Cleveland Browns linebacker Joe Schobert has been one of the best players on the defense the past two seasons, but still getting overlooked.
After a solid training camp, longtime special teams captain Tank Carder seemed to be in line for the starting duties. Carder then tore his ACL right before the season, leaving the middle linebacker job unsettled.
The then second-year player, Schobert, stepped into the role after playing on the edge during his rookie season. With a defense full of young players, no one knew if Schobert would be able to the signal caller on the field for the defense in his first at the position. But having Schobert in the middle of the defense certainly was the right move for the Browns.
More from Dawg Pound Daily
- How the Browns could maximize Nick Chubb in 2023
- Can Deshaun Watson get to Patrick Mahomes level for Cleveland Browns?
- 3 Cleveland Browns who should see an expanded role in 2023 and 1 who should not
- Is Marcus Davenport on the Browns radar in 2023?
- 5 Free agents from Super Bowl LVII Cleveland Browns should target
Schobert had a breakout season in 2017, as he was tied for the most tackles in the league with 144 total tackles. He also compiled three sacks, three forced fumbles, one interception, and three passes defended. Schobert would later be named to the Pro Bowl as the only Browns representative in 2017.
The 24-year-old linebacker has continued that momentum into the 2018 season. Schobert has made 37 total tackles this season, which is the sixth most tackles through four weeks of the season. He also has one sack, one interception, and two fumble recoveries.
Not only does Schobert put up great production, but defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said before the season that Schobert’s knowledge helps make other players around him better – via Patrick Maks of clevelandbrowns.com.
"“What you don’t get to see is how much better he makes people around him,” Gregg Williams said. “If you were ever to have time to sit down with him and now ask him what he knows about offense, it’s not that he understands what we’re doing on defense, he has to understand what the opponent is doing and listen to what the opponent is saying. He becomes a sign-stealer, a voice-stealer.”"
Despite Schobert making plays almost every game, Browns fans always seem surprised when he makes a big play. He is not a big name player like Myles Garrett or Denzel Ward, but he remains one of the best players on the defense.
He has also improved this season, as he has been one of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL. Before Week 4, Pro Football Focus graded Schobert with an 84.4 coverage grade, putting him in the high quality category. He has graded as the fifth-best linebacker in coverage this season before Week 4.
Schobert did have trouble covering Raiders tight end Jared Cook on Sunday, as Cook was able to use his size to box out Schobert. But Schobert had moments of great coverage on Sunday, something that he struggled with in 2017.
As Schobert continues to get more comfortable playing in the middle of the defense, expect him to continue to grow and continue to play well. It’s time for Browns fans to acknowledge the talent that Schobert has and how he is one of the best players on the Browns defense.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, subscribe