Cleveland Browns: 5 questions on Joe Schobert with Badger of Honor
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns need playmakers on defense and may have found a versatile one in Wisconsin linebacker Joe Schobert.
It is no secret that the Cleveland Browns have been on the lookout for a franchise quarterback for more than two decades now.
While it is easy to focus on just the offense, the team has also been lacking for playmakers along the defense as, with a few exceptions, there hasn’t been a player that opposing offenses have had to worry about on a consistent basis.
The new Browns regime was obviously aware of the situation heading into the 2016 NFL Draft, and they looked to address the problem with the selection of a quartet of highly productive players in Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib, Scooby Wright and Wisconsin linebacker Joe Schobert.
Schobert was a Second Team All-American and the Big Ten Linebacker of the Year in 2015 after finishing among the nation’s leaders in sacks (9.5) and tackles for loss (19.5).
The Browns are looking to tap into Schobert’s versatility this fall.
“He’s been able to be an incredibly productive college football player,” vice president of player personnel Andrew Berry told the team’s website. “Certainly it will be up to (defensive coordinator Ray Horton) and his staff where they want to play him but we see him as a guy who can play outside and inside, he can rush the passer, he can drop, he can cover, he is a great tackler, he obviously plays with non-stop energy and also probably has the best nickname in college football: Joe the Show.”
To learn a bit more about Schobert, we turned to Jon Rzepecki from Badger of Honor for a virtual Q&A on the Browns’ newest linebacker.
Q: What kind of player are the Browns getting in Schobert?
Jon: The Browns drafted a version of Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers. Lofty goals, I know, but Schubert’s tape speaks volumes. He’s an every-down linebacker who can read the offense well. When Wisconsin needed momentum swings, they’d go to Vince Biegel, a more zany and spark plug linebacker, but when the Badgers needed to extinguish their opponent’s rally, it was all Schobert.
Q: What is the one aspect of his game that sets Schobert apart from other linebackers?
Jon: He’s a big guy that plays smaller. At 6-foot-1 and 247 pounds, Schobert is deceptively good at making himself skinny and getting into the backfield. He has a power element to him, but it’s all about timing. Strategy over steel. Patience over panic. Highlights from the Holiday Bowl lend to this style. Schobert acts as a consistent disruption more than an outright force of nature for a couple of drives.
Q: The Browns are planning to move Schobert to inside linebacker; do you believe that is a fit for his skills?
Jon: He’ll be a ILBINO – inside linebacker in name only. I highly doubt head coach Hue Jackson would want to designate Schobert so early on in his career. My guess is Schobert will be as useful in the middle as he was on the outside, but he’ll also line up outside or even in the nickel defense 25 percent of the time.
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Q: Schobert sounds too good to be true. Is there anything he can’t do?
Jon: Playing in the AFC North, he’s not going to sack Ben Roethlisberger, and probably not Joe Flacco or Andy Dalton, a lot if those teams play shotgun. Browns fans may get frustrated if Schobert doesn’t eclipse six sacks this season or if teams throw for 300-yards-per game. But instead of worrying about those stats, pay attention to his tackles for loss. I said Schobert’s play is all about disruption, and he will absolutely muck up the run game, the screen game and the draw game for opposing offenses.
If he doesn’t sack Big Ben, he’ll take him down for a two-yard loss. Cincinnati’s Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill better get themselves right, too, because although Schobert isn’t fantastic at first contact, he’s patient enough to not let anything get past him on the ground.
Q: What’s the one thing about Schobert that Browns fans are going to love?
Jon: His consistency, dependability and intelligence.
If he’s starting the season he will lead the team in tackles, tackles for loss and be top four in sacks. He may not win the Browns many games by himself, but he sure won’t lose the Browns any games by making a mistake.