There aren’t expected to be many battles for starting roles on the Cleveland Browns.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement in some position groups.
And coaches aren’t averse to rewarding a newcomer who works hard with a promotion.
Cleveland has a wealth of talent up and down their roster.
OTAs Day ☝️ pic.twitter.com/56etU5I0ow
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) May 24, 2022
Only the NFL’s looming Deshaun Watson decision opens questions about Cleveland’s playoff odds.
It could also complicate the insertion of Kevin Stefanski’s new Watson-tailored offense.
But that isn’t the only thing that the Browns coaches and fans have to worry about.
Here are the 3 weakest position groups for the Browns heading into the preseason.
Interior Defensive Line
Andrew Berry appears ready to trust Bryan Taven to find the form that made him a first-round draft choice in 2018.
There were only fleeting glimpses of success during Taven’s 17 starts over 4 years in Jacksonville.
Berry might believe the Jaguars’ stacked defensive lines kept Taven’s aggressiveness in remission.
But he guaranteed him the bulk of his $3.9 million contract, indicating an intent to start the underwhelming tackle.
In what looks like a wide-open competition at DT, #Browns predictably give the nod to veterans at OTA practice, rolling with Taven Bryan and Jordan Elliott with the ones
— Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) May 25, 2022
He might have done better in the draft, landing Perrion Winfrey later than most expected.
If enthusiasm translates to effort and success, Winfrey is a budding star.
This is a position Berry might find help at after the final roster cuts if things don’t pan out in the preseason.
Safety Group Lacks Numbers
John Johnson came on a little bit as the 2021 season went on.
But he was a far cry from the dominating centerfielder Browns fans expected after his heralded signing.
With a year in Joe Woods’ system under his belt, he expects to see his tackles and ball-hawking stats rebound.
Grant Delpit is the other starter, bouncing back from a rookie season lost to injury.
John Johnson interception in the end zone 💥#Browns
— TWSN (@TWSN___) October 22, 2021
Cleveland has the experienced, if occasionally reckless, Ronnie Harrison to back up the pair.
And that’s about it unless Richard LeCounte‘s one NFL start counts as something.
Beyond that, the Browns roster a handful of players with no NFL defensive snaps.
Johnson, Delpit, and Harrison are a fine 3-safety set, but just one injury (or Harrison ejection) leaves a big hole.
Questions At Wide Receiver
Andrew Berry’s trade for Amari Cooper could go down as the best of 2021 or a total dud.
Cooper certainly has talent, but he’s fought some negative press about turning his effort on and off.
Deshaun Watson can mitigate that criticism and help Donovan Peoples-Jones emerge as a top WR-2.
Peoples-Jones runs good routes, positions well, and is always the favorite to come down with a contested pass.
— Faithful Dawgs Podcast (@FDPodcastCLE) May 24, 2022
After that, things get concerning with Jakeem Grant providing the only true veteran depth.
Cleveland brings 5 rookies among 8 young wide receivers to compete for their slot and WR-3 positions.
Stefanski professes confidence in Anthony Schwartz and rookie David Bell, and they have the inside track.
But the youthfulness of the receiving corps makes the wide receiver room suspect until proven otherwise.