The 2022 OTA’s have wrapped up and a lot of new, innovative, and encouraging changes have been presumably made for the team. It was exciting to watch Browns football again and see Deshaun Watson and Amari Cooper in a team environment with Cleveland colors on. One last thing is that I just wanted to preface this by saying that these are my personal observations and that things will become more clear going forward.
– Deshaun Watson looked crisp and showed very little “rust” throughout drills and live sessions. Watson was energetic, motivated, and invested in his teammates. You can tell that he’s already “one of the guys”.
– Jacoby Brissett looked good for the most part but underthrew a couple of balls down the sidelines.
– Josh Dobbs participated in drills and 7-on-7’s but had very few reps in live sessions.
– Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt looked like their usual selves. They displayed elite speed, movement, and agility throughout all sessions.
– Jerome Ford flashed great speed and burst on a couple of runs.
– Demetric Felton worked at both running back and slot receiver per usual.
– Once D’Ernest Johnson joined, he looked good in all aspects as well.
– All of the running backs showed consistent pass-catching ability throughout OTA’s.
– Johnny Stanton made a couple of nice catches out of the backfield, as well as lined up at tight end on occasion.
– Harrison Bryant lined up at both tight end and fullback throughout OTA’s, which was extremely interesting to see. He did this a few times in the 2021 season, but he spent a surprising amount of time in the backfield during team sessions.
– Amari Cooper showed off the elite route running, movement, and ball-tracking skills that Cleveland hoping to get when they traded for him. No question marks here.
– Donovan Peoples-Jones showed off his great hands, and his ability to make tough catches outside of his frame.
– David Bell looked extremely smooth and quick out of his breaks and showed excellent route-running skills on all reps, even making a nice deep touchdown catch early on. He worked almost exclusively in the slot in team periods.
– Jakeem Grant showed off his speed in all drills, whether it was lining up in the slot, on the boundary, or returning kicks.
– There’s something different about Anthony Schwartz. He’s definitely put on muscle, but he looks more agile than he did a season ago. His feet seem to be faster when in the body and on the breaks of his routes, which shows that he’s definitely been working on his game throughout the offseason. His feet weren’t as choppy last year, which limited his ability to create separation at the top of his routes. He looks like less of an Olympic sprinter and more like a football player now. Granted, he was just running around in a T-shirt and shorts but it’s something to monitor going forward.
– Cleveland made the receivers work on a lot more “contested-catch” drills during this year’s OTA period.
– Rookie UDFA Isaiah Weston made an insane one-handed catch down the left sideline that had coaches and media in awe.
– Rookie UDFA Mike Harley also had a solid overall showing as well.
– Ja’Marcus Bradley and Mike Woods were watching from the sidelines due to minor injury issues.
– Harrison Bryant looked like his usual, reliable self throughout OTA’s. He made great catches, ran smooth routes, and lined up at both fullback and tight end.
– Miller Forristall made the most of his reps while David Njoku was out negotiating his new deal. He had a nice toe-tap touchdown catch in the back of the endzone in a team session. I fully expect Forristall to make the team as the third tight end.
– Once David Njoku rejoined the team after his new contract was made official, he looked extremely good in all aspects of OTA’s. You can tell that he’s a starting NFL tight end just by observing him throughout each position drill.
– This is by FAR the best special teams group that Cleveland has had in recent memory.
– Cade York was kicking 50+ yard field goals with ease both on the practice fields, and in the stadium throughout OTA’s. He actually bombed a 60+ yard field goal in his first kicking session of OTA’s.
Overall schematic offensive observations
– Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt lined up in the backfield together at the same time in 21/22 personnel packages, which was extremely exciting to see.
– Deshaun Watson/Jacoby Brissett lined up in the Pistol formation (4-5yds behind center with the running back 3yds behind him) throughout OTA’s. This wrinkle could be extremely deadly with Watson’s athleticism and processing speed. This would help facilitate added deception and RPO suitability to the offense.
– There was a lot more pre-snap motion being used in team sessions this year. I’m not 100% sure whether or not this is something that they plan on doing, or were just experimenting with it. We should find out more in mini-camp this week.
– The starting wide receiver group was pretty consistent throughout OTA’s. Amari Cooper at “X”, Donovan Peoples-Jones at “Z”, and David Bell in the slot. Cooper moved around between X and Z, but spent most of his time at X. Anthony Schwartz spent most of his reps on the boundary, where his straight-line speed could be utilized.