Cleveland Browns 2009 Positional Rankings: Defensive Ends

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Cleveland Browns 2009 Positional Rankings: Defensive Ends

With the 2009 season in the books and the 2010 NFL Draft less than a month away, it’s time to look at the Browns’ positional rankings last year to better determine how the team will draft, and how their free agent acquisitions factor into their future.

This first installment is a look at how Cleveland’s defensive ends fared last season.  Some statistics were surprising, especially when you see how well Robaire Smith actually performed in limited playing time in 2009.  There is reason for caution however, as Corey Williams no longer factors into Cleveland’s plans. 

Let’s get started:

Note—Rankings are out of 39 3-4 DE’s in the NFL with at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps to qualify.

Overall Rankings

Corey Williams—4th
Robaire Smith—6th
Kenyon Coleman—24th
C.J. Mosley—30th

Two DE’s last year in the top six? Not too shabby. Actually, that’s amazing considering what the Browns defensive line has looked like year by year since the return.

Here’s some food for thought…if we combined all 3-4 and 4-3 DE’s, Corey Williams still would have been ranked eleventh, and Robaire Smith would have been ranked thirteenth out of a possible 122 total combined DE‘s. That’s extremely good production when compared to the rest of the NFL.

Pass Rushing

Corey Williams—5th
Robaire Smith—17th
Kenyon Coleman—18th
C.J. Mosley—31st  

All three 3-4 DE’s with the most extensive playing time on the team were in the top 18 of the league, so no complaints here. However, losing Corey Williams could be detrimental in this department unless the Browns make an upgrade soon.

QB Sacks

Corey Williams—9th (3)
Kenyon Coleman—14th (2)
Robaire Smith—22nd (1)
C.J. Mosley—39th (0)

These are pretty average numbers, but remember what a 3-4 DE’s job description is vs. a 4-3 DE. Overall though, Cleveland had two players in the top 14 out of 39, so it’s still good in comparison with other 3-4 DE tandems around the league.

The Browns actually finished sixth out of twelve 3-4 teams in total DE sack production with six.

QB Hits

Corey Williams—2nd (10)
Robaire Smith—14th (4)
Kenyon Coleman—39th (0)
C.J. Mosley—39th (0)

QB Pressures

Corey Williams—14th (13)
Kenyon Coleman—20th (9)
Robaire Smith—22nd (8)
C.J. Mosley—35th (3)

Again, great numbers from Williams in both categories finishing second in the league in total QB hits for 3-4 DE‘s. In comparison with all 3-4 and 4-3 DE’s, Corey still ranked 21st out of 122 players.

He, along with Smith and Coleman were really close to turning all of these QB hits and pressures into sacks if the Browns were able to get one more second of coverage help downfield.

Against the Run

Robaire Smith—1st
Corey Williams—8th
C.J. Mosley—20th
Kenyon Coleman—29th

Yes, believe it…it’s true. In fact, Robaire did extremely well. If you compare him to 4-3 DE’s, he still finishes third in the entire league against the run—which again, is out of 122 total players. In this category, he was literally the second or third best DE in the NFL, regardless of what type of defense was run.

Total Tackles

Robaire Smith—1st (54)
Corey Williams—13th (24)
Kenyon Coleman—14th (23)
C.J. Mosley—25th (16)

Again, believe your eyes they are not deceiving you. As a 3-4 DE, Robaire Smith had 54 tackles. Second on the list of 3-4 DE’s is Randy Starks from Miami with only 36. The tackling leaders of 4-3 DE’s (Darryl Tapp and Mathias Kiwanuka) only had 41 each.

To be blunt, Robaire Smith dominated the NFL in this category. Oh, and was it mentioned he only played 544 total snaps? In resounding fashion, chalk another one up for Robaire Smith.

Major Moves

Corey Williams was a casualty due to his salary and the fact that he just isn’t the best all-around fit as a 3-4 DE. The experiment is over, but the Browns received some decent compensation in return—especially when it was reported that Cleveland was ready to release him.

Robaire Smith played very well on the other side and factors into Mangini’s defensive plans in 2010. As a DT, it should be fully expected that Corey Williams will play well in Detroit’s 4-3 defense as the trade was a win/win situation for all parties involved.

Draft Outlook

By trading Corey Williams and failing to upgrade the DE position in free agency, all signs point to the Browns addressing this area in the early rounds of the draft. With rumors of trading up to the No. 2 spot with Detroit, one has to think that they are targeting Ndamukong Suh.

Although it might cost too much to move up, there are some great prospects in the second round that could be there for the taking. If Jared Odrick, Alex Carrington, or Tyson Alualu are available at pick No. 38, expect Cleveland to be very interested.

Other DE’s projected to be available in the third round include Lamar Houston and Corey Wooton. Regardless of what player it will be, the Browns will look to instill some talented youth at defensive end.

Fun Facts

Justin Smith of San Francisco had a fantastic season in every facet of the game as a DE, 3-4 or 4-3. He consistently dominated in 2009, as he was clearly one of the best all-around DE’s in the game.

Just like Matt Roth for the Browns this year, Justin Smith is a former 4-3 player in Cincinnati that benefited immensely from switching to a 3-4 defense. Take a gander at Roth’s and Smith’s previous stats and rankings, because they’re polar opposites from 2009. These types of players are out there, and Mangini is definitely on the lookout.

Another tidbit of information is that Marcus Benard received all of his playing time at DE when Cleveland used a 4-3 defensive alignment. 

Notes

C.J. Mosley only played 276 snaps, and barely qualified for the rankings. Brian Schaeffering played 121 snaps with average ratings and Marcus Benard played 112 snaps at DE and actually had positive ratings in every category. Derreck Robinson played five snaps and Titus Brown played one.

 

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All rankings are based from profootballfocus.com . Stats don’t tell the entire story, but they do reveal a lot and these stats are about as close as you’re going to get in terms of judging a player’s overall season—position by position, game by game, and play by play. 

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