INDIANAPOLIS (92.3 The Fan) – Aside from the first wave of NFL coaches and executives to roll through the media center, Thursday was the day for offensive linemen, special teamers and tight ends.
The Browns starting unit on the offensive line is pretty much set thus they will likely look to add a player or 2 for depth purposes this offseason.
Tight end and special teams are a whole other matter.
Kicker Phil Dawson and returner Josh Cribbs are set to become free agents. So are Ben Watson and Alex Smith which leavs the Browns with just 3 tight ends – Jordan Cameron, Dan Gronkowski and Brad Smelley – on the roster.
Here are a few notes and quotes from Thursday concerning those positions.
– Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel hopes to be the No. 1 pick in the draft – which currently is held by the Kansas City Chiefs. Worse case scenario, his goal is to be the first offensive tackle selected on draft day.
“Yeah, definitely coming into this thing I wanted to be the first tackle taken in the draft. Now I know it’s a long process until then,” Joeckel said. “I’m trying to do every single thing right to make sure that happens… It’s good type of competition between all of us. That’s one of the fun parts about the combine – the competition aspect of it, going against some of the best athletes at your position in the country.”
Joeckel has another goal as well – be the next Joe Thomas. He said Thursday that as a kid in high school he grew up watching Thomas and has tried to pattern his technique and style after the Browns’ 6 time pro bowler.
“I love the way he plays,” Joeckel said. “I don’t know about his weight room numbers and stuff like that, but he’s just one of those guys that looks like he’s got that brute strength, lumberjack strength, and I kind of pride myself on that too. A guy who doesn’t get pushed around too much, and great pass block. Plays hard, plays to the whistle. That’s the guy I watched in high school.”
– Stanford tight end Zach Ertz is regarded by many as the top player at his position in a draft full of them. He knows the crop is thick but hopes to separate himself from the pack with a solid showing in Indianapolis.
“Tyler Eifert, Gavin Escobar, some of those guys are very good football players,” Ertz said. “I’m just looking toward the opportunity to go up against them in some of the drills.
“Off-the-field it’s all fun and games but I’m sure once [Friday] comes on the bench and then Saturday on-the-field it’s going to be just pure competitors out there.”
Ertz is hoping that coming from a pro style offense such as Stanford will not just benefit his transition ot the NFL but maybe raise his stock as well.
“I think it helps a lot,” Ertz said. “At Stanford, we had coach (Jim) Harbaugh my first two years there and he runs the same offense essentially for the 49ers. I think that helps all the players coming out of Stanford.”
– Ohio State tight end Jake Stoneburner grew up a Cincinnati Bengals fan but wouldn’t mind changing NFL allegiances within the Buckeye State.
Stoneburner, who joked that the only thing that he knew about the Browns was that they were 2 and 1/2 hours north of Columbus, said that he wouldn’t mind playing for another former tight end – Browns coach Rob Chudzinski.
“It’d be nice to get some love and play for a coach who actually played your position,” Stoneburner said. “If they play your position, they kind of know what you’re going through. So, yeah, that’d be pretty cool.”
– With Phil Dawson set to become a free agent in March, the Browns are definitely looking at kickers this week.
Kickers Caleb Sturgis from Florida and Nebraska’s Brett Maher both said that they met informally with Browns special teams coordinator Chris Tabor Wednesday night.
– The Browns have interviewed or will also interview: Stanford TE Zach Ertz, Ohio State T Reid Fragel, Ohio State TE Jake Stoneburner, UCLA TE Joseph Fauria, Rice TE Vance McDonald and Syracuse OL Justin Pugh.
– Cleveland Heights native and University of Cincinnati tight end Travis Kelce will not be working out at the combine this week due to an abdominal tear according to Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer.