Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (92.3 The Fan) - It’s getting hard not to get too excited two days into rookie minicamp about the future of the Cleveland Browns.
First round picks Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden are a big reason why.
It’s far too soon to make any bold declarations, but the early returns are pretty good on both as well as the rest of the rookie class.
“What impresses me the most is that the guys we’re talking about, I see the reasons why we drafted them,” Shurmur said. “I’ve not been disappointed in what these guys are based on what we thought they were when we drafted them.”
Weeden and Richardson clearly stand out – as first round picks should.
“Anytime we do anything against air, we’ve got to be 100 percent,” Shurmur said. “Everything was a little bit smoother (for Weeden). From the play call in the huddle to getting lined up and of course the quarterback-center exchange. Obviously first things first – we’ve got to get the snap.”
Like Friday, a few footballs ended up on the ground on exchanges but that’s pretty much where the negative review of Weeden ends. Shurmur isn’t concerned about the handle under center either – at least not yet.
Once again, Weeden flashed his arm, touch and role out ability throwing strikes in stride, on time and with ease during a pair of practices Saturday.
“He’s naturally accurate,” Shurmur said. “That’s a natural component to his game so it’s just a matter of him getting used to how we do things and that accuracy will show.”
Even the Browns assistant coaches are fired up by Weeden’s completions.
Senior assistant/offense Nolan Cromwell blurted out “nice throw Weeds” after a roll out completion to tight end and camp invitee Joseph Halahuni.
The strength and accuracy of Weeden’s arm is impressive but not surprising. He has destroyed clay pigeons in flight with a football – the video evidence of which went viral prior to the draft.
Receiver Josh Cooper, Weeden’s former Oklahoma State teammate, was even impressed when he saw the video.
“That’s tough to do with a shotgun,” Cooper said.
Cooper is used to the speed of the ball coming out of Weeden’s hand admitting that he’s dislocated two fingers in practice before while trying to catch the tight spirals in his direction.
He also isn’t afraid to poke fun at Weeden either – especially when asked about how impressed he is with his mobility in and out of the pocket.
“Yea, for how old he is,” Cooper joked. “He’s a very mobile quarterback and can move around a little bit.”
Cooper had an idea he’s get a call from the Browns at some point and catching the football this weekend as well as he has could help his cause to stay around.
“I know this team needed help at receiver,” Cooper said. “I hope to be able to do that and help them out.”
On draft night, Shurmur had a grin ear to ear when he stepped into the media room to talk about the selection of Richardson. His smile is growing wider and wider by the day as he watches the No. 3 overall pick at work.
“Wow, he’s a very powerful man,” Shurmur said. “He’s powerfully built. Don’t let the 5’9″ fool you. He’s almost 230 pounds. That’s a lot of muscle packed into that body so I just think that he’s got a very powerful build much like we thought when we drafted him and it shows up on the field.”
Some criticize Richardson for not being 6′ tall but not Shurmur. He thinks Richardson’s build is tailor made for the NFL.
“The runners how they are built sometimes drives their running style,” Shurmur said. “Trent can get his foot down and slash it up in the line of scrimmage. By the nature of his build he’s hard to get your arms around and tackle. That natural leverage that he has also gives him great balance and body control”
Running backs coach Gary Brown calls him a “special talent.” Brown would know. He was part of another video to go viral. One where Richardson planted him during his Alabama pro day.
Weeden isn’t the only one to have company from college.
Tight end/fullback Brad Smelley won a pair of national titles at Alabama. The seventh round pick could turn into a hidden gem for the Browns because of his versatility.
He’s not just a blocker, he can catch too.
“Absolutely,” Smelley said. “That’s something that I work on every day, all my life basically. I feel comfortable catching the ball.”
Smelley, who grew up in Tuscaloosa and lived his childhood dream of playing four seasons at Alabama, also isn’t selective where he plays. He just wants to play.
“I’m just out here competing every day and trying to get better,” Smelley said. “I just want to help the team anyway i can whether that’s special teams, tight end or fullback. I’m just playing my part, playing my role and looking forward to getting better.
“It’s still football. The field is still 50 yards wide and 100 yards long.”
Yes, it’s far too early to project how good Weeden, Richardson or the rest of the rookies will be but the good news is that they are at least off to a positive start.