We’re flying into the weekend with four of your most pressing questions.
Hey Andrew, how many wide receivers do you think the Browns will keep on the 53? It is a numbers game, but do you think that undrafted free agent Evan Berry has a chance to make the 53 or the practice squad? -- Tom V., Chattanooga, Tennessee
It’s too early to write anyone off, especially a player with the kind of talent Berry possesses. He’s an interesting case for a handful of reasons, the most notable being he didn’t play wide receiver during his entire Tennessee career. After a season in which he appeared in just three games because of injuries to his knee and hand, Berry made the switch from safety to wide receiver in the months leading up to the draft.
“I chose what I really felt comfortable with and what I really wanted to do,” Berry told reporters at his Pro Day.
If Berry, the younger brother of All-Pro safety Eric Berry, doesn’t prove good enough to see the field as a wide receiver, he could still find a niche as a return man. He set a Tennessee record with an average of 34.2 yards on his 53 kickoff returns and tied the record with four touchdowns.
I have seen predictions that Nick Chubb will be the starting running back. Isn't the job Carlos Hyde's to lose? -- Brooks P., Cincinnati
It’s way too early to dig into a potential running back depth chart, but it’s safe to assume both are going to play a major role in Cleveland’s running game. The strength of the Browns’ offensive line is between the tackles, and the team believes they have two runners capable of thriving in that environment in Chubb and Hyde. Chubb, in particular, reminded vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith of former Browns running back Jamal Lewis, who made a killing as a power runner for years in the AFC North.
“Quick feet. Powerful lower body. Good balance. Good body control,” Highsmith said.
The era of football that saw running backs average between 20-25 carries per game is largely a thing of the past. Depth is imperative at the position, and the Browns are in good shape with thumpers like Hyde and Chubb and a change-of-pace option in Duke Johnson Jr.
“I know right now, when you look at us from an offensive standpoint, you wonder where all of these balls are going to go because a year ago, that was not a problem. I think it is a good problem to have,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “I think that when you are really trying to become really, really good, what other way to do it than with good football players? All it does is raise the level in the room. It raises the level on the practice field. Guys are going to have to compete to earn the right to get the ball in their hands.”
With the acquisition of Tyrod Taylor, a good QB, are you going to have Baker Mayfield and Taylor battle it out for QB1? Or are you going to let Mayfield sit a year and develop his already strong abilities? -- Eric K., Claremore, Oklahoma
Over and over since the Browns acquired Taylor in a trade with the Bills, Jackson and general manager John Dorsey have made it clear Taylor is the starter and Mayfield will develop behind the scenes as the third option behind Taylor and fellow veteran Drew Stanton. That message has been received by Mayfield, a fiery competitor who clearly understands the situation.
“I want to play – there is no doubt about that,” Mayfield said. “But in whatever way I can make the team better and whatever way that I can grow and learn from whatever is happening, I need to do that.”
Why haven't the Browns addressed their depth at linebacker as they have at all other positions? -- Gunner G., Cleveland
I’d say it’s a pretty clear signal from Dorsey that he likes what the Browns return at the position. Jamie Collins Sr. is back after missing the second half of last season, and so are starters Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert, neither of whom missed a single snap last season. James Burgess Jr. held his own while replacing Collins last season. Tank Carder, a veteran who excels on special teams, is also back after missing all of last year with a knee injury while fifth-rounder Genard Avery could be poised to thrive on special teams, too.
“I think he can play all of the different spots,” Jackson said of Avery. “Obviously, he is going to be a real core special teams guy. There are a lot of different things he can do. This guy, he knows how to go sack the quarterback and make plays on the ball so we are excited about him.”