Desmond Bryant injury weakens Browns at thin position

Defensive end Desmond Bryant recorded 33 tackles and six sacks last season for the Browns. David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns' loss of defensive lineman Desmond Bryant for the season to a torn pectoral muscle won't take the Browns out of playoff consideration, or take them from a 10-win team to a six-win team. The Browns simply are not built this season to compete for the AFC North title -- though, of course, anything can happen.

But Bryant's injury is significant, because it is at one of the positions where the team lacks depth and needs a veteran.

Bryant is far and away the Browns' best defensive lineman. The past two seasons, he was productive and active. Joe Banner touted him a year after signing him as one of the guys the team would rely on in the future. At the time, I was skeptical, but at this time I have to admit that Banner was right.

Bryant has played well for the Browns.

Losing him matters, but it especially matters given the lack of depth on the defensive front.

Danny Shelton figures to start at nose tackle, but the other two starters are anyone's guess. They will come from a group that includes Xavier Cooper, John Hughes, rookie Carl Nassib and Dylan Wynn.

Any or all could step forward, but none has a strong track record that inspires belief he can give the Browns what Bryant did.

One possibility: Put second-round pick Emmanuel Ogbah at the down lineman position he played in college rather than at linebacker. That would entail reversing an offseason of work at linebacker for Ogbah, but Ogbah was extremely effective in college as a down lineman.

A more likely solution will be a creative one. The Browns can use Ogbah standing up and with his hand on the ground. They can use groups of players that might include Paul Kruger, Ogbah, Barkevious Mingo and Nate Orchard. Those linebackers could be the pass-rush group.

The Browns will adjust. They have to.