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The most important young Browns players not named Johnny Manziel

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Johnny Manziel attracts most of the attention in Cleveland, but he isn't the only young player in position to make major contributions for the Browns.

This upcoming 2014 NFL season, a wide variety of relatively unheralded sophomore and third-year players will inherit or take over key roles for even the best teams in the NFL. Whether it's an already established starter who will now be assuming more responsibility, or a green, untested player who will now look to become a reliable backup, every roster depth chart has a few big question marks.

In this series, we've been breaking down "who" we think those players are, "where" they play, "why" they'll potentially play a key role in 2014 and "how" they'll succeed in that.

On tap today, we have the Cleveland Browns.

TE Jordan Cameron

Who: Cameron already had his breakout campaign last year, but now entering his fourth NFL season, he could be in line for yet another major step forward. Doing so would take him from a one-year wonder to one of the elite tight ends in the league.

Where: Officially -- at least by franchise tag standards -- Cameron is a tight end. Athleticism is no question, allowing Kyle Shanahan to move Cameron around the formation, making him a matchup mismatch on nearly every snap whether that's inline, in the slot or split out wide.

Why: Cameron caught 80 passes for 917 yards and seven touchdowns last year and that was while playing second fiddle to Josh Gordon and catching the majority of his passes from Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell. Gordon appears headed for a long suspension, opening a lot of targets, many of which could go to Cameron. He'll likely have Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel throw him the ball, either of which should be an upgrade.

How: Cameron was targeted 117 times last season. That number could go up by at least 30 targets next season. With a little better quarterback play, his numbers could explode. In the two games Hoyer started last year, Cameron caught 16 passes for 157 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 7.85 yards per target. Across a full season, that could mean a 100-catch year with Cameron topping 1,200 yards and scoring double-digit touchdowns.

OLB Barkevious Mingo

Who: A freak athlete with length and strength, Mingo was pegged as a dominant outside 3-4 rusher when the Browns picked him with the No. 6 pick. Early on, it appeared he was going to live up to the billing when he recorded a sack in each of the first three games. He struggled for much of the season, however, tallying just two more sacks while being a liability in coverage.

Where: Mingo is pegged as a starter at outside linebacker, opposite of Paul Kruger.  He was used mostly as a situational pass rusher last season. That figures to change his year with Mike Pettine using his athletic ability as a weapon and moving him around the defense. That won't only be around the line of scrimmage, since Pettine said Mingo will be "much more involved in coverage" this season.

Why: Mingo may have had a disappointing rookie season -- especially the final 13 weeks -- but the skills are still there. He remains a rare athlete with a unique combination of size, speed and quickness. Browns players had to run 20 sprints in a timed conditioning test. Pettine said Mingo's times would have earned a passing grade even for defensive backs.

How: Mingo was boxed into a situational pass rush role last season. He had speed and that was about it. Early on, that helped him pick up a couple sacks. Once teams learned he didn't have much of a repertoire, they adjusted and he struggled to do much. This season, he figures to be used in a variety of ways that will allow him to have a much bigger impact.

S Tashaun Gipson

Who: An undrafted free agent in 2012, Gipson started 15 games last season and finished the year with 95 tackles and five interceptions.

Where: Gibson will start at free safety alongside new running mate Donte Whitner.

Why: A quick glance at Gipson's numbers and it would be easy to think he already broke out last season. While he put up big stats, there is still room for him to grow. He's a versatile player and should pair well with Whitner. He will also be tasked with covering receivers and tight ends, something he has a background in doing, having moved to safety after playing corner in college.

How: It's one thing to make the plays and catch the interceptions that are in front of you. Gipson did a good job of that and limiting big plays. Taking the next step will require him to make the above average plays consistently. No one is expecting him to have Earl Thomas range, but with Whitner, Joe Haden and first-round pick Justin Gilbert in the secondary, Gipson should be freed up to make a lot of plays all over the field.

RT Mitchell Schwartz

Who: A second-round pick in 2012, Schwartz has started every game during the first two seasons of his career.

Where: Pettine initially said Schwartz could move to guard, but it appears he will remain at right tackle this season.

Why: With Kyle Shanahan taking over as offensive coordinator, the Browns are moving to a zone-blocking rushing attack. At 6'5 and 320 pounds, Schwartz may not be the first image that pops up when considering prototypical lineman for a zone-blocking scheme. The coaching staff, however, is reportedly high on Schwartz and thinks he will excel in the new scheme, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.

How: Schwartz is a mauler who does well at the point of attack. He may not get out in space and move to the second level often, but he should be an effective player in the new scheme thanks to his quickness at the snap. If he holds up in pass protection, the combination of Schwartz and John Greco on the right side to go along with Joe Thomas and Alex Mack could give Cleveland an excellent offensive line.

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