OPINION: Heartbreak of final cuts defines ‘Hard Knocks’ finale

Jake Adams headshot

Jake Adams

With the Browns finishing the pre-season and training camp last Sunday, Hue Jackson and General Manager John Dorsey were left with the tough task of trimming a team down to 53 players. This is a grueling process since you just spent all summer with the guys, and now you have to let them go.

Sadly, every player that was extensively followed by the crew was cut. Devon “Juice” Cajuste was shown making catches and delivering blocks in their final preseason game against the Lions; however, it was not enough to impress Jackson, as he also had more than three flags called on him. He stayed positive through the whole process, and is now looking to be acquired by another team.

Brogan Roback got to play in Detroit, which was not far from his alma mater, Eastern Michigan. His girlfriend and family came to watch him play significant minutes. Seeing his girlfriend after his first NFL touchdown pass was a heartfelt moment; she knew how much football meant to him and were even with him after he got cut by Jackson.

For most, it seemed obvious he’d be cut, as the Browns have two veteran quarterbacks and a first overall pick in that position. Jackson left him with words of encouragement, saying Roback can make it in the league. He is currently looking for a new team.

Most viewers and fans knew either Nate Orchard or Carl Nassib would be gone, as they were fighting for the same spot. It was a shocked when both were released by Jackson.

Both have experience in the NFL, and Nassib was claimed by Tampa Bay the next day. Orchard was told by front office that his versatility and athleticism will land him on another team. Ryan Talbot from 24/7 sports reports he met with the Bills.

Orchard was in a tough situation: He was a second round pick in the 2014 draft, but has worked under a slew of of different coaches and players since then. He was bounced around by different coordinators as a defensive end and an outside backer. I thought someone as athletic and versatile as him could have been beneficial to the team.

Nassib was a surprise because Orchard got cut, but his dip in production last year could have been the cause for his release. He has the size and raw power to be a dominant pass rusher, and the Buccaneers saw potential in him.

The episode included Jackson announcing Mychal Kendricks’ release, who could face up to 25 years in prison for insider trading. It also covered Jackson assigning Drew Stanton his role as the third string quarterback, and Baker Mayfield’s role as the backup.

Overall, I thought this was one of the better Hard Knock series, and many people have said the same thing, like because people got got an inside look at a dysfunctional organization try and turn into a stable contender.

The film crew, however, could have covered second-year and other rookie players more extensively.

For example, we didn’t see much of anything from David Njoku, Jabrill Peppers, or Denzel Ward. All of whom have character and talent, that viewers would have wanted to see.

I was especially surprised Ward didn’t get any coverage, considering he was the fourth overall pick this year and an Ohio State product.

The documentary did a great job capturing the essence of Cleveland on screen. They incorporated some blue collar aspects of the city and pegged Cleveland as a place that wants a successful football team.

Could this be the year for the Cleveland Browns? Let’s hope so.

Jake Adams is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].