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The Cleveland Browns are now into double digit days in training camp and already some interesting names have popped up. While the preseason games and subsequent practices will no doubt separate the men from the boys, it’s still not a bad idea to take a look at some of the names that are lighting up at camp.
Before we get started, we have an honorable mention for wide receiver Jakeem Grant. Grant was having an excellent camp and was frequently featured in videos from the early days. Unfortunately, he tore his achilles and now will miss the season, meaning we have to skip him.
1. Mike Harley Jr., Wide Receiver
When the Cleveland Browns signed former Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Mike Harley Jr., a lot of pundits felt he could carve out a name for himself. Some even thought he could do better than fellow undrafted wide receiver, Isaiah Weston, from Northern Iowa. Early in camp, Weston injured himself and was waived with injury designation, paving the path for Harley. So far, he’s done everything to stand out and it’s been a success.
While his measurables are definitely attractive (4.46 40 time, 35.5 vertical, and 10 feet, 2 inches broad jump) and his tape in camp has been jaw dropping at times, it’s the games that will tell his story. Harley isn’t going to overtake Donovan Peoples-Jones, David Bell or Amari Cooper, but with Grant’s injury as well as an open competition in the slot, this could be the type of success that Harley Jr. could need to take the first step towards making the team.
2. Michael Woods II, Wide Receiver
Everyone has had their eyes on third round pick David Bell and for good reason: he has yet to drop a pass in practice. That said, people forget that Cleveland drafted another wide receiver in the sixth-round, Michael Woods II out of Oklahoma. While obviously not as touted, Woods II has been a standout.
Suffering a hamstring injury in camp may set him back slightly, but if he can come back and add onto his resume, Woods II may become another feather in the cap of general manager Andrew Berry. Given Cleveland’s need for wide receivers, this would be huge.
3. Marcus Santos-Silva, Tight End
When basketball players transition from the hardwood to the gridiron, one of the more challenging tasks to pick up on is the hard work, like blocking. Unless they played in high school or college, sometimes tight ends see players like Los Angeles Chargers’ legend Antonio Gates and think they can be as reliable in terms of making the catch. That hasn’t been the case with Santos-Silva.
A kid that’s played no football until trying out for Cleveland during the rookie mini camp, many in the Browns media and YouTube base have noted that he’s put in the work to look solid as a blocker. If he can display timing as well as the ability to make the catch, don’t be surprised if he pulls the upset on Miller Forristall and Nick Guggemos.
4. A.J. Green, Cornerback
Going into year three, A.J. Green has all eyes watching him in a crowded secondary room. People have been wondering every year if it will be his last. It hasn’t happened yet. This year may be when he takes that next step.
So far, Green has played quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Jacoby Brissett very well in full team drills, even intercepting them a couple OF times. If Green can keep this up, he’ll force defensive coordinator Joe Woods to really consider moving him outside with Newsome II seeing more time in the nickel. This is his best chance, he can’t afford to blow it right now.
5. Shaun Jolly, Cornerback
Shaun Jolly has been a name some may not know too well, but he’s looked pretty good in the nickel. Following the trade of cornerback Troy Hill during the NFL Draft, Cleveland has been looking for someone who can step in and take over that role.
A hamstring injury has limited him recently, but he’s come out and looked like he could make the roster. He’s similar to Green, except more of a nickel corner, rather than a boundary corner. He’s by no means a lock to make the team, but Jolly is a name that Cleveland fans should look for.