While the Browns will use a 4-3 defense as their base defense, the fact that the NFL is a passing league means that defenses now spend a large amount of time in a nickel defense. Teams that have two talented linebackers have an edge, meaning the Browns should be in good shape.
Outside Linebacker: Jamie Collins; Demario Davis
Jamie Collins is the obvious one. The Browns gave him a four-year, $50 million contract in the offseason and he is arguably the team’s best overall player on defense. Collins is a great player and Browns fans everywhere are smiling. In a 4-3 scheme, Collins will likely play the SAM, or strong side, linebacker spot.
In the case of the WILL, or weak side, linebacker, look for veteran Demario Davis to earn the nod. Davis, who can play all three linebacker positions, is a good asset to have on the roster. His biggest competition for the starter job will probably come from Joe Schobert, but Davis is more ready to start at the spot.
Middle Linebacker: Christian Kirksey
Christian Kirksey is coming off a great season with 148 tackles, which was the third most in the league. Kirksey has the potential to be among the elite middle linebackers in the league, and even with the defensive scheme change to a 4-3, his role won’t be all too different from before.