Defensive tackle isn’t the sexiest position in the NFL.
However, it’s a position that can be the difference-maker on any defense.
For the Cleveland Browns, it is a position they will look to shore up this offseason.
Andrew Billings, who opted out of a COVID-infused 2020 season, will return to the field next year.
Sheldon Richardson will also be back after inking a new deal before the 2019 campaign.
Here, we’ll focus on a couple free agents that the Browns could target at the defensive tackle position this offseason.
1. Johnathan Hankins
Can we really have an article about potential, future Browns if it doesn’t include a Buckeye?
Johnathan Hankins played for Ohio State from 2010-2012 before being drafted 49th overall by the New York Giants in 2013.
His career started prolifically, breaking the stereotype of being a “run-stopper only” as Hankins logged seven sacks his rookie year.
He was also named to Pro Football Focus’ All-Pro team that season.
His career has slowly declined since then, as a torn pectoral muscle in 2015 began the end of his career in New York.
Hankins has spent the last three seasons with the Raiders.
He still isn’t the pass-rusher that he was as a rookie, but his ability to shut down an opposing run game remains impressive.
DT Johnathan Hankins, lined up in A gap to back-side of this run. Watch him scrape down the line like a LB, then fill the hole, and deliver a blow to the RB. Underrated athlete, saw him drop into coverage earlier in game.#Raiders #RaiderNation
— Ramble Digital Media™ (@RambleDMedia) January 3, 2021
It remains to be seen whether Johnathan Hankins will return in Silver & Black next season, he’ll be sorely missed if he doesn’t.
He’s a M’fuckin beast against the run! #RaiderNation #Raiders @BigTimeHank pic.twitter.com/gzd2PZvR51
— 𝐑𝐲𝐚𝐧☠️𝐇𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐭 (@Raider_Ryan1) January 24, 2021
Cleveland gave Hankins a look in free agency in 2018 but ultimately decided against signing him.
So far, the Browns brought in…
…for free-agent visits during the season and didn't sign any of them. Interesting tactic.
— Brent Sobleski (@brentsobleski) October 16, 2018
Hankins could provide excellent depth at DT if Andrew Berry and friends decide they are interested.
2. Kyle Love
One of the older options the Browns can look at is Kyle Love.
The former Patriot was a part of some great defensive fronts in New England.
He was effective with the Panthers, logging 9.5 sacks along with 70 total tackles since 2015.
Kyle Love at it AGAIN! pic.twitter.com/H6u1GRkLOp
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) October 28, 2018
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) December 23, 2018
He was signed and then released by the Buccaneers right before this past season, leaving him MIA for 2020.
Love wouldn’t be competing for a starting defensive tackle spot in Cleveland, nor would any realistic free agent they bring aboard at this point.
But, he brings some veteran experience at a low cost to whoever he signs with.
Berry signing Love wouldn’t exactly turn heads in Cleveland, but it would make the defensive front deeper and a little better.
3. Trevon Coley
Anybody up for a Trevon Coley homecoming?
For those who may have forgotten, Coley played with the Browns in 2017 and 2018 before being waived in September of 2019.
Trevon Coley is doing good things. pic.twitter.com/Vk8awOzore
— Dan Labbe (@dan_labbe) September 20, 2017
— Jake Burns (@jake_burns18) September 25, 2017
He had a chance at history this year playing with the Jets, but not in a good way.
Of course, playing with the Browns in 2017 means he was part of an 0-16 season.
It looked like a similar fate was coming to this year’s Jets, but fortunately for Coley, they scraped together a few W’s.
There’s no sugarcoating Coley here.
Those who saw him know he’s limited with what he can do.
That’s life as a backup-caliber player in the NFL.
Again, though, Cleveland needs depth and not stars at defensive tackle.
Coley dealt with a completely different regime while in Cleveland, so there’s no familiarity left over between the two sides.
In the 44 games Coley has played in, his team has won just 13 times.
A winning situation in northeast Ohio might be of interest to Trevon after dealing with quite a bit of losing so far in his pro career.