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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / State Of The League: Cleveland Browns

State Of The League: Cleveland Browns

A First Look at the 2021 Cleveland Browns!
Publish Date: 08/01/2021
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
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

Position Starter Backup
QB Baker Mayfield Case Keenum
RB1 Nick Chubb D’Ernest Johnson
RB2 Kareem Hunt Demetric Felton
FB Andy Janovich
WR1 Odell Beckham Jr. Anthony Schwartz
WR2 Jarvis Landry Donovan Peoples-Jones
WR3 Rashard Higgins KhaDarel Hodge
TE1 Austin Hooper Connor Davis
TE2 Harrison Bryant David Njoku
LT Jedrick Wills James Hudson
LG Joel Bitonio Drew Forbes
C J.C. Tretter Nick Harris
RG Wyatt Teller Blake Hance
RT Jack Conklin Chris Hubbard
DE Myles Garrett Porter Gustin
DT Malik Jackson Jordan Elliott
DT Andrew Billings Tommy Togiai
DE Jadeveon Clowney Takk McKinley
OLB Sione Takitaki Malcolm Smith
MLB Anthony Walker Mack Wilson
OLB Jacob Phillips Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
CB1 Denzel Ward M.J. Stewart
CB2 Greg Newsome II Greedy Williams
CB3 Troy Hill A.J. Green
FS Grant Delpit Richard LeCounte
SS John Johnson Ronnie Harrison
K Cody Parkey
P Jamie Gillan
LS Charley Hughlett
KR D’Ernest Johnson Donovan Peoples-Jones
PR Donovan Peoples-Jones D’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
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team Info / Notes
Olivier Vernon OLB 31 CLE
Adrian Clayborn DE 33 CLE Released
B.J. Goodson ILB 28 CLE
Andrew Sendejo SS 34 CLE
Malcolm Pridgeon G 26 CLE
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team Acquired via
John Johnson SS 26 LAR CLE Free Agency
Anthony Walker Jr. ILB 26 IND CLE Free Agency
Troy Hill CB 30 LAR CLE Free Agency
Jadeveon Clowney DE 28 TEN CLE Free Agency
Malik Jackson DT 31 PHI CLE Free Agency
Takkarist McKinley DE 26 LV CLE Free Agency
Greg Senat T 27 DAL CLE Free Agency
Damion Square DT 32 LAC CLE Free Agency
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team Departed via
Kevin Johnson CB 29 CLE TEN Free Agency
Kendall Lamm RT 29 CLE TEN Free Agency
Larry Ogunjobi DT 27 CLE CIN Free Agency
Terrance Mitchell CB 29 CLE HOU Free Agency
Vincent Taylor DT 27 CLE HOU Free Agency
Tae Davis LB 25 CLE HOU Free Agency
Tavierre Thomas CB 25 CLE HOU Free Agency
Karl Joseph SS 28 CLE LV Free Agency
Marvin Hall WR 28 CLE NE Free Agency
Taywan Taylor WR 26 CLE HOU Free Agency
George Obinna DE 25 CLE ATL Free Agency
Tedric Thompson S 26 CLE DEN Free Agency
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team Info / Notes
Cody Parkey K 29 CLE CLE
Rashard Higgins WR 27 CLE CLE
Elijah Lee OLB 25 CLE CLE
Jojo Natson WR 27 CLE CLE
Khadarel Hodge WR 26 CLE CLE
Stephen Carlson TE 25 CLE CLE
Porter Gustin OLB 24 CLE CLE
Malcolm Smith OLB 32 CLE CLE
Michael Dunn T 27 CLE CLE
Colby Gossett G 26 CLE CLE


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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