The draft is over and free agency has already wound down. With the dust beginning to settle on roster changes and the Cleveland Browns in the middle of their virtual offseason, we did a projection of where their offensive depth chart stands last week. Today, we look at the defense (starters in bold):
Cleveland's pass rush completely cratered once Garrett was suspended for the helmet swing last season. Getting Garrett back obviously will make a huge difference, but the Browns also added Clayborn, 31, to bolster the depth behind him. Of the 111 players with 500 pass-rush snaps over the past two seasons, Garrett and Clayborn ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in QB pressure rate, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. The Browns can still wipe $15.5 million off the salary cap by releasing Vernon, who is in the final year of his contract. Yet despite reports and speculation connecting Cleveland to free agent Jadeveon Clowney, Vernon remains penciled in as the starter opposite Garrett as he attempts to rebound from an injury-plagued 2019 season.
Like with end, the Browns suffered from a lack of depth on the inside of the line down the stretch during its defensive collapse. To combat that, Cleveland signed Billings to a one-year deal, then drafted Elliott in the third round.
The Browns are retooling their linebacking corps after waiving veteran Christian Kirksey and letting Joe Schobert leave via free agency. Goodson is a stopgap veteran, as Wilson, Takitaki and Phillips -- a third-round draft pick this year -- develop as the future of the position.
The Browns need healthy years out of Ward and Williams, who both struggled through hamstring injuries for much of last season for an underwhelming pass defense. Behind them, keep an eye on Green, whom Cleveland signed for $165,000, a franchise record for an undrafted free agent.
NB: Kevin Johnson
The nickel has to be a willing and solid tackler in new coordinator Joe Woods' system, and that's what Johnson brings to the table after agreeing to a one-year deal. Johnson, who played for the Bills last season, can swing to the outside if the Browns need him there as well.
The safety position got an offseason overhaul, as the Browns replaced Damarious Randall and Morgan Burnett with Joseph and Sendejo on one-year deals. Both are versatile enough to play either safety spot in Woods' defense, though don't rule out Delpit winning a job out of camp, either. Delpit seemed destined to be a high first-round pick until an injury affected his tackling last season at LSU. He and Redwine could be the long-term pairing here.