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Breaking down the Browns’ 2017 NFL Draft class

The Browns were the youngest team in the NFL and that youth didn’t do them many favors in the franchise's first winless season.

The good news? Cleveland saw a handful of rookies, including Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, David Njoku and DeShone Kizer, grow in the process.

Here’s a further look at the Browns 2017 draft class with the offseason underway. 

*DE Myles Garrett (Round 1, No. 1): *Garrett finished his rookie campaign leading the Browns in sacks (seven) despite playing in just 11 games. The former Texas A&M star missed the first four games of the season with a high-ankle sprain and then another because of a concussion. Even so, Garrett flashed the talent that made him unanimously the best player in the draft and why Cleveland believes he’ll be an impact player for years to come.

*DB Jabrill Peppers (Round 1, No. 25): *The former Michigan star did just about everything for the Wolverines and came to Cleveland as one of the most versatile players in the draft. The former linebacker/safety/kick returner/running back started 13 games at free safety and finished with 57 tackles. By his own admission, Peppers didn’t have the season he wanted but believes he grew from this year. In Sunday’s season finale against the Steelers, he recorded his first career interception. As a returner, Peppers averaged 6 yards per punt return and 22.7 on kick returns. 

*TE David Njoku (Round 1, No. 29): *Rookie tight ends notoriously struggle, but Njoku managed to be a bright spot, at times, for the Browns offense. The former Miami standout led Cleveland with four touchdown catches and was third in both receiving yards (386) and targets (60). Perhaps Njoku’s best game came against the Chargers in December, when he caught four passes for 74 yards and a touchdown.

*QB DeShone Kizer (Round 2, No. 52): *No Browns rookie was in the spotlight quite like Kizer. In 15 starts, the 21-year-old showed promise but struggled with turnovers and consistency over that span. Kizer finished with 11 touchdown passes against a league-high 22 interceptions and completed 54 percent of his passes for 2,894 yards. The mobile Kizer also ran for 419 yards and a team-high five touchdowns. In a season of highs and lows, coach Hue Jackson made clear Kizer remains in the mix as the Browns search for a long-term answer at quarterback.

*DL Larry Ogunjobi (Round 3, No. 65): *Considered a talented but raw player out of Charlotte, Ogunjobi seemingly grew with every passing week. In 14 games (including two starts) he had 32 tackles and a sack as a rotating member on a defensive line that helped Cleveland finish seventh against the run. Ogunjobi might have had his best game against the Packers​ in Week 14, according to Pro Football Focus.

*DB Howard Wilson (Round 4, No. 126): *Wilson was injured on the first day of rookie minicamp and later placed on reserve/physically unable to perform (PUP) with a fractured knee cap.

*OL Rod Johnson (Round 5, No. 160): *Johnson was placed on injured reserve in early September after injuring his knee in the team’s preseason finale.

*DL Caleb Brantley (Round 6, No. 185): *Brantley, who played in 12 games and earned one start, notched his first-career fumble recovery in Sunday’s season finale when fellow rookie Garrett stripped Steelers quarterback Landry Jones. Brantley, a former Florida standout who fell during the draft process, finished the season with 18 tackles and two sacks.

*K Zane Gonzalez (Round 7, No. 224): *After a bumpy start to the season, Gonzalez made 13 of his final 15 field goals, including a 50-yarder in Sunday’s season finale. The former Lou Groza Award winner finished 15-of-20 with a long of 54 that sent the Browns-TItans game to overtime back in October.

*RB Matthew Dayes (Round 7, No. 252 ): *Dayes, the second-to-last pick in the draft, was a special teams contributor and found a role as a kick returner midseason. He averaged 24 yards on 18 returns and showed some explosive ability in the process. Dayes returned a 71-yarder against the Vikings in London and opened the Jacksonville game with a 53-yard return.

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