Browns Players Who Can Climb Depth Chart with Impressive Camp
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Earning reps on the Cleveland Browns isn’t going to be easy in 2021. A playoff roster in 2020 was built even stronger by general manager Andrew Berry through both free agency and the draft.
There’s a reason Marc Ross of NFL.com recently named them the “most complete” roster in the league. Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski have put together a roster that has few holes on paper, and competition for roles within the team will be fierce.
Still, there are always things that need to be sorted out in camp. A few positions and roles have yet to be figured out, and the staff will get their first real sense of where the talent lines up once camp starts in Berea, Ohio, on July 27.
Here are a few players who could be climbing up the depth chart to secure a larger role by the time training camp concludes.
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David Dermer/Associated Press
If you have to pick out a weakness on the roster right now, it would have to be defensive tackle, if only by process of elimination.
The Browns watched Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi walk in free agency. The veteran duo wasn’t dominant, but their departure leaves a large share of snaps up for grabs. There are several options to take those reps.
Malik Jackson is a new addition. Jordan Elliott is back after showing some promise in his rookie season. Sheldon Day, Malik McDowell and Marvin Wilson are all darkhorse candidates to play a role. Fourth-round pick Tommy Togiai could wind up being an integral part of the equation, though.
Playing on a loaded Ohio State defense, Togiai didn’t put up big numbers for the Buckeyes. He did, however, showcase the burst and athleticism on the interior to be a pass-rushing option. Even if he isn’t a three-down player in Year 1, he could be the third-down nose tackle.
Jake Trotter of ESPN noted Togiai was the Browns player people should know from NFL minicamps. If he can carry that momentum into camp, he could press Jackson and Andrew Billings for starting roles.
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Ron Schwane/Associated Press
The Browns utilized both free agency and the draft to address the secondary in meaningful ways. John Johnson III and Troy Hill were signed away from the Los Angeles Rams, and they used a first-round pick on Greg Newsome II.
That puts Greedy Williams’ role on the team in question. Williams was a second-rounder for the Browns in 2018, but a shoulder injury kept him out of the lineup for all of 2020.
Still, the Browns appear to still have high hopes for Williams. Head coach Kevin Stefanski has said as much, per George M. Thomas of the Akron Beacon Journal:
“I can tell you, we are all really excited to see him out on the field going through drills. To watch somebody rehab like he did, we are excited about where he is going. He has some more work to do, but to see him back on the field and see No. 26 working is great.”
Williams fighting through a tough nerve injury will be a feel-good story, but getting on the field will be difficult. The Browns are likely to employ five defensive back sets under Joe Woods, but even then the Browns have a talented group with Denzel Ward, Hill, Newsome and safeties Johnson and Ronnie Harrison.
Williams impressed in 12 games as a starter in his rookie 2018 campaign. But that was now two coaching regimes ago, and the league moves fast. He’ll need to have a strong camp to establish himself as part of the rotation.
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David Dermer/Associated Press
Speaking of young defensive backs who missed all of 2020, training camp will also be pivotal for 2020 second-rounder Grant Delpit.
The LSU product was expected to be in the starting lineup as a rookie, but a torn Achilles suffered in training camp ended those hopes. Instead, Delpit spent the season rehabbing the severe injury in hopes of returning as the same player in 2021.
That journey starts with training camp, and he’ll join a suddenly talented group of players. Johnson was one of the best safeties in the league last season, while Harrison played at a high level after Cleveland traded for him from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Browns will utilize three safety sets at times, but Delpit will still have to earn his spot as that third safety. Showing the Browns coaching staff that he’s recovered from the injury and still capable of making plays will be key to him getting on the field.
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