During the 2022 NFL season, defense was seen as the biggest reason the Cleveland Browns won just seven games and missed the playoffs.
They ranked 20th in points allowed and gave up at least 30 points in five games, which was simply too much for them to overcome, especially with quarterback Deshaun Watson missing the first 11 contests of the season due to his league-mandated suspension.
Interestingly, the Browns’ pass defense was very solid — they ranked fifth in both passing yards and touchdowns allowed.
ESPN NFL analyst Mike Clay ranked the best cornerback units across the league, and he had Cleveland at No. 6.
2023 NFL Cornerback Unit Ranks and Depth Charts.
The Jalen Ramsey trade launches the Dolphins to #1 and sinks the Rams to #32 pic.twitter.com/gQW9P8Jknw
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) May 15, 2023
The jewel of the team’s cornerback unit is Denzel Ward, a two-time Pro Bowler who had 15 passes defended while recovering two fumbles for two touchdowns in 2022.
They also have Greg Newsome II, a first-round draft pick in 2021 who had six passes defended last season.
Martin Emerson started six games in 2022, and he contributed 15 passes defended as well as 63 total tackles (51 solo), while A.J. Green provided some depth.
For next season, the Browns will also have Cameron Mitchell, whom they took in the fifth round of last month’s draft, and while he may not evolve into a star, he has the potential to play a role on the team.
On their front seven, they should have more firepower this coming season with the addition of defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson and the trade that brought in defensive end Za’Darius Smith.
Winning the AFC North may be unrealistic for Cleveland, but the team should have a great shot at making the playoffs.