2. Genard Avery, LB
While the attention in the 2018 NFL Draft was all on the four early picks for the Browns, one of their best moves came during the third day. Memphis linebacker Genard Avery was the 150th overall selection in the fifth round and proved to be a steal. While with the Tigers, he showed a knack for the big play and had 22 tackles for a loss in his final campaign before turning pro.
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Once he was in the NFL, he continued showing he could find the ball with ease. He played in 16 games and was credited with five starts — although those starts came as an edge rusher rather than at his listed position of linebacker.
Playing close to the line of scrimmage suited the 250-pound Avery as he was able to record 4.5 sacks for the Browns. Now this season, he’s in line for even more big plays.
Cleveland released Jamie Collins, Sr. this offseason which leaves an opening at linebacker that needs to be filled. Avery seems to be the best fit for that job as he can do some of the same things Collins did — such as get after the quarterback.
There will be some others in the mix with the addition of Adarius Taylor from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Sione Takitaki — their third-round pick out of BYU. While they will get snaps at linebacker, Avery’s ability to play in more than one spot has him set up for success, which makes him a big candidate to break out in 2019.