Last season, it was difficult to watch the Cleveland Browns secondary attempt to stop opposing teams.
The loss of Greedy Williams and Grant Delpit made a significant impact in 2020.
However, the front office made it a focal point to improve the secondary this offseason.
They’ve made some big strides, but can Browns fans feel safe watching their secondary in 2021?
Cleveland wasted no time adding reinforcements on defense this offseason.
They signed multiple significant defenders including safety John Johnson III.
Obviously, Johnson is not a cornerback, but having him back there will be huge for the Browns defense.
Opposing offenses will think twice before attempting to throw it deep with Johnson out there.
In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that Johnson made an incredible interception against the Browns.
The @RamsNFL defense holds strong!
John Johnson intercepts Mayfield in the end zone. #LARams
📺: #LARvsCLE on NBC
📱: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app
Watch free on mobile: https://t.co/77ZAvrHGXr pic.twitter.com/3ob3YIbq7Y
— NFL (@NFL) September 23, 2019
Johnson was an enormous addition this offseason, but he wasn’t the only player that was added.
Cleveland also brought in veteran slot defensive back Troy Hill on a two-year deal worth $9 million.
The 29-year-old corner grades very well and it is surprising that the Browns were able to land him for that cheap.
Troy Hill stepped up this season when #LARams needed most and proved to be a stud, giving up only 1 TD all season!
Among all CBs in 2019 (min 300 snaps), Hill ranked:
– 2nd in Receiving Percentage
– 5th in NFL Passer Rating when Targeted
– T-11th in Defensive Grades pic.twitter.com/V2tYPiAawv
— PFF LA Rams (@PFF_Rams) January 17, 2020
Fans should expect Hill to start as the slot corner right away in Cleveland.
He is coming off a career year where he recorded 77 tackles, 10 passes defended, and three interceptions in 16 games with the Los Angeles Rams.
A trustworthy slot corner that should give the Browns defense a significant boost.
That’s not all, the Browns also used their first-round selection in the draft on Northwestern defensive back Greg Newsome II.
Greg Newsome II vs. throws 10+ yards downfield:
🔹1 reception allowed
🔹0 TDs / 1 INT
🔹11.8 passer rating#Browns got a STUD🔒 pic.twitter.com/AS2bYcYnZY
— PFF (@PFF) May 6, 2021
Newsome saw limited time on the field in 2020, but was productive when he was playing.
He graded well and was projected as one of the top defensive backs in the entire draft class.
Somehow, Newsome fell to the Browns in the late first round, which is quite surprising.
Nonetheless, he’ll likely compete with Greedy Williams for the No. 2 spot at corner.
Clearly, the Browns front office was not joking when they said they wanted to improve their secondary.
Time To Feel Safe?
There aren’t too many holes on the Browns roster heading into the 2021 season.
At the beginning of the offseason, it was safe to say that defensive back was a huge concern.
However, the front office has done a tremendous job of bringing in talent without overpaying.
The biggest problem is likely the lack of depth at defensive back.
Both Denzel Ward and Williams have dealt with injuries throughout their career.
For the first time since Week 3, Browns’ CBs Greedy Williams and Denzel Ward are off the injury report and recovered from their hamstring injuries. Each player is expected to play Sunday vs. the Patriots.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 25, 2019
Newsome and Hill are great additions, but there isn’t much help after that.
Cleveland would be forced to put their faith in M.J. Stewart, assuming the injuries start to pile up.
Despite that, fans shouldn’t feel concerned over cornerback anymore.
Hopefully, Williams will come back strong and be able to contribute in 2021.
At worst, Williams can be a rotational player and having that would be huge for Cleveland.
After this offseason, Browns fans shouldn’t have to close their eyes when they see the opposing team throw a deep pass down the field.
The offseason isn’t over, so the Browns could still add more talent, but this secondary is much better than last season.
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