Browns: 8th Round of the NFL Draft: Undrafted Free Agents
By Peter Smith
Jan 1, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw (14) looks downfield to pass in the second quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers in the Capital One Bowl at Florida Citrus Bowl. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
When the third day of the draft gets going, teams get on the phones with players that could possibly go undrafted and start trying to negotiate getting them to come to a tryout or just sign them as priority free agents. The guys over at DraftBrowns do a great job with tracking the guys that are reportedly going to get a shot to make the roster of the Cleveland Browns, so here is a link to their list they continue to update.
Two names will jump out at most people. The first might be Isaiah Crowell, the former Georgia running back. Crowell was the top running back coming out of high school and was tremendous in his freshman year in Athens. After being kicked out of Georgia for running guns of all things, he went to Alabama State to finish out his career. Reportedly, his head coach there was not all that upset to see him leave either, but if he can keep his head on straight, he can not only make the roster for the Browns, he could make an impact. However, he may not be able to stay focused on football long enough to show that talent.
The second player that might jump off of that list is Connor Shaw, the former South Carolina quarterback. Of all of the guys the Browns have agreed to bring in and Shaw has confirmed himself that he is coming to Cleveland, I think Shaw has the best chance to have a meaningful role.
The Browns signed Tyler Thigpen and Vince Young after tryouts, so along with Alex Tanney, these will be the guys Shaw is competing with to see if he can stick on the roster. Shaw was incredibly efficient while at South Carolina, throwing just one interception this past season. He has good mobility, can throw accurate and plays similarly in terms of style to Johnny Manziel. After evaluating Shaw (found here), I came to the conclusion that the team that drafted Manziel would be smart to get Shaw along with him. The Browns have done just that.
The advantage with Shaw is that in a situation where he has to come into the game for Manziel, the Browns can keep the exact same playbook. While Shaw did not get nearly the press clippings as Manziel, he was a big reason that the Gamecocks were able to finish substantially better than Texas A&M did in the SEC, finishing the season 11-2. Undrafted free agents tend to get overlooked by most fans but they can have a big impact on a roster. I think Shaw could be a great value for the Browns as a backup for Manziel over the long term.