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What we learned from the Browns' rookie minicamp

On an unseasonably cold and windy weekend, the Browns concluded their rookie minicamp Sunday, marking the end of a three-day grind in which Cleveland's coaching staff got its first look at the team's newcomers.

And they didn't disappoint.

"The bottom line is you never know anything until you get them. These guys have really been eager to learn. They'll work. They take constructive criticism well. They don't run from it," head coach Hue Jackson said Saturday following Day 2 of camp at FirstEnergy Stadium.

"They understand that there are things that they need to improve on. It's a very talented group, which we knew heading in, but at the same time, you never really know until you see them do what you want them to do."

After all, that's the point of minicamp as Cleveland continues its offseason workouts.

"I'm excited about this class. This class is definitely a group that we can build with, a group that is going to help our football team get better in a lot of areas," Jackson said, "but again, they still have some improving to do and they have to improve fast to contribute to our team."

Without further ado, here's what we learned from the 2016 edition of rookies minicamp.

Getting up to speed

Make no mistake about it: Jackson was pleased with what he saw out of the Browns newcomers this past weekend. But the coach stressed the rookies have much work to do in order to catch up to the team's veterans, who have been hard at work in Berea for more than a month now.

"I think it was a good start. I think the first thing I noticed we have some guys we need to get in shape extremely fast. It also showed me how impressive it has been to watch our veteran players get in shape and really work hard," Jackson said Friday.

"It's a good first day for the Browns and for our young players. It was a good first day in the classroom. It was a good first day on the field for them to start learning how we go about doing things here. I think the most important thing, for me, is to get these guys caught up to speed with our veteran group, as far as the culture in our building … I think it's very important that these guys have got to assimilate themselves into what we've already established."

Jackson said it's on both the players and the coaching staff to get the rookies up to speed.

"These guys, they will get acclimated real quickly. They'll understand they need to, even be out there. That's the fun part," he said. "The fun part for me was watching where they were today and knowing where they could be a week or two weeks from now. That's very exciting to me."

'Top-of-the-line' draft picks offer strong showing

Following the draft, Corey Coleman, Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib, Shon Coleman and Cody Kessler — the Browns' first five draft picks — flew to Berea for their introduction to the team and answered questions about being the de facto future of Cleveland's roster.

Two weeks later, they offered strong showings at rookie minicamp (Shon Coleman missed camp for precautionary reasons).

"I think our top-of-the-line, as people would say, draft picks showed themselves," Jackson said. "Those guys, it was good to see them be out there on the field. But again, I'll take it back to our veteran group. They've got to catch those guys. It was just the first day, but I think the guys are starting … I think the first day showed them exactly where they need to get to be a part of this football team."


'Hungry' WRs ready for competition**

With four wide receivers taken in this year's draft — the most in franchise history — something of a spotlight shined on a position group the Browns said they wanted to address this offseason.

"It's a very talented group," Jackson said. "I watched them – I think the first day jitters of some, the smoothness of some and just watching them compete was exciting for the first day."

That group, of course, is made up of Corey Coleman, Ricardo Louis, Rashard Higgins and Jordan Payton. But Jackson, echoing a theme throughout camp, said the unit has ground to make up in a room that already includes veterans like Brian Hartline, Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel, Terrelle Pryor, and Darius Jennings.

"I think they all understand we've got some catching up to do to even have a chance to compete with the varsity guys," Jackson said, "because those guys can run all day right now, and these guys have to get to that point."

Once that happens, expect a hearty competition for playing time at a position group looking to break out this season.

"The receivers that came in, we were talking and we are all hungry. We all want to come in and make a huge impact. The word around the locker room is that everybody wants to win and everybody's mindset is focused on getting better and turning this thing around," said Louis, the former Auburn standout. "As a rookie, that is the mindset that we are coming in with so we are going to fit right into the mood that Hue Jackson has put in."

Payton, who holds the career-record in receptions at UCLA, added: "We're a great group and we are excited for this opportunity. We have been with each other now for 24 hours and we all understand that there is one common goal, and that common goal is to help this team win.

"Everything that we do and everything that we have been doing together is to help Cleveland win games."

Way 'too soon' to name a starting QB

Jackson reiterated a sentiment he's made over the course of the offseason, saying the Browns will give all five of their quarterbacks a fair shake before naming a starter for next season.

"We're going to give all our quarterbacks an opportunity. The bottom line is somebody is going to win this job," Jackson said. "We all know that and understand it, but it's way too early to talk about one guy."

Instead, Jackson said Cleveland will continue to evaluate its stable of QBs — which includes Josh McCown, Robert Griffin III, Austin Davis, Connor Shaw and Kessler, who made a solid but far-from-perfect debut this past weekend.

"I know everybody wants us to anoint a guy. That's not going to happen right this second," Jackson said.

"I don't think I've had enough time and they haven't had enough time in this system that we run to feel very comfortable yet."


The rookies took to FirstEnergy Stadium for the first time.

Cold, wet and windy**

Saturday's minicamp practice as part of Fan Fest at FirstEnergy Stadium was marked by cold temperatures, howling winds, and intermittent rain.

Less than ideal, right?

It depends on your outlook.

For the Browns, it was a chance to test themselves in conditions they'll more than likely face come November.

"You like to have all the elements if you can, whether it's rain and snow and whether it's hot," Jackson said. "You like to see guys perform in all those elements because we're going to face them all. That's another opportunity for us to prepare and get better."

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