The Cleveland Browns have retooled their defense over the offseason.
They added valuable young talent through the draft and brought in depth at the secondary.
The Browns might have the best front-four in the entire league.
The linebacker spot might be the only area on defense that could be a little shaky for Cleveland.
Browns fans should expect big things from defensive end Myles Garrett after signing that massive extension this offseason.
However, there are a few other players that should be watched closely as they could be looking at breakout seasons in 2020.
3. Olivier Vernon
The 2019 season did not go exactly as planned for defensive end Olivier Vernon.
He finished with a career-low 26 tackles and tied his career-low with 3.5 sacks through 10 games.
To be fair, Vernon was forced to miss six games due to injuries, so that hurts his stats.
Although, the 29-year-old is held to much higher standards since he does have a good track record.
There was speculation this offseason that the Browns might cut Vernon to save money.
However, the team decided to restructure the contract and free up some extra funds that way.
The #Browns and Olivier Vernon agreed to a restructured contract that fully guarantees him $11 million this year — including a $4M signing bonus and $6.75M salary — plus up to $2M in incentives and a no-tag clause that ensures he’s a free agent next March, per source.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 7, 2020
Vernon has battled injuries each of the last three seasons, but has remained productive on the field.
Over the course of his career, Vernon has recorded 353 tackles, 75 tackles for loss, and 54.5 sacks through eight seasons in the league.
He is normally a fairly trustworthy option, but things didn’t go his way last season.
There is hope that Vernon could have a bounce back year, assuming he can put the injuries behind him.
He is set to be a free agent after the season, so Vernon has plenty of reason to play hard in 2020.
Vernon is not getting any younger, so if he wants to land another multi year deal then he’ll need to prove he deserves it with a bounce back performance.
2. Karl Joseph
One of the bigger under-the-radar signings this offseason was when the Browns landed safety Karl Joseph.
The former first-round pick agreed to terms with Cleveland this offseason after spending each of the last four years in Oakland.
#Browns reach agreement with free agent safety Karl Joseph on 1-year contract.
— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) March 19, 2020
The 26-year-old is expected to be the starting strong safety to begin the season.
Sadly, Joseph was not able to live up to expectations during his time in Oakland.
He was battling injuries as well, but the talent is clearly still there.
In 2017, Joseph recorded 79 tackles, one fumble forced, and one interception through 15 games.
His numbers have taken a dip since then, but he is obviously capable of being a productive player.
Hopefully, a change of scenery will help Joseph get back on the right track.
Joseph was taken in the first round for a reason, but now he needs to go out there and prove it with his new team.
1. Greedy Williams
The Browns somehow landed defensive back Greedy Williams in the second round despite him being projected as a first-round selection.
Williams was a star at LSU, but his rookie season in the NFL was not great.
He finished with 47 tackles, two tackles for loss, and two passes defended through 12 games.
Just like everyone else on this list, Williams was sidelined due to injuries last season.
The hope is that Williams will be able to rebound after his mediocre first year.
New defensive coordinator Joe Woods should be able to help Williams improve in 2020.
During his time in college, Williams was a stud whenever he was in man coverage.
Williams was getting destroyed last year because he wasn’t able to play the type of coverage where his game truly excels.
There is no doubt that Williams has Pro Bowl caliber talent, but it’s about putting him in the right system.
The Browns need to put Williams in places where his talent can actually be helpful to the team.
If everything goes right, Williams could be the biggest surprise for Cleveland in 2020.
Leave a Reply