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Could Cleveland Browns Keep Multiple USFL Players on The Active Roster?

The Cleveland Browns signed just two USFL players, could they keep both on the active roster?

Chris Odom, and Derrick Dillon, Were the only two USFL Players signed by the Cleveland Browns. With that being said the Browns could actually have legitimate roles waiting for both men. With the Browns needing to round out their pass rush, and find playmakers on offense it appears Odom and Dillon could both provide value for Cleveland. 

More Than Camp Bodies

The pursuit of Chris Odom has been well documented. Over five teams called him in for workouts. He ultimately chose to reunite with a former high school teammate, Myles Garrett. 

On the offensive side of the ball, Dillon was the second most explosive wide out in the USFL. Behind only Kavontae Turpin nearly 2/3 of Dillon’s yardage came after the catch. Part of this was due to the utter lack of a run game. It led Todd Haley to use Dillon’s run after the catch ability on bubble screens, quick outs, and option routes. 

Ironically enough Dillon lands with Cleveland where he too has ties. His head coach, the aforementioned Todd Haley served as the offensive coordinator in Cleveland in 2018. Kevin Stefanski and company overhauled the receiver group this offseason, and with training camp underway it’s time to see how this roster shakes out. 

Chris Odom, Edge Rusher

Chris Odom was one of the first players to start receiving interest. This would culminate in a tour around the NFL. Ultimately he would work out with six different NFL teams. Even if Odom doesn’t make it in Cleveland he had five other teams interested who would likely snatch him up as soon as he became available. 

Odom had an unbelievable season with the Houston Gamblers and becomes the fourth defensive player they have lost this offseason. Third of which came from their defensive line. The Gamblers had arguably the best defensive unit in the USFL last season. The NFL must agree with that assessment after showing this much interest. 

The Gamblers still currently have four players that could see interest on that defense as well in Donald Payne Jr, Will Likely, Micah Abernathy, and Reggie Northrup. I’m certain Kevin Sumlin is hoping his team doesn’t lose anymore prominent players. Having closed out the season with back to back wins, many believed the Gamblers would carry that momentum into next season. With each player lost that is becoming less likely. 

Looking at Odom’s Career to This Point

Chris Odom has had an interesting run as a player. In 2017 Odom was ranked the 41st defensive end in the NFL draft. This led to his name slipping through the 7 rounds into undrafted free agency. This allowed him the opportunity to choose the team he signed with. He would settle on Atlanta. He was released during final cuts in September of 2017. 

He would spend the next year with the Green Bay Packers after being signed off waivers. The Packers signed him on September 3rd, and didn’t let him go until September 1st in 2018. He would go on to collect 6 tackles that season. You would think after sticking on a roster for a year other teams would show interest, but they just didn’t. Odom spent the 2018 season out of football until the Alliance of American Football was born. He would sign a contract to play on the Salt Lake Stallions. 

Through 8 games he had 7 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 8 qb hits, and 2 pass deflections with the Stallions. He would parlay this into another opportunity with the Falcons signing a two year contract. This unfortunately didn’t pan out as he had hoped and he was let go once again. After being released he signed with the First NFL team to give him playing time. The Washington football team. This led to a solid performance. 

Big Time Production, Despite Limited Playing Time

Playing just 47 snaps on defense, he managed 10 tackles, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble that sealed a 29-21 victory. Despite this Odom just simply never got to a point where he stuck on the active roster. Instead the team would bounce him on and off the practice squad. After the season in February of 2020 he was released. 

Despite being released the same month the XFL season began, he didn’t end up playing in the COVID ravaged 2020 XFL season. Instead he again missed some time away from the bigger leagues. It wasn’t until 2021 with the Calgary Stampeders that he would find his next chance. He was added to their practice roster, appearing in 3 games but logging just 5 tackles. 

In late November the Stamps released Odom paving the way for him to land in the USFL for the 2022 season. He was selected by the Gamblers in round 2 of the draft and quickly became one of the best players on their roster. During the 2022 season Odom matched a career high of 12.5 sacks that he set as a senior in college over 5 years ago. 

He also managed 35 tackles as well. Odom showcased a first step, and a bag of pas rush tricks he simply didn’t have as a rookie all those years ago. However in Cleveland he was reunited with a former teammate, Myles Garrett, whom he will combine to create a deadly pass rusher for opposing offenses. Shout out to Mike Mitchell for that nugget of info. 

Derrick Dillon, Wide Receiver/Return Man

If you take one look at the Cleveland Browns depth chart currently you get a sense that Dillon has a fair shot of making this team. Stop this list is Amari Cooper the only prominent veteran receiver. Currently the Browns have 12 wide receivers looking to make the roster. 

Of those twelve players, three are undrafted free agents signed before Dillon was added. Two more players Javon Wims, and Ja’Marcus Bradley are guys who have bounced on and off rosters in a similar fashion to Dillon. However none of these five guys pursued the USFL. Therefore, Dillon has the most recent on field experience of this group.

Where Does he Stand on the Depth Chart?

Above him on the depth chart are six more players of varying levels of stability. Two players were selected in this years draft. Third round pick David Bell, and sixth round pick Michael Woods II. These two guys are near locks to make the team. You typically don’t release draft picks as rookies. 

Then we have Donovan People’s-Jones, Anthony Schwartz, and Jakeem Grant. Gone are Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr, Austin Hooper, and Rashard Higgins leaving the Browns with 229 targets left to divvy up. With only Peoples-Jones receiving more than 23 targets at wide receiver last season you begin to see why the Browns needed Dillon’s experience. 

The group of receivers ahead of Dillon combined for just 85 targets for the Browns last season. Dillon is also tossing his hat in the ring for the job as the punt returner. Snatching this job from respected return man Jakeem Grant wouldn’t have been an easy task, but Grant was reported to have torn his Achilles On August 9th.

YAC Attack

With nearly two thirds of his yardage in 2022 coming after the catch, Dillon is the perfect receiver to have on your roster when you need to keep the defense on their toes when it’s 3rd and short. Okay action pass to Dillon, get him one on one in space and let him do his thing.

His main competition for this role isn’t even a full time wide receiver, it’s RB/WR Demetrius Felton. Felton was used at both positions last year due to depth concerns. He also managed to add value in the return game. While the Browns have tremendous depth at RB, Kareem Hunt actually has expressed his displeasure with his contract and could be traded should this become a distraction which would lead to Felton playing a true running back role more often. 

Regardless of who the Browns keep they have their work cut out for them at wide receiver if they can’t find a solid number three option behind Cooper and Peoples-Jones. With Dillon currently the odd man out in this 7 man battle, can he make enough big plays in camp to earn an active roster spot? 

Dynamic Performers

Both of these players are extremely dynamic when used in the correct roles. Using Dillon as a short to intermediate route runner, and even sometimes on jet sweeps is the perfect role for him. While also giving him a chance on special teams. Mean while Chris Odom is a perfect designated pass rusher. Whether you stand him up, or have him put his hand in the dirt, he is a big time performer who has shown over his career he can get big time results despite a lack of playing time at times.

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