It's steamy and warm in Berea one week before the start of training camp. [
It's a five-question Thursday in the Browns Mailbag.
While the Browns have high expectations for David Njoku, do you anticipate Seth DeValve being more involved in the offense? -- Brooks P., Cincinnati
DeValve caught plenty of folks' attention throughout the spring and appears poised to have a significant role in Cleveland's offense. He was hamstrung a bit at this time last year because of a handful of injuries that limited his practice time. He dealt with an injury in season, too, but still came away with a couple of bright moments, including his 25-yard touchdown catch against the Ravens. The Browns used multiple tight ends on a large amount of snaps in 2016, and the opening is there for DeValve to latch onto a big role alongside Njoku and Randall Telfer.
"The proof will be obviously when we put the pads on, but he is ahead of where he was a year ago," tight ends coach Greg Seamon said. "I see Seth as a guy who is important to us and emerging just like Randall and David."
It has been written that Gregg Williams wants all of his defensive players to learn two positions. With the Browns having so many young, inexperienced players, isn't this putting too much on their plate as they learn a new system? -- Lance A., Mansfield
It might be initially overwhelming to some of the players but the philosophy is designed to benefit players and create more ways for them to make an impact. Williams' schemes thrive on versatility, and a number of players with that capability -- Jabrill Peppers, Calvin Pryor, Jason McCourty, Jamie Collins -- have been added to the roster within the last year. The players will have months under the belt of learning and applying these skills, so the task won't feel as daunting by the time the season arrives.
Do you think it is possible for Peppers to start at FS considering Calvin Pryor is a proven strong safety? -- Daylon G., Caledonia, Ontario
It wouldn't be a surprise to see the versatile Peppers at either of the safety spots or somewhere else in the defensive backfield. It all depends on the package Williams looks to implement on a given play.
"Gregg is one of the best I've ever been around -- and one of the big reasons I'm here -- at the way he adjusts defenses around the personnel," assistant defensive backs coach Jerod Kruse said. "When you talk about being a third-level and second-level and first-level defender, (Peppers) has those inherent traits. The kid played seven to eight sports growing up. The spatial awareness he just naturally has from doing a lot of different things growing up attributes to those things he can do at all different levels. Gregg will have a great plan for him as we go into the season and as he continues to grow into the scheme. He can do a lot of things."
Caleb Brantley was projected to be a late first- to early second-round pick until his legal issues. Now that those are cleared, I feel like he is the steal of the draft. How is he looking, and what are the odds that he starts in Week 1? -- Bob H., St. Mary's, Pennsylvania
Brantley looked the part, physically, of an early-round defensive tackle and showed some good things throughout the spring. The key, though, will be consistency, and that's a big reason why it's way too early to start talking about starting potential.
"He's like every young player that comes in this league," defensive line coach Clyde Simmons said. "They've got an idea about what they want and what they think they can do, but you have to learn to play it the way we want you to play it."
Assuming Tank Carder wins the starting middle LB position in our base 4-3 defense and Collins and Kirksey outside, who has the best shot at being the backup three lbs? I know Dominique Alexander is probably behind Carder but the depth behind Collins and Kirksey seems a little thin. -- Craig S., Bridgeport
The Browns are definitely going to need an unproven player or two to step up as backups to their cornerstone linebackers this season. Undrafted free agents Kenneth Olugbode and Ladell Fleming both looked comfortable in those roles throughout the spring. When it comes to the middle, don't count out Joe Schobert, the former fourth-round pick who appears right at home as a 4-3 middle linebacker.
"He possesses some of those 'coach-like' qualities that has allowed him to step in there as the spring is progressed and get a chance to do that," linebackers coach Blake Williams said.