Great NFL teams almost always boast a breakout player that pushed them over the top.
The 2021 Cleveland Browns were not a great football team.
Nobody stepped up and made enough of a difference to achieve what all 32 teams strived for.
There were some nice performances by backup players, such as D’Ernest Johnson.
D’ERNEST JOHNSON FOR 6️⃣pic.twitter.com/30ccxTgHxu
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) October 31, 2021
But nobody raced to the top of statistical charts or became a new star in the NFL.
Here are 2 players who might breakout for the Browns in 2022.
Safety Grant Delpit
LSU safeties are almost expected to be NFL-ready right from the start.
And maybe if he didn’t tear an Achilles, Delpit would have broken out last season.
Grant Delpit came screaming off the edge to sack Davis Mills 😲pic.twitter.com/uNZIf2ev31
— Everything Cleveland (@everythingcle_) September 19, 2021
But he had more than his share of moments, including a sack/fumble in his Week 2 debut.
By Week 11, Delpit was the Browns starting free safety, and he was up to the task.
He saved his best for the Browns’ division rivals, with 11-tackle-games against both the Steelers and Ravens.
Delpit snagged his first career interception against Baltimore in the teams’ first matchup.
Grant Delpit first career pick 🔥pic.twitter.com/GvBhw0iTTs
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) November 29, 2021
Joe Woods put his youngest safety out there for almost 100-percent of defensive snaps over the last 5 weeks.
And Delpit delivered PFF’s 4th best pass coverage rating among all safeties over that time frame.
Delpit probably earned the starting free safety job in 2022, and is set to make a name for himself beyond Cleveland.
Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
Pundits are going to wonder how all 32 teams passed on Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah for a long time.
And his second season breakout will be a poignant reminder to those 32 GMs.
JOK already made the NFL’s All-Rookie team, so he’s not sneaking up on anybody.
Sack from Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Can’t believe he fell to the 2nd round. pic.twitter.com/wDIxTnfCYP
— Moving The Chains Podcast 🎙 (@_MTCPodcast) August 15, 2021
But he is home studying every play from his rookie season because he is determined to be better in 2022.
Cleveland’s 2021 second-rounder is fast and quick, strong, and smart, and he had some big moments last year.
Chicago saw him credited with 3 pass breakups early in the year.
And JOK racked up 13 tackles, along with half a sack, a tackle for a loss, and a QB hit in the first Baltimore game.
Browns fans will love this. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah on what he likes to do best: 'Tackling is something I love to do. Whether a hard hit, a wrap and roll hit, a technical hit. That’s what the game’s about. That’s what I’m here for.'
— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) May 1, 2021
But there is still room for improvement, specifically his surprising 17% missed tackle rate.
Woods and Kevin Stefanski have a low tolerance for missed tackles, so JOK will undoubtedly focus on that task.
And as much as he impressed everyone as a rookie, we expect Owusu-Koramoah to blow folks away in 2022.
Keep An Eye On These Players, Too
Greg Newsome did not get targeted much as a rookie, despite playing opposite Denzel Ward for the most part.
So he is not someone we’ll call a breakout candidate.
Bryant caught 75% of his targets last season and scored 3 touchdowns in limited snaps.
— Pro Football Culture (@proftblculture) December 21, 2021
Starter-level volume could easily propel him to the top-10 range of tight ends.
But there is an old adage that wide receivers hit their stride in their third season.
This Donovan Peoples-Jones catch was RIDICULOUS pic.twitter.com/2ivENKXaa2
— Billy Heyen (@BillyHeyen) August 14, 2021
And that bodes well for Donovan Peoples-Jones as a potential breakout candidate.
DPJ runs good routes, positions himself well against defenders, and is strong at the point of the catch.
This makes him more of a possession receiver than a WR-1, and he can thrive in that role next year.