Browns' rookies led NFL in snaps last year

There's been a lot of talk about whether first-round pick Barkevious Mingo is going to start for the Cleveland Browns. Right now, he is an outside linebacker for the second team, behind Jabaal Sheard.

This is the exact opposite approach of last year, when five rookies started regularly for the Browns. In fact, rookies accounted for 26.4 percent of Cleveland's snaps last year, which was the highest in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information's Joseph Koontz.

There was no team even close to the Browns in using first-year players. The Colts ranked second with rookies taking 16.8 percent of the snaps.

On offense, rookies led the Browns in passing yards (Brandon Weeden), rushing yards (Trent Richardson) and receiving yards (Josh Gordon). The second-leading tackler was Craig Robertson, an undrafted rookie linebacker. In total, 17 rookies got on the field for Cleveland and played 6,067 snaps.

The Browns won't come close to ranking as high this year. The only two rookies expected to make significant impacts are Mingo and cornerback Leon McFadden.

The Cincinnati Bengals ranked second in the AFC North last year (and fifth in the NFL) with rookies playing 15.3 percent of the snaps, and the Baltimore Ravens were 17th in the NFL with rookies accounting for 9.7 percent of the snaps.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were 24th in the NFL in this category, and I thought they would rank even lower than that. The Steelers' top three picks (guard David DeCastro, tackle Mike Adams and linebacker Sean Spence) all missed significant time because of injuries. Nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu, a fourth-round pick, was a disappointment on and off the field, getting arrested for drunken driving during the season. One of the more productive rookies was running back Chris Rainey, but the fifth-round pick was arrested after the season when he was charged for simple battery.

The team that had the lowest percentage of snaps taken by rookies in 2012 was the San Francisco 49ers (1 percent).