Sheldon Brown – DB, Usama Young – FS, T.J. Ward – SS, Joe Haden – DB.
Probably the biggest worry currently in our defense is the left side of our Secondary. Brown is old, and showed signs of his aging last year. He didn’t get beat as much as Eric Wright did, but he didn’t make a case for himself to be the future starter of the Browns. Usama Young was a backup for the Saints. Not much is known about him, a big wild card. It’s a question if he will even start over Elam.
The biggest issue however, is a complete lack of depth. With Eric Wright going to Detroit, we’re pretty much stuck with Haden and Brown as the DBs. Either Buster Skrine needs to show up during TC, or the Browns need to grab a DB. Nothing splashy, but get a young, smart player to at least compete.
The secondary has the possibility of being pretty damn good. Haden and Ward are coming into their second seasons, and both played like permanent starters last year. Haden was all over the field, and Ward was hitting people like a certain long haired missile from the Steelers. Brown should hopefully be able to hold his own on the opposite side. The move of Ward from FS to SS will bolster not only our run defense, but our deep protection. Ward is sub-par in coverage, yet was the deep-coverage guy in far to many situations. Getting a true coverage guy like Young will help immensely. Whether or not he’s the future for the Browns at that position is to be seen, but he’ll certainly make an impact.
Chris Gocong/Kaluka Maiava – OLB, D’Qwell Jackson – MLB, Scott Fujita – OLB.
This group excites me. These are the old guys, the leaders of the defense. D’Qwell can really make a name for himself this year at MLB. Dude can tackle. Fujita is our captain, and though he is moving from inside to outside, he’ll still be that leader that the young defense desperatley needs. He’s got a ring, and with a defense whose average age is under 25, that’s a godsend.
The biggest question is who is going to start opposite Fujita. Gocong is a solid guy, but he’s an inside guy. Maiava is more suited for the position, but Gocong has more experience. One of the battles to watch during T.C.
Jaball Sheard – DE, Ahtyba Rubin – DT (Nose), Phil Taylor – DT, Jayme Mitchell – DE
Could we actually have a pass rush this year? Could we actually stop the run? A lot of it depends on these guys. They are all young and inexperienced, but the upside is huge. This line is exactly what you want a 4-3 line to look like. Great pass rushing ends, great run stopping DTs. Mitchell and Sheard both have the potential to be great pass rushers, and oh my god our DTs our huge. How Heckert pulled together this line from out of thin air is beyond me.
Most likely we will still have a sub-par pass rush. I’m not expecting much out of a rookie and an oft-injured talent. The biggest thing that will improve is our run-defense. Two huge motherfuckers in the middle, and one of the best tackling LBs in the league is no joke.
Heckert has put together a great young package for Dick Jauron to work with. All I’m worried about is injuries. Players like Mitchell and Jackson have such a high upside, but can’t stay healthy. That seems to be the running theme with the team so far. Hardesty and our O-line fit in with this as well.
Injuries are a part of the NFL, and the truly elite teams have backups that can step in and perform just as well. We aren’t even close to being able to do that in terms of depth. The drop off of talent from starters to second stringers is pretty huge. If we stay healthy, the Browns defense could improve my leaps and bounds this year.