It’s Mailbag No. 2 of the week, and we’re answering five of your queries on a sunny Friday in Berea.
Is Ohio State Buckeyes WR Parris Campbell on our radar and do you think he's a good fit? -- Michael F., Fairborn
Over here at Browns Mailbag HQ, we don’t have full access to the John Dorsey draft radar, so we can’t confirm Campbell’s status on it. That said, Campbell is a burner who clocked one of the best 40-yard dashes at the entire NFL Combine and, more importantly, produced at a high level in his final season with the Buckeyes. He didn’t catch a single pass in 2015 and combined for 53 catches and a little more than 700 yards over the next two seasons before breaking out in 2018 with 90 catches, 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s not considered by many to be a top five player at the position, so that means he’s likely to be available Day 2, when the Browns hold the 49th overall pick and two third-round selections. If Breshad Perriman doesn’t return, the Browns will have a definite need for a deep threat receiver. Even if Perriman does return, Dorsey is always looking to add speed and depth across the roster.
“I love speed,” Dorsey said at the NFL Combine. “More team speed you have the better. If you can get more team speed, I’m all for it.”
Dorsey appears to heavily value personality/character in the players he drafts. I know it’s difficult to diagnose from the outside but are there any players in the draft that are standing out due to style of play and off-the-field leadership qualities? Players that match our blue collar, Dawg Pound lovin’ city. -- Ethan A., Atlanta
I’m sure there are plenty of players -- hundreds, in fact -- who meet this criteria. We’ll find out about so many good stories and good people as they land with NFL teams in the coming months. When it comes to the Browns and candidates at the No. 17 pick, the one who stands out the most in this department is Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. He could have been a first-round pick in last year’s draft but he opted to return for his senior season -- a decision that was paid off with a national championship and a master’s degree in athletic leadership. He was honored with the William V. Campbell Trophy, which is given annually to a college football player who is “the absolute best in the country for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership.” It’s one of the best awards a college football player can receive.
“I’ve had a lot of people – coaches, family, whoever – that emphasized it’s important to be more than just an athlete,” Wilkins said at the NFL Combine. “You’ve got to be a well-rounded human being, a well-rounded person. That was something that was always very important to me. It always kind of stuck me. For that reason, I never found it challenging or hard to do what I had to do. My motivation in all that was, through this game, being able to use this platform to impact and influence people’s lives. I feel it’s awesome to defy the odds. [Not] a typical dumb jock. I’m able to be successful on the field and also have great success in the classroom.”
If Kareem Hunt gets to play this year, do you think he would be a good fit on special teams, return man, on our drive to this year’s playoff run? -- Mike S., East Springfield, Pennsylvania
I’m not saying he can’t do it -- anything is possible with a new coaching staff and how it evaluates the talent it’s inheriting -- but Hunt was never used as a return man in his two seasons with the Chiefs. On top of that, he wasn’t even used as a returner in his four seasons at Toledo. You have to go back to Hunt’s high school days in Willoughby, where he returned a couple of kickoffs for touchdowns.
When do you expect that the schedule will be finalized for next year? I want to attend the Buffalo game with some other out-of-towners. Tips on obtaining tickets will also be appreciated. -- Don N., Liverpool, New York
The NFL’s schedule is typically finalized in April, shortly before the NFL Draft. It’s been released on a Thursday the past couple of years. Otherwise, teams get about a 48-hours heads up on when it’s coming, so there’s no set date at the moment.
As for ticket advice? I’d just advise being as proactive as possible this year.
I was pleased with Part 1 of the restructuring of the defensive backfield but would still like to see some more talent/depth. Are the Browns looking for that depth in the draft or are they going to try to tap free agency again? What is the status of Howard Wilson? -- Doug H., Indianapolis
Let’s start with Wilson. He’s continuing his recovery from a second, serious knee injury. He’s been a regular fixture around the facility over the past two years and would be a heck of a story if he can get back on the field and play at the level and and the Browns believe he’s capable of playing.
As for the defensive backfield, the Browns are in a much better place than they were at this time last year but there’s always room to improve. Depth is vital at defensive back because a significant drop-off following an injury can lead to mismatch nightmares. Veteran E.J. Gaines is a free agent, but the rest of the group is set to return. Dorsey lauded the depth of this year’s defensive back class, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Browns use one of their four Days 1 and 2 picks on one or more players at the position.