Juqua Parker, DE: A
Juqua Parker, 34, came to Cleveland during the offseason to try to prove that he still had some gas left in the tank. His production had tapered off in Philadelphia but was given another shot by his former employer Tom Heckert.
It was an under-the-radar signing but one that has helped the Cleveland Browns’ pass rush immensely. Parker’s two sacks and countless quarterback pressures have created several other opportunities for other Browns defenders to take down the QB.
Frostee Rucker, DE: B-
Rucker was brought in from Cincinnati as a run-stopping defensive end to hold down the edges across from Jabaal Sheard. He’s done a decent job at that and has also at times provided a surprisingly effective pass rush as a bonus.
Still, he struggles at times in sealing the edge and allows plays to develop underneath him for decent gains by opponents’ rushing games. The Browns have issues in stopping the run, and they weren’t fixed with the addition of Rucker this offseason.
Craig Robertson, LB: B+
Things started out good for Robertson, who was thrown into the fire from day one. He picked off Michael Vick, nearly helping the Browns to a surprise upset over the Eagles. He’s also been active in pass coverage throughout the season which is a positive for a linebacker group that has been shredded in recent years by the pass.
Overall, Robertson is a very active linebacker that uses instincts to guide him and is rarely not involved or near the end of a play as a result. He can work on filling holes better but does a pretty good job at getting quickly to the point of attack and making plays as or before they develop rather than after they move downfield.
Josh Cooper, WR (undrafted free agent): C+
Cooper started the season on the practice squad but was called up due to a rash of injuries that struck the Browns’ receiving corps. His familiarity with Brandon Weeden and understanding of the team’s offense allowed for a seamless transition into the offense.
After three weeks of action, it’s safe to say that Cooper is a legitimate NFL-caliber player. He has quick feet and a good sense of where the holes in coverage are in the secondary. However, despite his rapport with Weeden and ability to get open, he’s struggled with drops. His fourth-down drop against the Indianapolis Colts resulted in a turnover on downs in Colts territory.
L.J. Fort, LB (UDFA): B
The undrafted but high-motored Fort became the first rookie since 1996 to record both an interception and a sack in his first game, according to Tom Reed of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Fort had a standout game against the Eagles in Week 1. He had an opportunity for a game-sealing interception in the Browns’ end zone, but it fell out of his grasp and the Eagles went on to win on the ensuing play.
Despite being relegated to special teams and more of a reserve role with the return of fellow rookie James-Michael Johnson and starter Jackson, Fort still has the ability to provide a spark on defense when called upon.
Johnson Bademosi, DB (UDFA): B+
Bademosi has shown explosiveness in the special teams game and has been involved in several excellent plays including downing a punt inside the five-yard line against San Diego in Week 8.
He’s got speed but needs to hone it a little bit better in order to avoid overrunning the play, which he’s done at times.
Tashaun Gipson, DB (UDFA): B
Gipson was brought in as a special teamer but was given more opportunities on defense once Eric Hagg was demoted from the active roster. He made the most of them before falling victim to injury and hasn’t seen much of the field since.
Once he returns, he’ll likely see time in the secondary as part of a rotation with Usama Young at the free-safety position due to his sound tackling and good coverage skills.
Mike Hoag Jr. is a B/R Breaking News Team writer and covers the NFL and the Cleveland Browns for the site. Follow him on Twitter for analysis and updates on the latest news and happenings in the sports world.