We’ve finished up the offense so now it’s time to switch sides and start looking at the defensive groups! We’ll start with the guys up front, the defensive line!
The Edge Rushers
You know I had to include this gem didn’t you? Myles Garrett has been an elite edge rusher since coming into the league back in 2017 and he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. Garrett had to sit out the final six games of the season as a suspension for the actions that you can see above. In the 10 games that he played, he had 10 sacks to go with his 11 tackles for loss. Assuming Garrett plays all 16 games next season, expect him to be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year. He was also selected to the 2020 NFL Top 100 Players List by his peers.
Opposite Myles Garrett is Olivier Vernon. Vernon was acquired through a trade with the New York Giants before the season began in exchange for Kevin Zeitler. So far, the Browns look to have lost the trade with the offensive line heavily regressing without Zeitler and Vernon not having much impact on the line. He tallied only 3.5 sacks and a lone forced fumble this season. Vernon will need to step it up next season as his contract is expiring so he can end up being a somewhat desirable free agent.
The Browns have one of the most underrated players in the league manning the interior of the D-Line and that’s Larry Ogunjobi. He’s racked up 12 sacks, 134 combined tackles and 24 tackles for losses over two full seasons worth of starts. He’s a dominant force off the line and in a couple years he could very well be one of the top interior defensive linemen in the league. Ogunjobi is in the last year of his deal and will have a nice payday come free agency whether that be from the Browns or from another team.
Former New York Jet, Seattle Seahawk and Minnesota Viking, Sheldon Richardson is the second starting interior defensive lineman. He’s better known for his time on the Jets but has remained productive everywhere he went. Last season for the Browns he finished with 3 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 62 combined tackles. We might not see as much of Richardson this season because of the rookie the Browns drafted.
The Draft Pick
The Browns used their third-round pick on a guy that was a late first-round, early second round talent out of the University of Missouri, Jordan Elliott. Elliott was dominant in a conference that is known to produce the best of the best. He is expected to be a rotational piece as the Browns look to replicate the success of the Chiefs and 49ers defensive lines. He has the ability to make an impact day one but may be slow to get started due to the strange offseason that we’ve had.
The big clownfish, Jadeveon Clowney is still out there. He’s already received an offer from the Browns but has yet to make a decision on where he’s signing.
Everson Griffen is also one of those guys who are extremely underrated and underappreciated. Even though he’s in his thirties, he’s proven that he’s still an effective force along the line and should have offers any day now. (Update: Rapoport reported that Griffen and the Packers are both interested in getting a deal done, the Vikings still want Griffen back.)
Another player that has been under the radar for most of his career! Marcell Dareus was great in Buffalo but has slowly regressed as his tenure there came to an end. Most recently with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Dareus could still end up being a rotational player for a championship-caliber team.
Next week we’ll take a look at the dumpster fire that is the linebacking corps. Make sure to check out our latest podcast that went up yesterday morning on Spotify and Stitcher. Also, make sure to follow @FPC_Browns on Twitter for more Browns news!