Where are the Browns rookies?
SEP 09, 2013 1:02p ET
In the immediate aftermath of the mess that was Opening Day for the Browns, one quote from head coach Rob Chudzinski seems to stand out above the others.
That was when Chudzinski said O'Neil Cousins "is the best we have" at right guard.
That's the offensive-minded head coach saying what we have to assume he believes. The Browns came into camp with Shawn Lauvao at right guard, but he suffered an ankle injury. Jason Pinkston stepped in, and he has starting experience, but he also suffered an ankle injury and is now on injured-reserve designated to return.
Cousins, who's been a tackle for most of his career, was left to compete with seventh-round rookie Garrett Gilkey for the job. Cousins struggled in Sunday's opener. The whole line struggled, but Cousins was hit with penalties and was often in the backfield. Gilkey was on the Browns 46-man active roster but did not play.
So Chudzinski was saying Cousins was the best option before he actually had to say it. The Browns have managed to become one of the league's youngest and most inexperienced teams again without actually getting any contribution from their 2013 draft class.
That takes some work.
The Browns drafted five players last April, four of them defensive players, two of them Div. II college players. They started with linebacker Barkevious Mingo, who suffered a bruised lung in the preseason and couldn't play in the opener. They lost their second-round pick to the 2012 supplemental draft for Josh Gordon, who's serving a two-game suspension. Third-round cornerback Leon McFadden hasn't proven ready to contribute in the secondary. The Browns traded out of rounds four and five.
In round six, they took safety Jamoris Slaughter, who was injured last season and said he was surprised he was drafted. He was cut at the end of camp. In round seven the Browns selected Gilkey and pass-rusher Armonty Bryant, who was also a gameday active but did not play on Sunday.
McFadden is the only draft pick who played in the opener.
Mingo's mysterious injury is no one's fault; same for what happened to Pinkston and Lauvao. Mingo could come back soon -- as soon as this week, potentially -- and have a good season. He certainly can have a good career. There's opportunity for McFadden in the secondary if he can improve. Gilkey is behind Cousins; as, apparently, is offensive lineman Patrick Lewis, an undrafted rookie waiver claim from the Packers. Lewis, too, dressed for the opener but didn't play.
The Browns had 12 rookies on their 53-man roster after a flurry of moves and waiver claims as they shaped the roster. We will not likely remember The Bobby Rainey Era in the kick return game.
In another memorable quote after the Browns converted 1 of 14 third downs in the opener, Brandon Weeden said he "did some good things."
Look for one theme to emerge over the next few months: The offensive coaches hinting they don't have the personnel to do what they want to do. Getting Gordon back will help. Getting improved guard play will help the running game and the passing game.
A real draft would have helped, right?
NFL teams can bring 90 players to camp, but that flurry of waiver-weekend moves indicates the Browns didn't even bring 50 real NFL players. Despite having more than $20 million in available salary-cap room.
On Monday, Chudzinski answered more questions about the right guard situation by saying Cousins "got the majority of (practice) reps. The guy getting the most reps gives you the best chance. I am confident in O'Neil Cousins."
The Browns are just one game into what's going to be a journey. If it's going to eventually be a successful one, drafts are going to have produce contributors.
+ SHOW COMMENTS +