With the 2021 NFL Draft finished, football fans and pundits alike are feverishly evaluating where their specific team falls in terms of the game’s elite. With the exception of a few uncertain quarterback situations, rosters around the league have begun to take shape. With the work Andrew Berry has done during free agency and the draft, the Cleveland Browns are well equipped to take the next collective step as an organization.
Cleveland’s biggest task heading into the 2021 offseason was to fix the defensive side of the ball. With the exception of Denzel Ward and Myles Garrett who both missed time in 2020 due to COVID-19 and injures, the Browns lacked speed and playmaking ability on defense in the 2020 season. Second round draft selection from 2020 Grant Delpit missed his entire rookie season due to an Achilles tear and 2019 second rounder Greedy Williams also was on injured reserved all year with a nerve issue in his shoulder. These injures forced veterans Andrew Sendejo and Terrance Mitchell into starting roles in 2020, something that severely hampered Cleveland’s speed in the secondary.
The Browns put themselves in position to address ancillary needs in the draft by making a significant splash in free agency with the additions of John Johnson, Troy Hill and Jadeveon Clowney. Each of these players will play a significant role on Cleveland’s improved defense, in addition to the returning Grant Delpit and Greedy Williams.
Fast forward to the NFL Draft, and the Browns were once again quick to address needs related to the defensive side of the ball. The first round selection of Greg Newsome gives Cleveland another highly touted young cornerback, who excelled late in the season on third and fourth downs specifically. Additionally, in what was considered by many as the steal of the entire draft, the Browns were able to trade up in the second round to select Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, linebacker from Notre Dame. Owusu-Koramoah provides Cleveland with tremendous speed and coverage ability for a player at his position. Lamar Jackson has been a thorn in the Browns’ side ever since he came into the league. Owusu-Koramoah has the potential to be a prototypical spy for running quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen.
While it can be argued that the Browns maintained a stellar defensive line with the singing of Jadeveon Clowney, there is no debate that Cleveland significantly upgraded their linebacker, cornerback and safety rooms with an extremely productive offseason from general manager Andrew Berry. NFL teams consistently win by filling out their roster with young, productive players in both free agency and the draft. Cleveland was fortunate enough to sign both John Johnson and Troy Hill to multi year team friendly deals, while not mortgaging their future ability to re-sign players like Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb. The Browns followed that up with a consensus slam dunk draft section of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the second round; a player that many pundits had going in round one.
An eventful offseason is not something uncommon to Browns fans. However, this time the team has the results to back up the hype. Berry and his staff deserve a tremendous amount of credit for identifying a certain type of player that they want to best represent the Cleveland Browns organization on and off the field. Head Coach Kevin Stefanski certainly has a few more powerful toys in the chest this upcoming season as the Browns look to improve on their run to the divisional round of the playoffs from a season ago.