A holiday weekend lies ahead in the distance but there's plenty to be done before we exit the office here in Berea. [
It's a five-question Thursday as we dive into the Browns Mailbag.
What is Desmond Bryant's future on the D-line after missing 2016? -- Anthony L., Columbus
That's to be determined, and it's too early to tell at this stage of OTAs. Wednesday's glimpse at the Browns' defense revealed plenty of four-man fronts, so that would mean Bryant could be tasked with playing in the middle after multiple seasons as a 3-4 defensive end. It wouldn't be that radical of a change for him; just different than what he did before in Cleveland. He was arguably one of the Browns' best defensive players in 2015, when he led the team with six sacks, and was poised to take on a leadership role before his unfortunate, offseason injury.
"I want to work on being more of a better leader," Bryant said last June. "This is the first time that I am an elder statesman in the D-line room. With that, I get a little more responsibility. On and off of the field, I just want to be more vocal with the guys, let them know what I am thinking more, which I haven't really done as much in the past."
With David Njoku being a little bigger than Terrelle Pryor was, could we see him as a wide receiver more than usual? -- Dave B., Rochester, N.Y.
It's hard to define "more than usual" with the ever-evolving tight end position. Even though Gary Barnidge looked much more like a traditional tight end than Njoku does, he was used like a wide receiver all sorts of times last season. Njoku's longest catch of his college career came when he was lined up in the slot, as he streaked down the field for a 76-yard, over-the-shoulders touchdown, so he can clearly be a threat in that capacity. Njoku, though, is more than just a pass-catcher. He's been lauded for his blocking skills by both Browns front office executives and his former tight ends coach at Miami. He's a bona fide offensive weapon who will be used in a variety of ways by an offensive coordinator (coach Hue Jackson) who doesn't shy away from getting creative with his playmakers.
Where is Scooby Wright III? I checked the roster on ClevelandBrowns.com and he is not on it. He made last year's roster and then was cut, but I would have thought we put him on the practice squad. -- Norman B., Sierra Viata, Arizona
Wright, a former seventh-round pick by the Browns, was signed off Cleveland's practice squad by the Cardinals in December. He appeared in four games with the Cardinals and made eight tackles. He remains a member of their 90-man roster heading into the 2017 season.
Do you see the team bringing in another free-agent veteran, like Anquan Boldin, to show the young receivers on the team how to prepare and play with the game with fire? -- Jim C., Wadsworth
Nothing can be ruled out with the Browns at this stage of the offseason. Even though the team is one of the league's youngest, if not the youngest, and is focused on building a young core of players who are expected to be a part of the franchise for years to come, the front office did not hesitate to add a major piece to the defense with the signing of eight-year veteran Jason McCourty. Hue Jackson was asked specifically Monday about veteran Victor Cruz at the wide receiver position, which has one veteran (Kenny Britt) and a majority of first- and second-year players.
"We've had discussions about any player that's out there -- not just Victor -- but all of them and see if they fit," Jackson said. "We're a young football team and we're probably more young at that position you mentioned than anything. And if we feel like a guy can help us, we'll continue to explore those opportunities."
Some notable free agents at the position include Boldin, Cruz, Vincent Jackson, Eddie Royal, Stevie Johnson and Jordan Norwood.
Can we expect one or more of the players drafted in 2015 to have a breakout year in 2017? -- David S., Akron
It's safe to say Danny Shelton's breakout season came last year, so he's eliminated from this discussion. That leaves fellow first-rounder Cam Erving, second-round pick Nate Orchard, third-rounders Xavier Cooper and Duke Johnson, fourth-round safety Ibraheim Campbell and sixth-round tight end Randall Telfer.
The player to keep an eye on here -- when it comes to dramatic improvement from the previous season, at least -- is Orchard, who missed most of last season with an ankle injury. He took snaps Wednesday at defensive end, the position he played at Utah. Orchard, who led the nation in sacks as a senior, was an outside linebacker in Cleveland's 3-4 the previous two seasons. Erving and Cooper will be locked in competitions for snaps while Johnson is expected to have the same role he's had alongside Isaiah Crowell since he arrived in 2015. Campbell is among the numerous players competing at safety while Telfer has established himself as one of Cleveland's better blocking tight ends.