Rookie Impact Projections: Cleveland Browns


Jun 12, 2014; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) during minicamp at Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

With training camps finally starting to begin in the National Football League, I continue my look at the potential impact of rookies for each team in the NFL. The team up is the Cleveland Browns. The Browns started hot last season then flushed out in the final twelve games. After losing Brian Hoyer at quarterback the Browns found themselves again without a capable starter. This team started fresh with a new coaching staff and were clearly looking to improve this roster top to bottom. Each pick for the Browns will be graded on a scale of one to ten. One is a player with little to no impact this season, a ten being an immediate high impact player. The Browns made six selections in the 2014 NFL draft.

Justin Gilbert (Cornerback) – 1st round (Pick 8)

Justin was arguably the most athletic defensive back in the entire class. He brings tremendous value and upside to the Browns to compliment pro bowler Joe Haden. Gilbert has a great blend of size and speed as well as phenomenal ball skills. He is a natural play making corner with all the right ingredients to become a shut down option as long as he matures which shouldn’t be an issue with this team. Justin also saw success as a return man in college and can add that element in Cleveland as well. Expect Gilbert to start opposite of Hayden in week one.

Impact Projection: 7 out of 10

Johnny Manziel (Quarterback) – 1st round (Pick 22)

After trading with the Philadelphia Eagles to grab the enigmatic quarterback, the Browns threw him into competition for the starting gig. Johnny has serious star power and has all the right tools physically to be a decent passer in the NFL. He is incredibly athletic and mobile as a passer making him a serious dual threat. He makes pretty crisp throws within twenty-five yards and can hit the deep ball pretty well. He must learn to make better decisions and progress his reads quicker. The mental game is the most important aspect for Manziel. If he can show that he has matured on and off of the football field he should certainly end up starting sometime this season. Don’t expect playoff chances this year behind Johnny, but he will bring serious excitement to Cleveland.

Impact Projection: 6 out of 10

Joel Bitonio (Offensive Tackle) – 2nd round (Pick 35)

A favorite of  Mike Mayock, Bitonio is a sneaky good selection. Joel has great power and is a good athlete for a lineman. He is quick on the block and drives his defender. Bitonio has great versatility to play all along the offensive front and should be able to fill in any spot immediately. His intelligence and high character should go over great in the locker room. He has all the right markings to make him a quick staple along this offensive line starting week one.

Impact Projection: 7 out of 10

Christian Kirksey (Linebacker) – 3rd round (Pick 71)

The Browns grabbed another high character player here with Kirksey. He will be a great presence in the locker room and will immediately fit in. Kirksey is a great athlete and a sharp tackling machine. However he is a bit undersized, and he didn’t flash often as a big play maker. His consistency however should keep him on this team especially in a special teams role. He will have to fight in a deep linebacker pool for snaps on the starting defense this season, but he certainly will see some action.

Impact Projection: 5 out of 10

Terrance West (Running back) – 3rd round (Pick 94)

West is a big and powerful between the tackles kind of running back that will compliment Ben Tate perfectly. Terrance generates a great blend of speed and power behind great vision that leads to big time gains. He needs to improve on his pass protections and route running to be used more often on passing plays, but will still see his fair share of action. His goal line and short yardage ability will be warmly welcomed on this team. Expect him to be involved in the offense early and often this season.

Impact Projection: 6 out of 10

Pierre Desir (Cornerback) – 4th round (Pick 127)

A personal favorite of mine, Desir is a small school prospect from Lindenwood who has great upside. Pierre is an above average athlete with great size and length at the corner position. His natural ball skills are incredible and he plays well in critical situations. Desir is another great attitude and locker room presence for the Browns. He will naturally take some time to adjust to the speed of the game and the ability of players at the pro level. The Browns have enough depth to let him learn slowly, but don’t be surprised if he cracks the rotation at nickel corner this season and emerges as a solid third option and situational ball hawk.

Impact Projection: 5 out of 10

The Browns are a team that have been desperately searching for star power and success for over fifteen seasons since rejoining the league. This 2014 draft class was a huge step in the right direction. Every selection by the Browns has real potential to have a great impact for this team immediately this season, a claim few teams can make about their entire draft class. Johnny Manziel will fight tooth and nail against Hoyer to earn the starting gig this summer, and the rest of these players have natural fits among this football team. Expect big plays and big impacts from the Cleveland Browns 2014 rookie class.

Look for the Dallas Cowboys rookie projections soon! Joe Kleine is also co-host of show The Direct Snap, alongside fellow PhinPhanatic and Rant Sports writer Tyler McMullen (also on facebook search Tyler McMullen – Rant Sports). Please check out our facebook at or check us out on Twitter at the handle, @Direct_Snap. Our free to listen show about the NFL is on is coming back July 26th, live 8:30 PM Eastern time, be sure to give us a shout!