Cleveland Browns: Defensive line versatility will help lack of DT depth

(Photo by Jason Miller /Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller /Getty Images) /

With injuries hampering the defensive tackle position and its lack of depth, but the versatility of other defensive linemen will help cover up the deficiency when the regular season starts.

One of the most noticeable problems for the Cleveland Browns that has become evident this preseason is the lack of depth the team has at the defensive tackle position.

With injuries to Trevon Coley and Caleb Brantley, the defensive tackle position is showing its lack of quality depth. Behind Jamie Meder and Larry Ogunjobi, the Browns seem to have no one that is ready play on the defensive line in the NFL. The lack of the quality depth had the Browns front office looking for help through free agency.

Last week, the Browns worked out free agent defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, but he left without a deal. It came as a surprise because it seemed obvious that the Browns would jump at the opportunity to sign the best free agent defensive tackle available.

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Instead of Hankins, the Browns signed Blaine Woodson, an undrafted free agent out of Delaware. Since the team decided to sign a rookie instead of a proven veteran, it seems they are satisfied with the talent they have at the top of their defensive tackle depth chart.

But after seeing how the Browns move around their first-team front seven in their first two preseason games, they plan on moving the defensive inside throughout the course of the game.

One player that has been having a strong start has been rookie linebacker Genard Avery. Avery excels at getting to the quarterback, and could be in line for more playing time. On Friday against the Bills, Gregg Williams moved defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah inside with Ogunjobi to get Avery on the edge to rush the passer.

On multiple occasions, the Browns were moving their defensive ends inside, but mostly in passing situations. Ogbah, Carl Nassib, and Chris Smith all played on the inside during passing situations, but the trio has the necessary skill sets to play inside whenever.

Since most of the Browns’ defensive ends can kick inside, it is not as necessary for the Browns to sign a high-priced free agent like Hankins. Once Coley and Brantley are fully healthy, the team will be confident in their stable of defensive tackles. Meder is very good against the run, and Ogunjobi is one of the better up-and-coming defensive tackles in the league.

With Brantley and Ogunjobi in their second seasons, there are still going to be growing pains when they are on the field. But the Browns may not feel comfortable in letting go of their young talent on the defensive line in order to bring in more depth.

But if the defensive tackle position struggles, the Browns have the option of kicking any of their defensive ends inside. It also helps that the Browns have linebackers like Avery and Mychal Kendricks that can play on the edge and rush the passer.

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The defensive tackle position remains a concern, but the Browns coaching staff and front office don’t seem as concerned since they have flexibility with their defensive ends.