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2020 NFL Draft

Dawg Pound Journal: 5 Browns who thrived in NFL after Combine snub


Three-hundred twenty-three may sound like a lot of names, but it won't be enough to cover every college prospect from the 2015 class who will eventually make an impact in the NFL.

Not everyone who attends the NFL Combine will be drafted and not everyone who goes uninvited has their professional aspirations eliminated.

The Browns are filled with numerous players who fall into the second category. Of the 69 players on the current roster, 27 weren't invited to the Combine in their respective draft year.

We picked five who have not only defied the odds and made an NFL roster, but have thrived on the level of most early-round picks.

DE Desmond Bryant (2009)

-- Bryant didn't exactly get the most exposure playing at Harvard, so he had to earn his NFL roster spot the hard way. He promptly made good on a training camp invitation with the Raiders by impressing enough during the preseason to make the cut. He played in all 16 games as a rookie and established himself as one of the Raiders' top defensive linemen over four seasons. He signed a lucrative contract with the Browns in 2013 and finished this past season with five sacks.

S Tashaun Gipson (2012)

-- Though he started every game of his collegiate career and was projected by as a fourth-round selection, Gipson went without an invitation to the 2012 Combine. Like Bryant, he made the most of his opportunity as a rookie at training camp and made the Browns' roster. "You just wonder why he wasn't a draft pick," then-defensive coordinator Dick Jauron told in 2012. "You would like to say all the time, 'It doesn't matter how they get to your camp, everybody starts equal in their play,' but there's always some doubt. [You say] . . . There's got to be something that's missing,' but we never found it from almost the first day on." As a rookie, he played in 10 games, starting three, before taking hold of a prominent role in 2013. He made the Pro Bowl this past season despite missing the final five games with a knee injury.

WR Andrew Hawkins (2008)

-- Google "Andrew Hawkins NFL Draft" and you'll see the letters "CB" next to his name. This happened to him as a high school recruit, too, but Hawkins defied the odds for a second time and found a niche in the NFL as a wide receiver. It just took a couple of years. After failing to make an NFL roster out of college, Hawkins spent two seasons in the CFL before he gave it another shot. Three years later, Hawkins made the cut with the Cincinnati Bengals, caught 23 passes in his debut season and went on to become one of the NFL's most reliable targets out of the slot.

LB Craig Robertson (2011)

-- After piling up 133 tackles as a senior, Robertson not only wasn't invited to the Combine, but he didn't receive any opportunities to participate in an NFL training camp. Robertson's first year out of college included some work with Verizon as a health and wellness instructor. He latched on to the Browns' practice squad in 2011 and saw his first game experience in 2012. After a breakout 2013 season, Robertson was one of the most important players on the Browns defense this past season and finished second on the team with 99 tackles.

WR Taylor Gabriel (2014)

-- The smallest player on the Browns' roster made a big impact as a rookie and embodied the "next man up" philosophy Mike Pettine and his staff preach to the players. Gabriel was signed as an undrafted free agent but was hampered in OTAs by a hamstring injury. In a story that's been told numerous times since it happened, Gabriel met with general manager Ray Farmer and essentially pleaded not to be released. Farmer obliged and Gabriel made good on his vow by making play after play during the preseason. He kept the pace during his rookie season and finished with 36 receptions for 621 yards.

Three interesting NFL headlines

What we posted Friday

Browns Tweet of the Day

Late night workouts will have you sleeping great — Tashaun J. Gipson SR (@Gipson_duos24) February 13, 2015

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