It is no secret that the Browns had high expectations for their 2021 NFL Draft class. It wasn’t a matter of if they would perform, it was a matter of when. That when has been the start of the season and is a welcome sign for the team. Interesting enough it isn’t only the first year players.
Things start out with the first-round pick Greg Newsome ll. Newsome won over a camp battle for the second cornerback position and has looked like he has belonged. In week one when it was thought the rookie may be targeted often - it was the opposite. Newsome has been targeted four times through two games and has allowed just a pair of receptions.
You can’t ask for more out of the rookie corner from Northwestern. He has came in and done his job at a very good level off of the rip.
Week one saw another rookie step up when called upon. With Odell Beckham Jr. down someone needed to step up, that guy was Anthony Schwartz. Schwartz was a mid-round pick with obvious blazing speed that is talked about so often. Schwartz didn’t see much time in training camp or preseason due to an injury, so there were questions with what to expect.
Not many saw Schwartz being the team’s best wide receiver in week one, but that’s what he was. Baker Mayfield showed trust in the rookie and let it rip - even connecting deep. Schwartz was a non-factor in week two - his week one performance still speaks for itself. Three catches and nearly 70 yards is a nice debut for a player with low expectations. With Jarvis Landry now missing some time, the Browns need a player to step up once again.
Schwartz may bring a different skill set, but any opportunity he should look to seize.
The pick that many were most excited for in the most recent draft was Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. An undeniable first-round talent, but fell to the second due to questions of where he will play exactly. Koramoah has eight tackles through two games and he is embracing his role on special teams.
If you keep an eye on 28 when the Browns kickoff, you will find a player shot out of a rocket. The Notre Dame product has multiple solo tackles on special teams already. Browns continue to give him WILL linebacker snaps and he’s making the most of those, too. Cleveland will continue to add more to his workload until he likely doesn’t leave the field much, that’s when things really start to look up. For the time being Koramoah is giving some excitement and showing why the Browns drafted him.
Demetric Felton was thought to be a late-round flyer to some. That could not be further form the truth. Cleveland knew they were getting a player that is dangerous when he gets the ball in his hands. With Felton you can get creative, or hand him the ball - he does not care. The preseason was a good one for Felton and he showed off his receiving ability. But, it was this past Sunday where the league likely found out who he was.
Felton played just three snaps on offense. Two catches for 51-yards and a touchdown was good enough to be the team’s receiving leader. Felton made guys miss and kept his legs churning on a short pass he took to the end zone. When Cleveland had the rookie on the field, the ball went to him. This just goes to show that Kevin Stefanski has a plan for Felton that will be executed when given the chance. You can call Felton a running back, wide receiver or kick returner - in the end - he is a playmaker.
Getting past the rookies there are two players that have been in the league longer than a year, but are seeing their first action. Whether it is due to injury or off the field issue - these two players had to wait on their chance.
Grant Delpit suffered an achilles injury and missed his entire rookie year last season. Delpit then was held out of preseason and week one. With the LSU product being activated there were low expectations in his debut. He blew those expectations away and looked good.
Delpit finished with five tackles and a sack against the Texans. Joe Woods was able to lineup Delpit in spots to succeed and it was a welcomed sign. Technically a rookie, it was a heck of a debut for Delpit. A big sack that caused a forced fumble was the highlight, Delpit found himself unblocked and executed a big hit. One that Myles Garrett said he did not know Delpit had in him.
Cleveland is very good at saftey with John Johnson lll and Ronnie Harrison. This gives the chance to bring Delpit along slowly, but with a debut like that you just may not want to wait. Delpit moved quick, shot the gap and looked to be that guy. Expect to see a ramp up in three safeties on the field much of the time going forward.
If there’s a good story on this Cleveland Browns team, Malik McDowell may the winner of that. After all he has went though, McDowell is finally getting his shot in the NFL and making the most of it. From 53-man hopefully to starter, that’s where things currently stand. McDowell impressed in the preseason and training camp, hasn’t let up during the season either.
McDowell has five tackles and a tackle for a loss. The former Big Ten standout is playing about 65% of the team’s snaps this season. He’s big and plays mean, quite frankly McDowell looks like the best defensive tackle on the team. McDowell is moving guys on the offensive line and doing his job at a high rate. It surely was not something to expect, but something Cleveland surely could get used to.
The Browns have big goals going forward, this season and beyond. Cleveland’s young core is a huge part of both and they are off to a good start to show just that.