Cleveland Browns or Cleveland Apollos? Browns sign third Orlando Apollos player
The Cleveland Browns have been one of the many NFL teams to raid the AAF for talent. Specifically, the Browns have grabbed 3 players from the Orlando Apollos. Here are those three players, and the roles they could have.
The Cleveland Browns are in a position that they have not been in a while. The team’s main focus should not be on acquiring starting players, but acquiring good backups. General manager John Dorsey has done a fantastic job putting together a talented roster full of NFL starters, but now has the even more difficult challenge of finding cap friendly talented backups.
The NFL gives teams a 90 man roster that they get to whittle down to 53 players and up to 10 guys on their practice squad. It is John Dorsey’s job to find guys who can find ways to contribute to this football team and fill all 63 of those spots.
Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian founded the AAF to help players who once played in the NFL get a second chance in the league. The two founders goals were to make the AAF into a developmental league for the NFL.
More from Dawg Pound Daily
- How the Browns could maximize Nick Chubb in 2023
- Can Deshaun Watson get to Patrick Mahomes level for Cleveland Browns?
- 3 Cleveland Browns who should see an expanded role in 2023 and 1 who should not
- Is Marcus Davenport on the Browns radar in 2023?
- 5 Free agents from Super Bowl LVII Cleveland Browns should target
Even though the league has now gone under, they have accomplished what the set out to do, at least for a season. Many NFL teams have signed players from the AAF. The Browns themselves have nabbed three players from the best team in the AAF, the Orlando Apollos.
The Browns have signed Apollos quarterback Garrett Gilbert, wide receiver Ishmael Hyman, and now running back D’Ernest Johnson, according to Johnson’s twitter. D’Ernest Johnson played college ball at USF (University of South Florida) and racked up a total of 2695 scrimmage yards in his four years there.
As someone who watched his fair share of AAF games, specifically Orlando Apollos games, I can verify that these are some talented football players. Garrett Gilbert was arguably the most talented player in the league, and D’Ernest Johnson and Ishmael Hyman were some of his best weapons. D’Ernest Johnson averaged 5.8 yards per carry in the AAF, with a total of 372 yards on 64 carries across the eight games played.
Now, to speak frankly, Gilbert, Johnson, and Hyman are going to see a hard time trying to make the roster. For Gilbert, he will either have to beat out veteran Drew Stanton and/or rookie David Blough. This depends on whether the Browns keep three quarterbacks on the 53 man roster or if they keep two on the 53 man roster and one on the practice squad. Gilbert seems to have the best shot out of the trio to have a home in a Browns uniform next season.
The Browns currently have five running backs on their roster not named D’Ernest Johnson. These are Nick Chubb, Duke Johnson Jr, Kareem Hunt, Dontrell Hilliard, and Trayvone Gray. The team will most likely only carry three running backs on the 53 man roster. These will probably be Nick Chubb, Duke Johnson Jr, and Kareem Hunt. The Browns have a small chance of carrying four running backs, the fourth would only happen if one of the four running backs not likely to make the roster ends up being a special teams stud.
With that being said, the team will probably have one, maybe two running backs on the practice squad. This is where D’Ernest Johnson could find his home this season. If he plays well enough on special teams and can take his AAF experience and show the team that he could potentially replace Kareem Hunt when he goes in free agency next season, he could definitely find a spot in brown and orange.
For Ishmael Hyman, his best chance to make the team would be as a special teams guru. The team should be looking to carry six, max seven receivers into the season. Browns wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, and Antonio Callaway should have their roster spots on lock. That leaves the other seven receivers currently on the Browns roster to fight over two or max three spots left on the 53 man roster. The practice squad will likely have a spot for a receiver also, but that would only be for someone who has a future on special teams also.
The Browns have some serious talent fighting for those last two roster spots as receiver, including Damion Ratley and Jaelen Strong, who I expect to take the last two spots. Hyman, like Johnson, could emerge as a potential special teams stud, or as a practice squad player. The AAF experience they have should be a major benefit to their chances of beating out the other journeymen trying to make NFL rosters this season.
Needless to say, this preseason is going to be really fun to watch for anyone who payed attention to the AAF. The Browns are a good portion of the Orlando Apollos offense, so the chemistry they already have built should help them shine.
As a fan of football, I am glad the Browns are giving a few AAF players another shot in the NFL. This is a good step for a future developmental football league, which I personally think could really benefit the sport as a whole. Plus, who doesn’t want more football?