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State Of The League: Cleveland Browns

A First Look at the 2021 Cleveland Browns!
BEREA, OH - AUGUST 19: David Njoku #85 of the Cleveland Browns drops a pass during a joint practice with the New York Giants on August 19, 2021 in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

The NFL Draft and free agency is in our rearview mirrors. We are going over all 32 teams’ offseason, division by division: their player personnel moves, coaching changes, and projected preseason depth charts. Let’s close out the AFC North with the Cleveland Browns!

AFC North team links: Baltimore RavensPittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns Training Camp Projected Depth Chart

QBBaker MayfieldCase Keenum
RB1Nick ChubbD’Ernest Johnson
RB2Kareem HuntDemetric Felton
FBAndy Janovich
WR1Odell Beckham Jr.Anthony Schwartz
WR2Jarvis LandryDonovan Peoples-Jones
WR3Rashard HigginsKhaDarel Hodge
TE1Austin HooperConnor Davis
TE2Harrison BryantDavid Njoku
LTJedrick WillsJames Hudson
LGJoel BitonioDrew Forbes
CJ.C. TretterNick Harris
RGWyatt TellerBlake Hance
RTJack ConklinChris Hubbard
DEMyles GarrettPorter Gustin
DTMalik JacksonJordan Elliott
DTAndrew BillingsTommy Togiai
DEJadeveon ClowneyTakk McKinley
OLBSione TakitakiMalcolm Smith
MLBAnthony WalkerMack Wilson
OLBJacob PhillipsJeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
CB1Denzel WardM.J. Stewart
CB2Greg Newsome IIGreedy Williams
CB3Troy HillA.J. Green
FSGrant DelpitRichard LeCounte
SSJohn JohnsonRonnie Harrison
KCody Parkey
PJamie Gillan
LSCharley Hughlett
KRD’Ernest JohnsonDonovan Peoples-Jones
PRDonovan Peoples-JonesD’Ernest Johnson

*BOLD player name = Rookie*


Cleveland Browns 2021 NFL Draft Class

Round 1 (26th overall): CB Greg Newsome II, Northwestern

Round 2 (52nd): LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame

Round 3 (91st): WR Anthony Schwartz, Auburn

Round 4 (110th): OT James Hudson, Cincinnati

Round 4 (132nd): DL Tommy Togiai, Ohio State

Round 5 (153rd): LB Tony Fields II, West Virginia

Round 5 (169th): S Richard LeCounte, Georgia

Round 6 (211th): RB/WR Demetric Felton, UCLA


Cleveland Browns Offseason Player Personnel Moves

Expired Contracts
PlayerPositionAge2020 Team2021 TeamInfo / Notes
Olivier VernonOLB31CLE
Adrian ClaybornDE33CLEReleased
B.J. GoodsonILB28CLE
Andrew SendejoSS34CLE
Malcolm PridgeonG26CLE
PlayerPositionAge2020 Team2021 TeamAcquired via
John JohnsonSS26LARCLEFree Agency
Anthony Walker Jr.ILB26INDCLEFree Agency
Troy HillCB30LARCLEFree Agency
Jadeveon ClowneyDE28TENCLEFree Agency
Malik JacksonDT31PHICLEFree Agency
Takkarist McKinleyDE26LVCLEFree Agency
Greg SenatT27DALCLEFree Agency
Damion SquareDT32LACCLEFree Agency
PlayerPositionAge2020 Team2021 TeamDeparted via
Kevin JohnsonCB29CLETENFree Agency
Kendall LammRT29CLETENFree Agency
Larry OgunjobiDT27CLECINFree Agency
Terrance MitchellCB29CLEHOUFree Agency
Vincent TaylorDT27CLEHOUFree Agency
Tae DavisLB25CLEHOUFree Agency
Tavierre ThomasCB25CLEHOUFree Agency
Karl JosephSS28CLELVFree Agency
Marvin HallWR28CLENEFree Agency
Taywan TaylorWR26CLEHOUFree Agency
George ObinnaDE25CLEATLFree Agency
Tedric ThompsonS26CLEDENFree Agency
PlayerPositionAge2020 Team2021 TeamInfo / Notes
Cody ParkeyK29CLECLE
Rashard HigginsWR27CLECLE
Jojo NatsonWR27CLECLE
Khadarel HodgeWR26CLECLE
Stephen CarlsonTE25CLECLE
Porter GustinOLB24CLECLE
Malcolm SmithOLB32CLECLE
Michael DunnT27CLECLE
Colby GossettG26CLECLE


Cleveland Browns Offseason Review

The Cleveland Browns are coming off their first playoff appearance since 2002 (where they got eliminated in the Wild Card round by Pittsburgh), and their first playoff win since 1994 (when Bill Belichick was head coach, and they beat the Patriots in the Wild Card, before getting eliminated by Pittsburgh…). Cleveland got over that hump this year when they finally beat Pittsburgh in a shootout in the Wild Card game at Heinz Field, 48-37, before losing to Kansas City at Arrowhead in the Divisional round. First year head coach Kevin Stefanski won Coach of the Year by helping Baker Mayfield cut down on turnovers and be more consistent en route to an 11-5 season. What will the Browns do for a follow-up this season in a division with two other playoff teams and an up and coming Bengals squad?

Cleveland spent last offseason building up it’s offense around Mayfield, signing Jack Conklin and Austin Hooper, and drafting Jed Willis, Harrison Bryant, and Donovan Peoples-Jones. Conklin, Willis, and Hooper were key starters for the Browns last season, and helped this offense reach new heights, even after the loss of OBJ to a torn ACL in week 8. The team did retain receiver Rashard Higgins; they also drafted Anthony Schwartz, James Hudson, and Demetric Felton to help add depth to the offense. Hudson should be in the mix for the swing tackle position; Schwartz will be competing for the WR3 spot with Higgins and maybe help on special teams; Felton played both runnningback and receiver in UCLA, and he could help as a 3rd down receiving back out or a slot receiver. This offseason, however, was all about building up a defense that struggled versus the pass and stopping opponents from scoring once in the red zone.

The defensive side of the ball saw a ton of changes this offseason, including the losses of several starters – Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson, Larry Ogunjobi, B.J. Goodson, Andrew Sendejo, and Terrance Mitchell. The Browns went on to sign several veteran free agents on defense, and drafted five players in the NFL Draft to add depth and competition at key spots. The team signed defensive linemen Jadeveon Clowney and Malik Jackson, linebacker Anthony Walker, and defensive backs John Johnson III and Troy Hill – all likely set to start. They then added cornerback Greg Newsome II, linebackers Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Tony Fields II, defensive tackle Tommy Togiai, and safety Richard LeCounte in the Draft. Newsome is the only rookie likely to be starting week 1, but the team is hoping the other draftees will fill key backup roles early as they get acclimated to the pros. Cleveland will also be getting back three defenders that missed all of 2020: defensive tackle Andrew Billings (COVID opt-out), cornerback Greedy Williams (nerve damage in the shoulder), and safety Grant Delpit (ruptured Achilles). Newsome allowed only 12 receptions in a shortened 2020 and is the man-to-man cover corner teams covet. Owusu-Koramoah played a hybrid role for Notre Dame, but projects as a linebacker in the NFL, and was one of the best coverage linebackers in college football last season. JOK could be a starter sooner than later, and some viewed him as a first-round prospect. 

The defense underwent quite a turnover this offseason, with possibly up to eight new starters. Baker and the offense should only get better in year two under Stefanski, and having a healthy OBJ for 17 games would only help. With an elite offensive line, a physical ground attack, a reloaded defense, and a growing Baker Mayfield, the Browns will look to advance to the AFC Championship for the first time since 1989. Can they win their division for the first time in over 30 years? The Browns have enough talent to challenge for an AFC North crown (and more), but Baltimore and Pittsburgh might have something to say about that…

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