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2017 NFL Draft Indianapolis Colts sign Firestone High School graduate Jerome Lane to contract

By George Thomas Published: April 30, 2017

By Nate Ulrich

Beacon Journal sports writer

Growing up in Akron as the son of a former NBA player with the same name, Jerome Lane Jr. has wanted to become a professional athlete for virtually his entire life.

The younger Lane, a University of Akron and Firestone High School product, achieved his goal Saturday when he agreed to a free agent contract with the Indianapolis Colts.

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NFL Draft: Cleveland Browns select RB Matthew Dayes with final choice

By George Thomas Published: April 29, 2017

In their final selection of the draft in the 34th pick in the seventh round (252 overall), the Browns selected North Carolina State running back Matt Dayes.

At NC State, Dayes, 5-foot-8 5/8 and 205 pounds, rushed for 2,856 yards on 550 attempts for 5.2 yards per carry and 34 rushing TDs.  Receiving, he hauled in 98 receptions for 933 yards and six scores. He earned second team all-ACC honors for a senior season in which he rushed for 1,166 yards and 10 touchdowns. analyst Dane Brugler ranked him as the 17th best running back in the draft. More information from Brugler follows:

Overview: A two-year starter at N.C. State, Dayes wasn’t a high-volume runner, but consistently produced as the lead dog in the Wolfpack’s backfield, including a strong senior campaign – rushed for 100-plus yards eight times in 2016, the highest total for a N.C. State running back since 1977. He doesn’t boast elite skills with only average build, run strength and lower body athleticism, but is an effective one-cut runner, doing his best work with a clear runway. Although he doesn’t have a distinguishing trait that separates him as a runner, Dayes’ reliability as a receiver is what could land him on a NFL roster – might be a third down option if he improves his ball security and blocking.

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NFL Draft: Cleveland Browns take Arizona State K Zane Gonzalez

By George Thomas Published: April 29, 2017

The Browns took kicker Zane Gonzalez with the sixth pick of the seventh round (No. 226 overall).  Gonzalez, 6-foot, 202-pounds, Arizona State, is the first kicker drafted by the team since 1989.

He participated in the Senior Bowl as a member of the North team with fellow new Brown, Larry Ogunjobi, tying the game’s record of three made field goals.  Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson coached the South team in that showcase, but coaching staffs mingle with all players during the course of the week.

At Arizona State, Gonzalez was a Lou Groza Award finalist and set the record for most field goals for an FBS team with 96.  He also holds the records with most field goal attempts with 115. Gonzalez finished his college career with six FBS records in all. analyst Dane Brugler rated him the top kicker available in this year’s draft.

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2017 NFL Draft: Browns draft controversial DT Caleb Brantley, who was charged for punching woman

By Nate Ulrich Published: April 29, 2017

The Browns gambled by drafting controversial Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley at the beginning of the sixth round (No. 185 overall) on Saturday. 

Police in Gainesville, Fla., charged Brantley, 6-foot-2 5/8 and 307 pounds, with misdemeanor battery April 21 after he allegedly punched a woman in the face April 13, knocking her unconscious and displacing a tooth.

According to a sworn complaint, Brantley made a crude comment toward the 5-foot-6, 120-pound woman during an argument at a bar and she pushed him.  He allegedly responded by striking her.

Brantley's attorney, Huntley Johnson, told the Tampa Bay Times the woman's lawyers offered a financial settlement that Brantley turned down.

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2017 NFL Draft: Browns trade up in fifth round to pick Florida State OT Roderick Johnson

By Nate Ulrich Published: April 29, 2017

The Browns traded up 21 spots in the fifth round and chose Florida State offensive tackle Roderick Johnson 160th overall on Saturday.

The Browns traded picks in the fifth (No. 181) and sixth (No. 188) rounds to the New York Jets in exchange for selections in the fifth (No. 160) and seventh (No. 224) rounds. Then they used No. 160 on Johnson.

Johnson cracked the starting lineup in 2014, pushing Browns offensive lineman and former college teammate Cameron Erving from left tackle to center.

Johnson, 6-foot-6 3/4 and 298 pounds, started every game at left tackle the past two seasons, earning All-ACC and All-American honors both years.

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Former NFL receiver Steve Smith rips Browns quarterback: 'Anybody is better than Brock Osweiler'

By Nate Ulrich Published: April 29, 2017

Former five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver and NFL Network analyst Steve Smith made it known he's not a member of Brock Osweiler's fan club.

Smith ripped Osweiler, the quarterback whom the Browns acquired in March as part of a salary-dump trade with the Houston Texans, when he argued on the air with NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly on Friday before Cleveland drafted Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer in the second round (No. 52 overall).

The exchange began when Casserly said he wasn't sold on Kizer or California quarterback Davis Webb, whom the New York Giants eventually drafted at No. 87, as a long-term answer.    

"I don't know they're better than Brock Osweiler," Casserly said.

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2017 NFL Draft: Browns trade up, pick Houston cornerback Howard Wilson in fourth round

By Nate Ulrich Published: April 29, 2017

The Browns traded up into the fourth round of the NFL Draft and selected Houston cornerback Howard Wilson 126th overall on Saturday.

The Browns entered the final day of the draft without a fourth-round choice, but they traded two fifth-round picks (Nos. 145 and 175) to the Denver Broncos and received a fourth-round selection (No. 126) and a seventh-round selection (No. 252, the second to last choice in the draft).

Then they used No. 126 on Howard.

"That's love right there," Howard, who had a private workout with the Browns, said during a conference call.

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