NFL Draft Wrap Up: Cleveland Browns Remodel the Defensive Roster

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NFL Draft Wrap Up: Cleveland Browns Remodel the Defensive Roster
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The Browns defense has been remodeled this offseson with free agent pickups, trade acquisitions, and draft picks joining the team. Lets take a look at how these changes have affected the composition of the roster and what might be left for the collective brain-trust to do prior to the season opener. This is only a post-draft depth chart, it is not my perspective on what the Browns depth chart will look like after training camp. There will be many more additions and subtractions to the team before then but I think this is a functional mock up.

 

Defensive Line:

Nose Tackle:

Starter:  Shaun Rogers: Considered the Browns best defensive player and is an athletic marvel. He is the team's best penetrating defensive lineman and might be more effective at defensive end.

Backup: Ahtyba Rubin: Very effective at filling the gaps in run defense and has the confidence of Rob Ryan.

 

Defensive Tackle:

Starter:   Robaire Smith: Excellent player who had 62 tackles and 1.5 sacks last year in return from Achilles tendon injury.

Backup: Brian Schaefring: Promising rookie last year had 12 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

 

Defensive End:

Starter:   Kenyon Coleman: Disappointing season with only 38 tackles and 1.5 sacks, Browns definitely could upgrade.

Backup:   C.J.Mosley: Also a player the Browns could be looking to upgrade post-draft, only had 18 tackles and no sacks.

Backup:  Clinton Geathers: Huge defensive end prospect from South Carolina who has tons of potential but needs a lot of work to be a viable NFL player.

 

Linebackers:

Outside Right:

Starter:  Matt Roth: Awesome late season pickup who tallied 28 tackles and four sacks, the Browns traded Kameron Wimbley because they had Roth.

Backup:  Marcus Benard: Rookie pass-rusher burst onto the scene with 14 tackles and 3.5 sacks, the Browns will be counting on him to spell Roth and provide a pass rush this season.

Outside left:

Starter:   Chris Gocong: Acquired from Philadelphia along with Sheldon Brown and projects as the potential starter on the outside where he can do what did best in college: Rush the passer.

Backup:   David Veikune: Rookie from Hawaii, tried to convert to linebacker last year and did not see the field much. As a second-round pick, the Browns are hoping to get something out of him this year.

Inside Linebacker:

Starter:   David Bowens: Versatile veteran who can man either inside or out and had 71 tackles and 5.5 sacks last year. Considered a leader of this defense.

Backup:   Jason Trusnik: Came over in the Braylon Edwards trade and surprised everybody by being a player. Hard nosed, versatile backer who can do a little bit of everything. Had 56 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

Backup:   Eric Barton: Former starter had serious neck injury and surgery and current status is unknown.

Inside linebacker:

Starter:   Scott Fujita: Free agent pickup from New Orleans who can play inside or out. Had 58 tackles and one sack last year.

Backup:   D'Qwell Jackson: Former league leader in tackles is just not well suited for the 3-4 and gets lost in the wash. Unlikely to be with team at start of season.

Backup:   Kaluka Maiava: Ex-USC linebacker became a valuable special teams player and was solid when called upon on the inside with 45 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

Backup:  Blake Costanzo:   Special teams star provides depth in case of injury, led team in special team tackles.

 

Secondary:

Strong Safety:

Starter:  Abe Elam: Former Kent State product has legal issues, led team in tackles but Browns drafted two rookies at his position.

Backup:   Nick Sorensen: Strictly a special teams player.

Backup:   T.J. Ward: Big hitter from Oregon who is a secure tackler. Ward struggles in coverage and has battled injuries.

Backup:   Larry Asante: First-team All-Big 12 safety who is a big hitter and has stayed injury free. He also has trouble in coverage.

 

Free Safety:

Starter:   Mike Adams: Versatile player who filled four roles last year, Adams had 69 tackles last year, Browns looking to upgrade at this position.

Backup:   Ray Ventrone: Special teams ace who is competent, but nothing special.

 

Right Cornerback:

Starter:   Eric Wright: Excellent young corner who had four interceptions, 14 passes defensed, and 65 tackles.

Backup:  Brandon McDonald: Former starter was benched twice last year and will lose nickel job this year to rookie Joe Haden, needs fresh start somewhere else.

Backup:   Gerard Lawson: Primarily a special teamer since Wright never leaves field.

 

Left Cornerback:

Starter:   Sheldon Brown: Former Pro Bowler with Philadelphia is 31 and solidifies Browns secondary, had 51 tackles and five interceptions last year.

Backup:   Joe Haden: Rookie from Florida was considered by many the best cornerback in the draft. Had eight interceptions in his career at Florida and projects as the Browns nickel back this year.

Backup:   Coye Francies: Rookie saw very limited time last year with only four tackles.

 

The odds are good that we will see this roster change some more after the draft. Defensive end is still a weakness that needs to be addressed and Abe Elam, D'Qwell Jackson, and Brandon McDonald could be traded.

Cornerback has been solidified with the trade for Brown and selection of Haden, but free safety needs to be addressed before the season starts. Mike Adams is a serviceable player, but the Browns need a centerfielder with range and pop. 

The Browns also may be looking either for depth or a starter at defensive end depending on what they do with Shaun Rogers. There has been some talk of moving the big guy to end and letting Rubin man nose tackle. If they do this then they need a backup nose tackle.

Basically, thats it. A free safety and either, a defensive end, or a nose tackle and the Browns are in business. Overall, the front office led by Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert appears to have improved the defense with their offseason acquisitions.

Thanks for reading and if you are interested in a breakdown of the Browns draft please see: NFL Draft Grades 2010: Cleveland Browns Report Card.

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