The Cleveland Browns need a quarterback, but the rest of the roster is important as well. Who are the 10 most important players outside of the QB position?
Anyone who has even a passing interest in the NFL realizes that the quarterback position is the most important one on the field.
How else to explain the lengths that teams go to find a quarterback? From making one-sided trades to select a quarterback high in the draft, to overpaying for another team’s backup in the hopes of finding someone special, teams will do what it takes, because if you don’t have a top-level quarterback you are simply not winning.
There are other players on the team beside a quarterback, of course, so if you take the quarterback out of the equation, who are the other players who will make an impact on the field?
That’s the question that SI.com tries to an answer in a series looking at the 10 most important non-quarterbacks on each team. A panel of writers ranked players, points were assigned based on voting, and the lists were created.
For the Cleveland Browns, the writers determined that linebacker Jamie Collins is the one who holds the key this fall, edging out future Hall of Fame tackle Joe Thomas by five points:
"1. LB Jamie Collins (41 points)2. LT Joe Thomas (36)3. DE Myles Garrett (32)4. WR Corey Coleman (28)5. CB Joe Haden (23)6. DE Emmanuel Ogbah (20)T-7. WR Kenny Britt (15)T-7. DT Danny Shelton (15)9. OL Cam Erving (14)10. RB Isaiah Crowell (10)"
It is interesting, and a mild surprise, that Collins came in first over Thomas, although that could be a combination of age (Collins is five years younger than Thomas) and the fact that Thomas has become somewhat under-appreciated in recent years.
The rest of the list is pretty accurate, with a few exceptions.
As the No. 1 overall selection in the draft, Garrett should be listed high. Yes, he is a rookie, but the Browns are going to need him to give a consistent effort every week, which will help set the foundation for the defense and help Ogbah and Shelton – the team’s other high draft picks along the defensive line – make an impact.
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Haden’s best days may be behind him due to injuries, but that doesn’t make his role any less important as the senior member of a secondary that struggled last season. Even if he doesn’t return to his Pro Bowl form, having Haden on the field for 16 games will be a boost to a rebuilt secondary.
The only questionable choice is Erving, who is moving to right tackle after failing at the center position. The level of his importance to the team’s success is debatable as in all likelihood he is not going to beat out second-year tackle Shon Coleman for the starting job.
Erving should definitely be dropped from the list, but who to replace him with depends on what position you value.
If we want to stick with the offensive line, then guard Joel Bitonio would be a good choice. Bitonio has Pro Bowl talent but has suffered a season-ending injury in each of the past two years. If he can make it through the entire season this fall, then the offensive line has the potential to be one of the league’s best.
If defense is more to your liking, then first-round draft pick Jabrill Peppers should be on the list. The safety position was a mess in 2016 and Peppers’ ability to lock down one of the safety positions is an important component to the defense.
All things considered, the list is a pretty solid one.
Now if the Browns could just do something about that quarterback position.