June 29, 2016

Mostly cloudy

NFL Draft notes: New Browns fullback Owen Marecic was two-way star at Stanford

BEREA – Owen Marecic accomplished something last year that may never be duplicated in college football.

Marecic, a fourth-round pick of the Browns on Saturday, scored touchdowns within 13 seconds of each other as Stanford beat Notre Dame. If that weren’t amazing enough, the first came on offense as a fullback, the second on defense as a linebacker.

“It was a great game, very fun. It was awesome to get a win at Notre Dame,” Marecic, a two-way starter as a senior, said on a conference call after being the 124th pick. “For those plays, I always say it’s more a testament to the team than to myself. Stepfan Taylor got the ball down to about the 1-inch line and I just had to get it in from there.

“Then coming back on defense Matt Masifilo, our defensive lineman, had a great rush on the quarterback and was right in his face when he threw the ball, so all I had to do was catch it.”

Marecic will play fullback and special teams – not linebacker — for the Browns, general manager Tom Heckert said. It looks like he’ll replace veteran Lawrence Vickers, who’s expected to become a free agent.

“Hopefully I can find big ways to contribute on special teams, which is a little bit of defense in itself,” Marecic said. “It was a lot of fun playing (defense), but I’m fully committed to doing whatever I have to do to help the team.”

Marecic was teammates with Browns tight end Evan Moore at Stanford. Moore sent congratulations via Twitter.

“Owen is a stud,” Moore tweeted. “Happy to have him in CLE!”

Marecic was coached in Pop Warner by former Browns linebacker Clay Matthews and is friends with his son, Casey, who was drafted a few picks earlier by the Eagles.

“I know Clay is very proud to be part of the Cleveland Browns family,” he said. “They are huge football fans and growing up, just the tradition was evident watching Browns games and hearing about the team. I’m very excited to join that whole tradition.”


The Pittsburgh Goodwill is about to get a black-and-gold donation.

Offensive lineman Jason Pinkston grew up in Pittsburgh and attended the University of Pittsburgh. He was a fifth-round pick of the Browns at No. 150 after they traded two sixth-round picks to move up 18 spots.

“I grew up a Steelers fan,” he said. “I grew up watching them all my life. I love them, but it’s onto a business now and I’m a Cleveland Brown.”

Pinkston (6-3, 317) said he plans to give all his Steelers gear to Goodwill. He played left tackle at Pitt but will start out at guard with the Browns. Coach Pat Shurmur said he could also play right tackle.

Pinkston was teammates at Pitt with defensive end Jabaal Sheard, whom the Browns took at No. 37.

“I had some pretty good battles with him,” Pinkston said of practice. “He’s a great player and I can’t wait to keep working with him.”

He didn’t bench press at the combine but said his shoulders have been cleared and he did 22 repetitions at 225 pounds at his pro day.


The Browns may have a new fastest player.

Chattanooga cornerback Buster Skrine, taken at No. 127 in the fifth round, was clocked at 4.22 as a junior and ran 4.37 at the combine. He bench pressed 225 pounds 20 times at the combine.

His size (5-9½, 186 pounds) caused him to slide in the draft.

“I am a tough corner,” he said. “I play bigger than my height. I am fast, I can cover well and I am coachable.

“I am definitely going to be able to run with taller receivers and I can jump, so jump balls shouldn’t be an issue. Also, I am physical and I have good technique so that helps me with the tall receivers.”

He said he was only 5-7, 145 pounds as a senior in high school and was passed over by Division I schools. Chattanooga is a I-AA school


President Mike Holmgren talked before the draft about his desire to add a “home run hitter” at receiver. The Browns passed on Alabama receiver Julio Jones at No. 6, then added North Carolina’s Greg Little in the second round (No. 59).

“In Little, I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised if you don’t know him very well,” Holmgren said. “He’s a young man who has a tremendous upside.”

Little doesn’t have elite speed, but North Carolina coach and former Browns coach Butch Davis said on NFL Network that his ability to run after the catch is better than other receivers because of his history as a running back.

“A receiver’s ability to break a tackle and move after the catch can be a home run of sorts,” Holmgren said. “That is where I think one of his strengths is.”

He also renewed his support for holdovers Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie.

“I think our receivers are underrated and I don’t know if we know what they can be,” Holmgren said. “We’re going to find out because the offense we’re going to run is a little bit more geared to getting the ball in their hands. But at this point, I think we have good receivers here and this young man is a nice addition to the group.”

Browns tight ends coach Steve Hagen held the same job at North Carolina in Little’s first two years.


The players who might be hurt worst by the lockout are the undrafted rookies. Teams usually sign a dozen or so immediately after the draft, then bring in another group for tryouts. The lockout prevents teams from having any contact with them.

“They’re going to be sitting here, going, ‘What do I do now?’” Heckert said. “It’ll be different for them, there’s no doubt.”

Holmgren advised them to stay in terrific shape.

“At some point, they just have to be ready to go,” he said.

The hours after the draft in a normal season are filled with phone calls to the top undrafted guys. It’s hectic as front offices compete for players.

“Whenever that starts up, I guess it will be the same type of flurry,” Heckert said. “I don’t think it’s a good thing because you want it to happen now, but it’ll probably be a little more relaxing.”


Holmgren likes to take a quarterback somewhere in every draft, but the Browns didn’t this weekend. He joked that’s when a fight broke out in the draft room.

He said they’d still like to add one, likely as an undrafted free agent. Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace, Jake Delhomme and Jarrett Brown are on the roster, with Delhomme likely needing to take a pay cut to stick around.

** Holmgren doesn’t agree with those who’ve speculated that the labor litigation could end the draft as we know it.

“There’s going to be a draft next year,” he said. “I heard someone say, ‘What if there’s no draft?’ What if they take the air out of every football? Then we can all do something else.”

** Holmgren isn’t a fan of sushi, which was popular in the team’s draft room and a favorite of Heckert and Shurmur.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter and fan him on Facebook