The Cleveland Browns kick off their 2012 season tonight as they travel to Motown to take on the Detroit Lions. While the Cleveland Browns will be without the services of top pick Trent Richardson, Browns fan will have plenty of young talent to survey in tonights game. Below is a brief list of rookies to watch for in tonight's game, players that the Browns will likely need to contribute this year. Some will be asked to do more than others, but on a roster that has lacked depth for many years, they need to come in and develop.
1. Brandon Weeden- Brandon had a torrid Jr. and Sr. seasons at Oklahoma State throwing for 9,000. Most of those yards came in a shotgun pass happy offense. It will be very interesting to see how far Weeden has come in his comfortability in taking snaps under center. Do his dropbacks look fluid, how does his timing look with the receivers, and is he making it through his progressions will all be questions the coaches will be looking to answer. We know he's got the arm, but does he have the skills necessary to be an NFL qb.
2. Josh Gordon- The Browns have lacked a legitimate number 1 receiver since, well, forever it seems. Gordon the intriguing prospect the Browns acquired the the NFL supplemental draft looks to take steps towards become that guy. At every bit of 6'3 220 and with many physical tools that make up superstar receivers the Browns need him to make contributions this year. Things to look for in Gordon start with route running, is he running precise routes, and is he effectively disguising the routes. The kid can run, jump and catch and with his size it's going to be more about technique than anything.
3. Mitchell Schwartz- Schwartz a lineman who playes with good technique is going to get tested in athleticism tonight. How will he deal with the edge rush of an NFL defensive end.
4. John Hughes- A guy some thought of as a reach in the third round is going to be immediately thrust into playing time due to the injury of Phil Taylor. The Browns will need Hughes to step up as a run stuffer and someone to keep offensive lineman off of D'Qwell Jackson.
5. James-Michael Johnson- Johnson is another rookie who is going to be thrust into playing time due to injury and overall lack of depth at the lb'er position. Johnson can play either weakside or strongside backer, but is more naturally gifted to the strongside. He's a downhill runner who's a good striker. The question on Johnson will be how does he cover in space?
6. Travis Benjamin- Small in stature Benjamin will need to show he can get off the line of scrimmage and that he can consistently catch the ball. Benjamin who has blazing speed could be a guy who could be a much needed field stretcher on offense. Expect them to try and connect with him deep at least once tonight.
7. Billy Winn- Another rookie who'll will likely be needed to add depth to a position with an injury and a position that Dick Jauron likes to rotate frequently.
8. Ryan Miller- Miller will likely be added depth on the offensive line.
Emanuel Acho, Brad Smelley, and Trevin Wade are all likely special teams hands this year.
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