Cleveland Browns: A First Look at Cleveland's Post-Draft Defense for 2011
The Cleveland Browns were one of the most talked about teams throughout the first two days of the 2011 NFL Draft, as experts from all around the league were stunned when Cleveland traded down 21 spots only to trade back up and select a defensive tackle.
However, Phil Taylor is more than just a defensive tackle for this franchise as Cleveland has now begun their transition into a 4-3 defense and will use his size and strength for many different schemes.
The following slideshow breaks down the Cleveland Browns defense for 2011 by position and highlights the impact that the 2011 NFL Draft picks will have on Cleveland's new defensive scheme.
The Defensive Tackles
Athyba Rubin and Phil Taylor will join forces in 2011 and hopefully provide a pass rush that will be impossible to match for opposing offensive lines.
Both players will be called on to make piles in the middle to help against the rushing game and also clear lanes for Cleveland's linebackers.
The Browns' coaching staff hopes that this duo will require opposing offenses to double team the tackles in the middle which will give Cleveland's ends and linebackers more opportunities to make plays in the backfield.
Defensive Tackle Depth Chart For 2011:
1. Phil Taylor
2. Athyba Rubin
3. Brian Schaefering
4. Travis Ivey
5. Titus Adams
The Defensive Ends
The defensive ends on Cleveland's roster improved in 2010 but did not do well enough to help maintain a 3-4 system.
The switch to a 4-3 defense will help every end on the roster as the inside blockers will likely become more concerned with blocking the tackles and should help create more one-on-one opportunities.
Jabaal Sheard will be new to the Browns' set of ends this season but will likely be a starter right from the beginning. Cleveland is not very deep at the end position and could very well lose some key pieces in free agency.
Defensive End Depth Chart for 2011:
1. Robaire Smith
2-3. Jabaal Sheard/ Matt Roth
4. Jayme Mitchell
5. Brian Sanford
6. Derrick Robinson
Cleveland failed to add any sort of help at the linebacker position over the course of the draft but still have a solid group of young players and veterans returning next season.
Marcus Bernard had his second impressive season with Cleveland in 2010 and is beginning to look as if he will become a solid player for the Browns' future.
Scott Fujita may be the most important piece of the Browns defense if he returns next season as Cleveland's defense seemed lost whenever the veteran was forced to miss action.
D'Qwell Jackson will also be a player that will be called upon in an expanded role as Jackson missed the majority of the last two seasons with pectoral injuries.
Jackson led the NFL in tackles in 2008 before missing time the last two years.
Linebacker Depth Chart for 2011:
1. Scott Fujita
2. D'Qwell Jackson
3. Marcus Bernard
4. Chris Gocong
5. Jason Trusnik
6. Kaluka Miava
Cleveland addressed the secondary in a big way through the 2011 NFL draft as the Browns took two corners in the later rounds.
Buster Skrine and Eric Hagg will both be called upon to learn under the Browns' current corps of players in the secondary but will also provide a significant amount of insurance if any player under-achieves.
Joe Haden, Sheldon Brown and Eric Wright look as if they will be the corners at the top for the Browns next season while T.J. Ward will remain a consistent starter at the safety position.
Cleveland struggled at times against some of the better quarterbacks in the league in 2010 which may lead some fans to think that these will be positions of interest during free agency.
Cornerback Depth Chart for 2011:
1. Joe Haden
2. Sheldon Brown
3. Eric Wright
4. Eric Hagg
5. Buster Skrine
6. Austin English
7. Coye Francies
8. Ray Ventrone
Safety Depth Chart for 2011:
1. T.J. Ward
2. Abe Elam
3. Mike Adams
4. Nick Sorensen
5. Ramzee Robinson