The secondary was the weakest spot on the defense in 2016, as cornerback Joe Haden played through a groin injury, age caught up with cornerback Tramon Williams, and the safeties were less than effective.
A healthy Haden and the addition of Jabrill Peppers, should go a long way toward bringing this position group back to respectability.
Cornerback: Joe Haden; Jamar Taylor
Joe Haden can be the team’s best secondary player – if he is healthy. After seeing most of his 2015 season wiped out by injury, Haden started to return to form last season with three interceptions.
The Browns acquired Jamar Taylor in a trade during the 2016 NFL Draft for a late-round pick, and Taylor played like a scorned ex-girlfriend, getting two interceptions and breaking up eight passes.
Taylor and Haden could form one of the better cornerback duos in the league if everything breaks right. Adding Howard Wilson in the draft gives the Browns more depth, especially at the slot position where Wilson will compete for playing time with Briean Boddy-Calhoun.
The Browns should be expecting a lot from Taylor and Haden leading the secondary this year.
Related: Browns select Jabrill Peppers
Safety: Ed Reynolds; Jabrill Peppers
Some believe Jabrill Pepper was a reach in the first round, but there’s no doubting his skills and elite athleticism. While he could potentially play outside linebacker, the Browns appear content to put him at safety. He needs to improve his coverage skills if he wants to make it as a starting NFL safety, but Peppers certainly has the skills to do it. If there is anything to look forward to with Peppers, it is his ability as a punt returner, which is one reason some had him as first-round pick.
If Ed Reynolds wants to stay the starter and succeed as a free safety, he’ll need to play better. He played well with Philadelphia, but when he arrived in Cleveland his coverage skills deteriorated. If he can get back to it then he can succeed. If not, Tyvis Powell is patiently waiting behind him.