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Top question for each 2015 Browns draft pick

Alongside a bevy of undrafted free agents and tryout players, Cleveland's 12 draft picks will arrive for rookie minicamp Thursday.

Experts grading the draft soundly thought the Browns were one of the teams that improved themselves the most.

But each of Cleveland's new players won't just walk in the NFL ready to dominate. Here's one thing each draft pick will need to prove.

Danny Shelton – Defensive lineman (Washington)


Question: Will he be a pass rushing force in the NFL?*

Forget the questions about Shelton being only a two-down defensive lineman. The 339-pounder played more than 900 snaps in the up-tempo, Pac-12, which is full of hurry-up, spread offenses. Where Shelton will have to put in extra work on the NFL level will be as a pass rusher. Cleveland's first-round pick has drawn Haloti Ngata comparisons, but the current Lions defensive lineman has just 25.5 sacks in nine seasons. Shelton's nine sacks in 2014 with the Huskies didn't happen by accident, but bringing down quarterbacks in the league won't be as simple. 

Cameron Erving – Offensive lineman (Florida State)

Question: What is his long term position?

This is obviously an ideal problem for the Browns to have. Right guard and right tackle could be in play this season for Erving, but general manager Ray Farmer did not shy away about how dominant the Florida State Seminole was at the center position. Cleveland's plan with Erving is flexible right now, so don't expect a distinct answer to this question for quite a while. 

Nate Orchard – Outside linebacker (Utah)

Question: What will be his biggest adjustment to the 3-4?

Utah lined up Orchard all over the field, but he was most productive as a 4-3 defensive end with his hand in the dirt. That's not the position the second-round pick will be playing in Cleveland. Orchard has an explosive first step and an array of moves to succeed as a standup outside linebacker. But there will be fine-tuning and an adjustment period for the 22-year-old in the spring.

Duke Johnson – Running back (Miami)


Question: Where does he fit in with the Browns rotation?*

Farmer and coach Mike Pettine were both clear that Cleveland views Johnson as more than a third-down running back. Carries won't be handed out like Halloween candy, though, after promising rookie seasons from both Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West. Johnson will challenge the second-year players and could become a fixture as a receiver out of the backfield. 

Xavier Cooper – Defensive lineman (Washington State)

Question:  How will he improve his run technique?

Browns defensive coaches were shocked Cooper was still available when Farmer landed him late in the third round. For Cleveland's scheme, Cooper's knock-back ability is something in which the club places an extremely high value. At Washington State, the 300-pounder excelled more at collapsing pockets than stuffing running backs. But defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil already has plans to refine Cooper's technique and develop him a reliable member of the rotation.

Ibraheim Campbell – Safety (Northwestern)

Question: Will he be more comfortable at strong or free safety?

Campbell played both at Northwestern, but his skillset tells us strong safety will be a better fit. The four-year starter is a hard hitter with a nose for snuffing out running backs, so strong safety appears to be a more natural fit. Still, Campbell's 11 interceptions rank him second in Wildcats history.

Vince Mayle – Wide receiver (Washington State)


Question:  Can he come in and make an impact year 1? *

Mayle's 16 touchdowns in two seasons at Washington State display that the 6-foot-2, 224-pounder knows how to find the end zone.  His production was evident, but Mayle will be the first to tell you the Cougars threw the ball nearly every play. How well will the former basketball player be able to come in off the bench in certain packages and still make big plays down the field?

Charles Gaines – Cornerback (Louisville)

Question: What will the transition to NFL cornerback entail?

The Browns' coaching staff has said it time and time again: Outside of quarterback, there is no tougher position to learn in the NFL than cornerback. Gaines is highly athletic and was praised for his leadership in college, but after switching positons from wide receiver, the Louisville Cardinal has only played cornerback for two seasons. Gaines is projected as more of a nickel back in Cleveland's scheme, where his open-field tackling skills will be tested early and often.

Malcolm Johnson – Fullback (Mississippi State)

Question: How comfortable will he be as a blocking fullback?

Johnson was a Swiss-Army knife in college, where Mississippi State lined him up sometimes as a decoy and sometimes as a receiver. The Bulldogs team captain said he's willing to do anything to be on the Browns 53-man roster – and that will likely mean some time navigating blocking paths for Crowell, West and Johnson.

Randall Telfer – Tight end (USC)

Question: Can he blossom with more targets in the passing game?

Even with his recent foot surgery, some members of the Browns were stunned to see Telfer fall to the sixth round. USC used Telfer sparingly, and somehow the 6-foot-3, 250-pound target caught 12 touchdown passes in four seasons. Cleveland was missing a reliable red zone pass-catcher in 2014. When he gets back on the field, Telfer's soft hands and athletic ability could surprise some people this spring.

Hayes Pullard – Linebacker (USC)

Question: How will his skills translate to special teams?

Pullard was such a vital piece in the middle of the Trojans defense that USC didn't want to risk any injury to their top tackler on special teams. Early in his career, special teams is where Pullard is going to have to make a name for himself. The four-year starter is considered more of a smart, sound player than he is an athletic specimen. But it's Pullard’s effort and attitude that could win over teammates and coaches.

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – Cornerback (Oregon)

Question: What's in store for him in 2015?

After undergoing knee surgery in December, Ekpre-Olomu has been aggressively rehabbing the injury. Is it possible that the Browns place him on the injured reserve list, with the option to return – like the team did last season with John Hughes? Draft experts said if Ekpre-Olomu had not injured his knee, he likely would have been a second round draft pick.

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