Cleveland Browns: What Mychal Kendricks could bring to Browns
By Dan Justik
After being released by the Philadelphia Eagles, linebacker Mychal Kendricks will be visiting the Cleveland Browns this week.
Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey has made a lot of moves to upgrade Cleveland’s defense this offseason. However, the one position that has not received a lot of attention is linebacker. That might change soon.
Yahoo! Sports insider Jordan Schultz reported Tuesday that former Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks will be visiting the Browns this week.
It appears that the Browns are set with their three starting linebackers Joe Schobert, Jamie Collins, and Christian Kirksey. But Cleveland’s depth behind their starters is very poor, as was evident last year when Collins went down with injury.
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The Browns drafted Genard Avery to be a backup and kept James Burgess on the roster, but Dorsey may want to add another veteran to make sure there is not a huge drop-off at the position.
Kendricks was rated as Pro Football Focus’ ninth best linebacker in 2017. He played in 15 games last season for the Eagles, starting 13 of those games. He made 73 tackles, including four tackles for loss and two sacks.
Kendricks requested a trade from the Eagles before the 2017 season because of a lack of playing time. In 2016, Kendricks played only 26.79 percent of the Eagles defensive snaps. He was likely going to have similar playing time last season, but injuries pushed him to the starting lineup. For that reason, he played in 59.61 percent of the Eagles defensive snaps last season.
It is expected that Kendricks will want to be a three-down linebacker wherever he signs. But if he were to sign with the Browns, it is hard to see him being that type of linebacker unless he wins a starting job.
Kendricks is very good when playing the run. In 2017, he had a run stop percentage of 8.7, which was highest of the Eagles linebackers last season according to Pro Football Focus. He was decent in coverage, as he had six passes defended last season. However, he struggles to stick with faster receivers, which is why he rarely played in Philadelphia’s sub packages.
Even with his struggles to stick with faster receivers, he may be seen by the Browns organization as an upgrade in pass coverage compared to the Browns linebackers. Last season, opposing offenses would feature their tight ends as Cleveland’s linebackers would tend to give up easy completions.
Although there are flaws in Kendricks’ game, he is a talented linebacker. Dorsey has stated that he was not the biggest fan of the players he inherited from the previous Browns regime. If he does not feel comfortable with one of the Browns current linebackers, he could look at Kendricks as a replacement.
Next: Evaluating the Browns safeties
But even if the Browns were to sign Kendricks as depth, adding a player like him will do nothing but boost Cleveland’s defense.