The most underappreciated Browns player going into 2021

By: Michael Welsh

The Cleveland Browns definitely are not lacking star power on either side of the ball, with players such as Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, Baker Mayfield, Myles Garrett, and Denzel Ward. A lot of fans know plenty about each of these players. On every team, there is always one or two players that rarely get talked about, but are extremely vital to the team’s success. Cleveland actually has several players like this. Wide receiver Rashard Higgins and Center J.C. Tretter come to mind. Even more under-appreciated than them is Guard Wyatt Teller, who had a monster year in 2020.

Before his time in Cleveland, Teller played for the Buffalo Bills and was a relatively unheard-of player. The Browns traded for him in August of 2019, giving up only a 5th and 6th round draft pick. At the time, Browns fans just thought it was another body for the questionable offensive line room. Teller played 476 snaps and received a 60.3 Pro Football Focus in 2018 before coming to Cleveland, so many perceived him as an average player.

In 2019 with the Browns, Teller played 559 snaps and finished with a 56.7 grade. Even though he didn’t dazzle, there were moments where he was extremely physical and displayed characteristics of being a good player. It really came down to if he could put it all together. After the disastrous 2019 season in Cleveland, many wondered how the Browns roster would look in 2020, especially the offensive line that gave up 40 sacks on quarterback Baker Mayfield.

Fast forward to 2020 and the Browns hire Kevin Stefanski as the head coach and he brings in Bill Callahan to be the offensive line coach, which is arguably the smartest thing he’s done thus far. Callahan has a reputation as the best offensive line coach in all of football. It took little time for that to show as the Browns had the best offensive line in all of football in 2020, per PFF. The shining star on the line was Wyatt Teller, who looked like a completely different player as he manhandled opposition each week. The holes he opened up for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt were massive and his pass blocking was top notch as well. He finished 2020 with a 92.9 grade from PFF, a major step up from his average grades in the previous years.

Where it gets even more eye opening is how the offense performed when he missed four games. At one point in the season, the Browns averaged 6.8 yards per carry with Teller on the field, and 3.9 when he wasn’t. They also were averaging 197.7 yards per game with him and 95.5 without him. In total after the season ended, they averaged 175 yards with and 85 without. That is a substantial drop in production from just one player. In addition to that, they averaged a 9.2 blown block pressure rate without him and 5.5. rate with him. So not only did he drastically affect the run game, but the passing game as well. To take it even further, the team was 8-2 with Teller and 3-3 without him. That is incredibly impressive considering he isn’t even a position player. Sometimes those big boys on the offensive line can make all of the difference, and Teller was a testament to that.

As if the stats with and without him aren’t compelling, actually watching the games and seeing the difference on Sundays was incredible. The Browns had trouble running the ball as effectively on the right side and it showed in key games that Teller missed. His play recognition and footwork were fantastic, and they only got better as the season went on. A lot of this is because of Bill Callahan’s elite coaching, but some of it shows that Teller had these abilities all along, he just needed someone to help unlock them. Teller is also loved by his teammates and displays leadership on the sidelines, most notably with the “Same old Browns” mic’d up clip from the Wild Card game in Pittsburgh. Teller helped lead Cleveland to their first playoff win since 1994.

There is no doubt that Wyatt Teller is the most under-appreciated player on Cleveland’s roster. Maybe not by Browns fans, but fans of the NFL and national media rarely acknowledge him or even know who he is. Offensive linemen are rarely stars, but if fans know who Quenton Nelson is, then they need to know who Teller is. The numbers don’t lie. It is absolutely stunning that he did not get selected to the Pro Bowl or wasn’t named First or Second Team All-Pro. Those things just prove how underrated he is.

Maybe in 2021 Teller can continue his elite production and get noticed more around the league. Until then, Browns fans can sleep well at night knowing that he is a part of the offensive line, hopefully for years to come if General Manager Andrew Berry can get a contract extension done.

Three Browns Players with the most to prove this Offseason

Is Greedy Williams the CB2?

By: Michael Welsh

With the NFL Draft over and Free Agency remaining very quiet, we’re getting to a point where teams will focus on the players on their roster and the decisions to be made. The Cleveland Browns made several great moves this off-season, and that means the pressure is on for a few players to prove they should be on the team. There will be tough choices to be made from GM Andrew Berry and challenging hills to climb for a few players that have been with the team for a few years. Let’s check out the players with the most to prove in OTA’s and Training Camp.

Greedy Williams – CB

It wasn’t long ago that Greedy Williams was the starter alongside Denzel Ward in the secondary. He had impressive flashes in his 2019 rookie season and also showed plenty of areas to improve on. Either way, the future seemed bright for the LSU product. Unfortunately, Greedy began dealing with a nerve issue in his shoulder before the 2020 season started and he didn’t play one snap. It quickly became concerning because nerve damage is something that can stick around forever, so many wondered if Williams would even play again. Earlier this year, he took to Twitter to announce he was coming back. As exciting as this is for him, the Browns have a stacked secondary after drafting Greg Newsome out of Northwestern and signing Troy Hill from the Los Angeles Rams. All of the sudden, Greedy will have to work even harder to prove he still has the talent to make the roster. He hasn’t played football in a long time, so hopefully he hasn’t lost a step. You can never have too many cornerbacks, so at least he has that in his favor.

Jordan Elliot – DT

One room that has gotten crowded fast for the Browns is the defensive line room. Jordan Elliot was drafted by Andrew Berry in the 3rd round of the 2020 draft and he saw some rotational playing time last season. He finished with 12 tackles, 1 forced fumble and a 55.3 Pro Football Focus grade. There were several moments where he looked like a first string player, but he still has an uphill battle to make the roster and earn playing time in 2021. Cleveland drafted Tommy Togiai out of Ohio State in the 4th round, signed Malik Jackson, and they have Andrew Billings coming back after opting out in 2020. In addition to them, veterans Sheldon Day and Damion Square will be competing for roster spots. Things will be interesting with Jordan Elliot and the defensive line room.

Drew Forbes – G

The Browns had arguably the best offensive line in football last season. The starters are set for years to come, but that doesn’t mean depth isn’t needed. Drew Forbes was drafted by John Dorsey in the 6th round of the 2019 draft out of Southeast Missouri State. He hasn’t seen any playing time, but at one time there were rumblings of him having tremendous upside at the pro level after a few years of development. Forbes chose to opt out of the 2020 season, so making the roster in 2021 is going to be very challenging. The Browns have since drafted James Hudson and Nick Harris, both of which can play all over the offensive line. They also brought in Blake Hance who came up clutch in the playoffs against the Steelers, as well as Michael Dunn. Forbes will have his work cut out for him if he wants to wear the brown and orange in 2021.

Are the Browns AFC North Favorites Right Now? How it Stacks up

Which team will win the AFC North?

By: Michael Welsh

The AFC North is arguably the best division in all of football. With the Browns, Steelers, and Ravens all finishing with 10+ wins last year and the Bengals on the come up, the competition is at an all time high. The Steelers won the division in 2020 and the Ravens finished second and have former MVP Lamar Jackson at QB. On the flip side, the Browns are coming off their best season in over 20 years and they convincingly beat the Steelers in the playoffs. Could they be the favorites to win the AFC North in 2021? It is more possible than you might think. Let’s see how it all stacks up.

Let’s start with Free Agency and the NFL Draft. One could argue that the Browns improved the most in these categories out of any team in the AFC North. They only lost a few players and who they lost were replaced with far more talented players. Some notable additions are below:

John Johnson

Troy Hill

Anthony Walker

Jadeveon Clowney

Greg Newsome (rookie)

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (rookie)

Anthony Schwartz (rookie)

With the defense completely overhauled and the offense returning with little to no changes, the Browns could be extremely scary in 2021. Andrew Berry and Kevin Stefanski made it a point to become more versatile and unpredictable with all of their signings and draft picks. Clowney and Owusu-Koramoah are the two guys to contain Lamar Jackson, something Cleveland struggled to do in 2020.

Speaking of Lamar Jackson, the Ravens had a mixture of solid additions and key losses. The most surprising thing was that they didn’t aggressively go after the top wide receiver free agents, and instead settled on the injury prone Sammy Watkins and they drafted Rashod Bateman in the first round. Their losses outweigh the additions. Some notable losses below:

Mark Ingram

Matthew Judon

Yannick Ngakoue

Matt Skura

Willie Snead

Orlando Brown Jr (Trade)

The Ravens did draft well as usual, but they definitely lost a lot of talented players. They will be the biggest threat to the Browns winning the division in 2021, but they are more vulnerable this year than they have been in the past and with the additions Cleveland made on defense, it could get very interesting.

Turning now to another AFC North team, the Steelers had a fairly weak draft and lost some key players. Plus they have Big Ben coming back at QB and at this point in his career, he’s not even close to what he once was. Some notable losses are below:

Bud Dupree

Mike Hilton

Tyson Alualu

Matt Feiler

Maurkice Pouncey

Vince Williams

That is a lot of key losses, especially to an already struggling offensive line. They added the dynamic running back Najee Harris, but that was arguably their best pick in a low graded 2021 draft. It doesn’t do much to bring in a good running back when your offensive line is below average. The Steelers also managed to bring back Juju Smith-Shuester, but he’s proved to not be a number one game-changing wide receiver at this point in his career. There is a good chance that Pittsburgh regresses in 2021, similar to how they fell off in the back half of 2020.

It’ll come down to which team wants it more, but the Browns could easily be considered the favorite to win the division with eleven or twelve wins. The Ravens will be the biggest threat and the Steelers could have their first losing season in a long time. The Bengals aren’t expected to be a threat, but they could have an exciting offense to watch. They’re still few years away from contending for the division. It also helps the Browns that they have a third place schedule in 2021, so they’ll be beating up on a lot of lesser teams.

4 reasons Why Myles Garrett Will Win DPOY in 2021

Clowney will help unlock Myles Garrett

By: Michael Welsh

The Cleveland Browns are heading into the 2021 season with one of the best rosters in the NFL. Pretty crazy thing to say, right? GM Andrew Berry had a lot of holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball this off-season and he did an incredible job filling them. A lot of the moves he made will only set up star Myles Garrett for even more success.

Myles has been one of the best defensive players in the league since being drafted first overall in 2017, racking up 42.5 sacks and 42 tackles for a loss. At this point, it isn’t IF Myles will take home the Defensive Player of the Year award, it’s WHEN. Let’s take a look at why the 2021 season might be the one where he takes home the hardware.

The additions to the secondary

It is no secret that Cleveland’s secondary in 2020 was lackluster. Andrew Berry made that his top priority to improve in the 2021 off-season, and he was aggressive right out of the gate. He signed Safety John Johnson and Cornerback Troy Hill, immediately making the defense better. In addition to that, Safety Grant Delpit and Cornerback Greedy Williams are returning from injury. Oh, and don’t forget about Pro-Bowler Denzel Ward. Add all of that up and it means one thing; better coverage equals quarterbacks holding onto the ball longer. Myles Garrett could very well add more sacks because of that.

The signing of Jadeveon Clowney

For the past few years, Myles had Olivier Veron opposite of him on the defensive line. Vernon played well in his time with the Browns, but Garrett still has always needed someone else on the line that commands the defensive coordinator’s attention. The Browns signed Jadeveon Clowney this off-season, finally giving Myles someone that can take pressure off him and allow the double teams to subside. Clowney is 5th in the NFL in double team rate Myles is 3rd, so basically…. pick your poison. Having Clowney will only allow for Garrett to get to the quarterback even more.

The offense’s ability to put up points

The Browns had several games in 2020 where they scored more than 30 points, and with every offensive starter returning this fall, it is safe to assume that they will have no problem putting up points. This means that teams will be playing from behind, thus giving Myles Garrett even more chances to get sacks since the bulk of plays will be passing.

He’s an absolute unit

This one will be short and sweet. Myles is a specimen that, at times, looks as if he isn’t from this world. The scary part is that he is in his prime and will only get stronger and bigger. It is next to impossible for him to be blocked one on one and breaking twenty sacks is very likely to happen at some point in his career.

Players The Cleveland Browns Could Target At Pick 26 In The NFL Draft

Who Should Cleveland Draft With The First Pick?

By: Michael Welsh

Rejoice, the NFL Draft is under three weeks away! There have already been some interesting trades made by the Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers, and Philadelphia Eagles. Needless to say, no dull moments and we haven’t even gotten to the first draft night. The Cleveland Browns hold pick 26 and should be poised to add a dynamic defensive playmaker at that spot. Let’s take a look at who they might target in the first round.

Greg Newsome II – CB Northwestern

The Browns have addressed the secondary already in Free Agency, but GM Andrew Berry has said numerous times that “you can’t have too many good corners..” While it may not be a huge need, the Browns already held a virtual meeting with Greg Newsome II, so clearly they see some potential in him. He is a tall ball-hawking Cornerback that could make big plays on Cleveland’s defense.

Asante Samuel Jr – CB Florida State

Sticking with the defensive back theme, a lot of analysts have Asante Samuel Jr mocked to the Browns at pick 26. He wouldn’t be a bad pick by any means, but he could be a slight reach at that point. The Browns could trade back to 28 or 30 and Samuel would likely still be there. Either way, adding him to the secondary would only make the defense better. Samuel is more of a man to man corner opposed to zone, but he could be coached up at the pro level.

Jaelan Phillips – EDGE Miami Hurricanes

The defensive line is probably the one area that Cleveland could continue to improve on. They signed Takk McKinley in Free Agency, but drafting a young edge rusher is overall what Andrew Berry should do. This isn’t a deep edge class, but there could be a few good options at 26, including Miami product Jaelan Phillips. He is super quick off the line and plays well laterally. The biggest concern with Phillips is that he has dealt with several major injuries in his young career, so that might be as issue that causes Andrew Berry to pass on him.

Gregory Rousseau – EDGE Miami Hurricanes

Also coming out of The U is dynamic edge rusher Gregory Rousseau. He has a bigger frame that Jaelan Phillips and less injury concerns, so it would be interesting to see what the Browns do if both are there at 26. Rousseau opted out of the 2020 season, but in 2019 he had 15.5 sacks. Having him opposite of Myles Garrett could be a scary duo for years to come.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah – LB Notre Dame

The Browns addressed Linebacker in Free Agency with the signing of Anthony Walker, plus they have Jacob Phillips, Sione Takitaki, and Malcom Smith coming back. They might be set at the position, but it would be impossible to pass up on Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah if he fell to 26. He is the fast, aggressive linebacker that Cleveland needs to chase down Lamar Jackson in the AFC North. He will most likely be gone before Cleveland’s pick, but it would be a dream if he somehow fell.

Remaining Free Agent Fits For The Browns

By: Michael Welsh

After a hot start to free agency, things have quieted down a bit for the Cleveland Browns. However, Andrew Berry has made it clear that they are not done adding players just yet. Most of the signings have been on the defensive side of the ball and it is fair to assume that the remaining players they need are on that side as well. Let’s take a look at a few players they might target.

Jadeveon Clowney – Outside Linebacker/Edge – 2020 team: Tennessee Titans

The 2020 season was one to forget for Jadeveon Clowney. He didn’t record one sack and missed the final several games due to injury. There is no doubt that he isn’t the player he once was and he never lived up to the number one overall pick hype, but he’s still a good player when he’s on the field. His run defense alone makes him appealing to the Browns, who have to deal with Lamar Jackson twice a year. Andrew Berry tried to sign Clowney last year and they reportedly brought him in for a visit last week. One thing is for sure: Clowney opposite of Myles Garrett would be a scary duo.

Geno Atkins – Defensive Tackle – 2020 team: Cincinnati Bengals

It appears the Browns are keeping Sheldon Richardson (some thought he would be cut), but some additional depth on the defensive line is never a bad thing. At 31, Geno Atkins doesn’t fit the trend of singing young players that Andrew Berry has been doing, but they also could use some veteran presence in such a young locker room. Atkins is an eight time Pro Bowler and two time First Team All-Pro, there is no doubt that he can still make some plays for the Brown if they signed him.

Aldon Smith – Edge – 2020 team: Dallas Cowboys

A roller coaster is the best way to describe Aldon Smith’s nine year career. He once had a 19.5 sack season, but he was also suspended and missed a lot of games between 2016 and 2019. In 2020, he recorded 5 sacks with the Cowboys and they recently released him. He still has a high motor and fantastic ability at this point in his career. He might be someone that Andrew Berry could bring in on a one year deal for more defensive line depth.

AJ Bouye – Cornerback – 2020 team: Denver Broncos

The Browns have done a great job addressing their secondary problems with the signings of Troy Hill and John Johnson, but adding one more player isn’t a bad idea. Andrew Berry might choose to do that with the draft, but AJ Bouye could be a good fit as well. He has experience playing outside and in the slot, so defensive coordinator Joe Woods could use him in several different ways. He would likely come on a cheap one year deal as well.

The Best Free Agency Signings By The Cleveland Browns So Far

Rashard Higgins was a great keep

Ever since Legal Tampering started on March 15th, it has been a wild time in the NFL with players getting signed left and right. The Cleveland Browns have a ton of holes on defense, so it was expected for them to address those needs. GM Andrew Berry had an impressive first off-season in 2020, so everyone was waiting to see how he would follow it up. We are now five days into Free Agency and Berry has once again made some of the best signings in the entire NFL. Let’s take a look at his best signings so far.

John Johnson – Safety – 2020 team Los Angelas Rams – Grade A+

Arguably the best signing in all of Free Agency so far, John Johnson signed a 3 year deal worth $33.75 million with Cleveland, upgrading their defense substantially. Johnson was one of the best safeties in all of the football on the Rams number one ranked defense in 2020, finishing the season with an 85.6 grade per Pro Football Focus. One thing to note is that Johnson took less money to come to play for the Browns, calling it “an opportunity of a lifetime.” That speaks volumes to what Andrew Berry and the company are building in Cleveland.

Rashard Higgins – Wide Receiver – 2020 team Cleveland Browns – Grade A

A lot of Browns fans were convinced that Rashard “Hollywood” Higgins would end up signing with another team. The Browns have so much money tied up in wide receiver already between Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry, so it was going to be hard to give Higgins the money he deserves. What it came down to is that Rashard loves Cleveland, the fans, and Baker Mayfield. He wants to be there. Andrew Berry brought him back on a 1 year $2.38 million dollar deal and he is expected to have a bigger role in the offense this Fall after he balled out in 2020.

Troy Hill – Cornerback – 2020 Team Los Angelas Rams – Grade B+

Signing Troy Hill was a knock out of the park for Andrew Berry. The Browns lost Terrance Mitchell and Kevin Johnson to Free Agency, so there was a hole to fill. Not only does Hill fill that hole, but he’s a big improvement over his predecessors. Hill had three defensive touchdowns in 2020 and can play in the slot and outside. His versatility is a big reason why Cleveland wanted him.

Anthony Walker – Linebacker – 2020 team Indianapolis ColtsGrade B

Cleveland’s linebacking corps in 2020 had some positives, but there were also loads of issues. Andrew Berry addressed that by handing Anthony Walker a 1 year deal worth $3.5 million. Walker is a tackling machine and brings some veteran leadership to the defense overall. All-Pro linebacker and now former teammate Darius Leonard took to Twitter to express how upset he was that Walker is leaving Indy. He expressed how great he is the locker room and that the him leaving almost made him cry. Sounds like the Browns got a good one in Anthony Walker.

Takk McKinley – Defensive End – 2020 team Atlanta Falcons – Grade B-

The signing of Takk McKinley is the definition of a “low risk, potential high reward” signing. The former 1st round pick has tremendous talent, but has yet to break out as a star in the NFL. There have been plenty of flashes during his career and Andrew Berry is a huge fan of him. He tried to trade for Takk and claim him off waivers twice last year. There is a chance that Takk doesn’t produce at a high level and is gone after one year. But at 25 years old, if he does break out, the Browns could have a great edge rusher to compliment Myles Garrett.

7 Round Mock Draft For Cleveland Browns

Who Will The Browns Draft?

By: Michael Welsh

It is no secret that Cleveland will be going into the 2021 draft looking to address the numerous defensive issues. Lucky for them, there is a lot of talent on that side of the ball in this draft and they should be able to land a day one starter with the 26th pick. Who they choose will largely depend on how Free Agency goes. In addition to helping the defense, the Browns will also likely draft a wide receiver, and this draft is loaded with talent there as well. Let’s take a look at who they could take in the 2021 draft

Round 1 – Pick 26 – LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah – Notre Dame

Cleveland has some young talent at linebacker, but they could use an upgrade. They need to add athleticism and speed to contain Lamar Jackson in the AFC North, and that’s exactly what they would get with Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. His ability to read plays and his anticipation are impressive for how young he is. Overall, he was one of the best linebackers in all of college football and if he is available at pick 26, they can’t pass him up.

Round 2 – Pick 58 – WR Terrance Marshall Jr – LSU

The Browns could go numerous directions with this pick. But there’s a decent chance Terrance Marshall Jr will be available, and if he’s sitting there at 58, things could get interesting. Marshall Jr is 6’3″ and Baker Mayfield has played well with taller receivers in his pro career. One could say the offense is lacking height at receiver with OBJ and Jarvis Landry both being under 6′. Marshall Jr is explosive and is an amazing athlete, but only downside is that he isn’t the fastest guy out there. The Browns are looking to add more speed on offense, but his size and ability could outweigh that. Imagine OBJ and Marshall Jr on the outside and Jarvis Landry in the slot. That’s a lot for defenses to deal with.

Round 3 – Pick 89 – S Jamien Sherwood – Auburn

Contrary to popular belief, the Browns are pretty set at safety. They have Ronnie Harrison, who played great for them in 2020, and Grant Delpit who is coming back in 2021 from a torn achilles. That being said, adding another safety for depth definitely isn’t a bad idea. Jamien Sherwood at pick 89 would be an excellent addition. He isn’t the best in coverage, but his tackling skills are very good and Joe Woods could scheme him in a three safety look where he acts almost as a linebacker.

Round 3 – Pick 91 – EDGE Rashad Weaver – Pittsburgh

The Browns will likely be aggressive in free agency to sign an edge rusher to wreak havoc opposite of superstar Myles Garrett, but they’ll also likely draft one to develop over the next few years. There is a good chance that Rashad Weaver will be on the board at 91 and it wouldn’t be surprising if Andrew Berry pulls the trigger on him. He was given First Team All ACC recognition and All-American Honors in 2020 as he finished the season with 14 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks. He has great tendencies and a high motor.

Round 4 – Pick 110 – CB Ambry Thomas – Michigan

The Browns will likely part ways with Kevin Johnson and Terrance Mitchell this off-season, so that means cornerback depth will be much needed. Ambry Thomas is an interesting prospect at pick 110. Scouts believe he has limits at the NFL level, but he could play a key role on Special Teams and eventually develop into a solid role player who provides depth. He has great speed and good coverage skills, so it would be interesting to see how that translates to the NFL.

Round 4 – Pick 132 -DT Bobby Brown III – Texas A&M

This draft for Cleveland has a theme: Depth, depth, depth. Bobby Brown III is a very interesting player at pick 132. This is a guy who could be a great player down the road. He is an absolute unit on the interior defensive line, providing fantastic run defense. He’s a player that the Browns could draft and develop over the next two seasons and use him for depth in his rookie year. His biggest downside is that he isn’t much of a pass rusher. The good thing is, Myles Garrett has that taken care of. Brown III is a guy to keep an eye on.

Round 5 – Pick 170 – CB Robert Rochell – Central Arkansas

Look for the Browns to go after multiple secondary players in this draft. With the 170th pick, there will be some adequate cornerbacks available to continue adding depth on the defense. Robert Rochell is an elite athlete in every category and that could help him develop into a starting NFL cornerback. He needs work with his press coverage and mechanics, though.

Round 6 – Pick 212 – RB Larry Rountree III – Missouri

With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, the Browns are very much set at the running back position. However, adding one in the draft for the practice squad is never a bad idea. Larry Rountree III has good explosiveness, footwork, and vision for a young player. His biggest downside is the lack of speed.

Round 7 – Pick 255 – LB Amari Gainer – Florida State

Amari Gainer is another great athlete that played all over Florida State’s defense. His coverage skills, especially on tight ends, are his biggest strengths. At the pro level, it will take awhile to develop him and see if he can be a serviceable starter or not. Taking him with pick 255 is a low risk, but potential high reward in the future.

Linebacker Free Agent Targets For the Browns

Who Will The Browns Add at LB?

Every off-season is an opportunity for teams to get better. Some of them achieve this, and some don’t. The Cleveland Browns are primed for a deep playoff run, but before that can happen they must upgrade their defense. The secondary and defensive lines are the main focus, but adding a playmaker at linebacker would be beneficial as well. Cleveland has young linebackers with potential, such as Jacob Phillips, Mack Wilson, and Sione Takitaki, but bringing in a veteran to help them develop isn’t a bad idea. Let’s take a look at free agent linebackers the Browns should pursue this off-season.

LaVonte David – 2020 team – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

If GM Andrew Berry should pursue anyone aggressively during Free Agency, it needs to be Lavonte David. He has already been linked to the Browns and signing him would instantly upgrade the defense exponentially. Although a little older (31), he is still playing at a high level as he graded out at 81.5 in 2020 per Pro Football Focus. David had 94 solo tackles and 2 sacks, helping Tampa Bay win a Super Bowl.

Matt Milano – 2020 team – Buffalo Bills

If the Browns want to go a younger route, Matt Milano could be a good option. He only played 10 games in 2020 and finished with 35 tackles and 3.5 sacks, but there have been plenty of flashes during his tenure with the Bills. He would likely come at a relatively cheap price as well, so Andrew Berry might pull the trigger on him early in Free Agency. Cleveland reporter Mary Kay Cabot has already reported that the Browns are interested in Milano, so he’s one to keep a close eye on.

Kyle Van Noy – 2020 team – Miami Dolphins

It was kind of surprising to see the Dolphins release Kyle Van Noy a few days ago, but now that he is on the market, the Browns should definitely take a lot. He is someone they should have signed last year, so now might be the time. He is a little older at 30, but still has plenty of talent and good years left. He could also provide some leadership to the younger Browns linebackers. Van Noy finished 2020 with 49 solo tackles and 5 sacks, grading out at 61.6 on Pro Football Focus.

Avery Williamson – 2020 team – Pittsburgh Steelers

If Andrew Berry is looking to spend very little on the linebacker position, then Avery Williamson might be the best choice. He’s not gonna make highlight reel plays or be a dynamic playmaker, but he could be solid depth for the linebacker room. He finished with 90 solo tackles in 2020 and graded out at 51.7 per Pro Football Focus.

There is a chance that Andrew Berry doesn’t sign any free agent linebackers and instead looks at the draft or bringing back BJ Goodson and Malcom Smith. Most would agree that Cleveland could use an upgrade at linebacker, though, so there is no doubt that the front office will look at the options available. Getting LeVonte David would be the best case scenario, but it will all come down to how much money they want to spend.

Top Kickers to Target for the Browns

Who Will The Browns Start at Kicker in 2021?

There was a time when the last thing the Browns needed to look for was a kicker. Phil Dawson was arguably one of the best players in Cleveland since their return in 1999. Ever since he left in 2012, the Browns have had a tough time finding a permanent replacement.

In 2020, former 5th round pick Austin Seibert was Cleveland’s starting kicker. Unfortunately, he was cut after missing an extra point and 41 yard field goal in week one’s blowout loss against the Baltimore Ravens. The Browns signed Cody Parkey after that, who was previously on the team in 2016.

Parkey had a serviceable 2020 season, making 86.4% of field goals and 91.5% of extra points. The thing about him is ever since the double doink playoff game in Chicago a few years ago, he can easily get in his own head and miss kicks. The Browns could choose to bring him back in 2021, but looking at other options isn’t a bad idea for GM Andrew Berry to do. Let’s take a look at some potential free agent kickers the Browns can target in free agency.

Younghoe Koo – 2020 team – Atlanta Falcons

There weren’t many kickers in 2020 that were better than Younghoe Koo. He made 94.9% of his field goals and 91.7% of his extra points. In addition to that, his long was 54 and that is an upgrade over Cody Parkey’s 46 long. There is a good chance the Falcons will bring Koo back, but if he doesn’t, Andrew Berry should definitely go after him. The only tricky thing would be him going from kicking in a dome to kicking on the shores of Lake Eerie in Cleveland. Other than that, he is young and full of talent. Not to mention his onside kicking abilities are fantastic.

Daniel Carlson – 2020 team – Las Vegas Raiders

This is another kicker that will likely return to his 2020 team this off-season, but if he ends up testing free agency, Daniel Carlson would be a great option for the Browns. At 26, he is one of the best young kickers in the NFL. In 2020 his field goal completion percentage was 94.3% and his extra point completion percentage was 95.7. He was also tied with Yunghoe Koo with 144 points, which was 1st in the NFL.

Ryan Succop – 2020 team – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Who better to bring to Cleveland that a guy fresh off a Super Bowl victory? Ryan Succop was really good in 2020, hitting 90.3% of his field goals. In addition to that, he hit 100% of his kicks in the playoffs and has never missed a playoff kick in his career. He is very clutch and would make the kicking situation in Cleveland something not to be worried about in 2021.

Randy Bullock – 2020 team – Cincinnati Bengals

If the Browns move off of Parkey, going after Randy Bullock might be their most realistic option because his chances of hitting the market are much higher than the previous entries above. The problem with Bullock is that he isn’t really an upgrade over Cody Parkey. He hit 80.8% of his field goals in 2020, but his extra point efficiency was much higher at 96%. A change of scenery could be good for him and at this point in his career, he is a consistent veteran.

It will be interesting to see what Andrew Berry decides to do in the kicking department. His decision will ultimately come down to which of these kickers hit the market. There is a solid chance Cody Parkey will be in the brown and orange in 2021, but it isn’t guaranteed by any means. If you’re a Browns fan, just hope that any of these options become free agents, because an upgrade would be preferred. It would be nice to find the Phil Dawson for a Browns team that are legit contenders.

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