Genard Avery knows the fastest way onto the field is to be special from the start

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Genard Avery hasn’t been in the NFL long, but he already knows how he can get on the field quickly: excel on special teams.”Here, it’s the quickest way you can make a roster,” Avery said following his first rookie minicamp walkthrough last week, “and I’m going to take full advantage of it because this is what I really want to do and be a part of something special. It’s the quickest way to do it.”Head coach Hue Jackson sees Avery that way, too.”He is going to be a real core special teams guy,” Jackson said following Day 3 of the draft.The Browns didn’t just draft a special-teamer here, though. At least that’s the long-term hope. Avery was picked in the fifth round out of Memphis. He holds the record there for tackles for loss in a season with 22 last year. He is third in program history in career sacks with 45.5.Search around and you’ll find that Avery is quietly a favorite on draft and analytics websites. ProFootballFocus.com tweeted after the pick that Avery “had the highest pass-rushing grade in the class (83.5) at his position, more than 6.5 points higher than the next closest.”Draft website NDT Scouting called Avery a hidden gem.Look at Avery’s athletic testing on the website mockdraftable.com and you’ll see he compared favorably to the likes of Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly — although, let’s not go too crazy since it was a 71 percent match.The point here, is that Avery is an intriguing prospect.”There are a lot of different things he can do,” Jackson said. “This guy, he knows how to go sack the quarterback and make plays on the ball.”Outside of special teams, the Browns plan to try him as a Mike linebacker, the spot currently manned by Pro Bowler Joe Schobert, who also came in initially as a special-teamer. Schobert made big strides in his second season after Tank Carder went down in the preseason. The Browns moved him inside after he spent his college career and rookie season playing outside and he dropped weight so he could better showcase his athleticism.It’s unlikely Avery would come in and push Schobert immediately, but the Browns are about creating competition everywhere. Avery could end up logging some time outside, especially if the position group again deals with injury. He stands just 6-1 but weighed in at 248 pounds. He’s a state-champion powerlifter who broke state records his junior year and then broke his own marks as a senior.

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