With reports out of the Cleveland Browns training camp suggesting that Jamie Collins is rounding into form, it almost feels unfair at linebacker for Cleveland
Should you pull up the statistical leaders in the NFL during the 2017 Season on ESPN, you will see a couple Cleveland Browns linebackers names. Joe Schobert was tied for first place with 144 tackles and Christian Kirksey was just behind him, tied for No. 4, with 138 tackles.
That in itself gives them hope for their linebacker depth moving forward. Then you throw into the mix one of their offseason moves and things look even better. The Browns ended up signing Mychal Kendricks, who was released by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Kendricks has always been a strong starter, even if the Eagles have seemed ready to move on for a couple seasons. In 2017, NFL.com credited him with 77 tackles, two sacks, and six pass defenses. Coming to Cleveland along with Schobert and Kirksy gives them a great group of linebackers, but they ‘re not the only three who can play at a high level.
A man who has been slightly forgotten after missing most of this past season is Jamie Collins. The former New England Patriots linebacker was traded midway through the 2016 season and was every bit the playmaker the Browns wanted.
His stellar play in eight games had hopes high in 2017, but Collins was only able to suit up for six games due to a torn MCL. Now healthy, he seems to be returning to form according to Patrick Maks of the team’s official webpage.
"“The veteran linebacker was all over the field, headlining a strong showing in which Cleveland’s defense offered glimpses of what it might become. ” — Maks, via Cleveland.com"
This also comes after hearing throughout the first week of camp that fifth-round pick Genard Avery has also been devastating the offense thus far. What it all really means is that the Browns are so deep at linebacker that it almost feels unfair. It also gives defensive coordinator Gregg Williams some incredible options.
Much has been made about Kendricks and his ability to play all three linebacker spots, but Collins — and even the rookie Avery — offer the ability to rush the passer. Don’t be surprised if Williams often rotates his linebackers and finds a way to get four at a time on the field often.
Anticipation for the 2018 season is at an all-time high, and the defense has a chance to be great if their linebackers have anything to say about it.