Browns 2021 training camp showcases a new look pass rush
By: Michael Welsh
With each day that passes, we are getting closer and closer to football season. Before we get to the pre-season, training camp has to happen. There are always intriguing position battles to watch for each team, and with the Browns, there are a few in particular that should be on the front of fan’s minds.
Cleveland has one of, if not the most complete roster in all of football. This means tough decisions will have to be made on who makes the team and who ends up being the week one starters. The offensive side of the ball is basically set as is, so most of these interesting battles will be taking place on the defensive side. Let’s take a look at the two position battles to keep an eye on during training camp
The defensive line as a whole
The toughest decisions for the coaching staff will be on the defensive line. The edges are set with superstar Myles Garrett and the well-known Jadeveon Clowney, with free agent acquisition Takk Mckinley on rotation. Where it gets interesting is the interior defensive line. Below are the players on the interior fighting for a roster spot and a starting job:
Malik Jackson (free agent signing)
Sheldon Day (2021 signing from practice squad)
Jordan Elliot (Browns draft pick, 2020)
Malik McDowell (2021 free agent signing)
Damion Square (2021 free agent signing)
Tommy Togiai (Browns draft pick, 2021)
Marvin Wilson (2021 undrafted free agent signing)
That is a massive amount of talent fighting for a few roster spots. General Manager Andrew Berry is very high on Jordan Elliot, who showed flashes in his 2020 rookie year. Malik Jackson will most likely take Sheldon Richardson’s spot, so if all goes well he will be first on the depth chart. Tommy Togiai was drafted this year, so one would think he has a spot solidified. Malik McDowell is interesting as well, but he doesn’t have much experience. Perhaps the one to watch the most is undrafted free agent Marvin Wilson. At one point, he was one of the best defensive tackles in college football. His talent is undeniable, but he got caught up with some on and off the field issues at Florida State. If he puts it all together, he could be a massive steal that makes the roster.
Overall, the coaching staff will likely keep three or four of them on the roster, so it will be exciting to see what happens. A scenario of Jackson, Elliot, and Togiai making the roster with Square and Marvin Wilson on the practice squad is fairly likely. But we will know soon enough.
Besides Pro Bowler Denzel Ward, the cornerback room has a long way until the other starter is decided. Rookie first round pick Greg Newsome has a substantial amount of hype and has looked good so far in minicamps, but he is still a rookie after all. Greedy Williams hasn’t played football in awhile, but he had plenty of flashes in 2019 of being a good player in this league. It is going to be fascinating to see who ends up winning the starting job between Newsome and Williams. They’re both incredibly talented and liked by the front office quite a bit. They will both definitely make the team, but who starts opposite of Denzel Ward likely won’t be decided until the end of training camp, possibly even the end of pre-season. Odds are it will be Newsome since he is this current front office’s guy, but don’t sleep on Williams. He has something to prove. Troy Hill is probably the only other player within the cornerbacks that has a starting spot secured. He will be the Nickel corner and can possibly jump outside as well if needed.
Turning to the depth side of the roster, the battle between Robert Jackson and AJ Green should be intense. Green was an undrafted free agent signing in 2020, and was giving a generous rookie contract. There were whispers that he looked good on the practice squad in 2020, but he needed more development. Seeing how far he has come since then during training camp will be fun to watch. Robert Jackson stepped in as a starter in 2020 due to injuries, and his play was fairly rocky. But he is good on special teams and can snag a roster spot if he continues to excel there. Will Green be able to show special teams skills and get Jackson’s spot instead? Or will they both make the roster? Time will tell, but get your popcorn ready because it will be electric.