Four days of practice sessions for both the East and West squads are complete here in St. Petersburg for the annual Shrine Game. Over 100 NFL draft prospects worked out in front of scouts from every NFL team.
The Browns were well-represented during the practices at Tropicana Field, including VP of Player Personnel Alonzo Highsmith. Here are 10 players, listed in alphabetical order, who stood out as good fits for the Browns from the practice sessions and prior game tape.
Cortez Broughton, DT, Cincinnati
Broughton first caught my eye when his Bearcats stumped my Ohio Bobcats back in September. He did not stop, bringing his disruptiveness to St. Pete and the East practices. Short-armed but broad-shouldered and powerful, he played this week at 291 pounds and can add 8-10 more. If he does that and doesn’t sacrifice the quickness and ability to snake through gaps, he’s going to be better than incumbent Browns starter Trevon Coley.
Jon Duhart, WR, Old Dominion
The most physical wideout during the week, Duhart uses his 6-2, 215-pound frame nicely to make himself a big red zone target. He’s not quick off the line but can run by DBs if they let him stretch his legs. I did Brett Rypien not see him drop a catchable pass (an issue with the West QBs, notably Easton Stick) all week.
Matthew Gay, PK, Utah
The Browns seem unlikely to draft a kicker, and Greg Joseph has the potential to be the long-term solution. But if the Browns want a change or a more legit competition this offseason, Gay is a good candidate. He nailed 3-of-4 attempts from 57 yards in practice sessions and just missed from 63, showing a big leg and some control of it, too.
Ulysees Gilbert, LB, Akron
Fans of the MAC know what Gilbert can do already. The kinetic inside backer has sideline-to-sideline range and hits with some pop. He delivered a rare big hit in Tuesday’s practice that drew audible oohs and aahs from the scouts in attendance. He has the size and natural nose for the ball to make those plays on Sundays, too.
Terry Godwin, WR, Georgia
Godwin was easily the most impressive skill position player on the East roster. He checks a lot of receiving boxed: great hands, body control, acceleration, toughness. He’s a worthy contender in the middle rounds for the Browns as a slot receiver.
Khalil Hodge, LB, Buffalo
Hodge is an easy guy to find on Bulls game film. Look for the ball and chances are you’ll see No. 4. He racked up over 400 tackles in his final three seasons. Hodge can play inside or outside backer. He weighed in heavier than expected here at 255 but told me he plans on being back in the 237-240 playing range by the NFL Scouting Combine. The added bulk did not appear to slow him much in the East practices.
Ka’dar Hollman, CB, Toledo
A former walk-on, Hollman was probably the most consistent cover man during the practice week. He projects as a slot CB who can shift outside and is comfortable in man or zone coverage. One thing I really liked about Hollman in the West practice sessions: he adapted quickly to how to play each of the receivers based on their style. That’s impressive.
KeeSean Johnson, WR, Fresno State
Trevor Sikkema of The Draft Network called Johnson his favorite prospect of the week, and it’s easy to see why. Johnson is sleek and polished as a route runner. His ability to create space for himself even on short routes stood out. So did his hands and ability to make himself bigger by reaching out and snagging passes that others were letting get more into their pads. Has all the makings of a really good No. 3 WR in the NFL.
Chris Nelson, DT, Texas
Nelson is not much of a pass-rush threat, neither for the Longhorns nor the West squad. He is more of a traditional immovable object of a nose tackle. He is built like a tank and shows that kind of brute power. Nelson was great at getting his hands into the chest of the blocker and blasting his way to the point of attack. He appears to have an NFL future as a reserve interior DT, a spot where the Browns should be looking for help.
Daniel Wise, DT, Kansas
If the Browns are looking for a version of Geno Atkins or Aaron Donald, they would be wise to look at the 283-pound Kansas standout. Wise was a wrecking ball on the defensive interior all week, consistently whipping blockers with a quick first step, strong hands and excellent lower-body strength and drive. That showed on game tape, too. Wise wins my vote for the best player in St. Pete this year.