Would Derek Barnett be a worthwhile addition to the Cleveland Browns’ defensive line? There are pros and cons to weigh as the draft approaches.
No matter how different the Cleveland Browns’ approach is to winning football games, the argument will still always be made that defense wins championships. And with that in mind, looking at the current defense, the only parades coming to Cleveland anytime soon will be for the Indians or Cavaliers.
It was no secret at all throughout 2016 that the Browns were desperately trying to stay competitive defensively despite clearly lacking the talent it takes to do so at the NFL level. The 6,279 yards they surrendered in 16 games, second-most in football only to San Francisco, says it all.
The solution, of course, has many steps, but none more important than building through the draft. Myles Garrett is an option at No. 1 overall, and Cleveland will be looking at numerous other linebackers and safeties.
But before the team aimlessly analyzes college players for their abilities and what they could bring to the Browns, they must first determine which positions they most desperately need to fill. While the secondary is the most glaring error, what many won’t realize is that the responsibility for the disgusting amount of passing yards given up last season also falls on the shoulders of the pass rush.
One important point to make about Cleveland’s pass rush is that it lacks elusiveness on the interior. The lack of mobility from the Browns’ offensive line forces the linebackers to go after the passer, which takes longer and is less effective. Therefore, in their quest to increase their pass rush in order to assist the secondary, the Browns ought to value speed and raw power in every defensive lineman they consider.
Derek Barnett has both speed and raw power, so much so that he broke the University of Tennessee’s all time sack record in their bowl game this past December. Whether or not he has the size to become an elite pro is still in doubt, but his talent makes him worth looking at, especially for the Browns.