As we slow roll through the doldrums of the NFL off-season, hope everyone had a great Fourth of July, we get a chance to spend some time looking forward. Today we take a look at 3 breakout candidates for the Cleveland Browns. Last year’s breakout star was clearly Jordan Cameron. Who might take the national audience by storm this year? Lets take a look at 3 of what surprisingly is a huge group of candidates from the Browns:
Candidate #1: Barkevious Mingo – OLB
Mingo was a high first round pick for the Browns last year yet had a ho hum rookie season. That is not a surprise based on how hard it is for rookie pass rushers to make big impacts as they learn a number of pass rush moves, instead of just relying on their physical talent. Mingo showed a great deal of physical talent during his limited time last season. Mike Pettine and his defensive staff have plans to make the most of Mingo. Pettine will line up Mingo in places for him to put his talents to the most use. Mingo has the agility and flexibility to be a straight pass rusher as well as to drop in coverage. A double digit sack season with 2 or 3 INTs with 2 or 3 touchdowns from strip sacks would be a huge 2nd season. Enough to draw the national attention.
Candidate #2: Andrew Hawkins – WR
Anyone who has followed along this off-season has seen the great video of Hawkins burning Bengal defenders in his release drills. Hawkins excels in small spaces and creates quick separation. With the Bengals he was not the first, second or third option. When he finally was looked at he had long come out of his great breaks and was rarely open. As a higher option Hawkins’ speed and separation will be taken advantage of. In the Kyle Shanahan that is creative and multiple expect Hawkins to be hit just as he gets open and so he can run after the catch. 60 or more receptions, with some highlight video touchdowns would make him a breakout player for the Browns.
Candidate #3: Phil Taylor – NT
Taylor was also a first round pick and has had an okay career so far. This season, as his contract year, could be the one that brings him to the national stage. Taylor has the physical gifts to dominate the interior of the offensive line, cause havoc on the run game and bring some pressure to the QB. As the NT he often is called to take on multiple blockers so that other players can make plays. Within the Pettine system I expect Taylor to be more engaged in getting into the backfield, instead of anchoring at the line. Pettine’s aggressive system creates disruption in multiple ways. For Pro Bowl votes sacks and pressures will be given most credence. That type of play can often open up running lanes but Pettine’s defense has excelled against the run. A few huge sacks and forced fumbles can make Taylor a big name this year.
Who is your breakout candidate for this year?