In case you haven’t noticed by now, the Cleveland Browns have had an agenda this offseason: Fix the defense. They have invested an extensive amount of resources in restocking the defensive side of the ball so far over the past couple of months, both between free agency and already through the draft.
They added two more defensive players with their first two selections over the course of the past two nights. Those included the drafting of cornerback Greg Newsome II out of Northwestern in Round 1. He is a player who has the skills to start as a rookie. But they have depth there with the return of Greedy Williams and the free agency addition of Troy Hill. This now gives them a strong top four, and they also have depth at safety.
Their second-round choice was a very interesting one in linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah, whom it seems they have big plans for. Owusu has a very rare combination of athleticism and skill that allows him to play all over the field. That is precisely the role that would suit him best. Reportedly, the team’s defensive coaches are already on the whiteboards planning up how best to use him.
The Notre Dame product is a player they graded as a first-rounder. They actually made a slight trade up in order to take him in the second round at 51 overall. But the linebacker position was another area that needed to be addressed, even if he will play a multitude of roles.
One area Cleveland hasn’t extensively addressed is the interior defensive line. The Browns have lost both of their starters from the past two seasons. Larry Ogunjobi departed in free agency, and they released Sheldon Richardson after signing Jadeveon Clowney to play on the edge.
They did sign Malik Jackson in free agency. Cleveland brought in Andrew Billings a year ago, who did not play in 2020 after choosing to opt out. As of now, they project to be the Browns’ starting defensive tackles. That’s certainly a downgrade from what they had the last two years.
Virtually everywhere else on the roster, however, is an upgrade on defense, if not a sizeable one. That applies especially to the secondary, where injuries ravaged Cleveland last season, and the team employed nomads at safety. Now, they signed John Johnson in free agency and have 2020 second-round pick Grant Delpit ready to make his debut.
Objectively, I like what Cleveland has done this offseason to address the defense overall. Even if I question the value of Clowney as a pass rusher. As a Steelers fan, I’m, let’s say, less happy about the evident progress they have made. But they still have to show they can string two successful seasons together. That’s something they haven’t pulled off since the Marty Schottenheimer era.