The Cleveland Browns are in their Organized Team Activities now, a ramp up to official Training Camp. As we learned yesterday with the Sean Lee injury, anything can happen and the most important thing during OTAs is health. The Browns players are learning a new system under Mike Pettine and Kyle Shanahan on both sides of the ball. Shanahan’s systems in Washington and Houston have been both creative and flexible. This is also true for Pettine’s defensive system in New York and Buffalo. Because of that OTAs are almost more important from a mental perspective then a physical one.
Over the next few weeks we will hit on all of the Browns rookies, starting by going backwards with the players who were drafted then hitting on a few of the undrafted free agents the team has signed. We will look at their fit in the system, physical and mental maturity, competition for playing time and prediction of impact this season. We start first with 4th round pick Pierre Desir, cornerback out of Lindenwood.
Desir is a taller stronger defensive back that can fit perfectly in the Pettine system. Pettine likes to put his corners out on an island with little to no safety help so as to allow for more pressure up front. Desir can jam receivers at the line as well as have the speed to run with them in coverage. One of his limitations currently is his fluidity in his hips, the time it takes for him to open up out of his back pedal and get in to a full sprint. Desir will not be expected to be a shutdown corner right away. Because of his hips he may get time at free safety early in his career. Think of a offensive tackle starting out inside as a guard before moving outside as he learns the game. Because of his size, speed and ball skills he could find a home there at FS, think Malcolm Jenkins out of tOSU but without the first round pick attached.
Desir is an older rookie, not Brandon Weeden old, turning 24 early in his rookie year. He is well traveled and grounded by his wife and child. His mental maturity is obvious as he worked multiple, terrible jobs to make it through school. His grit and determination is obvious. Physically he won’t change much. He has grown into his body already and should stay a similar size and speed till age or injuries catch up to him. NFL strength and conditioning will be light years ahead of Lindenwood’s, no offense to the small school, which should help him maximize his abilities. He will need to learn to play stronger against the run but his size should allow that.
Desir comes into a situation that could be perfect for him to not get over exposed as he transitions from his small college. With Joe Haden locked in as the #1 corner (in the league) and Justin Gilbert drafted #8 overall to play the other starting corner spot, Desir will fight for minutes as a backup. Buster Skrine improved leaps and bounds last year and can cover smaller slot receivers, or on the outside for the DeSean Jackson types. Leon McFadden was drafted by the last regime but still could fight for playing time. That means Desir will be matchup on bigger receivers as a corner when that need presents. Last year the Browns were burned by the Ravens and Lions, and many other teams, when their 3rd receiver was tall and lanky and could dominate the smaller Browns corners. Desir is brought in to fix that. At free safety Tashaun Gipson, Jamoris Slaughter and Jordan Poyer as well as others sit on the depth chart, but none is a for sure starter if Desir shows promise there early.
Based on his fit, size, maturity and opportunity Desir should have a low snap, high impact rookie season. Because of how he will be deployed Desir could be a situational corner, similar to how pass rushers are used their rookie season. Opposing teams will test him in routes, but with their 3rd or 4th receivers, giving him ample chances for interceptions and returns. Desir could get beat for a big play or two but expect Pettine to minimize his liabilities with Desir. A huge training camp though could put him in line to start at Free Safety given the way Pettine likes to use that position. Could he be a young version of Jarius Byrd, without the huge contract? Overall Impact - Medium-Low
If you are interested in watching film on players Draft Break Down does a great job of putting together pieces. For Desir they only have one game but you can watch it all here with this 10 minute You Tube clip:
What are your expectations for Desir this year?