety Jabrill Peppers (No. 25) and tight end David Njoku (No. 29) — form the centerpiece of a rookie class that includes 10 draft picks and 11 undrafted free agents.

Garrett, Peppers and Njoku, widely considered three of the most athletic players in this year's draft class, should instantly compete for starting jobs over the coming weeks and months.

This weekend, of course, will afford them the chance to make a good impression on head coach Hue Jackson, executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown, vice president of player personnel Andrew Berry and others.

"We drafted these guys because we think they are talented and able to fit into our scheme," Jackson said. "We feel very comfortable about the guys that we brought in here that they are going to have the chance to compete for our team right away."

2. Myles Garrett's debut

As the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, there will be expectations of sorts that follow the uber-talented Garrett throughout his career with the Browns. The former Texas A&M standout has seemed to embrace that dynamic, though.

"As you've heard, I have some pretty lofty goals for myself," Garrett said last month, referencing previous comments about wanting to break the NFL's rookie sack record.

"I don't really listen to anyone else's expectations. I keep myself grounded with my family and my friends. They also help me keep my head straight and keep focused. I'm not worried about a mistake or a negative comment anybody else wants to make. I have the best I could ever dream of right now. If I could just maintain my focus and keep working hard on the field, it will stay that way."

Garrett, who should offer the Browns' pass rush a major boost, amassed 31 sacks in three seasons at Texas A&M. He played through a severe high-ankle sprain for most of 2016.

3. No pressure

There inevitably will be plenty of eyes and cameras trained on quarterback DeShone Kizer, who will compete for the chance to help the Browns answer their longstanding question at the position. Based on his introductory news conference, the outside hoopla won't faze the former Notre Dame standout and second-round pick.

"As far as a stage at the college level gets, I don't know if there's one bigger," Kizer said then. "Representing something a lot bigger than yourself is one concept, but when you are doing it at an international level with a fan base that truly expands all over the word, it was an honor and privilege."

Kizer joins a room that includes Cody Kessler, Brock Osweiler and Kevin Hogan. Of course, he'll be the lone member of the group (not including any tryout players the Browns bring in for this weekend) to take snaps at rookie minicamp

Kizer, who said he wants to contribute as much and as early as possible, said his time in South Bend helped prepare him for what's ahead.

"The responsibility of being a quarterback at Notre Dame, I think, covers all of that," he said. "I was able to see a little bit of everything. The experience of having some success in 2015 and then not having so much success in 2016 is the one that allowed me to see it all from every perspective.

"Now going back and reflecting both of those seasons, I will be able to hopefully pull from all of that for the next couple of years now and make sure that I can do whatever it takes to get back to winning the way I know how."

4. How many roles will Peppers play...for now?

Peppers, who played safety, linebacker, kick/punt returner and some running back at Michigan, will first and foremost line up as a strong safety for Cleveland's defense.

But trust the Browns will use the "ultimate Swiss Army Knife" in as many ways possible. Peppers, who last season earned the Paul Hornung Award — given to college football's most versatile player — became one of the draft's most intriguing players because of his wide-ranging skill set.

At the Combine, he worked out with both the linebackers and defensive backs and, at his Pro Day, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock described him as a mismatch player poised to thrive in a league that's increasingly becoming more about mismatches.

"Whatever Coach Jackson's plan is for me," Peppers said, "I'm going to attack it 110 percent. It's definitely going to start with being a returner and being in the defensive backfield. He mentioned some offense to me, as well. We are going to see how that goes."

5. Competition aplenty

This time last year, the Browns added 14 undrafted free agents prior to the start of minicamp. By the end of training camp, two were a part of the 53-man roster. Three members from that group  — linebacker Dominique Alexander, tight end J.P. Holtz and defensive lineman Nile Lawrence-Stample — are on the Browns' current 90-man roster.

So what's that mean? It'll be a tight competition among the 11 UDFAs whom Cleveland agreed to terms with last week to ultimately make the 53-man roster.

But more likely than not, a few names will earn their spot. For example, Alexander played a significant role on special teams and undrafted cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun — whom the Browns picked up off waivers in September from Jacksonville — saw major action in 2016. ​

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